Report: Knicks ownership may reconsider trade for Lowry if team continues to struggle

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The Raptors are rebuilding, and so not surprisingly, just about every player on the roster not tied to the team’s long-term plans is available in trade. Kyle Lowry is a skilled point guard that could help many teams, and with an expiring deal for just $6.1 million, he would come at a palatable price.

But the Raptors won’t just give him away, because they don’t have to — his salary comes off the books at the end of this season, so if nothing else, Toronto will get the cap space it desires for Lowry when the season is finished.

The recent deal the team made that sent Rudy Gay out of town and netted Greivis Vasquez does make Lowry expendable, however, and if assets are to be had in exchange for Lowry, the Raptors will make that deal — which is why both the Knicks and the Nets have been heavily rumored to be in the mix for his services.

The latest report on the Knicks front was that ownership shot down the deal that was close to being completed, partially because they didn’t want to give up a first round draft pick or a young player like Tim Hardaway Jr. or Iman Shumpert, but also in part because New York didn’t want to be seen as being taken advantage of by Raptors GM Masai Ujiri once again.

After Friday night’s loss in Boston, however, the Knicks may be forced to reconsider.

From Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

The next 48 hours could determine whether James Dolan will trade a piece of the Knicks’ future — in the form of either a young player or a first-round pick — to acquire Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.

With starting point guard Raymond Felton expected to be sidelined two to three weeks with a strained hamstring, Dolan could be forced into reconsidering a deal for Lowry if the Knicks continue to struggle against the Hawks on Saturday. …

Ujiri would prefer to receive another first-round pick, but there are reports that the Raptors would be amenable toward acquiring either Iman Shumpert or Hardaway in place of the pick. According to a source, the Knicks would prefer to keep Shumpert out of the deal for the purpose of including him in a future trade and perhaps package him with Amar’e Stoudemire.

The Knicks cannot possibly give up another first round pick (and they don’t even have any left to give until 2018), but they do like Hardaway and as the report noted, the team would like to retain Shumpert for inclusion in a larger deal for a more impactful piece — all of which makes New York’s choices here less than desirable.

It would seem to be inevitable that Lowry is dealt and that the Knicks will try to make a deal to shore up the roster. Whether or not the team caves to Ujiri once more remains to be seen, but it’s clear they need to get something done to see if they can turn things around.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.