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

48 Comments

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.

French point guard Theo Maledon declares for NBA draft

(Photo by Ivan Korzhenevskiy/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)
Leave a comment

French point guard Theo Maledon has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The six-foot-five Maledon is declaring as an Early Entry candidate from the international ranks. International players who do not turn 22 in the calendar year of the draft can declare as Early Entry players.

At 18 years old, Maledon was a part-time starter for ASVEL Basket in France in the French Pro A League. ASVEL Basket is owned in part by former NBA player Tony Park, who also serves as the club’s president. Maleon started in 23 of the 46 games he played for ASVEL Basket this season.

In 46 games with ASVEL, Maledon averaged 7.3 points per game. He shot 42.1% from the floor, including 33.3% on three-pointers. He also averaged 2.7 assists per game. In mid-January, against former NBA player Shane Larkin and Turkish club Anadolu Efes, Maledon started and dished out 10 assists, while scoring five points and grabbing six rebounds.

In part due to his size for the point guard position, and his excellent play on the youth level, ESPN has Maledon ranked 15th in their top-100 prospects. He’s widely expected to be in the mix to be a lottery pick.

Players have until Sunday, April 26 to declare as Early Entry candidates. The deadline to withdraw as an Early Entry candidate is Monday, June 15. The 2020 NBA Draft is currently scheduled to be held on Thursday, June 25.

Report: Pacers GM Chad Buchanan turns down interview with Bulls

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Indiana Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan has reportedly declined an opportunity to interview for a front office job with the Chicago Bulls.

Buchanan joined the Pacers in 2017 as their general manager under President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. Prior to moving to Indiana, Buchanan was the assistant general manager with the Charlotte Hornets.

In turning down the Bulls opportunity, Buchanan cited how well he and his family have been treated in Indiana. Buchanan had previously worked with Pritchard when both were members of the Portland Trail Blazers front office.

Chicago is replacing John Paxson and Gar Forman at the top of their front office structure. Paxson and Forman have led the Bulls basketball operations together since 2009. Chicago’s search will now reportedly focus on Arturas Karnisovas of the Denver Nuggets, Adam Simon of the Miami Heat and Bobby Webster of the Toronto Raptors.

This Day in NBA History: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar becomes NBA’s all-time scoring leader

Leave a comment

It was fitting he did it with a skyhook.

On April 5, 1984, in a game against the Utah Jazz (played in a sold-out Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took a pass from Magic Johnson, swung left, and drained a hook shot that gave him career point No. 31,420, moving him past Wilt Chamberlain to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

The game stopped as the celebration ensued as Kareem’s teammates swarmed the captain. He was taken out of the game at that point, done for the night.

Abdul-Jabbar wasn’t done scoring, however. H retired five seasons later with 38,387 points, a record that stands to this day.

Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t have home court, players forced to workout with what they have

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo is spending much of his time during the coronavirus-imposed hiatus working out, helping care for his newborn son and playing occasional video games.

What the reigning MVP isn’t doing very often is shooting baskets since the NBA has closed team practice facilities.

“I don’t have access to a hoop,” the Milwaukee Bucks forward said Friday during a conference call. “A lot of NBA players might have a court in their house or something, I don’t know, but now I just get my home workouts, (go) on the bike, treadmill, lift weights, stay sharp that way.”

The hiatus is forcing thousands of athletes, pro and otherwise, to work out from home as they try to keep in shape. Equipment varies from player to player, too.

“It all comes down to what they have and what they’re capable of doing,” Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “We can do a lot of body weight stuff. That’s how they stay ready. That’s the most I can offer as a coach for them to stay ready. I can’t say ‘Hey, can you find access to a gym?’ That would be bad management on my part.”

For instance, Pierce said Hawks guard Kevin Huerter has access to a gym in New York and guard Jeff Teague owns a gym in Indiana.

Other players face different situations.

“I’ve seen LeBron’s Instagram,” Pierce said of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. “LeBron has a house with a full weight room and he has an outdoor court. He’s got a different reality right now that gives him a little more access to continue the normal. (Hawks rookie) Cam Reddish lives in an apartment and it’s probably a two-bedroom apartment. He can’t go in the apartment weight room because it’s a public facility. So he’s limited in all things.”

Bucks coach Mike Budenhlolzer said he wanted his players to focus on keeping their bodies in shape and conceded that logistics surrounding the pandemic would make it tougher for them to do any basketball-specific activities.

The Bucks are still finding ways to stay sharp.

Bucks players said team officials have made sure they all have the necessary exercise equipment. Antetokounmpo noted the Bucks also had a catering company bring food to make sure they maintain a proper diet. Center Brook Lopez said workout plans have been sent to them via a phone app.

“They’ve done a really good job of getting everything taken care of and still having tailored workouts for each individual player despite the situation,” Lopez said.

But it’s difficult for them to work on their shooting without access to a court.

“Since the practice facility is closed down, I don’t have any access to a basketball goal unless I go to one of my neighbors’ houses and shoot outside,” Bucks forward Khris Middleton said. “There’s really no basketball for me. It’s basically like Giannis said. Treadmill, jump rope, some weights and that’s it. I have a couple of basketballs I can dribble in my house or outside, but no actual goal to shoot on.”

Pierce noted that Huerter recently asked him when players would be able to get back into the Hawks’ practice facility.

“I told him, ‘I’ll tell you when we won’t,” Pierce said. “We won’t in April.”