Rumor: Cavaliers gained no new information in Isaiah Thomas physical


The Celtics acknowledged that Isaiah Thomas‘ hip factored into their decision to trade him for Kyrie Irving.

But when the Cavaliers put Thomas through a physical, they clearly found something concerning. After all, that’s why this deal remains in limbo.


Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald on The Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix (hat tip: Tom Westerholm of MassLive):

My read is actually from the Cleveland side, and what I hear from there is that nothing they’ve found is anything different than what was conveyed to the Cavaliers in the trade discussions, and certainly in the medical information that was passed forward.

Both sides are posturing. This report would clearly fit – except it’s coming from Cleveland.

If the Cavaliers saw what they expected in Thomas’ physical, they should approve the trade. Period.

Otherwise, what are they going for? Trying to destroy Boston’s chemistry if Thomas and Jae Crowder get returned? Trying to extort another asset, as the Celtics now have greater incentive to get a deal done and avoid the disharmony that would come with reintegrating Thomas and Crowder? (Cleveland’s situation wouldn’t change nearly as much, with Irving unhappy there even prior to the trade).

If I were NBA commissioner Adam Silver, I’d have huge problems with either tactic. Teams can’t be allowed to leverage the existence of physicals (differentiated from the results of physicals) into holding other teams hostage and making players – like Thomas, who will become a free agent next summer but is now treated as damaged goods – collateral damage. I’d be looking into punishing the Cavs. The NBA constitution gives Silver broad power:

The Commissioner shall, wherever there is a rule for which no penalty is specifically fixed for violation thereof, have the authority to fix such penalty as in the Commissioner’s judgment shall be in the best interests of the Association. Where a situation arises which is not covered in the Constitution and By-Laws, the Commissioner shall have the authority to make such decision, including the imposition of a penalty, as in his judgment shall be in the best interests of the Association. The penalty that may be assessed under the preceding two sentences may include, without limitation, a fine, suspension, and/or the forfeiture or assignment of draft choices. No monetary penalty fixed under this provision shall exceed $2,500,000.

The Cavaliers have a right to conduct a physical. They needn’t rely on Boston’s evaluation. But that physical should also be conducted in good faith. If Thomas’ condition is no worse than the Cavs believed when agreeing to the trade, what’s the holdup?

That said, maybe this report isn’t completely accurate. It’d make sense coming from Boston, where there’s incentive to paint the Cavaliers as the problem. Coming from Cleveland? I just don’t get it, to the point I wonder what we’re missing.

It’s also worth noting, as of last check, the Cavs haven’t requested anything of Boston. We mostly presume they will. But until they do, there’s obviously no problem – and only a problem if this report is accurate.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell with shot of night to force OT with Spurs


One of the factors to consider in the Rookie of the Year race: clutch plays.

Down three with less than 10 seconds to go Friday night, the Utah Jazz put the ball in the hands of their rookie playmaker Donovan Mitchell — and he made the play, draining a three to force overtime. It’s an impressive play.

In the clutch this season (last five minutes of a game, within five points), Mitchell has averaged 3.2 shots per contest (by far the most of any rookie) and has a true shooting percentage of 51 percent. Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, the other front-runner in the ROY race, averages less than a shot per game in those clutch situations (0.8) and has a true shooting percentage of 66.7 percent.

Mitchell made the big shot, but the Spurs made plenty too, had 45 points on the night from LaMarcus Aldridge, and got the win.


PBT Extra: Who is coming out of the Eastern Conference?

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The Toronto Raptors will finish with the No. 1 seed and all the best metrics in the East, but they have a history of playoff flameouts. The Boston Celtics’ have been hit hard by injuries. And the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James but also a dreadful defense, this is the most vulnerable a LeBron led team has been since he bolted Cleveland seven years ago.

So what team is coming out of the East?

We get into that in this latest PBT Extra. A poll on Twitter found most of you think the Cavaliers, but personally, I think the Raptors — who have been better defensively all season than the Cavs — may finally have their year.

LaMarcus Aldridge drops career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell‘s 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs’ 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah’s 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.

Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.

Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.

Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.

Derrick Favors added 22 points for Utah and Ricky Rubio had 20.

Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs.


Stephen Curry leaves game with knee injury


In his first night back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss six games, Stephen Curry limped off the court not to return after in third quarter Friday night after JaVale McGee fell into his knee.

He limped to the bench then eventually to the locker room after the injury.

The severity of the injury is not yet known and should become clear on Saturday after an MRI.

Curry scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before being forced to leave the game, and the Warriors held on to win the game.

Obviously, if Curry is out heading into the playoffs, that changes the dynamic in the West, where the Houston Rockets were already right on the heels of the Warriors.