Channing Frye

John Wall on injury: Channing Frye ‘threw his shoulder into me’

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John Wall collided with Channing Frye in the Wizards’ loss to the Cavaliers on Friday, leaving the Washington guard with a shoulder injury.

Wall sure isn’t letting Channing Frye off the hook.

Wall, via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington:

“I tried to split a screen and it was shoulder to shoulder contact. But I feel like he threw his shoulder into me,” Wall said. “I’ve been on split screens before and hit somebody’s shoulder or hit their body and never had that type of injury. I think his impact, the way he was coming, kind of gave me a stinger.”

Wall doesn’t outright call Frye’s play dirty, but – intentionally or not – he’s casting Frye in a certain light. Wall describes this as an unusual basketball play.

I don’t know Frye’s intent. He’s a slow big man trying to keep up with a lightning-quick Wall. But Frye did step into Wall.

Whatever the intent of Frye’s movement or Wall’s statement, this won’t ease tension in what Washington wants to be a rivalry.

J.R. Smith owns up to it, “I was hurt” when Dwyane Wade given starters’ role

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You don’t get to be an NBA player without some level of ego — there has to be a little “me first” in there push players to drive players to excel at their craft and excel at their craft on the level needed in the NBA.

So when you’re a starter on a team that goes to the NBA Finals, and that job is taken away from you, yes you should be a little ticked.

That’s what happened to J.R. Smith in Cleveland, but up until Friday he had only said he was “frustrated” but understood the decision. Friday on a new episode of the Road Trippin’ podcast with Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson (RIP) Smith admitted it was more than just frustration, via Dave McMenamin at ESPN.

“Honestly, I was hurt, man,” Smith said on the podcast, which posted Friday. “I was really emotionally drained at that point. I got wind of it that it was going to go down, but I didn’t know. I was told he’s going to be great for the second unit. … It would be a great fit for the team, whatever, whatever. I’m like, ‘Awesome, let’s do it. One hundred percent. Out of all people, another person we’re going to just grab for damn-near nothing? For sure. Let’s do it.'”

Don’t be shocked if Smith ends back up in the starting lineup again. Wade is too big a name, and there is too much pressure for him to instantly accept a bench role (especially since his best buddy is LeBron James). In theory, Kevin Love and Jae Crowder starting at the four and five provide the spacing needed for LeBron to make magic on offense. But what about the other end of the court? Starting Derrick Rose, Wade, and Love does not seem like something bound to get stops.

Smith as a starter provides more defense, floor-spacing shooting, and is someone LeBron is comfortable with. Wade with the second unit makes sense, he can be the shot creator and have the ball in his hands. But the Cavaliers need to find the mentally to make that happen. Maybe it evolves over the course of the season, but for now nothing changes. Wade starts.

Smith will be the good soldier. No matter what he’s really thinking

Report: Cavaliers near deal to send Richard Jefferson, Kay Felder to Hawks

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have a loaded roster with more guaranteed contracts than available roster spots, and a healthy tax bill coming. Looks like they have found a trade to help with those problems.

Veteran Richard Jefferson and young point guard Kay Felder are close to being traded to Atlanta with some second round picks in a salary dump that only brings back European draft rights players, something first reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports and since confirmed by multiple sources, with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN filling in key details.

The Cavaliers get out of having to pay a guaranteed player not to play (Jefferson was owed $2.5 million), which saves them both money and tax. I wonder how LeBron James takes this, he and Jefferson are tight.

The Hawks will eat the salaries and plan to waive both Jefferson (owed $2.5 million) and Felder ($455,000 guaranteed). They both become free agents. The real key here for the Hawks is they get a couple of second round picks for the trouble of taking on the salaries. The cash doesn’t hurt either.

Basically, this is end of the roster bit of player shuffling.

However, there is one important impact — this may be the end of the brilliant Road Trippin’ podcast. Jefferson and Channing Frye‘s podcast has been insightful, funny, and a must-listen. Not sure how it continues now, but I hope they find a way.

Cavaliers drop Channing Frye from rotation

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Dwyane Wade supplanting J.R. Smith and Kevin Love moving to center to send Tristan Thompson to the bench having gotten the most attention, but the Cavaliers are making another interesting change to their rotation.

Channing Frye is out.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue told Channing Frye that, barring injury, he’s not going to play much this season.

“I was like man I’m sorry,” Lue said, recounting his conversation with Frye to reporters after the Cavaliers lost 102-94 to the Wizards in a preseason game Sunday. “(Frye) said, ‘listen, I’m very excited about our team, not too many opportunities to get to play on a team like this.'”

Frye was a mainstay last regular season and through the first and second rounds, but he lost his rotation spot in the conference finals against the Celtics and in the NBA Finals against the Warriors. Deep in the playoffs, his defense becomes too much of a liability.

Now, when the Cavs need a stretch five, they have Love. Frye isn’t a change of pace anymore. He’s just a lesser alternative.

Lue still spoke of Frye needing to be ready, and said the veteran would eventually get opportunities. Injuries happen. Experiments fizzle.

But if the Cavaliers don’t have a clear use for Frye, they ought to consider trading him. They need to drop one player with a guaranteed salary, and although Richard Jefferson has been the top name mentioned, Frye’s $7,420,912 salary makes him a logical candidate.

Cleveland is set to pay the repeater-rate luxury tax. Dumping Frye in a trade without taking back any salary would put the Cavs in line to save $35,469,861 more than waiving Jefferson would. (Of course, Jefferson could also be dealt in a salary dump, though dropping his $2.5 million salary would save less money.)

It’s unclear what the market would be for the 34-year-old Frye, who’s in the final year of his contract. He’s still a knockdown 3-point shooter, and he’ll at least rebound defensively. He’s also known as a positive presence in the locker room. The Cavaliers might need to include a sweetener to dump him – a draft pick and/or cash, which would cut into their savings. But Frye could help some teams on the court.

Or Cleveland could just keep him for his positive effect on chemistry and the chance his number will eventually be called.

Another report Kevin Love to start, Tristan Thompson to come off bench for Cavaliers

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are going small… at least to start games.

We heard this before, but now comes another report — this time from the very reliable Jason Lloyd at the Athletic — that this move is happening — Kevin Love will start games at the five, with Jae Crowder at the four and Tristan Thompson coming off the bench.

Tristan Thompson is expected to come off the bench this year, and Jae Crowder will start at power forward, one source with knowledge of the team’s plans told The Athletic. Kevin Love will slide to center in the new-look lineup. Love’s range will pose matchup problems for a number of centers across the league, while moving Crowder into a starting role will improve the defense and allow the Cavs to switch most pick-and-rolls defensively.

This is a move that puts the Cavs more in line with where the NBA is trending. A variation of it worked last regular season in limited minutes (just 71 minutes over nine games): When Cleveland went with a smaller lineup of Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Channing Frye, and Kevin Love they outscored teams by 29.7 points per 100 possessions. They used it again in the first round of the playoffs against Andre Drummond and Detroit to some success.

The Cavs now will have Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade (or J.R. Smith), LeBron James, Crowder, and Love to start. The bench would be more formidable with Thompson and Smith (or Wade), and improve when Isaiah Thomas returns and pushes Rose to the second unit.

With Irving’s playmaking gone the Cavaliers are going to lean more on Love, especially as a playmaker at the elbows. Plus he can draw bigs away from the basket and create driving lanes (teams can’t switch their rim-protecting bigs on to Crowder because he can shoot the three as well).

The question is how this works defensively. The Cavs lack some rim protection (although LeBron is strong there) and size, but they do become a more switchable team that should handle the pick-and-roll decently. If the defense is good the boost in offense should make up for it.

Good on Tyronn Lue and the Cavaliers for trying this in the preseason (and into the early season) — it’s a bold move for a team facing serious roster changes. The worst thing that happens is it doesn’t work, and the Cavs go back to the more traditional lineup they are used to.