Associated Press

Iman Shumpert sparks Cavaliers after J.R. Smith hurts hamstring in Game 2

Leave a comment

CLEVELAND (AP) — Iman Shumpert went from odd-man out to go-to guy in just two games.

Cleveland’s enigmatic shooting guard never even peeled off his warmups off in the series opener against Indiana, exiled to coach Tyronn Lue’s bench as a high-salaried cheerleader.

This was Shumpert’s playoff nightmare, and the demotion stung as he had never sat out a game before in his six-year career when healthy and in uniform.

On Monday night, Shumpert got a reprieve and made the most of it.

Needed to start the second half after J.R. Smith‘s left hamstring tightened up, Shumpert provided scoring, defensive pressure on Paul George and some attitude as Cleveland survived another late rally by Indiana for a 117-111 win to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference series.

“What I saw was a true professional,” LeBron James said of Shumpert, whose struggles late in the regular season led to his Game 1 benching. “We needed it. We needed that energy from him.”

The Cavs, who got 89 points from their Big 3 of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in Game 2, may need more from Shumpert if Smith’s injury lingers. Smith wasn’t happy the Cavs’ medical staff kept him out of the game and vowed he’d be ready for Game 3 on Thursday night in Indianapolis.

“If they let me play, I’ll play,” he said. “My leg ain’t broke.”

Cleveland didn’t practice on Tuesday, choosing the first of two days off before Thursday’s Game 3 at Indianapolis for rest and treatment.

Smith was visibly upset at the team’s decision to sit him in the second half. He emerged from the locker room after his teammates and immediately took a seat on the baseline floor. Guard Deron Williams briefly spoke to Smith, who has struggled with consistency after missing three months following surgery for a broken right thumb.

If Smith can’t go in Game 3, the Cavs will likely start Shumpert, who did a nice job harassing George during the third quarter when the Cavs took control and opened a 19-point lead.

Shumpert picked up a foul guarding George in his first 30 seconds on the floor before knocking down a 3-pointer from the corner, forcing Indiana coach Nate McMillan to call time. On his way back to the bench, Shumpert stomped past teammates with a look of defiance. He may have still been fuming at being left out of the rotation in the opener, but he was taking out his frustration on the Pacers.

Later in the quarter, Shumpert forced a jump ball when he tied up George near the sideline and then sneered at Indiana’s star forward. He finished with five points in 20 minutes, but his contributions went way beyond the box score.

“Shump was unbelievable,” Lue said. “Just staying ready, being professional. He came in and made it tough on Paul George. We held Paul George to four points in that third quarter where our defense was really good. Shump sparked that, made a couple shots for us also. Just his energy defensively, made a couple shots, his tenacity it was really good for us. We needed that spark.”

Maybe that spark will ignite a larger fire in the defending champions, who allowed a big lead in the fourth quarter to nearly disappear again before finishing off the Pacers.

If nothing else, Shumpert’s performance was a reminder that depth is crucial in the playoffs, things can change quickly because of injuries and benches often shrink in crunch time.

It wasn’t long ago that Shumpert was starting, but a poor stretch from mid-March until the final regular season game damaged Lue’s confidence in him. To his credit, Shumpert didn’t hang his head, knowing that there might be a time when he was needed.

It arrived and he delivered.

“He’s been great on the bench, cheering guys on, keeping guys motivated and when it was his turn to play, he stepped up and played well,” Lue said. “That’s what we need from Shump.”

 

Russell Westbrook to miss start of training camp after PRP injection in knee

Associated Press
2 Comments

There is a physical price for the historic, MVP season Russell Westbrook had last go around.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder open training camp next week, Westbrook will be sidelined for a couple of days to rest his knee after getting a platelet-rich plasma therapy injection, Thunder GM Sam Presti told the media (as reported by Royce Young of ESPN).

PRP therapy was made popular in the NBA by Kobe Bryant and now a number of players have used the treatment. It involves the player giving some blood, which is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelets, which are then injected back into the area where the person wants to promote healing.

Westbrook is the heart and soul of the Thunder, averaging a triple-double last season with 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game. With the off-season addition of Paul George, the Thunder are a dangerous team in the West, one that will have a very strong defense and a couple of elite scorers now.

Westbrook also has a max contract extension sitting in front of him from the Thunder, as he has since July 1, which he has yet to sign. That should make Thunder fans a little nervous. George is in the last year of his contract, and there have been not-so-subtle hints out of his camp he is headed to the Lakers next summer. If this year goes well in Oklahoma City — such as the Thunder reaching the Conference Finals — maybe George reconsiders, and with that Westbrook would stay (he has professed and shown loyalty to the city so far). Maybe they stay anyway. However, both men seem to be using the LeBron James playbook of keeping all their options open.

Report: Carmelo Anthony “heavily considering” adding Portland to trade list

Associated Press
1 Comment

If he could choose his destination, Carmelo Anthony would be playing this coming season alongside Chris Paul and James Harden in Houston. However, since that seems dead, Anthony has told the Knicks he also would waive his no-trade clause for Cleveland or Oklahoma City.

What about Portland, a team hot on the rumor mill?

Anthony has yet to tell the Knicks he would waive his no-trade to head to the Pacific Northwest, but he’s seriously considering adding the Blazers to the list, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post.

The source told The Post that Anthony is heavily considering putting the Trail Blazers on his list as well.

Portland’s stars Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have been very public in their recruitment of Anthony. That seems to be having an effect.

Portland has the pieces to get a trade done, much more so than the Thunder or Cavaliers. The Knicks would certainly ask the Blazers for the just drafted Zach Collins, and Evan Turner with his $17 million salary would be part of the deal to match up the numbers, then after that there would be other players and picks needed to round everything out. However, there are multiple ways to get that deal done.

Anthony just added Cleveland and Oklahoma City to his list of acceptable trade destinations, he likely lets Cleveland negotiate with them for a while to see if a trade can be reached. However, if no deal is reached — and it will not be easy to find a trade the Knicks like with those rosters, plus both of those teams are already paying the luxury tax so there are financial considerations — then the Trail Blazers could be in luck.

Minnesota’s Wiggins considers contract deal without agent

Associated Press
4 Comments

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Wiggins says he feels good about a max contract offer that is sitting in front of him with the Minnesota Timberwolves. But he’s in no rush to get it signed.

Wiggins says he is going over the five-year, $148 million offer from the Wolves deliberately to make sure everything is where he wants it before he signs. He is being extra careful because he is operating without an agent after parting ways with Bill Duffy and BDA Sports in August.

Wiggins says he has only positive things to say about Duffy. But he made the decision “from a business point of view.” He says he is leaning on parents, who were both high-profile athletes.

He says he appreciates the level of commitment the Timberwolves have shown and wants to be in Minnesota for the long term.

 

Report: Carmelo Anthony adds Cavaliers, Thunder to list of teams where he will accept trade

Getty Images
12 Comments

Carmelo Anthony wants most of all to be traded to Houston (and he has leverage thanks to the no-trade clause Phil Jackson/James Dolan gave him). However, to make the deal work the Rockets needed to unload the three-year, $60 million contract of Ryan Anderson — which the Knicks do not want, and neither did any third team without a couple high first-round picks as a sweetener. Also, the Knicks wanted quality you assets back the Rockets didn’t have (or would part with), so the deal was dead. Anthony tried to wait it out, but nothing happened, and at this point the Knicks expect ‘Melo in camp Monday.

In the face of that, Anthony has expanded his list of teams where he will waive his no-trade clause to include the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder, according to multiple reports.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was first with the news about the Cavs.

Carmelo Anthony, a 10-time NBA All-Star, has delivered the New York Knicks an expanded list of teams — including the Cleveland Cavaliers — with which he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause, league sources told ESPN.

After the Knicks insisted that they were unable to make a deal with the Houston Rockets, his primary trade destination, Anthony and his representatives honored New York’s request and furnished at least two more teams within the past 10 days, league sources told ESPN.

ESPN’s Ian Begley filled in the details.

Cleveland was on the initial list of teams Anthony gave the Knicks (teams he would waive his no-trade for) but the Knicks wanted Kevin Love and Cleveland shot that down (that was before the Kyrie Irving deal, now Cleveland is even less likely to make that trade). The Cavaliers don’t have a lot of young talent on their roster, and that’s what the Knicks will want back in a deal, picks and players who are on Kristaps Porzingis‘ career arc.

If Cleveland was willing to throw the 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick in the trade it would get done quickly, but I have been told (before this news) Cleveland would not part with that pick, they see it as “LeBron leaves” insurance.

You can bet LeBron James is pushing to get Anthony on the Cavs. Adding him and Dwyane Wade — when Wade is bought out by the Bulls (eventually) — would move the Cavaliers a little closer to the Warriors, although both Wade and ‘Melo are bad defensive matchups against Golden State.

Oklahoma City would likely use Enes Kanter in any trade because his $17 million salary helps balance the money. However, the Thunder are like the Cavs in that this is not a roster with much young talent that the Knicks would want. Guys like Doug McDermott and Kyle Singler are not going to cut it.

It could take a third team to get a deal done with either the Cavaliers or Thunder.

While there had been rumors Portland was still trying to get in — that’s a team with multiple ways to make that trade if they are willing to send Zach Collins and picks to New York — multiple reports out of New York say the Blazers are not one of the teams on Anthony’s list, something first reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

Anthony may well get moved before the start of the season now, but not likely before training camp opens for the Knicks Monday. So that awkward set of questions still gets to take place.