Kurt Helin

at Madison Square Garden on November 13, 2015 in New York City.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Report: Teams calling Cavaliers about Mozgov trade, getting rebuffed

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Timofey Mozgov has seen his minutes steadily decline all season long. The first 10 games of the season he was starting and playing 21 minutes a night, but Cleveland is going smaller with a front line of Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love starting up front and Mozgov playing less and less off the bench (15.2 per game in his last 10 and just 4.5 minutes in the Cavaliers win against Washington).

That has other teams calling to see of Mozgov is available via trade, reports Marc Spears at Yahoo Sports. The answer is no.

While the Cavaliers have expressed no interest in moving Mozgov, the 7-foot-1 center’s loss of his starting job, the franchise’s NBA-high payroll and his looming free agency could ultimately persuade Cleveland to make a deal. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 18.

If you are Cleveland, there are two competing ideas with potentially trading Mozgov.

The first is on the court this season — they may be playing Mozgov fewer minutes now, but he has a particular skill set that could be a handy matchup come the playoffs. Rim protectors have value. If the Cavaliers were to run into Detroit with Andre Drummond, or Toronto with Jonas Valanciunas, the Cavs might want Mozgov’s size and muscle inside.

But the other is financial, and Spears lays out that case for moving him.

Mozgov, 29, will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer and is expected to receive strong interest and a lucrative long-term deal. The Cavs’ plan is to attempt to re-sign him, but a return could be less attractive for Mozgov if his reduced role continues. Cleveland, however, does own his Bird Rights, and he is eligible for a five-year extension with the franchise. The Cavaliers have $103 million committed in salary next season. If the franchise were to sign Mozgov to a $10 million annual deal – and his value could be more on the market – it would likely cost the Cavaliers over $26 million in salary and luxury tax.

There is a legitimate “move him so you can get something for him” thought process here.

Ultimately it will depend on the offers coming back. Consider this something to keep an eye on.

PBT Extra: Don’t blame Doc Rivers for Blazers’ McCollum error

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At the end of the day, Portland Trail Blazers’ coach Terry Stotts treated the official lineup for Wednesday night’s game against the Clippers like you and I treat the Apple User Agreement — he agreed without looking.

C.J. McCollum wasn’t on the active roster as he was supposed to be.

The League went to Doc Rivers and, basically, asked if it would be okay if McCollum played anyway.

Rivers said “no.” That was fully within his rights and people who are blaming him miss the point — he’s not there to win a sportsmanship award. I cover that with Jenna Corrado in this latest PBT Extra.

Report: Doc Rivers shot down letting C.J. McCollum play anyway

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Doc Rivers has one job: Win games. He doesn’t have to play nice to get there.

Wednesday night in Portland Terry Stotts and the Portland trainer made a mistake — they called it a “clerical error” — and listed guard C.J. McCollum as inactive when the intent was to have him play. Once they realized their mistake the Blazers tried to correct it, reaching out to the league. But according to Joe Freeman of the Oregonian, Clippers coach Doc Rivers shot that idea down.

Behind the scenes, the Blazers were fighting for McCollum to play. They sought a rules clarification from the NBA and disputed the timing of the incident. Don Vaden, the NBA’s director of officials, was at the game and mediated the situation with both teams.

In the end, according to a league source, the NBA gave Clippers coach Doc Rivers the option to let McCollum play. He declined.

Rivers has made this same kind of roster mistake a couple of times the past two seasons, but with guys at the end of the bench. Portland did it with a guy scoring 21 points a game and one of only two real playmakers on the roster.

It may not have been the peak of sportsmanship, but you can’t blame Doc Rivers here. Maybe it doesn’t fit the spirit of the rules, but I’m not going to blame Rivers for taking advantage of the situation. Stotts made the error. Rivers has one job — win games. This is not U8 soccer where everyone gets a participation trophy. Rivers was handed an advantage, and he would have been foolish to give it up.

You can bet coaches around the league will be reading that form a little more carefully the rest of the season.

Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: Frustrated Alvin Gentry goes off. For him.

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A full slate of games around the NBA, not many upsets but at least one very upset coach. Here is what you need to know from around the league.

1) Frustrated Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry: “We are not a good team.” If you were a Pelicans fan, the last few weeks you could talk yourself into “maybe, maybe they could come back and make the playoffs.” They had played a little better, other teams were banged up, so maybe if New Orleans got on a little run. Then Wednesday night happened. The night after playing double overtime, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle decided to rest four starters Wednesday. Didn’t matter. The Mavericks still took control of the game in the third quarter and thanks to a dozen points from Raymond Felton in the fourth quarter (22 on the night) Dallas won 100-91.

That set Alvin Gentry off. Well, as much as the player-friendly coach is going to go off in front of the media. But he was ticked.

More, from the Times-Picayune:

“I don’t really know, to be honest with you. I wish I had answers. I don’t have answers, but we’re going to come up with answers. It’s not fair to the fans. It’s not fair to anybody for us to come out and have that kind of effort. It really isn’t. And when I say ‘us’ I mean all of us: coaches, players, everybody. It’s just not good. I’m really disappointed in the way we approached the game. We tried time and time again to say that it doesn’t matter who is playing and who is not playing. Usually in these kinds of situations, guys try to step it up anyway because they are trying to earn extra minutes. And we didn’t react. I wish I knew, but I don’t.”

The Pelicans started the season looking like a M*A*S*H* unit and never have gotten right, their offense has been pedestrian on the season and down from a year ago (when it was top 10). But last summer Gentry gave a lot of lip service to improving the defense, he brought in a defensive-minded assistant to lead that charge, and the Pelicans are worse defensively than a year ago. This team is worse. Certainly the blame starts with Dell Demps and the roster he put together (conventional wisdom around the league is his job is in danger). No doubt starting this summer there needs to be a roster overhaul. But Gentry is far from blameless here — he has put in his philosophy of ignoring the offensive glass (something Anthony Davis does well) to get back in transition defense and be better set on that end, and it hasn’t mattered. The Pelican defense is still a sieve. There needs to be some real soul-searching in New Orleans this offseason.

2) C.J. McCollum sits out Blazers game because of “clerical error.”
It is fairly common with teams for the team trainer to handle the official roster — the trainer has the final say on if a guy can or can’t play due to injury, so he fills out the roster sheet in consultation with the coach. Then the coach signs it, and away we go. Except the Blazers messed up and accidentally listed C.J. McCollum as inactive when he was set to play. That’s the sheet they turned in. Once the mistake was realized the Blazers tried to correct it, but Doc Rivers would not let them off the hook (and I’m okay with that, this isn’t U8 soccer where everybody plays nice).

The Clippers went on to a comfortable 109-98 win. Would Los Angeles have won if McCollum played? Probably. But the question is moot, the Blazers turned in the form saying their second best player was out and they had to live with the consequences.

3) Kyrie Irving is all the way back, watch what he does to Nene.
We told you the other day Kyrie Irving was all the way back, but if you need further proof we submit this:

4) Tweet of the night: Boris Diaw is awesome. From Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

5) LeBron James can still get do nasty things. Lest you thought the Cavs were all Kyrie right now, LeBron had 34 and owned the Wizards on Wednesday night.

Duncan scores 18, Spurs rout Jazz to move to 21-0 at home

San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) drives around Utah Jazz center Tibor Pleiss (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tim Duncan scored a season-high 18 points and the San Antonio Spurs had eight other players in double figures, rolling to a 123-98 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night that kept them unbeaten at home.

San Antonio (31-6) matched its best start in franchise history by winning its 21st straight home game to open the season.

Kawhi Leonard had 15 points in 23 minutes. David West and Manu Ginobili added 14 points apiece, with West grabbing a season-high 13 rebounds.

The Spurs set a season best with 68 points in the first half, enabling San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich to sit Leonard and Danny Green to start the third quarter.

It was part of an easy night for San Antonio, which sat LaMarcus Aldridge to rest for the first time this season.

Trey Burke had 21 points for Utah and Gordon Hayward had 18 on 6-for-16 shooting.

Unlike the teams’ previous matchup on Dec. 14, when the Spurs never trailed in a 37-point victory, the Jazz led for 15 seconds after Trey Lyles made the game’s opening basket.

It was one of the few highlights for Utah (15-18), which dropped to 5-11 on the road.

Duncan was resurgent in his third game back after missing two games due to a sore right knee.

The 19-year veteran made his first two shots and twice tapped a missed shot over Hayward and Jeff Withey to secure a rebound that he immediately fired to Leonard under the basket for a layup.

Duncan was 8 for 13 from the field and sat out the fourth quarter after playing 26 minutes.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Utah players have missed a total of 69 games this season due to injuries or illness. … Utah is 3-3 since losing Alec Burks to a fractured left fibula. Burks was hurt on Dec. 26 in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Jazz are hopeful he will be back after the All-Star break in February after undergoing surgery in late December.

Spurs: Tony Parker missed the game with right hip soreness. … Green had two 3-pointers, giving him 662 with San Antonio to surpass Bruce Bowen (661) for second in franchise history. Ginobili is the Spurs’ career leader, raising his total to 1,311 with two 3-pointers against Utah. … Aldridge missed the Spurs’ victories on Nov. 21 and Nov. 23 with a mild sprain of his left ankle. … San Antonio extended its franchise-record home winning streak to 30 straight regular-season games dating to last season.