Report: Cavaliers players say they ‘had lost faith’ due to lack of depth and roster construction

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Before the season began, the Cavaliers were among the favorites to win the NBA title. But after a much slower than expected start, the belief within the locker room that the team could truly contend began to disappear.

From Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

Under the condition of anonymity, members of the Cavaliers’ roster admitted that they had lost faith due to the lack of depth and structure of the roster. A handful of players said they came to the realization that the roster, as it was constructed prior to the trades, wasn’t equipped to go any further than the second round, if that.

One player claimed the frustration of an “unbalanced roster probably contributed” to the team’s poor body language and effort level they were putting out. Another player vehemently said “it was never Coach [David] Blatt’s fault.”

A couple of recent trades may have changed that perception. Cleveland added some much-needed depth by trading for J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, and added an interior defensive presence in Timofey Mozgov to replace the injured Anderson Varejao.

The Cavaliers may not be done dealing, either.

The team was expected to hang onto the odd contract of Brendan Haywood to dangle in trade this summer, because while he’s only on the books for $2.2 million this season, he has one more non-guaranteed year at $10.5 million that could help bring a superstar back in trade by making the salaries match.

But now, it appears as though they may try to use it to further bolster the depth on the roster this season.

From Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com:

The Cavs are still trying to upgrade their backup point guard spot, but that probably won’t happen until closer to the trade deadline. If they can’t find one in trade, they may have to wait until one they like is bought out or until late March when the Chinese League season ends.

There have been whispers throughout the season the Cavs may trade Brendan Haywood’s unique contract before this summer, when it reaches its maximum value. Those whispers are growing louder. In fact, if the Cavs are to upgrade their backup point guard position through trade, they will inevitably have to include Haywood just to make the money match. And from all indications, they’ll have no problem moving Haywood’s contract if the right point guard becomes available. But they won’t know that until closer to the Feb. 19 trade deadline.

Cleveland has finally gotten rolling a little bit, and after a 39-point victory over the Hornets on Friday, the team has now won five straight. That more than anything will restore the faith in the locker room that the Cavaliers may indeed be capable of doing something special.

Report: Kyrie Irving picked Nets over Knicks because of Knicks management

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Kyrie Irving wanted to play at home. But the NBA has two teams near New Jersey, where Irving grew up.

Why did he pick the Nets over the Knicks?

Frank Isola of The Athletic:

“When it came down to the Nets and Knicks he was concerned about the management of the Knicks,” said a person familiar with Irving’s thinking. “It’s really as simple as that.”

Irving is not alone. Many NBA players distrust Knicks management.

Right now, it’s easy to see why. The lousy roster and finger-pointing are indicators of even bigger problems. It starts at the top with owner James Dolan.

Until Dolan sells the team (good luck with that) or hires an executive capable enough to overcome Dolan (i.e., not Steve Mills, Phil Jackson or Steve Mills), the Knicks will be fighting an uphill battle.

Are these the new Mavericks alternate jerseys?

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The Mavericks want you to take them seriously. They traded up for Luka Doncic, traded for Kristaps Porzingis then signed a bunch of solid role players. Dallas became a good team through brute force.

Then these make the rounds…

Though the Mavericks haven’t announced anything, that would be an elaborate fake of a new alternate jersey.

These are pretty ridiculous. Dallas has the added misfortunate of using a graffiti-influenced font just after the Nets and Clippers did – only the Mavericks’ is more cartoonish.

But I’m absolutely certain, in several years, there will be major nostalgia for these as throwbacks.

Gordon Hawyard admits he’s frustrated by latest injury

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Following a gruesome leg injury that robbed him of a couple of years of his career, Gordon Hayward was finally starting to look and feel like himself — like the All-Star from Utah the Celtics thought they were signing. Hayward averaged 18.9 points per game, shot 43.3 percent from three, pulled down 7.1 rebounds, and dished out 4.1 assists per game. He was a playmaker Brad Stevens could lean on.

Then Hayward fractured the fourth metacarpal bone in his left hand on a fluke play. Hayward had surgery to repair it and will be out for six weeks.

Of course Hayward is frustrated. Via NBC Sports Boston:

“Like I said, happy that it shouldn’t be that long. Obviously frustrated — it sucks watching and not being able to go out there and play, especially with the start that we’ve had. I think this time around, I’ll be able to run around, use my legs still, maintain my conditioning, which I’m very thrilled about and then be around the team, too. And kinda stay involved, which is good…

“I think we’ll take it, as cliche as it sounds, we’ll take it day by day and week by week and it’s one of those things that, once the bone is healed, then it’s kind of how much can you tolerate and how well does my body handle with the swelling, kind of how well it takes ramping up activities and doing different basketball things,” said Hayward. “Honestly, looking at the plan that we set up today and just kind of attacking each day. Hopefully, I’ll be back sooner rather than later.”

The 9-1 Celtics can afford to be patient bringing him back. No need to rush it. They are a deep and talented team, but they need Hayward at his playmaking and scoring best to be a real playoff threat. Hayward should be back around New Year’s Day, why risk his hand issues becoming chronic so he can play in games in December?

Hayward, a competitor, is not going to want to be patient. After everything he’s been through with injuries, hard to blame him.

 

Russell Westbrook on Patrick Beverley: ‘He don’t guard nobody, man. He just running around doing nothing’

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Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley have a history.

After his Rockets beat Beverley’s Clippers last night, Westbrook fanned the flames.

Mark Berman of FOX 26:

Westbrook ripping someone else for phony defensive effort? That’s rich. Westbrook is the king of that style.

Beverley is one of the NBA’s best defensive guards. Sure, he has antics. But there’s an underlying effectiveness behind all his bark.

James Harden scoring 47 points hardly disproves Beverley’s defensive ability. Harden’s output by defender:

  • Beverley: 4 points on 1-of-9 shooting
  • Other: 43 points on 11-of-17 shooting