Report: Cavaliers last team standing in Kevin Love trade talks

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As soon as the Cavaliers offered Andrew Wiggins in a Kevin Love trade, they should have become instant favorites to land the disgruntled Minnesota star.

It took longer than it should have, but eventually the Timberwolves came around.

Now, every sign points toward Cleveland.

The Cavaliers seem OK with acquiring Love even if he doesn’t opt in, and they’ve also added non-guaranteed contracts to grease a larger deal. Anthony Bennett, who shares an agent with Love, has even stopped playing potentially in anticipation of a trade.

Every tea leaf points to Cleveland over other potential trade partners. The Celtics have moved on, and the Bulls’ offer wasn’t that strong. Neither was the Warriors’, and without Klay Thompson, their weaker package won’t even tempt Minnesota.

As a result, the Timberwolves and Cavaliers are exactly in a place that makes sense – moving directly toward a deal.

Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

sources this week have described the Cavs as the only team currently in contention for Love. Sources say the Chicago Bulls are increasingly pessimistic about their chances of trumping Cleveland’s offer, while the Golden State Warriors remain unwilling to bend on their longstanding refusal to surrender Klay Thompson in a deal for Love.

numerous league insiders — some of whom are gathered in Las Vegas for this week’s Team USA training camp — have begun to describe a Love-to-Cleveland trade as a “when” transaction as opposed to an “if.”

one source said Wednesday that James himself already is “looking forward” to the prospect of welcoming the All-Star power forward as his newest teammate.

Yet league officials are adamant that there can be no acknowledgement of a trade, from either the Wolves or the Cavaliers, until the 30 days pass from Wiggins’ signing.

There are still details to work out.

Will it become a three-team trade (maybe with Thaddeus Young headed to Minnesota)? Will Love opt in as a condition of the trade? Will Kevin Martin and J.J. Barea, two players the Timberwolves want to dump, also be included in the trade?

But that’s all window dressing, and there’s time for the teams to negotiate those questions. Wiggins can’t be traded until Aug. 23.

The crux of the trade – Wiggins, Bennett and a first-round pick for Love – already seems established.

At this point, it seems more likely than not LeBron James will get his wish and team up with Love next season.

Marcus Smart on Game 7: ‘It’s not going to be pretty’

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Game 7s are not pretty basketball. Everyone is tight, shots clank off the front of the rim, and players tend to think rather than just react, sucking the flow out of the game. It’s a game for grinders.

Marcus Smart is good with that, and he told Chris Forsberg of ESPN the team is preparing for this style.

“It’s not going to be pretty. You got to be able to get down and get dirty. You can’t go out and try to look pretty. You have to be ready for a dogfight. We got to be ready to come up with our nose bloodied. We got to be ready to come out with our mouth bloodied. We have to come out ready to fight.”

If Boston is going to win this game, they will do so with the physical, smart, and unrelenting defense that carried them all season. That’s their grit. Without Kevin Love (out with a concussion) the Celtics have one less scorer to worry about, but things do not necessarily get dramatically easier — LeBron James is going to get his buckets, but can the Celtics keep George Hill, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and the rest of the role players from helping out with big nights of their own.

Which one of these teams is better positioned to win a grinding, sloppy game? Who is willing to dive on the floor and give that little extra effort? A case can be made either way, but Sunday night will decide it.

Report: Warriors’ Patrick McCaw cleared, will be available for Game 6

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We haven’t seen Golden State’s Patrick McCaw on an NBA court since March 31, when he was undercut by Sacramento’s Vince Carter and took an ugly, nasty spill.

McCaw is finally cleared by the team doctors and will be active on Saturday night for Game 6 against Houston, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Golden State Warriors are planning to activate swingman Patrick McCaw for Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

McCaw, on paper, would help the Warriors — he’s a 6’5″ switchable defender who can provide some offense in transition. That’s especially true if Andre Iguodala is out for Game 6 (his status is a game-time decision). McCaw played about 17 minutes a night for the Warriors during the regular season.

However, the idea of taking a second-year player who has not been on a court in six weeks and throwing him into Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals — a win-or-go-fishing game for Golden State — is risky, at best. Don’t expect him to get on the court unless this is a blowout.

Kevin Love in concussion protocol, listed as out for Game 7

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As if winning a Game 7 on the road against a younger, more athletic team that has not lost on its home court all playoffs was not difficult enough, things just got harder for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kevin Love has a concussion and is not expected to play in Game 7 on Sunday.

While it is technically possible for Love to clear out of the concussion protocol in 24 hours, it is highly unlikely. He would have to pass a rigorous physical test and have no concussion-related symptoms, something cleared by both the team doctor and a league-approved neurologist. This is something that tends to take days if not weeks to get over.

Love was injured just five minutes into Game 6. Love had set up position in the midpost and was setting a screen for George Hill, who was curling out to the arc. Jayson Tatum was trailing Hill and he banged heads with Love. It wasn’t pretty.

Love spent a few minutes on the ground, went straight to the locker room, and did not return to the game.

LeBron James is going to have to carry even more load in Game 7, and now more pressure falls on George Hill (the bellwether for this Cavs team), J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and others to step up without Love there to space the floor and get buckets.

Report: Raptors interview Spurs’ assistants Ettore Messina, Ime Udoka for coaching job

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It’s not officially a coaching search until some Spurs’ assistants are interviewed.

So it looks like the Toronto Raptors’ search is underway.

Raptors’ president Masai Ujiri fired Dwane Casey right after Casey’s peers voted him Coach of the Year for leading the Raptors to 59 wins and the No. 1 seed in the East. That said, after several frustrating years of running into the brick wall that is LeBron James in the East, maybe the Raptors did need a new voice and some changes to try to take the next step (especially with Boston and Philadelphia coming on fast in the East hierarchy).

But if you’re going to fire a 59-win Coach of the Year kind of guy, you better have an impressive replacement in hand or at least a clear plan.

Ujiri reportedly wanted Mike Budenholzer, but the former Hawks’ head coach took the job in Milwaukee after meeting with Toronto.

The leading candidate for the job is still considered to be Nick Nurse, the Raptors’ assistant who was in charge of their changed and improved offense last season. The Raptors also interviewed two other internal candidates, assistant coach Rex Kalamian and G-League coach Jerry Stackhouse.

Casey, by the way, is the target of the Detroit Pistons.