Dan Gilbert — one of the hardline owners in the last CBA negotiations, a guy who wanted an NFL-style franchise tag and taxes that would make it hard to build or maintain a super team team — has gone out and gotten himself a super team.
With the addition of Kevin Love to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers are contenders. Kevin Love’s outlet passes are going to get LeBron, Irving, Dion Waiters and others some easy transition buckets. LeBron is going to create space for Love he hasn’t seen in years. If they play uptempo and use some smart sets this is a team that is going to score a lot of points.
But they should not be title favorites. Not yet in my book. I can think of three things that could (and I think will) keep them from winning a title next season.
1) Defense. LeBron is an elite defender, Irving is solid, Shawn Marion can still defend multiple positions well, but Love has his flaws and needs to be paired with a rim-protecting big man — Anderson Varejao is not that. Cleveland has some questions about how they plan to protect the paint with this roster, and what style of defense they will play. I don’t think the Cavaliers are going to be a bad defensive team by any means, but can they be elite enough to win a title with what they have? It may take another move or two to shore up this side of the ball.
2) Experience. LeBron has led a team to four straight finals, Marion and Mike Miller both have rings, however neither Love nor Irving have ever even played in a playoff game. To ask these guys to go from their first playoff experience to being key cogs in a team going for a title. Plus guys like Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova are going to be asked to step up into bigger roles, then do that deep into the playoffs.
3) There are some other very good teams out there. There is no easy path for the Cavaliers, even if they are in the softer East. First, I’m in the camp that the Bulls are going to be very good (I’m betting on Derrick Rose’s knees to be healthy for most of the year). The Bulls right now have an identity as a team, something the Cavaliers will be searching for. If the Cavaliers do get to the Finals there are some very good teams waiting? Did you see the San Antonio Spurs dismantle the Heat in the Finals last year? Well they brought everybody back and are the team to beat. Oklahoma City will still have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Clippers will be improved. There are questions.
I think Cleveland is going to win a ring or three over the next five seasons, but it may take them a year to get it all together. Much like as it took LeBron’s Heat teams a full season to really figure out a style that worked for them. I expect something similar in Cleveland.
Kings’ general manager Vlade Divac took a parting shot at DeMarcus Cousins‘ character when he spoke to the media about the deal.
Cousins could be challenging in the locker room, but he was committed to Sacramento in ways most teams wish their star would be. He was active in the community, did charity work, and was not one of the players that alerted the media and dragged along a video crew when he did. Cousins loves Sacramento.
You can see it as he tears up when saying goodbye to those close to him in this video.
On the court, the trade to New Orleans and the chance to play next to Anthony Davis could be a huge boost for Cousins’ career. We’ll never know what could have been if the Kings knew how to draft or stuck with a system/coach.
But off the court, Sacramento will miss him. And he will miss them.
NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA All-Star game drew an average audience of 7.8 million viewers, making it the most-viewed All-Star broadcast since 2013.
Turner Sports announced the numbers on Monday. The number of viewers peaked at 8.5 million and the total audience was up 3 percent from last year’s game.
The hype surrounding the game centered on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook playing on the Western Conference team together. Durant left Oklahoma City last summer to join Golden State, leaving his longtime teammate Westbrook behind with the Thunder. Westbrook did not hide his dissatisfaction with Durant, which ratcheted up the intrigue heading into the game on Sunday.
The two shared the court for just 81 seconds and Oklahoma City posted the highest local market rating with a 10.9.
The Timberwolves — 3.5 games and five teams out of playoff position — have made reaching the postseason this year a priority.
So, within that nonsensical goal apparently comes a nonsensical idea: Trading for Derrick Rose.
Ian Begley of ESPN:
The Minnesota Timberwolves have reached out to the Knicks recently to discuss potential trades for New York point guard Derrick Rose, sources told ESPN.
The Timberwolves, sources say, are among several teams to reach out to the Knicks asking about potential trades for Rose.
Rose, of course, played for Timberwolves president/coach Tom Thibodeau with the Bulls. That makes this report both plausible and something the Knicks would leak to drum up interest.
I can’t imagine a market especially eager to acquire Rose, who will become a free agent next summer. His $21,323,252 salary is difficult to match in trades without sending out too valuable of players. Rose has become a good downhill driver, but the rest of his game is lacking after years of injuries.
The Timberwolves have nearly $13 million of cap space, which could be useful in facilitating a deal. But they also have three intriguing point guards: Ricky Rubio, Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones.
If Minnesota really wants Rose, it could just sign him this summer. His Bird Rights shouldn’t matter much. Who would give the 28-year-old a five-year contract?
Rubio for Rose straight up works financially, for what it’s worth. The Timberwolves shouldn’t do that, but we don’t know enough about Tom Thibodeau running a front office to assume they won’t.
After their trade today, the Pelicans have the NBA’s most dynamic big-man tandem: Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
Davis and Cousins are tall, athletic and skilled in a combination we might have never seen from any power forward-center duo since Charles Barkley-Hakeem Olajuwon. New Orleans’ two could thrive together, and while they develop chemistry, they’ll each likely get minutes without the other.
That doesn’t leave much playing time for someone like Terrence Jones.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
Jones settled for a one-year minimum contract after an injury-plagued and inconsistent tenure with the Rockets. His inconsistency remains, but considering his salary, his highs more than justify dealing with the lows. At just 25, Jones could still figure out how to reliably contribute.
Jones’ contract dictates he be rental, which will lower his trade value. But he could help teams trying to win down the stretch — including New Orleans.
Dante Cunningham seems more favored at power forward, and Donatas Motiejunas can fill in. But the Pelicans could still use Jones.
Shopping him might be a favor to the player, but we’ll see whether an actual trade is part of the gesture.