<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Lavoy Allen, Timofey Mozgov

Report: Cavaliers still active on trade market, trying to land defensive big man

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From the Cavaliers perspective, they think Monday’s trade was a big win. They have up a guy in Dion Waiters that did not fit what they do and did not mesh with the games of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. They got back a guy who should help their wing defense in Iman Shumpert (once he gets healthy), and they got a guy in J.R. Smith who (at least when engaged) should provide a better sixth man presence. They hope this (and getting some guys healthy) will spark a lagging offense.

But their work is far from done.

From the moment LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland the Cavaliers went into “win now” mode (no matter how the GM wants to spin the process). This roster is still not there, specifically the Cavaliers need size in the paint. The Cavs need a shot blocker. They are working on that but not getting far, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Mozgov is struggling in Denver yet, for all his flaws, he would be an upgrade for the Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers have called pretty much everyone who might have a big man they would trade (the Clippers and DeAndre Jordan, the Celtics with Brandan Wright, and so on). So far, no one is interested.

But what exactly do the Cavaliers have on their roster to trade? Waiters was their big chip and it’s going to take something of quality to get a big man. It’s a supply and demand thing: Every team wants more size in the paint, so the teams willing to move a guy have options and can start a little bidding war.

The Cavaliers made a nice little move on Monday, but if they are going to live up to the “win now” mode there is a lot more work to do.

PBT’s NBA Monday night Winners/Losers: All Dion Waiters trade edition

New York Knicks v Sacramento Kings
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Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game and every trade, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Tonight, we focus completely on the three team trade that broke on Monday night….

source:  J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert. Free at last, free at last. These two guys go from the worst team in the NBA — literally, with the Knicks loss and Sixers win on Monday night New York fell behind Philadelphia in the standings — to a team that will make the playoffs and could even do some damage. The Cavaliers had a few holes and Smith certainly can help with one — bench scoring. He’s used to being a sixth man and having to come in and light it up, and while he can be erratic this should be an upgrade for the Cavaliers. The Knicks had been trying to trade him for a while now. For Shumpert, he gets the chance to prove he really can be a “3-and-D” guy, and do that consistently (he has shown tantalizing stretches of play but has not sustained them). Once he gets heathy from his shoulder injury he will be in the mix to start (right now Mike Miller starts at the two and Shawn Marion gets run there). The Thunder certainly could use Shumpert’s defense. If he does the job he’ll earn himself a nice payday this summer as a restricted free agent.

source:  The Cleveland Cavaliers. I don’t love this move for them, in that it’s not a trade that addresses their biggest need — a defensive minded, shot blocking big man — but the bottom line is they are a little better with this trade than before they started. J.R. Smith may not be a great fit, but he has played in big games and at a higher level than Dion Waiters ever had. Shumpert might give them some defense. This is not a home run for Cleveland, but it’s a solid single. That’s a win. The Cavaliers are still chasing Timofey Mozgov and other bigs, that would be a bigger get.

source:  Dion Waiters. You’ve seen the video, we’ve run it here at PBT — Dion Waiters waving his arms as LeBron James has the basketball, trying to get noticed, then becoming exasperated when the ball doesn’t come his way. And that is with LeBron, one of the best, most willing passers in the league. What is going to happen when Waiters has to try to get Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to give up the rock? Waiters is an odd fit in Oklahoma City in that he is a volume shooter, and they Thunder don’t need that. And OKC is already loaded on the wing. Maybe they feel it’s worth a flier on a former No. 4 pick, maybe they believe their culture can make him feel wanted and get him to take better shots, but I don’t see it. Or how this really helps OKC. But at least the Thunder didn’t give up much.

source:  New York Knicks. Winners… I guess. I mean, this trade was a salary dump for them (they will waive Lou Amundson and Alex Kirkand, and likely Lance Thomas) and they have saved a ton of cash — with the luxury tax more than $20 million. Now next year they don’t have J.R. Smith $6.4 million. That is more money to throw at free agents, maybe to bring in some role players who better fit the triangle system. And what did they give up? The inconsistent Shumpert and arguably the worst fit for the triangle among all players in the NBA, J.R. Smith. That said, the Knicks need to acquire assets in the rebuilding process and they didn’t get any of that. The Knicks with this move are showing they are embracing tanking.

Dirk Nowtizki passes Moses Malone for seventh on NBA all-time scoring list (VIDEO)

Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets
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It was a contested three, in overtime, and he drained it like it was an empty gym.

That’s what Dirk Nowitzki has done for 17 NBA seasons with the Dallas Mavericks now, and with that three — which helped seal a Dallas win over the Nets — he passed Moses Malone for seventh all time on the NBA scoring list.

Nowitzki is arguably the best shooting big man the NBA has ever seen and certainly the greatest European player the league has ever seen. It’s hard to contest the shot of a seven footer with a quick, high release (especially when he fades away) but even when other teams do it doesn’t matter — Nowitzki is shooting 50 percent this season on shots where the defender is one foot away or closer (stat via NBASavant.com). In a league that is trending away from the midrange shot, Nowitzki is the one guy any coach would trust to shoot from that range, especially from the right elbow or above the free throw line. And if he’s trailing the break you better not let him get a clean look on a three from anywhere near straight on.

The video above shows you why.

Bulls’ Jimmy Butler is back, throws down impressive alley-oop dunk (VIDEO)

Jimmy Butler
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Jimmy Butler only missed one game but his return was impressive. He was blocking shots on one end and scored 22 points on the other to lead the Bulls to a win 114-105 over the Houston Rockets.

Oh, and he was throwing down impressive alley-oops. He makes a nice UCLA cut, gets the pass and finishes with authority.

It’s a crowded field, but it’s going to be tough to keep Butler off the Eastern Conference All-Star roster.

Report: With no trade found, Wizards likely to cut Glen Rice Jr.

Washington Wizards v Orlando Magic
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We told you yesterday the Wizards were shopping Glen Rice Jr. around, hoping to get anything back for a guy who may have been the Summer League plans but was not part of Washington’s long-term plans.

Instead, they will just cut him loose, reports J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.

The Wizards have been trying to move second-year guard Glen Rice Jr. in a trade before contracts become fully guaranteed Jan. 10, CSNwashington.com has confirmed with persons with knowledge of the situation. A 48-hour window in which a deal might have been struck has passed Sunday, however, making a trade unlikely. Rice is expected to be released by Wednesday.

There are a few reasons Rice will be gone despite being the MVP of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and putting up good numbers in the D-League. Of course there are on the court reasons — was able to blow by lesser defenders but the athletes at the NBA level slowed him down (yet Rice didn’t adjust his game and was a ball stopper).

Another is just business — Rice has a non-guaranteed contract, so when he gets cut they don’t have to pay him and they save money. Yet another, bigger reason is any minutes he might have been in play for have gone to veteran Rasual Butler, who played his way onto the roster and into the rotation with the Wizards with his steady performances this season.

But there is one final key reason, J. Michael reports.

The final nail in Rice’s stay here, however, was determined to be attitude, people with knowledge of the situation said. Coming into the league, the Wizards knew that was a red flag but thought he could work through it. He turned off several teams during the pre-draft process and that manifested itself in a blowup with coach Randy Wittman in a 19-point loss to the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 7. Rice was pulled from the game and went at Wittman in front of the bench. Rice never played again and was gone two weeks later.

Just a lesson for all you kids out there: don’t argue with the guy who controls your minutes.

It will be interesting to see if another NBA team takes a run at Rice, if he has to prove himself in the D-League and/or overseas.