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Report: Cavaliers willing to take on long-term salary in trades

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The Cavaliers, somewhat inadvertently, had a two-step plan for attracting back LeBron James after losing him in 2010:

1. Remain in Northeast Ohio, where he’s from

2. Accumulate assets that could be flipped into winning players

The Cavs completed the first step by remaining in Cleveland. They executed the second step by not only losing, but also parlaying lottery luck into especially high draft picks. The Cavaliers landed the No. 1 pick in three of their four LeBron-less years.

But only two of those No. 1 picks originally belonged to the Cavs. They got the 2011 top pick as an unprotected Clippers first-rounder earlier that year in exchange for taking Baron Davis’ toxic contract. Well worth the opportunity to draft Kyrie Irving.

Now, again in the dumps without LeBron, Cleveland is eying a similar strategy.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

In conversations the Cavs have had around the league, they’ve begun to express that they’ll be willing to take on long-term salary as the trade deadline approaches, league sources said.

The Cavaliers aren’t any good now. They don’t project to be any good soon. Cleveland is not a free agent destination. This probably the best use of the Cavs’ cap space.

They have a few players who’d be useful in such trades:

  • George Hill ($19 million salary this season, $1 million of $18 million guaranteed next season)
  • J.R. Smith ($14.72 million salary this season, $3.87 million of $15.68 million guaranteed next season)
  • Alec Burks ($11,536,515 salary on expiring contract)

The Cavaliers would accept burdensome, longer contracts in exchange for sweeteners – draft picks, valuable players. The other team would get cap relief after this season.

Burks, just acquired from the Jazz, can be flipped only until the upcoming trade deadline. Hill could still be traded after the season, but his salary would count only at his guaranteed amount for 2019-20, undercutting the viability of dealing him after the trade deadline.

But, because he signed under the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, Smith will count at his full salary – even after the season. So, there’s not the same urgency to deal him. (Which is why Cleveland is keeping him on the roster despite sending him home.)

Becoming a salary-dumping ground makes the Cavs more likely to lose longer, but that’s OK for a couple reasons:

1. They’re likely to lose, anyway.

2. They owe the Hawks a top-10-protected first-rounder this season or next.

If the pick doesn’t convey either year, Cleveland will instead send Atlanta two second-rounders – likely far less valuable than the first-rounder.

It’s a good time for the Cavaliers to be very bad. They should make the most of it. It’ll pay off once they’re eventually good again.

Devin Booker tries to meet Gorgui Dieng in locker room after both get ejected (VIDEO)

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NBA players like to talk a big game about getting into fights with one another. It rarely actually happens, and when things get a little too heated sometimes we get a little extracurricular activity that helps us weave the tapestry that is the story of the NBA.

As the Minnesota Timberwolves took on the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, Gorgui Dieng and Devin Booker decided to have a little chat with one another. The two got into a jawing match after a play in the third quarter when Dieng elbowed Booker in the face.

Booker took exception to that and decided to start flapping his gums at Dieng. Both were ejected after official review, and as they exited to opposite sides of the floor, Booker appeared to make eye contact with Dieng and accept an offer to meet him in the concourse under the stands that lead to the locker rooms.

The Suns guard then had to be restrained from running at full speed to meet Dieng.

Via Twitter:

Devin Booker vs. Gorgui Dieng is the bitter rivalry you didn’t know you needed.

Report: Anthony Davis fears fractured finger, could be out up to a month

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New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis hurt his hand against the Portland Trail Blazers earlier last week. Initial reports had Davis missing 1-2 weeks with a sprained finger.

Now it appears things could be much worse.

Reports surfaced on Tuesday night that Davis could be facing a potential fracture in his left index finger. If that’s the case, Davis could miss anywhere from 2-4 weeks with a more serious injury.

Via Twitter:

The Pelicans cannot afford to have Davis out for that amount of time. The team has not met expectations this season, and are struggling to stay in playoff contention as we near the All-Star break.

If Davis is going to miss significant time, now is probably the best place in the NBA calendar. The real problem is that the Pelicans won’t be able to stay afloat without him. Even with Davis on the floor, New Orleans has struggled to win recent games against top Western Conference opponents like the Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

It’s probably too much to extrapolate this into what this could mean for Davis staying with the Pelicans, but it’s natural to wonder whether a missed postseason could push Davis to ask for a trade out of Louisiana.

If he’s not on the floor, the Pelicans probably aren’t winning games without Davis. That could spell disaster for their playoff hopes, and in turn, alter the future of the franchise.

Kevin Durant challenged Draymond Green to better control his emotions

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Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green has often let his emotions get the better of him. Green famously missed Game 5 of the NBA finals in 2016 after he repeatedly kicked LeBron James in the crotch.

Meanwhile, things have been heated in the Golden State locker room like never before. It’s bubbled over to the public sphere, with Kevin Durant and Green seemingly at odds at different times during this year.

Things seem to have studied in the meantime, particularly after Stephen Curry returned to the lineup At the beginning of December. But Durant and Green are still trying to find a way to work together to win another championship in the Bay Area.

According to a story from The Athletic, that meant a challenge from Durant to Green to maintain his emotions and to keep himself in check.

Via The Athletic:

Durant told Green he wasn’t accepting the emotional excuse. Green’s fire is what makes him great even if it also makes him volatile. But Durant wasn’t buying that it’s uncontrollable. He’s seen Green control it. He’s seen him keep his composure in the crucible of championship stakes. He’s seen him locked in and focused, forcing his emotions to submit to his will.

So Durant challenged him to be better. Green accepted.

Green has had a down year and it’s not clear Why that is. Is he simply aging? Or is this more due to the internal strife in the Warriors locker room?

No matter what, Golden State will need a semblance of the old Draymond Green to win NBA title this year. This agreeent between the two stars should be helpful both in healing their wounds and moving toward their shared goal.

These guys might not ever fully reconcile, but another championship ring could act as a salve.

Paul George joined Knicks fans in cheering for Raymond Felton (VIDEO)

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There’s not much to cheer about at Madison Square Garden these days. Kristaps Porzingis is still not playing for the New York Knicks, and it’s not clear whether the team will land a big free agent like Kevin Durant this summer or strike out and continue their run of dismal play.

As such, it makes sense that New York fans are trying to keep themselves entertained, and that includes during Knicks games.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder came to town on Monday night, fans in Manhattan found themselves cheering for a former Knicks player on the Thunder bench. With the game out of reach, it only seemed appropriate.

In the fourth quarter, MSG started a chant for Raymond Felton, who played for the Knicks for three seasons over two stays. As cheers rained down from the stands, even Paul George got involved in the action.

Via Twitter:

George scored 31 points as the Thunder rolled New York, 127-109.