Report: Celtics low-balled Cavaliers on Kevin Love trade talks at deadline

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It was highly unlikely the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to trade Kevin Love at the deadline last month. They tested the market to evaluate what they might get back, but in reality management wanted to see what a healthy LeBron James/Kyrie Irving/Love trio could do in the playoffs.

There were a lot of rumors at the deadline about talks with Boston — Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge is looking for the elite star his roster needs, and they have a lot of affordable and solid role players in their rotation, plus draft picks galore to sweeten the deal.

But those talks didn’t get as hot as had been rumored, reports Zach Lowe at ESPN.

If they lose again, I’d bet big on Love being elsewhere — a split that might end up the best thing for everyone. Cleveland and Boston had trade talks for Love at the deadline, though they died with Boston offering a low-ball package the Cavs wouldn’t consider, according to several league sources. Even if Boston’s interest has faded, someone will call Cleveland about Love around the draft. Wiggins has more trade value than Love now, but that deal was the right move at the time.

There is a lot to go over in that paragraph.

Let’s put the last thing first — the Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins was the right trade at the time for the Cavaliers. Yes, as it was happening we knew this might not look like a good trade five years or so down the line — that is if Wiggins developed, there were questions about his jumper and competitiveness — but the Cavaliers were not playing for five years down the line. The second LeBron made his prodigal son announcement, Cleveland management slayed the fatted calf and went into win-now mode. Love could help them win now, Wiggins was years away, and LeBron wanted Love.

Love has helped them win. While we pick apart the flaws in the Cavaliers, this is still a mid-50s win team with an elite offense that is likely headed to the NBA Finals. Again. The problem is what likely awaits the Cavaliers in those finals — Golden State or maybe San Antonio — are more balanced and selfless rosters that will be able to expose those flaws and take care of business. One of those flaws is the LeBron/Love pick-and-roll, which Lowe notes every team switches and forces the Cavs into a more stagnant isolation play. Cleveland falls into these stagnant moments a lot, they still look like talented players playing next to each other, not with each other enough. Another of those flaws will be Love’s defense, especially with J.R. Smith and Irving out top. Read Lowe’s story for a fantastic breakdown of it all.

The Cavaliers are still a win-now team — LeBron is 31 years old and showing some slippage in his game (but he’s still likely the second best player in the NBA when he turns it up to 11). If trading Love to fill other holes defensively and grab a guy better suited as a pure stretch four comes together, then that may well happen this summer. Especially if LeBron wants it to happen. He’s not leaving Cleveland but when he stays he has the power to push for things in the organization.

Moving Love may be best for everyone involved, but it’s not going to be a panacea for anyone.

And the Cavaliers are not going to take pennies on the dollar back, either.

Scoot Henderson says he has skills to be No.1 pick but not hung up on it

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
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Scoot Henderson came out like a man on a mission Tuesday night against the Metropolitans 92 and Victor Wembanyama — he was in attack mode. He used his explosive athleticism to get to the rim, his impressive body control to get off good shots, and his strength to finish with authority. And if the defender played back, he would drain the jumper over him.

A year ago, Jaylen Brown called him the best 17-year-old he’d ever seen. Scoot is better than that now.

Many years, Henderson would be a clear No.1 overall pick. But, not this year, Wembanyama has that crown because he breaks the mold with his size and skill set (in the NBA, height still wins out).

Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer asked Henderson why he should be the top prospect and got a confident answer.

There will be a lot of people making the Henderson case this season — and with good reason. He could be a franchise cornerstone player for the next decade.

Henderson, however, is trying not to get hung up on No.1 vs. No.2.

There’s a long list of legendary players selected No.2: Bill Russell, Kevin Durant, Jerry West, Jason Kidd, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Henderson can be one of them.

Unless Wembanyama’s medicals come back with red flags, he is destined to be the No.1 pick next June. That, however, will not be the end of Henderson’s story. Instead, it will be just the beginning.

Doc Rivers says he wants Harden to be ‘a scoring Magic Johnson’

Philadelphia 76ers Media Day
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We’re not in Houston anymore.

James Harden in Philadelphia will not be chasing scoring titles and dominating the game in quite the same way. Instead, he’s been asked to be more of a facilitator — but not too much of one. Doc Rivers told the team at ESPN’s NBA Today he wants scoring to go with the facilitating. Just like one of the all-time greats.

“I think we’ve talked so much about him being a facilitator… I need him to be James Harden too. If I had to combine, I would say a scoring Magic Johnson, I don’t know, but that’s what I want him to be. I want him to be a James Harden, but in that, I want him to also be the facilitator of this basketball team too. So in a lot of ways, his role is growing bigger for our team, and I just want him to keep thinking, ‘Do both.'”

Just play like Magic, no pressure there. For his career, Magic averaged 19.5 points a game (with four over 20 PPG) with 11.2 assists.

Harden can get close enough to Rivers’ lofty goals to make Philly a real threat, so long as defenders still fear his first step and step back. Harden can get his shot and get to the line, and he’s long been a great passer who has averaged 10.5 assists a game over the past two seasons. Now it’s just a matter of finding the balance of when to set up Joel Embiid, when to turn the offense over to Tyrese Maxey, and when to get his own shot.

Philadelphia is a deep team poised to win a lot of regular season games — the Sixers being the top seed in the East is absolutely in play. The questions Harden — and, to a degree, Embiid — have to answer come in May, when the second round of the playoffs start and Harden has faded while Embiid has had poor injury luck. In a deep East with Milwaukee, Boston, and maybe Miami and Brooklyn in the contender mix, there is no margin for error.

A Magic-like Harden would be a big boost for the Sixers in that setting.

As he chases record, LeBron says he has ‘no relationship’ with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers
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Later this season, health permitting, LeBron James will pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Kareem has said LeBron has earned it, but also has called out LeBron on COVID issues (something Abdul-Jabbar apologized for). Have the two legends started to build a relationship as LeBron marches toward the record? Not so much.

“No thoughts, no relationship.”

This question was asked of LeBron days after Abdul-Jabbar slammed former LeBron teammate Kyrie Irving in a Substack newsletter, calling him a “comical buffoon” and saying he is a poor role model. Abdul-Jabbar has been a vocal proponent of getting the vaccine, Irving remains unvaccinated, and LeBron has posted on social media questioning the severity of the virus and the response. Plus, LeBron and Irving are friends, which could have sparked LeBron’s terse response (as could the fact he was ready to get out of the arena after a dull preseason game).

A week earlier at media day, LeBron had been kinder when discussing Abdul-Jabbar and chasing his record.

“And you know, obviously Kareem has had his differences, with some of my views and some of the things that I do. But listen, at the end of the day, to be able to be right in the same breath as a guy to wear the same [Lakers] uniform, a guy that was a staple of this franchise along with Magic and Big Game [James Worthy] over there for so many years, especially in the 80s, and a guy that does a lot off the floor as well,” LeBron said. “I think it’s just super duper dope for myself to be even in that conversation.”

Abdul-Jabbar has been more of a public persona in recent years, both around the game of basketball and discussing social justice issues through his writings. The NBA named its new social justice award after him. With that has come new relationships around the league.

One of those is not with LeBron. Will Abdul-Jabbar be in the building when LeBron does break the record?

We’ve got months for this relationship to evolve — if it does — before that big day.

 

Watch Zion Williamson score 13 in return to court for Pelicans

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Zion Williamson is back.

He certainly looked in better shape and flashed his insane explosiveness on his way to 13 points and four rebounds in 15 minutes Tuesday night against the Bulls, his first game after missing all of last season following foot surgery.

There was some rust, and the Pelicans are wisely bringing him along slowly and not breaking out the entire playbook for a preseason game, but in the moments we saw Zion looked like he was all the way back.

The questions now are can he sustain it, and how to the Pelicans mesh him with other scoring options in CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram.

And maybe we shouldn’t leave rookie Dyson Daniels off that list, he looked good in his first NBA preseason game.

The Pelicans are one of the most intriguing teams this season, a team that made the playoffs last season with a push after McCollum arrived, and now they add the elite interior scoring and athleticism of Zion to Ingram’s outside shot and slashing, not to mention and a solid core of role players. This team has top six potential if it can get stops. But in a deep West, nothing will be easy.