When the Cavaliers made the trade deadline deal with the Lakers last February, they got Larry Nance Jr. (the son of a Cavs legend) and Jordan Clarkson (surrendering Channing Frye, Isaiah Thomas and a 2018 1st round draft pick that became Moritz Wagner).
Nance is the one the Cavaliers seem intent on keeping, and they may extend him, reports Tom Withers of the Associated Press.
This seems like a good fit for both sides, if they can find a number that works. The Cavaliers are committed to not bottoming out right now — which is why Kevin Love got a new massive contract — and Nance fits with that.
This is not going to be a max contract, but Nance has made it clear he likes playing in Cleveland and wants to stay. After he came over last season he averaged 8.9 points on 55 percent shooting, 7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. Those numbers could go up with LeBron James no longer in the picture.
We’ve known this was coming for a while, and it’s a good fit, but on Saturday it finally became official.
David Nwaba is a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This is a one-year, $1.5 million contract. This gives Cleveland 13 players on guaranteed contracts, plus restricted free agent Rodney Hood (who will end up playing for the Cavaliers next season, the question is will it be for a new contract or for the qualifying offer of $3.4 million).
Nwaba is a quality pick up for the Cavaliers, he looks to have developed into a solid NBA role player. He’s a wing out of Cal Poly SLO of the Big West who showed promise for the Lakers a couple of seasons ago (spending time in the G-League as well) but got squeezed by the numbers, ended up in Chicago last season where he averaged 7.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game playing 23 minutes a night. Then he got squeezed by the numbers in Chicago as well and became a free agent.
He’s going to have to carve out minutes in Cleveland. J.R. Smith will start at the two, likely with Jordan Clarkson behind him (to play next to rookie point guard Colin Sexton), at the three it will be a mix of Cedi Osman, Kyle Korver, and Sam Dekkar. There are minutes to be had there, and Nwaba is plenty familiar with having to prove himself to get run. Nwaba will find a role.
Cleveland’s Jordan Clarkson had to work hard to represent the Philippines in the Asian Games — it’s not a tournament the NBA traditionally releases players for, and it took a while to convince the league to let him go.
Once there, Clarkson looked like an NBA player going against inferior talent.
In his final game of the tournament (highlights above) he finished with 29 points on 12-of-16 shooting, plus added six assists, in a 109-55 route of Syria. With that, Clarkson’s Philippines team secured fifth place in the tournament.
Clarkson averaged 26 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game in the tournament.
China won the Asian games, and Zhou Qi averaged 15.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4 blocks per game.
When basketball international coordinating body FIBA came up with its ridiculous soccer-style qualifying system for the 2019 World Cup — putting qualifying windows in the middle of the seasons of the NBA and other major leagues around the world — they knew that they were essentially banning most country’s best players from competing. (The USA has used a team of G-League players, for example, but it’s harder on other nations who do not have as deep a talent pool.)
There was one exception: A September 2018 qualifying window. Games would primarily fall in mid-September before NBA training camps are open but when teams have opened their facilities to players for organized runs. (For example, the USA plays on Sept. 14 in Las Vegas against Uruguay, then in Panama on Sept. 17.)
NBA players are mostly taking a pass. In recent days the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Clippers’ Danilo Gallinari, and the Spurs Marco Belinelli have all said they would not play for their respective nations in this qualifying window. The USA didn’t even consider it and will have its G-Leaguers coached by Jeff Van Gundy.
This is not universal. Jusuf Nurkic has said he will play in the Bosnian and Herzegovinian qualifiers (although we will see if that happens, he did just sign a new four-year contract with the Blazers this summer). Jordan Clarkson is playing for the Philippines in the Asian Games and is on that squad’s roster for the qualifiers. The Serbian coach has put Nikola Jokic and four other NBA players on his potential roster submitted to FIBA, but that seems more to be him covering his bases just in case, not something likely to happen. Others might jump in.
But by and large, NBA players — and the biggest names — are taking a pass. Once again, well done FIBA on finding a way to water down the quality of the product for the second most popular sport on the planet to make more money.
Some NBA players — Evan Fournier, Timofey Mozgov, others — took part in the July qualifying window.
When the USA heads to China for the World Cup next summer (it still has to qualify, but that is highly likely) it will be a Gregg Popovich-coached team of NBA stars, 35 of whom just showed up for a USA Basketball mini-camp in Las Vegas. But that is a year away, until then enjoy most nation’s second string trying to get their country there.
Channing Frye is in a unique position. He has played with LeBron James for years and helped bring a title to Cleveland with him. However, at the deadline he was sent to the rebuilding Lakers as part of the Larry Nance/Jordan Clarkson deal, so he also has played with Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and the rest of the young Lakers’ core.
Those experiences inform Frye’s opinions when Erik García Gundersen of the USA Today’s LeBron Wire asked him how smoothly LeBron would fit with the Lakers.
“I’ll tell you this: (the young Lakers are) arguably the most talented group in the NBA. And I mean talented in terms of experience, years playing in the Western Conference and they’re overall position.
I think the thing they’re going to come to and I think a lot of guys are going to have to deal with this. There’s who you expect to be and then who you are when you play with LeBron. It’s two different things. I don’t know if they truly understand what it’s like to play with him because there is no room for mistakes. Because in all actuality, he could do it himself. He could lead a team to 40 wins by himself. I think for all of them they’re going to have to have a reality check, not only them but the people around them. There’s going to say, not a growing period, but a humility.”
Chris Bosh, Kevin Love and a host of other guys would be very happy to explain just how much players need to adapt to playing with LeBron. The Lakers established a style of play and a pecking order last season, and this summer that got blown up. It’s not starting from scratch, but it’s going to be an adjustment — and it can’t take too long in an unforgiving Western Conference.
The other thing Frye notes: The Lakers now have a target on their back. Last season they were interesting, this season teams will circle this game on their schedule. The Lakers are going to get the other team’s best shot every night. LeBron is used to this, for Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and the rest it will again be an adjustment.
The Lakers are an interesting experiment this season. It’s a one-season thing, they will go hard at other stars next summer (or at the trade deadline) and the roster will get shaken up again next summer. That doesn’t make this season any easier on the Lakers, their players, or Luke Walton. LeBron’s too good to let it all come apart, but the Meme team’s dynamic will be fascinating.