Author: Brett Pollakoff

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Three

Report: Cavaliers shopping Brendan Haywood, first round pick in trade to try to upgrade the roster


The Cavaliers have plenty of interesting decisions to make this summer, and it starts with LeBron James and Kevin Love, both of whom are more than likely to opt out of next year’s deals in order to become unrestricted free agents, before ultimately re-signing.

But the stars were always expected back. What’s unclear is what the role players and reserve unit will look like, considering that J.R. Smith is likely to opt out, and Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova are both restricted free agents, which means the Cavaliers could retain their rights if the offers they receive from other teams don’t reach the outlandish.

No matter what happens with the players we just mentioned, Cleveland needs upgrades to bolster the depth on its roster. And the team is already working to make things happen on that front, even with the Finals loss to the Warriors only in the rear view mirror for a few short days.

From Brian Windhorst of

Days after the end of the Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers are working on upgrading their roster by shopping the potentially valuable contract of Brendan Haywood, and — in some cases — offering it along with the 24th overall pick in Thursday’s draft, sources told

Haywood’s $10.5 million contract is not guaranteed for next season if he’s waived by Aug. 2. This could be attractive to a team looking to either offload salary now or use it as part of another deal that could be executed during free agency in July.

The Cavs have tested the market in swapping Haywood either for a player or a future draft pick, sources said. …

Any trade involving the Cavs’ first-round pick could not be executed until after the draft. They are precluded from trading their pick before making the selection because they already traded their 2016 first-round pick in the deal to acquire Kevin Love last summer. That pick now belongs to Philadelphia.

Haywood’s contract could theoretically be a nice trade chip that the Cavaliers could use to upgrade the roster, should a willing trade partner be out there who has an unfavorable contract sitting on its books.

This is just the beginning for what should be an intriguing summer in Cleveland. The way that James and Love choose to structure their next deals will remain something to watch, as will the moves that the Cavaliers are able to make to reload for next season so they can once again feel confident about their chances in securing a return trip to the Finals.

Steve Ballmer: Clippers should win a championship if they keep their ‘Big Three’ intact

Los Angeles Clippers Media Day

The Clippers eliminated the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs in what was an epic seven-game series, but ended their season on a sour note after a second-round collapse against the Houston Rockets.

L.A. held a 3-1 series lead before seeing it all slip away, and the lack of depth in place on the roster was a big reason why.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer believes the trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan should be good enough to win a title. But honestly, it just isn’t that simple.

From Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:

“We believe we are very close. The key for us is not to blow things up.”

Start with the roster. Ballmer reiterated that the Clippers hope to re-sign potential free DeAndre Jordan — “We love D.J.” — and that with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, they have a title-worthy threesome.

“You have arguably three of the best 20 to 25 guys in the NBA,” Ballmer said. “You should be able to win it with three of the best 20 to 25 guys in the NBA. I don’t think you’ll find another team with three of the best 20 to 25 guys in the NBA.”

In the same piece, Ballmer puts a little bit of pressure on Doc Rivers the executive to improve the roster enough to where Ballmer’s statement can become truth instead of fiction.

The reality is that you need an extremely deep team to win a championship, and despite having Paul (second team), Griffin and Jordan (both third team) earn All-NBA status, this Clippers team had little to no help available when turning to their bench.

Jamal Crawford was there to provide offense, but the defense took a nose dive in lineups that featured him on the floor. Beyond that, there was only Austin Rivers, who (to put it mildly) was inconsistent, at best. That led to the Clippers being forced to play their stars heavy minutes in the postseason, and just as we saw with the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, short rotations come playoff time, when fatigue becomes a very real factor, are a recipe for disaster.

Jordan is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Clippers are on record as saying that they’ll offer him a max contract to entice him to stay. Keeping their so-called Big Three together is a fine start to L.A. becoming a championship contender. But they’ll need smaller tweaks to the roster (like the recent trade to acquire Lance Stephenson, for example) to ultimately pan out in order to achieve that elite level of success.

Report: Sixers ‘leaning toward’ selecting Kristaps Porzingis with No. 3 pick in NBA Draft

Sam Hinkie Press Conference

International prospect Kristaps Porzingis has been rising up league draft boards, partially on the strength of a recent stateside workout where plenty of scouts and executives were in attendance.

Porzingis has been labeled as a “serious threat” to go in the draft’s top three, despite Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell being seemingly locked into those spots (in some order) for the past several weeks. The Lakers were reportedly considering it, and at least one scout believes Porzingis will be the best player to come out of this draft class.

If L.A. passes (as is somewhat expected), then things get interesting at No. 3 with the Sixers. And the latest report has Philadelphia leaning toward going with Porzingis.

From Chad Ford of

We’ve been hearing both Mudiay and Russell’s name here for months. But over the past few weeks multiple sources around the league suspect that Sam Hinkie may actually be leaning toward Porzingis. He’s an odd fit given the Sixers abundance of big men (though news that Joel Embiid’s foot hasn’t healed may change the fit analysis). But Hinkie has always drafted based on the best player available strategy. He doesn’t draft for need. So while the team needs Mudiay or Russell more, if he believes Porzingis is the best player on the board, so be it. Or, as one rival GM opined, this Porzingis intel is all a smoke screen to get Orlando (who loves Porzingis) to trade up to three and give Hinkie another coveted asset.

It’s been widely reported that Orlando won’t let Porzingis slip past five, so the Sixers putting this information out there as an enticement for the Magic to come calling with trade offers makes plenty of sense.

It really comes down to Philadelphia’s talent evaluation process. If the team truly believes Porzingis is the best available, it may shun its need at the point guard position to go in this direction. But what’s clear is that with just six days left until the draft, the rumors (and potentially, the misinformation) will increase exponentially until June 25 is upon us.

Emmanuel Mudiay has second workout with Lakers in advance of NBA Draft

World Select Team v USA Junior National Select Team

The Lakers have the No. 2 overall pick in the June 25 NBA Draft, which means that either Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns will be there for them, depending on which of the two big men Minnesota selects.

But could L.A. go in another direction?

The Lakers have needs almost everywhere, so taking the player they believe to be the best available, regardless of position, would seem to be the most sense. While conventional wisdom would favor them going with Towns or Okafor, a long-term solution at point guard might also be appealing — and one somewhat mysterious prospect just completed a second individual workout in Los Angeles.

From Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

The Lakers made progress on that front on Thursday by hosting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay for his second pre-draft workout at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. The Lakers hope to do the same with Duke center Jahlil Okafor and Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell. Mudiay’s individual workout was not open to the media, and the Lakers will follow the same course presuming Okafor and Russell work out again. The Lakers will have open workouts, however, for prospects they will consider with their 27th and 34th picks on Friday.

The Lakers also hosted a private workout on Monday for Kristaps Porzingis and are hoping for a workout for Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns. But that might not happen since Minnesota is expected to select Towns with the No. 1 pick.

Mudiay has worked out plenty recently in Los Angeles in which he has offered both glimpses of his athleticism and speed and uncertainty regarding his shooting. Mudiay appeared streaky with his outside shooting both in an individual workout with the Lakers on June 6 and a private workout at an athletic club in Reseda on June 11. But in his private workout open to members of his agency, Rival Sports Group, and a handful of reporters, Mudiay showed more of his speed, dunking and athleticism that has intrigued NBA talent evaluators.

Mudiay or Russell may each turn out to be a fine choice, but with the No. 2 overall pick, the stakes are higher, and ending up with a star-level player is to be expected.

Now, the Lakers have proven to have the ability to evaluate talent at an above-average clip; remember, they bought a late second round pick last season and grabbed Jordan Clarkson, who ended up finishing as a first-team All-Rookie selection.

But there’s a difference between finding an overlooked gem like Clarkson, and sorting out who may be the best choice when having essentially the entire crop of draft-eligible players to choose from. Taking someone like Mudiay or Russell at two would seem to be a bit of a reach, especially with either Towns or Okafor still on the board.

But with multiple workouts in play, it would lead you to believe that the Lakers are at least considering that possibility.

Report: Marc Gasol ‘expected’ to stay with Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Clippers

LeBron James tops the list of players who can become unrestricted free agents this summer, but who will almost certainly remain with their current teams.

Kevin Love may very well be a close second.

After that, you look at guys whose contracts are already up, and where no opt-out is required in order to test the free agent market.

Right after LeBron and Love, we have Marc Gasol.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Gasol is expected to stay with the Grizzlies, but no final decision has been made, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Gasol could command a four-year max contract essentially wherever he wants. And, he’s been open about the fact that he intends to listen to what other teams have to offer.

But Memphis has the ability to provide him with a fifth year on a max deal that no other team can, and when you combine that with Gasol’s longtime affinity for the city of Memphis and the fact that the Grizzlies are expected to remain competitive for years to come, it’s difficult to envision him ultimately choosing to play anywhere else.