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Report: Cavaliers explored trading Kyrie Irving last June, before his request

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Last summer’s trade request from Kyrie Irving came out of the blue for a lot of fans, and confused people — why would he want to leave a team that had been to three consecutive Finals and has the best player on the planet in LeBron James? Was his ego so big he had to do it his way?

That’s not how Irving saw it, he saw a team he thought no longer wanted him.

The Cavaliers explored trading Irving before he ever made his request, reports ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, who had a lengthy interview with Irving about the trade that sent him to Boston (and detailing Irving’s rise, it’s worth a read).

What they didn’t know was Cleveland had explored trading Irving in June, long before he asked out, a fact conveniently omitted when word of his demand leaked. Irving made the decision to remain silent while the details of his request were, in his word, “distorted.”

“I didn’t feel the need to say anything because I knew the truth, and so did they,” he says. “So it didn’t matter what others said.”

“They didn’t want me there,” he says….

In mid-June, shortly before Griffin left, team and league sources confirm, the Cavs explored a three-way deal with Phoenix and Indiana that would have shipped Irving and Frye to the Suns and brought Eric Bledsoe and Paul George to Cleveland. The Suns resisted, unwilling to part with their No. 4 pick, which they planned to use to draft Josh Jackson.

MacMullan asked LeBron James about Irving not being wanted, and he responded: “That makes absolutely no sense.”

The Suns were one of the teams in the Irving trade talks after his request, but it certainly is possible this was explored before.

What matters here is perception — Irving didn’t feel wanted. For whatever reason (the fact LeBron and Bledsoe are both represented by Rich Paul, a good friend of LeBron’s, played into that). So he tried to be proactive (especially with the specter of LeBron’s free agency in 2018 looming). Irving certainly feels wanted and loved in Boston.

Another critical part of the perception of what is going on: “explored” is a vague term. Teams “explore” trades on a very surface level for everyone on their roster (or close to it), because they want to gauge the value of that player to other teams, sort of a check on their own perception of the player’s value. This may well have been more than that, we don’t know how far down the “explored” road this three-way trade really went. Maybe a long way, maybe not that far. But it’s not how Irving perceived it.

Finally, the Cavaliers had just lost to the Warriors in the Finals, and Golden State looked (and looks) like a juggernaut. Cleveland’s goal is to win a ring, and that means making the roster better — more shooting, more wing defenders, more versatility. Would a combination of Bledsoe and George for Irving make the Cavaliers better? On paper yes, certainly defensively it would improve their matchups with the Warriors — and that was the only goal. There are few tradable assets on the Cavaliers at this point (Irving and Kevin Love were the only players who would return meaningful value) so then GM David Griffin explored it. Is that part of the reason (or the main reason) Dan Gilbert didn’t renew Griffin’s contract? Who knows. Gilbert is notoriously hard to work for and has not renewed the contract of any GM he’s had.

What matters is Irving wanted out by this point, and it got dropped in the lap of new GM Koby Altman on his first day on the job. He did about as well with an Irving trade as could have been expected.

Irving is his own guy, not always easy to read. His motivations can seem a mystery to outsiders at times. But like all superstars (and players in general) he wants to be wanted, and that feeling was gone in Cleveland. Which started a chain of moves that shook up the Eastern Conference.

Andre Iguodala out for Warriors again in Game 5; Klay Thompson available

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The Warriors missed Andre Iguodala in Game 4 against Houston. They don’t have a Death/Hamptons 5 lineup without him. Without his depth, the Warriors had to lean more on players such as Kevon Looney (who started), Nick Young, and others who are can be a liability at the high level of play in this series. Not having Iguodala to keep minutes down, play fierce defense, move the ball on offense, and be a stabilizing force was one of the issues that led to the Warriors fourth-quarter issues in Game 4.

Now they are without him for Game 5, too.

Having Klay Thompson on the court is huge for Golden State, although it will be worth monitoring to see how he moves.

The Warriors have gotten sucked into the switching/isolation game the Rockets want to play, if they are going to take Game 5 on the road they need to get back to “the beautiful game” they want to play. That would have been easier with Iguodala.

Two years after NBA retirement, Amar’e Stoudemire talking comeback

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NBA teams seemed to have moved on from Amar’e Stoudemire. After an impressive NBA career — five-time All-NBA, Rookie of the Year, six-time All-Star — he wasn’t physically the explosive player that dazzled with the Suns. Teams were interested in getting younger and more athletic, and Stoudemire was doing neither. He retired from the NBA and played for a season in Israel where he won a league title. This summer he’s signed up to play with the Big3.

After that he’,d like another crack at the NBA. When asked about an NBA comeback, here’s what Stoudemire told CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter on ‘Reiter’s Block’:

“I am. I am. I’m definitely planning on (coming back). I’ve been training like you wouldn’t believe, my body feels great. I had an amazing year last year playing overseas and so I’m gonna definitely continue to work my way back to top shape and see if there’s a team that needs my talents.”

I’m not sure there’s going to be much demand. Maybe a team does an old friend a favor and brings him in for some workouts. However, his knees and body struggled with the physical grind of the NBA the final few seasons of his career, and it’s unlikely with age that got better. No doubt he’s worked on his conditioning and strength, but Father Time always wins the race and it already felt like this chase was over.

That said, good on Stoudemire for not giving up on the dream. His agent should be making calls, maybe he can become the second player to make the Big3 to NBA leap.

 

 

Kristaps Porzingis after conversation with David Fizdale: ‘Man im excited!’

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David Fizdale learned a lot of lessons in his first go around as a head coach, spending 101 games with the Memphis Grizzlies. At the top of the list: Build a strong bond with your star player. Or else.

Fizdale is trying to do that, saying he would fly to Latvia this summer to spend time with Kristaps Porzingis. But first came a phone call, and that seemed to go very well.

It’s not just Porzingis. Fizdale was bonding with Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Damyean Dotson on Wednesday night in Boston. A little “this is where we want to be” motivation.

Good on Fizdale for all of this.

The Knicks got the best coach for them on the board in Fizdale, and so far the new front office — general manager Scott Perry and president Steve Mills — are making smart decisions. Knicks fans should be optimistic. Knicks ownership just needs to be patient (not James Dolan’s strong suit), because with no Porzingis for a large portion if not all of next season the team will struggle. Wins will be hard to come by. Fizdale needs a season to develop players and lay the foundation for what he wants to build, while the new front office needs time to clean up the salary cap mess that is New York right now.

With some patience, the Knicks could have something special in a few years. And Fizdale may have found the right home for his talents because he’s already got players buying in.

Report: Police officers involved in Sterling Brown’s arrest suspended 15, 10 and two days

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Bucks guard Sterling Brown was tased and arrested in January despite not being violent or overly combative while being questioned about a parking violation.

Gina Barton, Mary Spicuzza and Ashley Luthern of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The Milwaukee police officer who first confronted Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown outside a Walgreens in January was suspended for two days, the Journal Sentinel has learned.

Two supervisors who later arrived, escalating the situation, were suspended for 10 and 15 days, sources said. Several other officers were reprimanded.

I don’t know whether these suspensions are the appropriate punishment.

But police too often trampling on the rights of people, especially minorities, is a far greater problem than these three officers and this incident.