Okaro White

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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.

Heat acquire Luke Babbitt from Atlanta for Okaro White

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Luke Babbitt, who was in Miami before, is back to try to knock down some threes, stop the skid the Heat have been on, and keep them in the postseason.

The Atlanta Hawks have traded Babbitt to Miami, and in exchange get injured forward Okaro White. The deal has been finalized and announced by the teams.

Atlanta wasted no time and has already waived White, who showed promise last season, but six games into this season fractured his left foot, has been out since and there is no timetable for his return.

For the Heat, they get a little shooting at the forward spot, Babbitt is hitting 44.1 percent from three this season (in a limited role for the Hawks). Babbitt started 55 games for the Heat last season, knows the system, and can help fill a role and give the team some minutes, getting playing time around Justise Winslow, James Johnson, and Josh Richardson. He adds some additional depth to the roster at a minimum-contract price.

Dion Waiters on Kyrie Irving-Heat trade possibility: ‘Just know there’s an alpha male over there too in myself’

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Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers, apparently to escape LeBron James‘ shadow.

Though a trade with the Heat appears unlikely, they made Irving’s list of preferred destinations. They have a replacement point guard (Goran Dragic) and several wings (Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder and Okaro White) who could help Cleveland.

Miami also has Dion Waiters, Irving’s former Cavs teammate and sometimes-nemesis.

What would Waiters think of Irving getting traded to Miami?

Waiters in an interview with HipHopSince1987 (hat tip: Ryne Nelson of Slam):

It would help. I’m not against that. Just know there’s an alpha male over there too in myself.

I think that’s my biggest thing with everybody. Just, “Oh he got irrational confidence.” Man, I tell everybody, if I can make it from here, I can make it from anywhere. My mom got shot. My dad got shot. C’mon bro. There ain’t nothing that I haven’t seen. Why not? I need that confidence to get through. Every day, I need that confidence to get by. Every day. It ain’t got nothin’ to do with ball. It’s who I am. It was instilled in me, man.

But you know, there’s an alpha male over there already. If you come there, we can boogie together.

First of all, there’s introspection from Waiters I haven’t always heard from him. It’s hard to be irrationally confident if you can take a step back and logically evaluate your own confidence.

Waiters also denied a rift with Irving (which both players always have and was never believable) and said he’s unsurprised by Irving’s trade request. It wouldn’t surprise me if Waiters resents how he was always the villain in the dynamic between himself and Irving when they both share similar mentalities. Nobody would have been surprised by Waiters wanting to leave a winning LeBron-led team to lead his own team. Irving’s trade request shocked the masses.

Of course, perception isn’t the only difference between Waiters and Irving. Irving is way better, which is why most expected Waiters to get in line behind Irving.

There’d be the same expectation in Miami, which seems miserable for everyone involved – even if Waiters says he’s ready to boogie.

After a dunkfest in Game 1, Cavs must slow Warriors at rim

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The first-half list of baskets for Golden State’s Kevin Durant in Game 1 of the NBA Finals went like this: layup, dunk, jumper, dunk, dunk, dunk, dunk, layup, dunk, layup.

Most were easy.

And easy isn’t supposed to happen, especially not at the rim in the NBA Finals.

Forget all the things that Cleveland did wrong offensively in Game 1, the poor shooting and the 20 turnovers and how the bench basically contributed nothing and how Rihanna got – and merited – more commentary from ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy than J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson did.

The Cavs can score. They’ll likely be better on Sunday night in Game 2. That isn’t the issue.

The issue is this: If the reigning NBA champions don’t show some toughness – especially at the rim – soon, they won’t be reigning NBA champions much longer.

“I think that’s how Cleveland is going to approach it, make it a physical game,” Michael Cooper, now the coach of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream who went through some epic Lakers-Celtics battles as a player in the 1980s, said before the series began. “Golden State wants a finesse game.”

Finesse won Game 1.

And after a team has been blown out in the playoffs, history shows that team typically tries to make a statement in Game 2 that things will be different.

Funny thing is for Cleveland, the Cavs had the answer they needed to just that three months ago in Andrew Bogut. Problem is, they only had him for 58 seconds .

Let’s clear up a misconception: Golden State’s biggest undoing on the way to blowing that 3-1 lead in last season’s NBA Finals was not Draymond Green‘s Game 5 suspension for connecting with LeBron James‘ midsection.

The Warriors lost that series because Bogut – their best rim protector – got hurt in Game 5 .

And this year, it was Cleveland’s turn to lose Bogut.

He started the year in Dallas, got traded to and ultimately waived by Philadelphia, and signed with Cleveland because the Cavs knew they needed – and wanted – another tough guy who could clog the lane and had playoff experience. And there is no doubt he would have been eager to go against the team that jettisoned him to the Mavericks to make room for Durant.

But Bogut checked into a game against Miami for his Cavs debut, collided with Heat rookie Okaro White, and broke his left leg. Season over. So while he was tweeting Thursday about Santa Claus and Australian Rules Football, Durant was dunking on the sort of nonexistent defense typically seen at an All-Star Game and not the NBA Finals.

Durant had six dunks, all in the first half.

– The first came off a great cut to beat James.

– The second, James got no help after he swiped unsuccessfully at the ball.

– The third, James slipped and again no help came.

– The fourth, Kyrie Irving didn’t stop the ball as Durant sailed past.

– The fifth, Shaun Livingston faked the Cavs out and Durant was left all alone.

– The sixth, Durant drove the lane and Smith ran away to cover Stephen Curry.

“We made a lot of mistakes. They capitalized,” James said. “And we get an opportunity to get a couple days to see what they did and see what we did wrong and how we can be better in Game 2.”

To be fair, playing the Warriors is a slew of pick-your-poison decisions. Overcommit to the lane, and their shooters will tee off from 3-point range. Overplay the perimeter, and the rim is undefended. They’ve won 28 of their last 29 games. They’re 80-15 this season. They could post the second-best record in NBA history when counting the regular season and playoffs, behind only the 1995-96 Bulls.

Today’s NBA isn’t the sort of league where someone is going to clothesline Durant or any other Warrior to send some sort of foolish overly physical message, nor should it be. Though Kevin McHale’s aggressive at-the-rim takedown of Kurt Rambis in the 1984 title matchup remains a quintessential moment in postseason lore (and swung that Celtics-Lakers series totally Boston’s way).

And this series is a long way from over. James has been on the losing end of Game 1 of the Finals seven times in eight tries. He was down 1-0 in all three of the series where he went on to win a ring. Not even a 3-1 deficit last year was enough to faze him.

But someone from Cleveland, maybe many someones, had better find a way to make life tougher for the Warriors going forward starting on Sunday.

Or else a lot more dunks are coming.

Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org

Cavaliers make it official, Andrew Bogut out for rest of season and playoffs

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Andrew Bogut had played a whopping :58 seconds for the Cleveland Cavaliers after being signed as a free agent (he had been traded to Philadephia as part of the Nerlens Noel deal, then waived) when it happened.

Bogut closed out on Miami’s Okaro White at the arc, so White put the ball on the floor and tried to drive past the big man, but White’s knee hit Bogut clean in the shin. Bogut went to the ground grabbing his leg, clearly in a lot of pain and had to be helped to the locker room. The diagnoses came back before the game was over, Bogut had a broken tibia.

Wednesday the Cavaliers announced what was expected, Bogut is done for the regular season and playoffs. From the press release:

Andrew Bogut underwent additional imaging and evaluation at the Cleveland Clinic yesterday related to his fractured left tibia. His tibia has been set and he is undergoing a non-surgical treatment and recovery plan commencing immediately with an extended period of immobilization and healing stimulation. He will not be available to play the remainder of the regular season and playoffs, but is expected to successfully complete his recovery process in advance of training camp for the 2017-18 NBA season.

While not devastating, this is a blow to the Cavaliers heading into the playoffs. Cleveland was counting on him to fill a role for them off the bench providing depth and size, essentially playing Timofey Mozgov role but with better passing and decision making. Now they remain a bit thin on the front line.