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Report: Hawks offered No. 3 pick, Kent Bazemore to Cavaliers on draft night

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The Hawks traded the No. 3 pick (Luka Doncic) to the Mavericks for the No. 5 pick (Trae Young) and a future first-round pick.

But, Atlanta apparently also explored using the No. 3 pick to unload Kent Bazemore (two years, $37,359,549 remaining).

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

A source said the Cavs were offered on draft night the chance to trade up to No. 3 with the Hawks in a deal that would’ve sent Kent Bazemore to Cleveland.

Presumably, the Cavaliers would have sent the No. 8 pick – which they used on Collin Sexton – to Atlanta.

But, with or without the No. 8 pick, that trade wouldn’t have satisfied salary-cap rules. Cleveland would have had to send out matching salary.

So, what else was included? Did the Hawks want Kevin Love? Would they have taken George Hill or J.R. Smith, whose 2019-20 salaries – unlike Bazemore’s – are only partially guaranteed?

We obviously don’t know the entire offer, which opens even more questions about what Atlanta wanted. The Hawks have the Cavaliers’ top-10-protected 2019 first-round pick. Did removing those protections factor into the trade offer?

The Hawks seemed set on Young, and moving down to No. 5 ensured they got him. That wouldn’t have been the case at No. 8 with the Magic (No. 6) and Bulls (No. 7) picking in between. So, not only is the exact offer unclear, so are potential contingencies it was based on. Perhaps, Atlanta would have picked Doncic then executed the deal only if Young fell to No. 8.

Could Cleveland have gotten Doncic for taking on the overpaid, but still helpful, Bazemore? Maybe – but that’s a significant oversimplification.

Report: Cavaliers won’t trade Kevin Love if LeBron James leaves

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With every passing hour (and every tracked plane flight), it looks more and more like LeBron James is leaving Cleveland this summer. Probably for Los Angeles, but one way or another he seems gone.

Maybe owner Dan Gilbert is good with that, but it begs the question: What’s next?

One consistent report was echoed again by Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: They are not planning to trade Kevin Love. Also, they may try to bring back Jeff Green.

Sources told cleveland.com this week that the Cavs would not trade Love, a five-time All-Star who is owed about $50 million over the next two seasons, if James leaves as a free agent. Sources say James is strongly considering joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

“There is no reason to go backwards,” one source said, describing the Cavs’ situation….

Cleveland has a $5.3 million exception to the salary cap, and can go over the cap to re-sign restricted free agent Rodney Hood. The team is also interested in Jeff Green coming back. Green played on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum last season.

The Cavaliers may come around to trading Love, who has one year ($24.1 million) plus a player option year ($25.5 million) on his contract. There is no reason for the Cavaliers to start a fire sale the minute LeBron announces his new home, but the Cavaliers will be heading into a full-on rebuild, and they should start considering options through the rest of the summer and heading into the trade deadline. Kyle Korver would be a trade target by playoff teams looking for shooting. If a team ends up needing a veteran point guard maybe George Hill draws interest, but at $19 million he will difficult to move.

The challenge with trading Love would be finding a team that would take on that much salary when most are capped out. While some fans like to malign him, Love brings skills — he’s an All-Star who averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds a game, is strong on the glass and who can score inside and out.

As for Green, bringing him back should depend upon the price. Get him at the veteran minimum or something close to that again, go for it. He can be a decent if inconsistent part of the rotation. However, if another team steps up with more money, let him walk.

Report: Cavaliers trying to clear cap space to be aggressive in free agency

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The Lakers are trying to pry Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs in order to attract LeBron James and maybe Paul George.

The Cavaliers are…

Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

The Cavaliers have been working on several trade and salary-cap clearing possibilities to be aggressive in free agency

Even if they decline Kendrick Perkins‘ team option, waive unguaranteed Okaro White, renounce all their free agents besides LeBron and somehow dump George Hill, Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith without taking any salary in return… the Cavs would still have just the mid-level exception to spend.

Cleveland clearing significant cap space to appeal to LeBron is fantasy. Hopefully for their sake, the Cavaliers’ front office has other ideas. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe this report misconstrues their intentions.

Though free agency is a pipe dream, Cleveland can can upgrade it roster via trade. The two Cavs with most trade value are Kevin Love and Collin Sexton. But Cleveland reportedly plans not to trade Love, and LeBron’s camp reportedly likes Sexton.

If LeBron returns to Cleveland, it won’t be because of his supporting cast. It’s far more likely to be a reason he leaves. Again.

LeBron calls Game 1 ‘one of the toughest losses I’ve had in my career’

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OAKLAND — LeBron James has lost 28 NBA Finals games in his career. For an ultra-competitive person like LeBron, each loss comes with lost sleep and a sting all their own.

But Thursday’s Game 1 loss may have been the most painful of them all.

“It’s one of the toughest losses I’ve had in my career, well, because of everything that kind of went on with the game and the way we played,” LeBron admitted Saturday. “Obviously, we all know what happened in the game. So it was a tough 24 hours not only for (George Hill) and for myself but for our whole ballclub, because we put ourselves in a great position to be successful.

“But like I said, you give yourself a day — if you need to take two days, okay. But today you should feel excited about the opportunity to be better and be great and move forward.”

That was the message across the board from the Cavaliers heading into Game 2: Yes, Game 1 hurt, but they know they’ve got to bounce back because they believe they can earn the split on the road, then head home.

“We put the game behind us,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “It’s over. Now we’ve got to focus in on Game 2 tomorrow. that’s all we’re focused on right now.”

There was a sense among the Cavaliers that despite the punch-to-the-gut nature of the loss, it was a reminder that they are an elite team that can hang with — and beat — the favorite Warriors. They just need to clean some things up (such as transition defense) and hit their threes.

“I think regardless of what went down and the nature in which we lost, you just have to move on,” Kevin Love said, echoing the same sentiments. “I guess the silver lining for us would be the togetherness and just having one another’s backs going into Game 2. We know what to expect from this team. We were locked into our game plan. We never let the game get out of hand, which can happen here at Oracle when you have a 7-, 8-point deficit against them — it goes to 15, it goes to 20, 25, and so on and so forth.

“We felt like we fought hard. We continue to make big plays when we needed to. We made a two-minute game, and the last two minutes were tough for us. We made some mistakes, went into overtime and the game got away from us a little bit. We just have to have a good showing in Game 2 and come out and play our style.”

Do that, and we’ve got a real series on our hands.

As expected, NBA Last Two Minute Report backs referees on LeBron/Durant charge/block call

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OAKLAND — Did you really expect anything else?

While there were a lot of things that led to the Cavaliers losing Game 1 — shooting 27 percent from three, the J.R. Smith moment of legend, questionable transition defense — the thing that bothered the Cavaliers most was the reversal of a charging call on Kevin Durant with 36.4 seconds remaining. They could have been up two with the ball, and instead, Durant hit a couple of free throws and the game was tied.

The Cavaliers were livid that a review was triggered, however, and as expected, the NBA backed the officials in the Last Two Minute Report.

The crew was not reasonably certain whether James (CLE) was in the restricted area after an offensive foul was called against Durant (GSW). Upon replay review, it was confirmed that James was outside the restricted area. The referees also reviewed whether James was in a legal guarding position, which is an additional reviewable matter for this replay trigger. Replay showed James was not in a legal guarding position because he was turning his body and moving into Durant when contact occurred. Thus the initial call on the floor was overturned and James was assessed a blocking foul.

Many people were confused, and this is rare, but in the final two minutes officials can overturn a charge/block call upon review. However, that review can only be triggered by the question of whether the blocking player was in the restricted area or not (sort of like reviewing if a shot was a 3 or a 2).

There are two issues here.

The one that has the Cavaliers upset the most is that a review was triggered at all — LeBron James was not that close to the restricted area. To use the legal phrasing, the overturn is the fruit of a poisonous tree.

“They called a charge, right?” a visibly frustrated Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said after the game. “And LeBron was clearly four feet outside the restricted area. So it doesn’t make sense to go review something… He wasn’t close.”

If one were cynical, one would note that referees Ken Mauer and Tony Brothers made opposing calls on the play — one a block, one a charge — then they settled on the restricted area question to go look at the tape. They knew he was outside the area, they just wanted another look at it.

The second question is: Did they get the call right?

I think they did. I think it was a block. However, this was a bang-bang NBA play and it could be argued either way. NBA officials live in a gray area and this is right in the middle of it.

Steve Kerr was asked about the rule and said he’d like to see less replay in the NBA, not more. With charge/block calls in particular, I agree. Are referees going to get some wrong? Yes. Human error is part of the game — put in systems to lessen it, but it’s going to exist.

The league thought there was one missed call in the final two minutes: With 12.1 seconds left, the referees missed a Draymond Green foul out high on LeBron as he tried to get set for his last shot.

Also, the report says there was a lane violation on George Hill‘s second free throw, but that it did not impact the play.

Bottom line, as it always is with the Last Two Minutes Reports, it’s all moot. Nothing changes.

And we move on to Game 2 and see if the Cavaliers can bounce back from that punch to the gut.