Josh Smith

Trade Rumor Roundup: As deadline nears, lots of questions remain

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It is now just a little less than 13 hours until the NBA trade deadline and we have had all of one whopping trade. Which means it’s going to be a very busy Thursday… probably. There are going to be deals, guys we expect to get dealt will get dealt, but there may be fewer surprises as teams are still very reticent to take on more tax money.

Here is where things stand as of this late Wednesday night/Thursday morning post as we head into the final hours.

We have had one trade — last draft’s No. 5 pick Thomas Robinson, along with Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt plus a second round pick were sent to the Rockets from the Kings. In return, the Kings get Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas from the Rockets. In a related move Houston sent Marcus Morris to Phoenix (where he will now team up with his brother Markieff) for a second round pick.

For the Rockets, they get a serviceable rookie who should at least grow into a solid role player in Robinson, and they get most of his rookie deal. The Kings save a lot of money, which is what the Maloof family is into even if they are selling the Kings.

• Once and for all, the Lakers are not trading Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol. The Celtics are not trading Kevin Garnett and there isn’t a great market for Paul Pierce.

• Reports are the Josh Smith sweepstakes is down to the Suns, Bucks and Nets.

The Nets have been offering the same package — Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a pick — to everyone for everything. So far the Hawks didn’t bite. The Celtics didn’t bite for Paul Pierce, the Bucks didn’t bite for Ersan Ilyasova, and it’s hard to see anyone really biting on that package.

The Bucks are offering deals mostly based around Monta Ellis and interestingly Smith said he wouldn’t rule out re-signing there this off-season. The Suns are offering Marcin Gortat, likely P.J. Tucker and some picks. It feels like the Hawks are going to make a move but are waiting to see if any of these deals gets sweetened before they make a move.

• J.J. Redick also is likely going to be moved before the deadline, the only question is where. Memphis, Indiana, Milwaukee, Chicago and Minnesota all have reportedly shown interest. And word has now come that the San Antonio Spurs are in the mix, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. He ads that the Magic are not opposed to keeping Redick the rest of the season but that seems unlikely.

• The Bobcats are still shopping Ben Gordon around, trying to unload the guard and his $13 million salary for next year. However, Howard Beck of the New York Times reports the Nets are not interested. At all.

• The Jazz are still expected to move either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap. One interesting possibility is a Millsap for Derrick Williams trade with Minnesota — that deal has been discussed.

• The Hornets are testing the waters for guard Eric Gordon. They had conversations with the Warriors about a swap for Klay Thompson, but I’m not sure how serious that really was. Plus, a lot of pieces would be needed to be added with Thompson to make the salaries work.

• The Timberwolves are willing to trade J.J. Barea and Luke Ridnour as well as Williams, reports Ken Berger of CBS.

• Dallas has put Rodrigue Beaubois, Brandan Wright and Dominique Jones out there for potential trades, but they only want picks, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. What the Mavs do not want to do is take on more salary and mess with their cap space.

• The Knicks have shopped Ronnie Brewer around, reports ESPNNewYork.com.

• At Hoopsworld, the Pacers GM has shot down rumors that Danny Granger is available.

Cavaliers’ defense foundation for blowout win

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers gestures in the second half against the Toronto Raptors in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Cleveland blitzed Toronto from the opening tip.

Literally.

Cleveland cranked up their defensive pressure by getting back to aggressively blitzing Raptors’ guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan every time they came off a pick. Or they would chase DeRozan over the top of the pick and trail him, never letting him get comfortable to pull up from the midrange. Whatever the defensive scheme, the Cavaliers were physical with Lowry and DeRozan — the pair was 4-of-14 shooting in the first half.

From the start, the Cavaliers defense dictated the flow of the game and set the tone for a 38-point blowout win.

It is that defense they will need to close out this series on the road Friday night.

“We understood that coming back from Game 3 and Game 4 we just didn’t play our defense the right way,” LeBron James said after the game. “We didn’t play how we should have played, and they took advantage of every moment. We had to get back to our staple; we had to get back to what we wanted to do defensively in order for us to play a complete game. That’s the most satisfying thing, the way we defended, holding these guys to 39 percent shooting.”

Defense triggered the offensive runs by the Cavaliers in the first half — Cleveland had eight steals and scored 20 points off turnovers before halftime. Playing with a renewed energy, the Cavs did a fantastic job fighting over screens and disrupting plays, and they closed out on shooters at the arc. It was their best defensive game of the series. It was the polar opposite of how they played in Toronto.

“I think our intensity picked up, our aggressiveness picked up, we were very physical to start the game and it just kind of led to us getting out in transition, us getting steals and getting easy baskets,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

“They were locked in, from the start to the finish,” according to Raptors coach Dwane Casey.”The force that they play with is different here and we didn’t meet it.”

Back home and with their backs against the wall, you can expect a very different, very desperate Raptors team. Lowry and DeRozan will shoot better.

But if the Cavaliers pack their defense and take it north of the border this time, they should close out the series.

LeBron James was dunking all over the Raptors (VIDEO)

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With their defense creating turnovers to get breaks — and the Raptors’ defense just breaking down — the Cavaliers put on a dunking exhibition against Toronto Wednesday.

LeBron James led the way, with 23 points and plenty of dunks. Here is another.

To change things up, here is an and-1.

Cavaliers retake series lead at home with rout of Raptors

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket in the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Eastern Conference Finals have been all about the comforts of home. Through five games between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, the home team has come out on top convincingly every time. Wednesday’s Game 5 was no different, with the Cavs destroying the Raptors, 116-78 to take a 3-2 series lead.

After a pair of awful games in Toronto, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving stepped up at home to score 25 and 23 points, respectively, to go along with 23 from LeBron James. The big production from their stars was enough to keep the Raptors at bay — the only other Cavs player to score in double figures was Richard Jefferson, who had 11 points, but it didn’t matter.

On the other side, after coming up huge at home in Games 3 and 4, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined to shoot 7-for-20 from the field Wednesday, and nobody else did much to pick up the slack. After not trailing by 30 at a half at any point this season, Toronto trailed by 31 at halftime, and the lead ballooned to 100-60 at the end of the third quarter. From the beginning, this game was one-sided.

The Cavs can close out the series on the road on Friday, ensuring James’ sixth straight trip to the Finals. But the Raptors have been a different team at home during this series, and in a do-or-die situation they should come out with more fight. It’s hard to imagine things going much worse than they did Wednesday.

Report: Joakim Noah having “positive dialogue” with Bulls about future

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah dunks the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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And the spin keeps on happening.

First came the report that Joakim Noah was telling teammates he was out of Chicago. Followed by Noah’s agent — the person charged with keeping Noah’s options open — saying that was not true.

Now comes team management — the people who said they want to keep Noah with the Bulls — saying the sides are still talking, and they want him to stay. Via Nick Friedell of ESPN:

Veteran Bulls center Joakim Noah, his representatives and the Chicago front office continue to have a “positive dialogue” about a new contract amid a report that Noah has been telling teammates he’s ready to leave the franchise, a league source told ESPN.com on Wednesday.

Those close to Noah, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, are still hopeful that he will be able to work out an agreement to stay in Chicago long term.

I’m going to let you in on a real insider bit of knowledge on what team Noah will play for next season:

Whatever team pays him the most money.

I know, it’s crazy, but sometimes people make a decision about where to work based on pay. Right now, everything is posturing. Come July 1, money will go on the table, and then Noah will know just how badly the Bulls want to keep him vs. other teams wanting to bring him in. Once the money is out there, if things are roughly even, then minutes and role on the team, lifestyle, weather and all the rest come into play.

But Puffy had it right — it’s all about the Benjamins.