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Report: Kyle Korver asked to be traded in summer, that he wasn’t part of Cavaliers dysfunction

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There’s a lot of competition early for the “worst team in the NBA” title. Phoenix has the worst point differential as they lean heavily on their young stars, and Orlando is scoring less than a point per possession in a league where offenses are exploding, but don’t forget the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are right in the middle of that mix with the worst defense in the NBA.

There’s a lot of competition early for the “most dysfunctional franchise in the NBA” title, with the Washington Wizards doing everything they can to run away with that “honor,” but the latest piece by Joe Varden at the Athletic makes the case the Cavaliers should be right in the middle of that mix, too.

The interesting news out of the piece was Kyle Korver having a handshake agreement to be traded if LeBron James left, but the Cavaliers saying no. Which is symbolic of the dysfunction and failure to set one clear path by the organization.

The first player Altman ever signed to a contract as GM was Kyle Korver. It was a three-year, $22 million deal inked in July of 2017, but it came with an understanding: If LeBron were to leave, the Cavs would either trade Korver or buy him out of the deal so he could move his family to his next team during the summer. So when LeBron left July 1 for the Lakers, Korver asked for the Cavs to move him. They refused because, they told him, they wanted him to play and for the team to try and win. To be fair, in the event of a Korver trade they would want maximum value in return, like a first-round pick. Anyway, the same basic message of competing now was communicated to Kevin Love before he agreed to a four-year, $120 million extension and to rest of the returning players…

In on the record commentary, time and again, veterans like Tristan Thompson have made clear there is a divide between the Cavs’ holdover vets from the LeBron glory years — like him, Smith, Frye, and Korver (Tristan didn’t mention Love, who’s gone from the team after foot surgery) — and the team’s mostly unnamed younger players. In the meantime, they’re getting their asses kicked as a team almost every night. “Team is in a very weird place right now and we have to figure it out, whether it’s a players-only meeting or coaches or front office meeting or whatever it is, we have to figure it out and let everyone know what their individual role is and what to expect,” Smith said. Except, the veterans do not expect [Larry] Drew to do this because, while they respect him greatly, they don’t think he’s the head coach because of his contract situation.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that when you hear a Cavs veteran talk about younger players not knowing their role, or knowing how to win, or what to do on the court, they mean Sexton. Throughout the organization, the line on Sexton is that he does not “know how to play.” He doesn’t know how to defend the pick and roll. He doesn’t know how to set up teammates as a point guard. He’s playing 25 minutes a night, averaging 11.1 points and 2.2 assists (2.1 turnovers) and is shooting 22 percent from 3-point range. Against the Hornets, he had as many points (four) as fouls.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, you really should go read the entire piece. Or, if you’re a Cavaliers fan, maybe don’t. It’s pretty bleak.

The Cavaliers core flaw this season was trying to walk the fine line of staying competitive — they talked openly about competing for a playoff spot — while rebuilding and playing Colin Sexton, Cedi Osman, and other young players big minutes. It’s not an impossible balance, but it takes a very different roster than the LeBron supporting cast Cleveland had in place. Plus, the Cavs need to make decisions on guys like Jordan Clarkson so he’s going to get run, too. The winning while rebuiding balance was never going to work for the Cavs — and then Kevin Love’s body betrayed him, and he will be out a couple of months with foot surgery.

Their original flaw may come from the hubris of owner Dan “my team will win without LeBron” Gilbert. Maybe it’s GM Koby Altman, maybe a combination of things. But the Cavaliers are terrible on the court and a bag of mixed messages off it right now. A clearer direction needs to be set from the top down. Is Cleveland’s ownership and management capable of setting that tone is another question.

Greek Freak makes himself at home in Paris, scores 30 points, Bucks beat Hornets

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PARIS (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 12 rebounds and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks beat the Charlotte Hornets 116-103 on Friday night in the first NBA regular-season game in France.

Milwaukee improved to 40-6 with its eighth straight victory. The Bucks have the best 46-game start in franchise history. They were 39-7 in 1970-71 when they went on to win the NBA championship.

Eric Bledsoe added 20 points and five assists for the Bucks.

Malik Monk led Charlotte with 31 points. The Hornets have lost eight in a row.

Milwaukee rallied to tie it at 78 going into the fourth quarter. Pat Connaughton put the Bucks in front with a dunk in the fourth. Then Antetokounmpo got going, drawing a foul as he slalomed through the defense.

 

Report: Needing depth at center, Dallas trades for Willie Cauley-Stein from Golden State

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Dallas took a big hit this week when center Dwight Powell went down with a torn Achilles. The Mavericks’ starting center was a critical pick-and-roll partner with Luka Doncic, a roll man and vertical threat that allowed Kristaps Porzingis to space the floor (along with other Dallas shooters), plus Powell was a solid team defender.

Willie Cauley-Stein is going to get a chance to fill that role.

Golden State is trading Cauley-Stein to Dallas for a second-round pick.

Dallas just made a trade for Justin Patton to waive him and clear out a roster spot for this trade.

Cauley-Stein is averaging an efficient 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds a game for Golden State. More importantly for Dallas, he provides the athletic dive man, a threat on the roll they need to keep things open for Doncic.

Dallas could have waited out the market to try and land a better center, but this gives them a reliable fit for minimal cost (a late second-round pick, they kept Golden State’s own second rounder). Cauley-Stein will split time at the five with Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Boban Marjanovic.

For those of you crunching the numbers at home:

For Golden State, in the short term, this move creates a couple of open roster spots. One of those likely will be used to re-sign Marquese Chriss, who was waived last week. The other roster spot likely will go to Ky Bowman.

Golden State adds a pick and a trade exception for sending out a player that was not part of their long-term plans anyway.

In trade about money/roster space, Mavericks send Isaiah Roby to Thunder for Justin Patton, cash

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We have a trade…

That shifts things around on the end of the bench in Dallas so they could create a roster spot forWillie Cauley-Stein (a trade that was announced later). A trade that is mostly about saving some and rolling the dice on a project in OKC.

Dallas is sending Isaiah Roby to OKC for Justin Patton, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

What is really going on here?

For Dallas, this is about clearing out a roster spot, it plans to waive Patton. That roster spot is going to Willie Cauley-Stein in a trade with Golden State, that was just reported. The Mavericks lost center Dwight Powell to a torn Achilles this week and needed to bring in a player or two — via trade or free agency — to help bolster the existing front line of Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Boban Marjanovic. Here is Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

The move also clears out a little cash for Dallas.

In Oklahoma City, they get a young player to develop but also save some money.

Roby has not played in an NBA game yet. The rookie out of Nebraska — taken 45th overall last June — is a development project, but one who passes the eye test for an NBA power forward. He did a lot of things well in college — scoring, rebounding, works hard off the ball — but can he do that at an NBA level? He’s played in nine G-League games this season, averaging 9.2 points and 7 rebounds a game.

 

Bulls: Lauri Markkanen out 4-6 weeks

Lauri Markkanen
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Lauri Markkanen ranked No. 34 on our list of the 50 best players in 5 years entering the season.

Instead of building toward that promise, Markkanen has underwhelmed. His shot just isn’t falling as hoped.

Now, the news get even worse.

Bulls:

The Bulls (2.5 games and two games out) have been hanging in the playoff race. But there was already little reason to believe they’d make a postseason push. Now, there’s even less rationale to predict a longshot postseason run.

Markkanen will be eligible for a contract extension next offseason. The 22-year-old can still fulfill his potential as a 7-foot shooter with defensive versatility. But he’s running out of time to show consistent contributions. That’ll make it tougher for Chicago to offer a satisfactory extension.

Two of the very things that could happen for the Bulls are Markkanen shaking off his extended slump and landing a high draft pick.

This could help with both.