Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets - Game Two

Report: Cavaliers trying to trade for Nuggets’ Timofey Mozgov


The Cavaliers may be favored by the oddsmakers to win the 2015 NBA title, but there are questions of how quickly the new pieces will be able to fit, especially on the defensive end.

Kevin Love hasn’t been historically known as even an average defender, and Cleveland has a shortage of bigs on the roster, needing to rely heavily on Anderson Varejao and the likes of Brendan Haywood to produce on that end of the floor as part of the team’s frontcourt rotation.

Varejao is fine when healthy, but appeared in just 65 games last year, and just 25, 25 and 31 in the three seasons prior. The Cavaliers are all-in on trying to win now, so it would make sense to do whatever they can to improve what now looks to be the one weakness on the roster.

From Brian Windhorst of (via HoopsHype):

“The guy the Cavs are trying to trade for is Timofey Mozgov from the Denver,” said Windhorst, during a radio appearance for ESPN Cleveland. “He played with David Blatt on the Russian national team — a starter quality guy who can defend a little bit, makes about $3 million bucks. … But Denver’s not giving him up. That’s the guy they want to get their hands on, that would be a nice addition. But they haven’t been able to do that deal so far.”

Mozgov is under contract for $4.65 million next season, and the Nuggets have a team option for just under $5 million for the year after that.

Salary isn’t the issue, however; it appears to be the lack of assets being offered on Cleveland’s side that have things at a stand-still.

Windhorst says that the non-guaranteed contracts of players that Cleveland traded for earlier this summer is what has been offered to this point, but it’s unclear why Denver would be motivated to make a trade like this.

Mozgov started in 30 games for a Nuggets team that was decimated by injury a season ago, and played all 82 as part of the team’s regular rotation. He averaged career-bests of 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per contest, and Denver was noticeably better defensively when Mozgov was on the floor.

His ability to defend and familiarity with Cleveland’s new head coach would indeed seem to make Mozgov a perfect fit for what the Cavaliers are lacking. But whether or not Cleveland can put together a strong enough offer to land him in trade remains to be seen.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.