Joe Harris

Report: Cavaliers ‘have not abandoned’ pursuit of J.R. Smith


Cavaliers GM David Griffin said the team was open to re-signing J.R. Smith, under the right set of circumstances.

Smith declined his player option for next season, and is an unrestricted free agent. He wasn’t much help during the NBA Finals, where his 24-of-77 shooting over the course of the six-game series played a part in the team’s downfall against the Warriors.

After adding some guard depth in Mo Williams, it was worth wondering if the Cavaliers had moved on from their interest in retaining Smith. But the team is reportedly intent on bringing everyone from last year’s squad back if at all possible.

Marc Stein of

Sources say Cavs remain intent on signing restricted free agent Matthew Dellavedova

Early indications are Cavs likewise have NOT abandoned JR Smith pursuit. They seem intent on keeping whole band together. And adding to it

The problem for the Cavaliers last season — in addition to the obvious, which were the injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving that left the team extremely shorthanded — was having “depth” that was incapable of providing anywhere close to a consistent level of production.

Mike Miller, Joe Harris, Brendan Haywood, Kendrick Perkins (and even James Jones to a certain extent) took up valuable spots on the roster, but weren’t trustworthy enough to earn significant playing time, when fatigue was clearly a factor during the championship series.

There are other moves that Cleveland is considering, like bringing in Jamal Crawford in trade from the Clippers. But it appears as though they’d like to bring back the rest of the guys who played heavy minutes in the rotation last season, too, as long as the price is right.

No Kevin Love, no J.R. Smith to start, how much trouble is Cleveland in?


This much is obvious: The Cleveland Cavaliers are simply not going to be as good. Take two starters off any NBA team and you weaken them. Maybe considerably.

That’s the Cavaliers right now. Kevin Love is out for the entire second round of the playoffs thanks to Boston’s Kelly Olynyk yanking his shoulder out of its socket. J.R. Smith is out for the next two Cavalier games because he punched Boston’s Jae Crowder in the face (Smith is lucky his suspension wasn’t longer).

Where does that leave the Cleveland Cavaliers?


However, is there any team in the East good enough to do anything about it?

On paper, the Chicago Bulls could be trouble for this shorthanded Cavaliers team. But on the court we’re talking about a Bulls team that hasn’t played the elite defense we expect of them this season, a team that can’t close out the improving but still young Milwaukee Bucks, a team that let those Bucks be the aggressors and knock the Bulls back on their heels. “Impressive” is not the word you’d use to describe these Bulls so far in the postseason, even with an improved and attacking Derrick Rose (well at least for the first four games, MCW owned him in Game 5).

That said, the Bulls remain the likely second round matchup for Cleveland.

And Cleveland is vulnerable. Anyone who is saying, “Love didn’t fit in with the Cavs they will be fine” didn’t actually watch Cleveland play. Love stumbled and struggled to find his comfort zone, but by the playoffs was giving them 18 points and nine boards a game, hitting 47 percent from three. This is still an All-Star level player, someone who became central to their offense.

Without Love and his ability to hit the three ball, the spacing in the Cavaliers offense falls apart faster than the plot in Spiderman 3. Substitute Thompson into the starting lineup in place of Love (Kyrie Irving, Smith, LeBron and Timofey Mozgov are the other four) and during the regular season the Cavs were 24.9 points worse per 48 minutes. Their offense isn’t the same as there isn’t the same space to drive and get buckets in the paint. When Love has been on the bench this season LeBron’s usage rate skyrockets — and his efficiency drops.

We saw that in the games the Cavaliers played the Bulls this season — Chicago blew out Cleveland in the game Love didn’t play because they could take their big men (Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic) and pack the paint, clogging up driving lanes for Irving and LeBron. The Cavaliers’ starting lineup (with Smith) was 5.8 points per 100 possessions worse just against the Bulls without Love.

Try to find line-ups featuring the other Cavaliers starters but without Smith and Love and you get into minutes so small you can’t really draw any conclusions. With Smith out, Iman Shumpert likely starts but we will see some Joe Harris, maybe some Matthew Dellavedova playing with Irving.

Which is to say, coach David Blatt is going to be experimenting a lot with new lineups, groupings of players he didn’t have to go to during the season.

One lineup he might go to more often — LeBron as the power forward. He is strong enough to defend Gasol (or Noah), and with this smaller lineup the Cavaliers will have some shooting and spacing.

The other concern: Cleveland isn’t that great a defensive team. After the trade deadline moves to pick up Mozgov and Iman Shumpert the Cavs were certainly improved — they went from terrible to a little above average. Post All-Star Game the Cavaliers allowed 102 points per 100 possessions, 13th best in the NBA. Make it just from March 1 through the end of the season and they allow 103.8 per 100, 18th best in the NBA. That’s not great. And the Bulls offense has been good come the playoffs — Rose is attacking again, Jimmy Butler is confident and making plays, and Pau Gasol remains incredibly skilled and smart. Yes, the Bucks have given the Bulls a challenge, because the Bucks are a long and good defensive team.

The Cavaliers will and should still be the favorites if they face the Bulls in the next round — when those teams step on the court for the opening tip, the two best players will still be playing for Cleveland. The Cavs still have the best player on the planet, a guy who can take over games at either end of the court. That’s a huge advantage. And the Bulls have not looked like world beaters of late.

But the Cavaliers are clearly a wounded, vulnerable team.

The second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs just got very, very interesting.

Report: Mike Miller to replace Shawn Marion as Cavaliers’ starting shooting guard


Mike Miller has missed the Cavaliers’ last seven games with a concussion.

In that span, they haven’t traded for Wesley Matthews or Corey Brewer, and shooting guard remains a position of concern.

So, Miller will get his shot.

Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group:

Mike Miller will be activated for Friday’s home game against the Brooklyn Nets.

But not only will Miller be in uniform, sources say he will be inserted into the starting lineup at the two-guard position

Dion Waiters began the season as the starting shooting guard, but he never fit and struggled. Shawn Marion had been starting since, but his natural position is forward. At one point, it seemed Joe Harris would get a chance, but the rookie doesn’t look ready.

Miller is a good of choice as any. LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving will attract defensive attention and generate open 3s for Miller, who will simultaneously space the floor for Cleveland’s stars. The biggest concern is Miller’s ability to defend, especially now that he’s 34.

Though I think Miller could hold down the position for the rest of the season, I’m a bit surprised he’s starting in his first game back. Often, coaches are hesitant to start ingrained starters their first game back from injury. David Blatt is immediately pressing someone who hasn’t started all season into the starting lineup.

Could Blatt, whose team has lost three of four including a most-recent setback he deemed “embarrassing,” be showing his desperation?

Report: Cavaliers have repeatedly tried and failed to trade for Wesley Matthews


The Cavaliers could use an upgrade at shooting guard.

Shawn Marion is starting, but his natural position is forward.

Joe Harris fits much better stylistically, but David Blatt hasn’t shown he believes the rookie is ready for such a big role.

Dion Waiters is trying to settle into coming off the bench, but he’s not exactly excelling.

Corey Brewer trade talk has fizzled as the Timberwolves have deemed him to valuable to deal.

So, Cleveland is looking elsewhere – like at Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews.

Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group:

Cleveland has adored Matthews for quite some time and its quest of him has been repeatedly vetoed, league sources told Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Barring an unexpected plummet, the Trail Blazers are dismissing all overtures for Matthews. He is a free agent at the end of the season and they have every intention of re-signing him next summer, a league source said.

Matthews, one of the NBA’s most underrated players, is better than every Cavalier not named LeBron James, Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving. Cleveland obviously isn’t trading any of its big three for Matthews.

A one-for-one trade of Tristan Thompson for Matthews, both of whom have expiring contracts, would work cap-wise, but Matthews is more valuable.

That said, with Robin Lopez injured, Portland should at least think about adding Thompson, who – unlike Matthews – will be a restricted free agent next summer.

The Cavaliers would still have to bridge the value gap, but they have the assets to make it happen. Cleveland has the lesser of its own and Chicago’s 2015 first-round pick, a future first-round pick from Memphis and owes only one future first rounder (to the Celtics). The only questions are how many picks the Cavaliers are willing to give and how many the Trail Blazers would require.

When contending for a title, it makes sense to sacrifice the future (draft picks) for the present (Matthews, whose outside shooting and defense would make him a perfect fit in Cleveland). The Cavaliers are contending but so is Portland, which would likely hesitate at breaking up its core now.

And don’t start with traded centered on Waiters. Though his style makes him more expendable in Cleveland, his production isn’t impressive. The Trail Blazers surely wouldn’t downgrade that much at shooting guard just to get a little younger.

Kevin Durant gets the huge block in Thunder’s win over Cavaliers (VIDEO)


There was a time earlier this season when the struggling Cavaliers were searching for answers, and were legitimately considering inserting Joe Harris into the starting lineup.

If one play could sum up just how silly of an idea that was in retrospect, it occurred in Cleveland’s Thursday night loss in OKC.