NBA trade rumors: Cavs operating as if Kyrie Irving trade is ‘almost inevitable’

The relationship between the Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving is deteriorating quickly.

After news emerged late Friday that Irving had asked for a trade, Cleveland turned into chaos central. LeBron James was blindsided by Irving’s request, but both he and Kevin Love appeared unconcerned on social media. NBA fans (and maybe front-office types) rushed to the ESPN Trade Machine and sent Irving all over the league in hypothetical deals. Oh, and there was that bit about Irving reportedly believing James leaked the news about the trade request in the first place. Yikes.

Suffice it to say, things aren’t going well for the Cavs, and it’s looking like the state of the franchise won’t be getting better any time soon. The Cavs are operating as though an Irving trade is almost inevitable, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who cites several sources in reporting that there is little chance of the Cavs salvaging their relationship with Irving.

It’s important to note these situations are fluid, as feelings and emotions can always change. No one knows that better than James, who chose to return to Cleveland in 2014 after he was excoriated by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and thousands of fans for The Decision in 2010. A trade demand does not equal an actual trade. Remember, even the great Kobe Bryant once demanded a trade from the Lakers in 2007, and he ended up staying for nearly another decade and winning two more titles before he retired.

At this point, though, the Cavs are on the trade train. Lowe reports Cleveland wants a big return in any Irving deal, most importantly a blue-chip young player. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who initially broke the news of Irving’s request, doesn’t see Irving wearing a Cavs uniform much longer.

Well, in that case… back to the Trade Machine!

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James Harden’s Rockets jersey reportedly retired at Houston strip club

James Harden has reportedly had his Rockets jersey retired at a Houston institution.

No, I’m not talking about the rafters of the Toyota Center. According to a recent post from the Joe Budden Podcast, Harden had his jersey retired at a Houston strip club, where he apparently has become a regular customer.

Wiggins, who said in July he’s worth nothing less than a max contract, was the first-overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Cavs but was promptly traded to the Wolves in the Kevin Love deal as LeBron James returned to Cleveland.

Wolves head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau said recently the team is looking to lock up Wiggins, who averaged a career-high 23.6 points this past season along with four rebounds and 2.3 assists.

With Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jeff Teague and Wiggins, the Wolves are in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004 and are better off letting another team over-pay for Irving’s services moving forward.

Oh yeah, and the Cavaliers, since letting David Griffin walk four days before the NBA Draft because, uh… still don’t have a general manager. It’s a series of missteps which has caused both James and Irving to scratch their heads, if not kick their feet, in frustration.

But if this is purely a basketball — and not a business of basketball — decision by Irving, he must’ve fallen and bumped his head on something hard.

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Cavs’ Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman dance around Kyrie Irving trade talks

Kyrie Irving met with Cavaliers brass after the season was over and something was said. It has been widely reported that Irving asked for a trade, and what may be more telling than anything is the Cavaliers are not denying that.

In Koby Altman’s introduction as the Cavs general manager Wednesday, the very first question asked was about Irving’s reported request for a trade. The answer was veiled but telling and it certainly appears that Irving asked for a trade. Neither Altman nor owner Dan Gilbert denied it.

One referee either didn’t get the message or ignored it, as she slapped Ball with a technical foul Friday. After he threatened to pull his team off the court, she was removed from the game.

Adidas acknowledged it was the company’s decision to take the ref off the game.

There was some miscommunication, said Chris Rivers, Adidas director of global basketball sports marketing, per ESPN. The NBA don’t put certain people with certain guys, either. If there’s a history or miscommunication, that happens.

During his team’s win Thursday, Ball told a different ref, You’re the worst (expletive) ref who ever lived.

Said the source, Under normal circumstances, the sideline behavior, including profanity and sideline antics, would have demanded a technical foul under the category of disrespecting the game.

But, the source added, Due to strong messaging (from Adidas) to extend those guidelines in an effort to keep (LaVar Ball) in the gym, the officiating crew felt uncomfortable enforcing the technical foul rule for actions that clearly warranted (action).

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Cavs owner Dan Gilbert apologizes for controversial Detroit ad

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is apologizing after a graphic on a downtown Detroit building created a social media firestorm.

He covers a lot of ground. He is long and athletic, but he has good self-awareness, so he can get to an empty spot before the next guy and be there in time for a block or a rebound. He has that kind of natural intelligence about playing in space. A lot of young guys don’t have that.

I think Miami knew what it was getting with him, and that is a player who needs to add one or two things to make him serviceable offensively. He has a long and inconsistent release on his jumper, and he has to be able to fix that, or else you can ignore him on that end.

His footwork. He got a lot of attention for the dunks, but he is in position for those dunks because of what he does with his feet. He always has a solid base, and he does not waste a step. He runs the floor, he gets to offensive rebounds and he is very good in the paint. That’s all footwork.

You have to wonder about where he fits defensively. He is probably going to guard 4s, but he did not show that he’s ready for that. He’ll make a lot of mistakes, the question is, how does he learn from them?

Stats don’t encompass careers, but consider these numbers. LeBron is better than Kobe (regular season and playoffs) in the categories of… points per game, assists per game, steals per game, blocks per game, field-goal percentage, effective field-goal percentage, true shooting percentage, box plus/minus, value over replacement player and player efficiency rating.

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Blake Griffin has no hard feelings toward Chris Paul as he takes over as Clippers’ leader

With Chris Paul out of the picture and a five-year, $172 million contract now signed, the Clippers are officially Blake Griffin’s team. Griffin, at least publicly, is ready to move forward without CP3.

He said Wednesday he has no hard feelings toward Paul for orchestrating an offseason trade to the Rockets. The two played together for six seasons, at least when one or both weren’t sidelined by injuries.

I really care about the bus drivers, Barkley said after Durant’s decision. On every team, there’s a bus driver. Most of those guys are just bus riders.

Towns still stops himself when he thinks about the position he’s been put in, he said. It was only in 2014 that he gave an emotional, memorable speech upon winning the Gatorade Athlete of the Year award.

In it, a teary Towns thanked his parents, and said his most memorable day was when his father told him they were taking all their savings and putting in a basketball court in the yard for him. We didn’t have enough money for a real hoop, Towns told his father. But you made sure that you built one, by hand, so I could practice.

He’s come a long way.

I went up there with a lot of emotion, Towns recalled. I just was thinking about all that I had gone through to get there, and it was truly special. Three and a half years later, and I am still thinking about it. I felt so young when I won it, but now I feel so old like it was decades ago.

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Former first-round pick Shane Larkin signing with Celtics, report says

The Celtics’ roster continues to evolve.

Boston reportedly is making moves to sign Shane Larkin, ESPN.com reported Thursday.

The free agent point guard spent last season in Spain playing for Saski Baskonia, where he averaged 13.8 points, 5.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game.

By trying to compete for a spot on Boston’s starting lineup, Larkin bypassed a $6.3 million contract with Saski Baskonia.

A first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Larkin played one season for the Mavericks, one with the Knicks and one with the Nets before going overseas.

The Celtics on Friday made their four-year, $128 million signing of Gordon Hayward official after juggling their roster to fit him under the salary cap.

Only Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown were on the team last season.

Alas, there is ego to consider. Gilbert was not much fond of the accolades Griffin got for the Cavs’ success. He is the owner. He wanted his glory, but that went to Griffin all too often. Gilbert, who signs the luxury-tax checks and does get involved in personnel matters, perhaps deserved more credit than he got for the Cavs’ recent run.

But so what? That’s part of being an owner. You’re better off behind the scenes, and when your name is in the media, it’s probably not for good reasons. I’m reminded of former Jets owner Leon Hess, who was so publicity-shy that one confidante said of him, Leon Hess pays people to keep his name out of the papers.

And so Griffin was shuttled out, followed by a half-baked plan to bring in popular former player Chauncey Billups to run the basketball outfit on a cheap contract. Billups turned that down, and the Cavaliers — the envy of the league a year ago — have looked to be short on competence since.

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Nets eye Chinese buyers, hoping for $2B sale, report says

The Nets are hoping to squeeze $2 billion out of a Chinese buyer of the NBA team, the New York Post reported.

The investment bank representing team owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov already has heard from several interested parties, according to the report, which said one has been trying to box out others in the sale process.

Irving, of course, blindsided LeBron James and Co. when the news broke late Friday he had asked the team to trade him in a meeting last week. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 draft and four-time All-Star has averaged 21.6 points, 5.5. assists and 3.4 rebounds in six seasons for Cleveland. Anthony, a member of the infamous Banana Boat crew alongside James, has averaged 24.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game in his seven years in New York.

The Cavs’ latest trade talks are indicative of an organization in flux: They made it to their third consecutive NBA Finals against the Warriors, but were manhandled in five games in a 4-1 series loss this year. The Cavs have since tried to make several moves to close the gap between them and Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the rest of the superteam in Oakland.

They nearly pulled the trigger on a deal that would have sent Paul George to Cleveland. They also low-balled Chauncey Billups in the team’s search for a new GM. The team has reportedly agreed to terms with Koby Altman to fill that role. He’s got a big mess to clean up.

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Charles Oakley, age 53, will play in Big3 event this weekend

Charles Oakley had his day in court last week. Now we’ll see how he fares on the court.

The 53-year-old big man will make his playing debut in the Big3 Sunday in Los Angeles, taking the court at Staples Center alongside Killer3s teammates Stephen Jackson and Reggie Evans. Oakley had been serving as the team’s coach, but Chauncey Billups will take over those duties Sunday.

Oakley’s debut will come a little over a week after he agreed to a deal that saw him accept a one-year ban from Madison Square Garden in the wake of a Feb. 8 arrest there during a Knicks game. Criminal charges filed against Oakley in connection with the incident will be dismissed and excised from his record if there are no further incidents for six months.

Oakley last played in the NBA in 2003-04 for the Rockets, appearing in seven games.

This does not preclude the Cavs from a championship run next year, though. They still have James, and they are still the favorites in the East. They were far more competitive in the last three games of this year’s finals series than the first two, giving some indication that they can play with the Warriors. Golden State is just a strained hamstring or twisted ankle away from being vulnerable to Cleveland in a seven-game series.

But there has been harm done to the relationship between James and his team this month. There are plenty of players who go into their summers, disappear for a tropical vacation, return to begin offseason training and prepare to rejoin their teams without taking meaningful looks at the machinations of their organizations.

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Derrick Rose signing with Cavaliers on one-year deal

Unlike Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose is committed to the Cavaliers for next season.

With rumors swirling on future status of Irving, Rose has committed to sign with the Cavaliers and completed his physical exam Monday, his agent confirmed Monday. The news was first reported by The Vertical.

Jeff Green, Jose Calderon, Kyle Korver, Cedi Osman, and now the 2011 NBA MVP have agreed to join the Eastern Conference champions this offseason after near-misses for Jimmy Butler and Paul George in the trade market.

Rose, 28, averaged 18 points, 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 64 games with the Knicks last season before undergoing season-ending knee surgery in April. While he still has scoring ability, his health and playing style have made it difficult to find a match this offseason.

Rose will join the Cavaliers on a one-year, $2.1 million minimum deal, according to ESPN, a near-perfect contract for the cash-strapped Cavs.

As long as Doc Rivers surrounds with him the right players, Griffin should have all the room he needs to continue making these high-level reads:

Even something basic like running a dribble hand-off with Griffin can force the defense to make tough decisions. Either Griffin will open up a driving lane by drawing his defender away from the basket out of respect for his midrange jump shot…

The threat of Griffin’s passing will only become greater when he plays center next season. Gallinari is perhaps best suited to play power forward at this stage of his career, and the Clippers can pair them with some combination of Beverley, Williams, Teodosic, Dekker and Austin Rivers in the backcourt. Griffin’s defensive limitations at center will hurt them on that end of the floor, but those lineups should have enough firepower offensively to compete against most teams. It helps that Beverley is comfortable playing without the ball in his hands, having made a career out of being a 3-and-D point guard next to James Harden.

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LeBron James’ subtweet leaves internet assuming swipe at Kyrie Irving

The interwebs stood at attention Monday night after LeBron James dropped what looked suspiciously like a subtweet. The natural assumption was that King James was tweaking Kyrie Irving.

In quoting the hook from Drake’s song Portland, perhaps King James was just offering Irving some advice before they break up: Don’t let the betas feed off your alpha-ness. On the other hand, perhaps LeBron was saying he’s done with letting betas like Irving get the credit for helping him win rings.

It’s the same rings argument Jordan used back in 2013 when he said five beats one every time I look at it. (Jordan changed his tune later that year, saying James had passed Bryant after the Black Mamba was forced to recover from a brutal Achilles injury.) You can’t simply take out championships from a basketball discussion, but by most objective measures, James has firmly passed Bryant.

James also eclipses Bryant as a 3-point shooter in the regular season (34.2 percent vs. 32.9 percent) and owns a nearly identical percentage in the playoffs (33.0 vs. 33.1). Bryant has James beat on championships, scoring titles and All-Star, All-Defensive and All-NBA appearances, but James owns three more MVP awards and one more NBA Finals MVP award. It’s not all that crazy to think James will add to his resume and pass Bryant in some of those other categories, too.

But really, this isn’t an argument about LeBron vs. Kobe. By that logic, Robert Horry is actually better than Jordan, Bryant and James, right? No, this is about James vs. Jordan.

You could bring out the same numbers to easily prove Jordan stands tall over Bryant. It’s an apples to apples comparison. Jordan is a better, more efficient version of Bryant. That’s not said to detract from Bryant’s incredible accomplishments, but it’s true. There have been entire video compilations showing how Bryant took Jordan’s moves and used them to climb up the all-time scoring list.

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