Kevin Love

Report: Magic will offer team president job to David Griffin after Cavaliers’ season ends

9 Comments

David Griffin has been the man pulling  the strings for Cleveland since LeBron James returned to town — he made the trades for everyone from Kevin Love through Kyle Korver, he fired David Blatt mid-season to bring in Tyron Lue, and he locked up the Cavaliers’ core for years — but apparently that hasn’t been enough. Even with LeBron’s endorsement.

Griffin doesn’t have a contract past the end of this season in Cleveland.

However, the Orlando Magic plan to offer him one, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

The Orlando Magic intend to offer their president of basketball operations position to Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, multiple sources said.

The Magic can engage Griffin in contract talks at the conclusion of the Cavs’ season, sources said.

Griffin’s contract with Cleveland is up at the end of the season, and he and the team have not held meaningful discussions on an extension.

One of two things is happening here.

First, this could be a leak out of Griffin’s agent in an attempt to get the Cavaliers to pony up. The threat of competition might get Cleveland to up its offer, or at least to move more quickly than the very deliberate pace they are on now.

Second, the Magic are serious while the Cavaliers are ready to move on. To a degree what LeBron wants LeBron gets in Cleveland, but there could be dynamics pushing the Cavaliers to move on from Griffin. The fact there have been not substantial talks with Cleveland suggests a rift.

The Cavaliers can work out a deal quickly. The question is will they? It’s going to be an interesting summer on the lake.

Paul George on Lance Stephenson: ‘He’s got to learn to control himself’

3 Comments

Another Pacers loss to the Cavaliers, another example of Paul George publicly calling attention to his teammates’ flaws.

First, George’s dismay was directed at C.J. Miles for taking the final shot – rather than passing to George – in the Game 1 defeat. Now, Lance Stephenson and Indiana’s bigs come under George’s microscope after Game 2.

Stephenson guarded Kevin Love in the third quarter, a matchup Stephenson couldn’t handle. He thrice fouled Love, reacting once by pushing Love after the whistle and another time by slamming the ball:

That didn’t sit well with George:

George:

He’s got to learn to control himself. He’s got to learn to just be in the moment. Lance is, in our locker room, is looked upon as a leader, one of our leaders. So, his body language has to improve, just for the team. We all know that Lance is an emotional guy. And a lot of it is his heart and his competitiveness that that emotion comes out on. But he’s got to channel that and put it towards making effort plays on the court and doing whatever he needs for us to succeed.

George’s point isn’t altogether incorrect, and I have no problem with players openly discussing problems.

But George ought to look in the mirror first.

Watch him after Miles’ miss to end Game 1:

I’m also unconvinced Stephenson is such a leader in the locker room. Lavoy Allen is the only other Pacer who was in Indiana during Stephenson’s previous stint there. I bet most of Stephenson’s teammates see him as a role-playing journeyman, not someone who played a central role in the franchise’s best teams in a decade.

George is unquestionably the team’s leader. When he looks upset about Miles shooting, that matters – especially when George says exactly that, even if he walks it back.

Yet, George’s teammates have mostly answered the call when Cleveland double-teams him. That still hasn’t spared them from further scrutiny.

George:

I just thought in that third quarter, they double-teamed. They trapped. And we should have did a better job of, once we got it out in the pick-and-rolls, our bigs got to make plays at that point. And we didn’t.

I’m looking for them. I’m looking for them, to try to pass out of those traps and take advantage of the three-on-twos or the four-on-threes. That’s really what it comes down to. On all of those pick-and-rolls, I’m looking for them, because that’s how you play the game. You’ve got to burn them up if they send two to the ball, getting that ball out of that trap. And we’ve got to rely on them to make plays. It’s the only way that it’s going to free me up on these pick-and-rolls, because they’re not going to want to get burned by that.

It’s very obvious that they want the ball out of my hands, and they’re going to force other guys to beat them.

Indiana’s bigs didn’t always handle those possessions perfectly, especially in the third quarter. They can do better.

But George’s complaints are misplaced.

His floormates are shooting 50%, including 36% on 3-pointers – creating an effective field-goal percentage (54%) that would have ranked fourth in the league among teams in the regular season. They’re taking fine advantage of all the attention George draws.

The Pacers’ problem is defensive. They just can’t stop Cleveland (admittedly, no easy task).

In the end, how George feels matters far more than whether he’s right. He’s on track to become a restricted free agent in 2018, and he has dropped several hints about his dissatisfaction in Indiana. Falling behind 2-0 to the Cavs surely isn’t helping. I don’t know whether George is setting the stage for his eventual exit, but it sure feels like it.

Kyrie Irving scores 37, Cavaliers hold on to beat Pacers 117-111

Getty Images
1 Comment

CLEVELAND (AP) Kyrie Irving scored 37 points, Kevin Love added 27 and the Cleveland Cavaliers avoided another fourth-quarter collapse in Game 2, beating the Indiana Pacers 117-111 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

After squeaking out the opener by a point, LeBron James and Co. showed more intensity on defense, more swagger in general and won their 10th straight first-round game over the past three seasons.

However, they nearly blew an 18-point lead in the fourth as the Pacers got within four before Cleveland closed it out at the line.

James added 10 rebounds and seven assists, but had eight of Cleveland’s 19 turnovers.

Game 3 is Thursday night.

Paul George scored 32 and Jeff Teague 23 for Indiana, which showed more fight, but now has a steep hill to climb to get back in the series. Cleveland is 12-0 when starting 2-0 in the postseason.

The Cavs vowed they would play better after their near-disaster in Game 1 and they backed up their talk, delivering the kind of performance that was routine last season but very rare in 2017.

Love scored 10 straight and drew a charging foul on Lance Stephenson in a span of two minutes as the Cavs opened an 89-70 lead. Irving closed the quarter by draining a 3-pointer over Stephenson and the All-Star made sure Indiana’s antagonizing guard knew about it, yapping in his direction long after the horn sounded.

The Cavs still led 109-91 with 6:09 left, but the Pacers ripped off 13 straight points and were within 113-109 when George hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left.

It continued a disturbing trend for the Cavs, who have been giving up late, big leads with regularity.

The other hitch for Cleveland was that starting guard J.R. Smith didn’t play in the second half because of a left hamstring injury. Iman Shumpert, who sat the opener, replaced Smith and played 20 solid minutes.

Despite losing the opener, Pacers coach Nate McMillian insisted his team hadn’t lost any confidence.

“We believe,” he said. “We came in believing, we still believe.”

It just got a lot harder.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Glenn Robinson III returned after missing the past 12 games with a strained left calf. He scored four in nine minutes. … C Al Jefferson was active, but didn’t play. He’s been out since March 26 with a sprained left ankle. … George has made at least one 3-pointer in 19 consecutive playoff games. … McMillan said the team was told by security officials to stay in their hotel Sunday night while Cleveland police searched for a suspected killer, who randomly murdered an elderly man while posting the shooting on Facebook. … Indiana is 0-9 when dropping the first two games in a series.

Cavaliers: James (357) jumped Magic Johnson (358) for third place in career playoff steals and hopped Robert Parish for eighth in rebounds. … A moment of silence was observed for Robert Godwin Sr., the 73-year-old tragically gunned down by the Facebook assailant. … Stephenson had a strong workout with Cleveland in January before latching on with Indiana, but coach Tyronn Lue said his recent injury issues – groin surgery and an Achilles issue – dissuaded the Cavs from signing him. … James has scored at least 30 points with 10 assists in 13 career playoff games, trailing only Jerry West (14) and Michael Jordan (15).

UP NEXT

After two days off, the series resumes in Indianapolis on Thursday. The Pacers went 29-19 at home during the regular season.

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Three things to watch: Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Associated Press
4 Comments

As we dive into the playoffs, we at PBT are going to break down each first-round playoff series and give you three things to watch in each. The Cavaliers are the Eastern Conference favorites, but the last time these teams met it was one of the best games of the season, a double -OT thriller the Cavs won 125-130, where LeBron James and Paul George had a classic duel. Will we get more of that? Let’s break it down.

How focused with the Cavaliers be on defense? The malaise that enveloped the Cavaliers the second half of this season has become part of the narrative of the postseason — just how vulnerable are the Cavaliers? They had a defensive rating of 111.6 over their final 26 games, a number worse than the Lakers’ season average (and LA was dead last in the league in defense). Tyronn Lue said he has a fix for the team’s defense and when Kevin Love and other Cavs are asked about it they’ve said they can fix it. I’m not sold, they haven’t built good defensive habits, Plus they are going to miss Andrew Bogut in the paint on defense.

The other half of that equation is do the Pacers have the tools to exploit that defense? Expect Paul George to have some huge games because he’s that good, but the Pacers are going to need Myles Turner to put up big numbers (and pull Tristan Thompson out of the paint), plus have Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young have big games as well. The Cavaliers are going to score, can Indiana keep pace?

Who will LeBron James for the Pacers? And who is going to guard Paul George for the Cavaliers? Both teams in this series defensively will want to “cut off the head of the snake” and make someone other than the best player on opposition beat them. Which is a sound strategy — although the Cavaliers have legitimate other top scoring options — but leads to another problem: Who is going to guard these key guys? Who gets the LeBron assignment? Who gets the George assignment.

LeBron torched the Pacers this season, averaging 32.3 points per game on 60 percent shooting in the three meetings where he played (the one game Indiana beat Cleveland LeBron rested). LeBron was able to get into the restricted area and finish at a high rate this season, and the Pacers lack a rim protector who can make him think twice. George will certainly get some time on LeBron, but he shot 52 percent when PG13 was on him this season (stats via Sports VU and the NBA). Of course, there is the drama of Lance Stephenson, and he likely will get some time on LeBron, but Stephenson has lost a step and that’s a bad matchup for the Pacers.

Also, the Pacers do not have a good defender to match up on Kyrie Irving, who could have a big game or two in this series.

Who on the Cavaliers will draw the Paul George assignment? In crunch time that will be LeBron, we saw that at the end of the double-overtime game (remember LeBron and Tristan Thompson yelling at each other over a missed assignment in that stretch?). But it could be too taxing on LeBron to carry the offense and guard George for 40 minutes a game. Expect some Richard Jefferson, but if guys like J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert draw the assignment for a while George is going to put up big numbers. And he has to for the Pacers to have a chance in this series.

Is this the last time we see Paul George in a Pacers’ uniform? George has been brilliant over the last month of the season and reminded everyone why the Pacers’ primary goal this summer is to keep him in Indiana. If George makes the third-team All-NBA — and that’s a coin flip, one that will not land until June 26 at the NBA awards ceremony — then the Pacers can offer him the designated player contract of five years and more than $200 million, and he will stay put.

However, if George doesn’t make that team, the Pacers have to consider trade options this summer. Larry Bird may not pull the trigger, but he can’t lose George for nothing to free agency in the summer of 2018, so there will be pressure this summer if a team steps up with a good offer (and Boston has the pieces to do that, among others). What George wants to do is win, and if the Pacers have a strong series against the Cavaliers and push this to six or seven games, Bird can say to George that this team is close and to trust him to build a contender around George. How this series goes will have some impact on the summer

Prediction: Cavaliers in five. The Pacers starters can hang with the Cavaliers starters, but once these teams start going to the bench the Cavaliers will pull away. The Pacers don’t have the shooters to hang in this series.

Heat stay alive, rally to top Cavaliers 124-121 in OT

Leave a comment

MIAMI (AP) — For the Miami Heat, the season is going down to the final night.

They need a win.

They need some help.

But they still have a chance.

Tyler Johnson scored 24 points, including the game’s final four from the foul line in overtime, and the Heat kept their postseason hopes alive by rallying past the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-121 on Monday night. The Heat (40-41) remained No. 9 in the Eastern Conference, a game behind No. 7 Indiana (41-40) and a tiebreaker behind No. 8 Chicago (40-41).

“We think it’s meant to be,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But we have to take care of business.”

That, and get some assistance. For Miami to reach the postseason – a near-impossibility after its 11-30 start – either Indiana or Chicago must lose.

Here’s Wednesday’s slate: Miami hosts Washington (which is locked into the No. 4 spot), Chicago hosts NBA-worst Brooklyn, and Indiana hosts Atlanta.

“It’s win or go home,” Heat guard Josh Richardson said. “Win, and we still might go home.”

Hassan Whiteside scored 23 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for Miami. Richardson scored 19 points, James Johnson had 16 and Goran Dragic added 15.

Deron Williams had a season-high 35 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Cavaliers, who fell to 0-7 this season when LeBron James doesn’t play. The Cavs were also without Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, and fell a game behind Boston for No. 1 in the East.

James sat with a right calf strain. Irving has a sore left knee.

“I thought the effort was great,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “It was unbelievable.”

Kevin Love scored 25 points, Channing Frye had 21 and Kyle Korver had 18 for Cleveland, which wasted a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead and lost in OT for the second straight day.

On Sunday, Cleveland was up 26 going into the fourth in Atlanta. This time, the lead going into the fourth was 11.

“I don’t think you take too much out of it,” Korver said.

Miami survived despite two Cleveland four-point plays in overtime, including one by Williams with 34 seconds left that put the Heat down one. But Miami rallied for its 29th win in the last 40 games.

“Even if we wouldn’t have started 11-30, to go to the last game and have an opportunity to be in the playoffs, you would take that,” Tyler Johnson said. “But I think it makes it that much more special knowing everybody was kicking dirt on us two months ago.”

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: If history holds, James won’t play Wednesday. He hasn’t appeared in a regular-season finale since 2007. … Thompson sat again with a sprained right thumb. … G Kay Felder (left lower leg) left the game in the third quarter. … Williams had a career-worst 10 turnovers.

Heat: Dion Waiters (ankle) missed his 12th consecutive game. … James Johnson had nine assists. … Miami had a 20-6 edge in second chance points and an 8-0 edge in fast break points.

BIRDMAN VISITS

Chris “Birdman” Andersen, who played for both Cleveland and Miami, was in a baseline seat opposite the Heat bench. Andersen won a title in Miami in 2013. He appeared in 12 games with the Cavs this season before being sidelined by a knee injury.

L2M FALLOUT

The league’s Last Two Minute Report of Sunday’s Cleveland-Atlanta game showed three calls late in regulation and overtime that negatively impacted the Cavs’ chances in what became a 126-125 loss. “It’s too late now. It’s over,” Lue said.