When the Cavaliers sent Kyle Korver to Utah, it was generally perceived they got back a couple second-round picks, plus Alec Burks to balance the salaries and save them some money next season (Burks is in the last year of his contract).
That sells Burks short, he guy can play (he was just losing a numbers game in Utah). With the game tied and time for a last shot in Brooklyn Monday night, coach Larry Drew put the ball in Burks’ hands and said go to work (with a pick from Rodney Hood) and…
This seems like a pretty fair trade. The 37-year-old Korver had no more on-court use to the lousy Cavs, but he can help the win-now Jazz – especially given Utah’s woeful 3-point shooting.
Korver won’t instantaneously fix the Jazz’s stalled offense, but Donovan Mitchell will appreciate increased floor spacing. Though Korver gives up something on defense, Utah center Rudy Gobert can cover for some of Korver’s mistakes.
Cleveland’s return for Korver is modest, but probably about right considering Korver’s advance age and signs of decline. The Cavaliers should have traded him – as they reportedly promised to do – before the season, when his stock was higher. Losing hurts the value of everyone involved.
The second-rounders are the main part of this package.
The Cavs also continue to take guards the Jazz are giving up on – first Rodney Hood and now Alec Burks. Though injuries have factored, Burks hasn’t been good in a few years. Burks, 27, has a higher chance of contributing to a good Cleveland team than Korver did, but the odds aren’t high. Earning $11,536,515 on the final year of his contract, Burks will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Korver is earning $7.56 million this season, and $3.44 million of his $7.5 million salary next season is guaranteed. So, Utah could even keep Korver beyond this season if all goes well. But for the Jazz, this is primarily about digging out of a 9-12 hole and working their way back up the Western Conference standings this season.
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) Rockets “lost our swagger,” build a brick house with shots on the way to a fourth straight loss. It’s far too early to panic. It’s far too early to panic. It’s far too early to panic.
The Rockets keep repeating the mantra, but they also know last season it was almost Christmas before they lost their fifth game (Dec. 20) and they had won 25 games by then. This year the fifth loss came before Halloween.
That fifth loss was ugly. Even without James Harden (he could be back this weekend from his sore hamstring), Tuesday night was a game Houston should have controlled. For Portland, this was supposed to be a “schedule makers’ loss” — second night of a road back-to-back (with travel across time zones), the third game in four days and the fourth in sixth. At that point, teams tend to look like they lost their legs a couple of flights ago and get steamrolled.
Except, after a lackluster first quarter by both teams, Portland played with more energy and passion than well-rested Houston. The result was a 104-85 Trail Blazers’ win, dropping the Rockets to 1-5 on the young season. After the game, coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Right now, we’re playing like crap… We lost our swagger. We’re on our heels.”
The Rockets found a new way to lose Tuesday. While their defense has been the bigger problem through the first five games, this time it was the offense. Harden or no, the Rockets still had elite bucket getters in Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, and Carmelo Anthony on the roster — except they shot a combined 12-of-49 (24.5 percent). Off the bench, Gerald Green was 1-of-10. Houston shot 23.3 percent from three. Rather than list the ugly numbers, just look at the Rockets’ shot chart for the game.
Houston is a mess, a team that is bottom seven on offense and defense to start the season. Some excuses have some merit, the team has missed Chris Paul a couple of games (suspension) and Harden a couple now, but that doesn’t explain the depth of the troubles. Nor can all the woes be blamed on Carmelo Anthony. It’s both of those things and the loss of defensive coach Jeff Bzdelik and much more. However, the biggest thing is a consistently lackluster effort, especially when the team is challenged. The Rockets are playing with no heart.
Friday the Rockets head out on a five-game road trip that feels like it could help define the entire season. For good or bad will be the question.
2) Patrick Beverley crashes into Russell Westbrook’s knees. Again. And soon police were on the court. Before this season started, Russell Westbrook had “clean up” surgery on his left knee, his fourth surgery on that knee. The issues date back to the 2013 playoffs, when Patrick Beverley (then with Houston) went for a steal, took out Westbrook’s knee, which led to a meniscus tear and a couple of surgeries. Westbrook and Beverley have had a beef ever since then.
Tuesday night this happened and it felt like Deja’ Vu.
Westbrook was given a technical foul for his reaction (and probably a few choice words). Doc Rivers may not have liked it, but Beverley was given a Flagrant 1 foul. If anything that was soft. Beverley was going for a loose ball (which Westbrook had already controlled) but was reckless with his body in a way that could have led to a serious injury. Fortunately, this time Westbrook wasn’t hurt.
The Thunder got the win 128-110. These teams meet up again Dec. 15, circle that one on the calendar.
3) Cavaliers win! Cavaliers win! They can’t hire a coach but Cavaliers Win! Larry Drew is 1-0 as the Cavaliers’ coach… except he’s not the coach. Drew is the voice of the head coach right now, whatever that means. Maybe there’s a puppet involved. Technically, the Cavaliers were without a coach.
Whatever. It worked.
Cleveland picked up its first win of the season in the first game since Tyronn Lue was fired, easily handling the Atlanta Hawks 136-114. Rodney Hood had 26 points to lead seven Cavaliers players in double figures in scoring. The Cavaliers hit 54 percent from three, which helped, as did the fact they attacked the rim and played fast. Neither team defended well, but the Hawks turned the ball over on 21.6 percent of their possessions and let the Cavaliers get the offensive rebound on 31.4 percent of their missed shots, and that was the difference.
It was a welcome respite for a team that has had nothing but bad news to start the season. The ugly coaching situation still looms, and the team has started shopping Kyle Korver again, but a win at least makes the optics a little better for all of it.
Three Things to Know: 1-5 Wizards are worse than you think
LOS ANGELES —Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) The 1-5 Wizards are worse than you think. Watch the Wizards play and what is wrong grows more and more obvious. It’s not the defense — although it’s terrible, the Wizards are allowing 114.5 points per 100 possessions this season (26th in the NBA and 6.9 worse than they gave up last season). It’s not their three-point shooting, although the Wizards are hitting just 31 percent from three as a team. It wasn’t even that the Wizards got blown out by the Clippers 136-104 Sunday night.
It’s not the statistics at all.
Watch Washington in person and the team’s lack of chemistry is painfully obvious:
• When Bradley Beal slipped and went to the floor in the second half, it was Clipper Tobias Harris who helped him up because no Wizard teammate came over to. There were two other similar instances I noticed Sunday night where the Clipper player helped a Wizards player off the floor because teammates did not rush over to do so.
• When the Wizards took the court to start the game there was almost no interaction among players — Otto Porter was talking to the referee because that was the only person willing to talk to him.
• Clippers players seemed to be more concerned when Markieff Morris went down with an elbow to the face than the Wizards (Morris left the game with a concussion).
The Wizards are clearly playing for themselves and not each other, not the team.
“That was the first thing Scotty [Brooks, Wizards’ coach] said after the game,” Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers said. “He said, ‘Man, your guys are just, watching them, you just feel the energy and you just feel them. They get along.”
“Just gotta go out there and compete,” John Wall said. “We play like a team that’s 5-1 and people are just going to lay down, we got to play with a sense of urgency that we’re 1-5 now…. “When you play the game of basketball you can’t worry about how many points you got, how many steals you got, how many assists you got, it’s just competing.”
Beyond the chemistry, of all the on-court problems, nothing is going to change until the defense improves.
“Our defense is horrendous…” Austin Rivers said. “You’ve got to have personal pride. You’ve got to get mad when someone scores on you. We’re not the Warriors.”
“Just heart. Just heart and pride,” Wall said of what it will take to fix the defense. “Guard your man one-on-one, that’s really the main key. We gotta do a better job of switching — when we do do that, like we did in the first quarter, I think we played the best we have played for a while.”
The switching trend in the NBA is giving the Wizards problems on both ends.
“On offense when we get (a switch we like), we take a bad shot sometimes and bail those guys out,” Wall said. “When they put us in bad situations, we gamble too much or don’t stay on the play and get a stop… we do a good job of it in practice, but we have to bring the same competitive edge we have competing against each other in practice to playing someone else.”
Washington’s play is ugly and coach Scott Brooks could pay the price with his job if things don’t improve. He certainly is not faultless in all this.
However, the Wizards have changed coaches before. They have changed players around on the periphery then spun it as trying to fix chemistry issues (Marcin Gortat going to the Clippers is the latest along those lines). Everything changes except the core, and yet the same problem exists.
Which means maybe it’s getting to be time for the Wizards to take a fresh look at that core and if it works.
2) Does firing of Tyronn Lue mean Cavaliers realize it’s time to go all-in on the rebuild? Last July, when LeBron James decided to head west, the Cavaliers brain trust decided to pivot to… nobody is sure what exactly. They wanted to walk the very fine line of a rebuild on the fly — compete now while building for the future — and they fell off that tightrope.
This isn’t a team built to win now, not with Kevin Love leading an aging roster constructed to support LeBron — Tristan Thompson, George Hill, J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver. They are not a group built to create great looks and rack up wins on their own. There’s a reason Vegas set the under/over on wins for the Cavaliers this season at 31.5.
Sunday Lue paid the price for a 0-6 start and a sense among the front office in Cleveland they needed to go another direction, a coach better suited to a young team (even if the Cavs are not yet htat).
That start, however, was not about Lue. It’s about a team in limbo. The Cavaliers need to pick a path. Rebuilding would make the most sense.
Play Colin Sexton more and live with the at times painful learning process. He’s got real potential, but he’s still adjusting to the speed of the NBA and settles for far too many long twos.
More importantly, it’s time to start working to trade the veterans and getting pieces for a rebuild back (picks and prospects). There will a market at the deadline for Kyle Korver — a shooter on a fair contract, $7.6 million this season and with a $3.4 million buyout for next season. George Hill is overpaid this season ($19 million) but he is a solid point guard when healthy and come the deadline there could be teams willing to take the hit this season knowing he has a $1 million buyout next season. J.R. Smith, at $14.7 million this season (with a $3.9 million buyout next season) will be harder to move because, without LeBron, teams are not sure how much he will help them.
Love is the big piece to move, but with his new contract it’s a lot harder. That is probably a next summer move — but it’s one they need to start moving toward.
3) Oklahoma City gets first win of the season. When you’re busting out of a slump, you don’t care where and how it happens. So what if the Phoenix Suns were on the second night of a back-to-back? Who cares if they didn’t have Devin Booker?
Rodney Hood could not get a contract offer this summer. It was a stunning fall, because one year ago he expected to be the go-to scorer of the Utah Jazz and by the end of the season he barely got off the bench in Cleveland (and in one case would not get off the bench). No team would make an offer to the restricted free agent that they knew the Cavaliers wouldn’t match, so no team made an offer. Eventually, Hood signed his $3.4 million qualifying offer with Cleveland and will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019.
“I believe strongly in myself that after this year I’ll be able to make Cleveland my home and we’ll get a better deal next summer,” Hood told cleveland.com Monday in a wide-ranging interview…
“My twins were born here,” he said. “I like the community, even though I haven’t been out there a lot. I want to make this a home. It’s just didn’t happen this summer. That’s how I look at it.”
It’s certainly possible. Hood is a 6’8″ swingman who can create his own shot, is strong as a pick-and-roll ball handler, runs the floor, can hit the three, can iso, and just knows how to get buckets. If he’s comfortable in the system, he should put up numbers that will get him paid a little next summer.
Maybe that’s in Cleveland, although what the Cavaliers will look like a year from now and what direction the team ultimately goes remains uncertain. They brought Kevin Love and are talking playoffs, but a slow start and the sands could shift around this team. Either way, have a strong season and Hood will like his contract offer a lot more.