One Cavs source told ESPN it was the “most embarrassing loss of the season by a lot.” Another told ESPN, “I saw it coming,” when he got wind of the Hawks sitting their marquee guys. Yet another told ESPN of the Cavs’ up-and-down nature, “I don’t get it. I don’t f—ing get it.”
"I didn't think we respected them tonight. I thought we thought we'd just mess around with the game until it was time to knuckle down. By that time, they already had confidence. That's who we've been. That's who we are. I hate it. These games like this come back and bite you, especially down the stretch when you're trying to get some rest. Trying to hold on to that No. 1 seed and getting rest, and you come out and have a performance like this, it's not good."
After a frustrating loss against the short-handed Atlanta Hawks Friday night, a game that could've pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, Iman Shumpert went back out on the court to hoist extra shots and collect his thoughts. To cap his postgame workout session -- which consisted of midrange jumpers and 3-pointers from all around the arc -- he sprinted up and down the Quicken Loans Arena floor. After all, he didn't get to do much of that during the 114-100 loss.
Shumpert was glued to the bench in the second half -- only rising to offer encouragement to his teammates during an otherwise miserable night. "No, I wasn't trying to send a message," Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said. Perhaps not. But it wouldn't be the worst idea. Shumpert scored zero points on 0-of-1 from the field. He also grabbed one rebound and committed two turnovers in six unproductive minutes, as the Cavaliers were outscored by 12 points during his brutal stretch.
Brian Windhorst: "People who were involved in the game couldn't believe what LeBron James said to Ty Lue when Ty tried to calm him down and then couldn't believe what Tristan said back to him. This guy has played played against LeBron a lot and he was like, 'Wow, I've never seen anything like that with a LeBron teammate.'"
Asked after the victory over the Magic how he felt about the Cavs compared to a week ago, coach Tyronn Lue said, “I feel good about this team all the time. It’s like a soap opera, but I love this team. We know what we’re capable of doing. Even though we lost the Chicago game, for three quarters defensively we were great. Jimmy Butler and (Rajon) Rondo had a good game, but (Nikola) Mirotic hurt us more than anything. We’ve got to take him out of the game when we play them again. Defensively the effort is there, the multiple effort. We’re getting stops. I always feel good about this team. It could be this week, next week. You know how we are.”
Pressed on his soap opera remark, Lue said, “Why do I think it is? It’s just who we are. We love the drama.”
When James was asked about the tension after the Pacers’ game, he said, “We’re a brotherhood who only wants to get better and do what’s right for the team. So someone had something to say and it’s for the better of the team and that’s healthy and we need that.” 14. Three victories help the situation, Irving said, but he doesn’t want triumphs over the 76ers, Pacers and Magic to cover up the Cavs’ mistakes.
James blamed the poor execution on a lack of practice. The Cavs played 12 road games in March, making it difficult for Lue to schedule workouts while making rest for his players a priority. "We haven't practiced anything, especially late-game situations," James said. "I can't remember the last time we had a late-game situation."
LeBron James apologized to Tristan Thompson, who was still fuming after a screaming match during a timeout with his world-famous teammate. Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith both made quick exits before speaking with reporters, and coach Tyronn Lue did everything he could to re-direct pointed fingers at him. "My fault," Lue said. "Blame it on me."
Moments after Cavs forward Kevin Love hit a key 3-pointer for a four-point lead with 26 seconds left, euphoria on the Cavs' bench was zapped when James and Thompson went back and forth. James yelled at Thompson as they were walking to the bench and waved off coach Tyronn Lue when he attempted to calm James' down. Thompson snapped back at James, exchanging words in the huddle throughout a timeout.
Immediately after the game, James expressed remorse. "I have to do a better job of not showing up my teammates out on the floor. I had the right intentions in my mind, but I had the wrong intentions come out of my mouth," James told Fox Sports Ohio on the court after the game ended. "I take full responsibility for that as the leader of the team. So I got to be a lot better at that and be able to keep that in-house in the locker room and when we're watching film." In the locker room, James expanded on his thoughts: "I was a little bit too demonstrative at that point in the game," James said. "He worked hard for our team, he's a big-time player ... but the way it came out was -- it didn't look good on TV."
Lue tried to make light of the situation in his postgame comments. He mentioned that both players were represented by Klutch Sports, founded by Paul, and said the blow up showed "we care about our defense." "The game's on the line, you want to win," Lue said. "Paul George makes a tough shot, they get into it. That's part of the game. You like to see that passion, and a lot of times take it out on the other team. They were both mad and frustrated, but that's what you want to see. We wanted to win that game and it was a big play. Some miscommunication right there, but they got over it."
Chris Fedor: As Kevin Love completely ignores the shouting match and says, "Come on! One stop! One stop!" twitter.com/AlexKennedyNBA…
Rick Noland: Lue on TT/LJ spat: "That shows you we care about our defense. ... They both were made and frustrated, which you want to see"
By the time the visitor's locker room opened inside the United Center following another loss -- Cleveland's fifth in the last seven games and 10th during a pitiful March -- Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Deron Williams and James Jones were the only players remaining. That's because the team meeting, which Kyrie Irving hinted at, had already taken place.
Every journey's different," Irving said. "When you're in it, it absolutely sucks, when you're in a rut like this. We're taking steps forward. After the game we took a step forward." When asked to clarify what he meant by that, Irving declined to share details. "Just in a way that a team should take a step forward when we're in a rut," he said. "I'll leave it at that."
By the time the visitor's locker room opened inside the United Center following another loss -- Cleveland's fifth in the last seven games and 10th during a pitiful March -- Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Deron Williams and James Jones were the only players remaining. That's because the team meeting, which Kyrie Irving hinted at, had already taken place. "Every journey's different," Irving said. "When you're in it, it absolutely sucks, when you're in a rut like this. We're taking steps forward. After the game we took a step forward."
When asked to clarify what he meant by that, Irving declined to share details. "Just in a way that a team should take a step forward when we're in a rut," he said. "I'll leave it at that."
Jason Lloyd: LeBron is in no mood tonight. No postgame icing session, beat Ty Lue out of locker room to address reporters. That's a first
The Cavs' slide continues, and the best anyone can say about them right now is March is almost over. Cleveland fell to the Chicago Bulls 99-93 on Thursday night in a game in which LeBron James passed Shaquille O'Neal (28,596 points) for seventh place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Now is not a time for the Cavs to celebrate personal accolades. James said the milestone "means absolutely nothing right now." It's time to put out a dumpster fire that consumed them this month.
Chuck Garfien: LeBron said Rondo kept breaking down their D. Part of the Cavs gameplan was to take Mirotic out of his comfort zone. "We didn't do it."
After the Cavs lost their ninth game in 15 tries Monday against the Spurs, 14-year vet James Jones spoke in the locker room, asking rhetorically what the players really wanted out of this season, a source told cleveland.com. These kinds of speeches are not unusual, especially at this point in the season with the playoffs fast approaching, but this kind of losing in March is rare for the Cavs. And it's not what one would expect from a defending champion with this kind of talent.
Neither LeBron James nor Kyrie Irving barked at teammates in the locker room, the source said, though the source confirmed what Irving said Monday -- that the losing and the travel have frayed nerves. And yet, as the Cavs get set to play the Chicago Bulls tonight, they find themselves tied for first with the Celtics, who lost Wednesday to Milwaukee.
Ramona Shelburne: Kyrie: "There's definitely been some ups and downs and disagreements. But as adults and professionals we just have to figure it out."
Ramona Shelburne: Kyrie on his shooting cleanse: "I had to face it, had to face the music. I just wasn't doing enough. I need to demand more out of myself."
"It's a delicate time right now for our team," James said after Monday's loss. "A lot of people talking ... guys in the locker room. I'm not saying it's for the bad. We've got a couple guys that's shown leadership, some guys that's been in the fray before that's giving their opinions. I've learned over the season there's a time and place for it. Certain situations. I kind of wait for the right time ... So my time will come."
Tyronn Lue said the controversy surrounding the Cavs was a distraction and "I hate it." "I gotta come and deal with you guys every time it happens," Lue said after practice Thursday. His team has lost six of eight and his star player, LeBron James, and the front office are at odds over the roster.
"Just a lot of distractions," Lue said. "We gotta focus on basketball, getting back to winning. We're the third-best team in the NBA right now. We're a great team, we're the champs, so we just got to get back to playing championship basketball. That's it."
ESPN Cleveland: Brian Windhorst: "LeBron is saying the Cavs aren't as committed to winning a championship as he is. That inflamed people in the organization."
Tension between LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers' leadership is centered on payroll spending, multiple sources told ESPN.
James and team owner Dan Gilbert have different viewpoints on the issue, and it has been straining the relationship, sources said. The matter has been exacerbated by the team's struggles on the court; the Cavs lost for the sixth time in eight games, 116-112 to the Sacramento Kings in overtime, on Wednesday night.
When James was considering a return to the Cavs in 2014, he pressed Gilbert on if he'd be willing to spend unconditionally on talent, regardless of the luxury-tax cost, sources said. Over the course of several meetings with James and his representatives, Gilbert agreed, and James subsequently signed with the team.
The comments angered Gilbert, sources said, because James appeared to imply it was an organizational choice whether to improve or not. This was seen by some as a reference to further spending.
While one team source told ESPN there was amazed disbelief that James could question the Cavs' pledge to repeat as champions -- considering owner Dan Gilbert is on the hook for the largest payroll in league history at more than $127 million, plus luxury tax -- another source within the Cleveland front office told ESPN that the timing of James' words was "brilliant," as the Cavs have thrived in adversity the past several seasons and this chaos that James created could jolt the team out of its current malaise.
Griffin would not disclose the details of his talk with James -- "I'm going to keep that in house but it was a good conversation," he said. "I think we both needed it, I'm happy it happened" -- nor would he say whether James expressed any remorse.
Griffin, a team source told ESPN, expressed his disappointment in James for the manner in which he shared his thoughts on the roster. "It wouldn't have been my preferred method," Griffin told reporters. "It certainly wasn't appropriate from a teammate perspective. But, it is what it is."
Brian Dulik: #Cavaliers GM David Griffin on LeBron James' critical comments: "It certainly wasn't appropriate from a teammate perspective." #NBA
Brian Dulik: #Cavaliers GM David Griffin: "The comment about the organization being complacent is really misguided." #NBA
Brian Dulik: #Cavaliers GM David Griffin: "Its hard to say we're dealing with (too much) adversity because we're first in the East." #NBA
Brian Dulik: #Cavaliers GM David Griffin: "We can absolutely increase payroll if it's the right piece at the right time." #NBA
Brian Dulik: #Cavaliers GM David Griffin: "If we were 100 percent healthy, I feel good about our chances in any (playoff) series." #NBA
Brian Dulik: #Cavaliers GM David Griffin: "The team we have needs to get better from within. A lack of identity on the defensive end has been hard." #NBA
Brian Dulik: #Cavaliers GM David Griffin: "I think we have enough (talent) if we play significantly better." #NBA
Joe Vardon: Tyronn Lue said the Cavs talked about LeBron's comments as a team and Griff and Bron spoke privately
Folks within the Cavs laughed during this playoff run about how they functioned best when the situation around them seemed so dysfunctional. So with the building on fire and the team in a 3-1 hole, the Cavs remained perfectly calm. And James delivered.
Richard Jefferson: In my 15 years in the league, and all the basketball I’ve played in my life, I’ve thought a lot about team chemistry. How do you come together at the right time? I’ve been on Finals teams and I’ve been on teams that had no chance to make the playoffs by midseason. To me, this season — and our team — comes down to narratives. All year long we heard about chemistry issues. LeBron and Kevin. Narrative. Kyrie’s injury. Narrative. We got a new coach. Narrative. Oh, we’re not getting along. Based on what? Who was telling our story? Not us. We obviously had a high-profile coaching change. We had slumps. We had injuries — Kyrie missed the first 24 games of the season, so he’s only just now getting to playing the type of MVP-level ball he’s capable of. We clawed our way to 56 wins just trying to find our rhythm.
Richard Jefferson: It’s O.K. for others to speculate, but those narratives didn’t show us as we really were. And for most of the season, that was fine with us. We ignored it and tried to get our groove. Which is why the timing of Lil Kev is interesting. It coincided with the end of the regular season, when something was starting to happen with our team. The change really took off at a dinner at LeBron’s house right before the first round. The change really took off at a dinner at LeBron’s house right before the first round. We were 15 guys sitting around his big dining room table. In the middle of the meal, he stood up and addressed each guy in the room. He pointed out something that each player brought to the team, and explained how it was going to be vital if we wanted to win a championship. And he gave each one of us a memento, a little gift. I won’t share what exactly it was because it was a team thing. But it wasn’t anything big. I think it just struck us all in that moment how special a position we were in. Bron was saying to us, “We can only do this if we do it together. That’s all that matters.” He’s won championships before. We wanted to listen.
Both in the public eye and behind-the-scenes, there’s generally a lot of noise about the inner-workings of each NBA team. But in Cleveland? These days it’s like sitting front row at a Metallica concert. I have a client in Cleveland, and am continually struck by the unparalleled ebbs and flows that swirl around this group since LeBron James returned to the Cavaliers. It’s been a rocky road over the past two years that hasn’t exactly made for an easy work environment. And with the NBA Finals headed back to Cleveland and the Cavs two losses away from being swept, believe me when I say it’s going to be a long 72 hours for that group.
It seemed like from the time he signed he wanted to take stock of the organization as a whole, to assess everyone else before opening himself up to anyone. While the entire team got together to work out in the offseason, LeBron would show up… but only work out by himself, with his own trainers, after the other players had finished. As you can imagine, it created a sense of separation that felt like it stuck throughout last season.
An example of this I always come back to involves Cleveland’s former No. 3 pick, Dion Waiters. LeBron immediately zeroed in on Waiters upon his return. Before the start of the 2014-15 season, as most NBA teams do each September, all of the players under contract to the Cavs got together to work out—except Waiters. LeBron noticed this and instead of addressing it personally with Dion, he made a show of it every time he came into the gym. “Where’s Dion? Dion isn’t here? Anyone seen Dion today?” It became a running joke of sorts. Everyone around the team understood his point, but no one ever actually took action. Everyone also knew that Dion’s leash in Cleveland was going to be very short— anything less than a career year would make him expendable. Two months later, he was traded.
When LeBron came back to Cleveland two years ago, I got the impression that it caught everyone from day-to-day staffers to ownership off guard. With LeBron on the roster, the Cavs instantly went from being a club incapable of drawing a great deal of national interest to the most heavily scrutinized team in the NBA. And it didn’t feel like they had the processes and protocols in place to handle that attention. You could see it right away. On media day last season, over 300 people showed up. From a security and logistics perspective, the team wasn’t prepared and small security issues persisted in the early part of the year. It may seem like a minor detail, but those things tend to be strong indications of how a club operates. Instead of anticipating what was to come, the Cavs played catch-up all year, and that included LeBron himself, who had to play his way into shape during the season.
“The tweets, well, everybody is like, ‘LeBron’s being passive-aggressive.’ LeBron James isn’t passive-aggressive, he’s aggressive-aggressive,” Griffin said. “You know exactly where he stands as a teammate and a leader. Nobody on our team thought those tweets were directed at him. Nobody on our team took that in a negative way. But because the world at large isn’t in our locker room, they think, well, that would really bother them. I don’t care what you think if you’re not in that room. “LeBron enjoys and thrives in controversy and he really is comfortable in that space. I think he’s always going to parry with the media. I think he’s going to enjoy that throughout his career. It had no bearing on our locker room.”
Griffin saw those tweets from James differently than the “fit in, fit out” one during the 2014-15 season that James directed at Kevin Love. “When LeBron went at Kevin last year, it was a language that everyone knew was directed at Kevin, including Kevin. It wasn’t a situation where he’s hiding anything,” Griffin said.
Griffin downplayed James’ self-generated controversy and said all are motivated daily to help James fulfill his self-appointed mission of delivering Cleveland a championship, last won by the Browns in 1964. But Griffin acknowledged that locker room additions in 2016 have helped. He called the arrival of 10-year veteran Channing Frye in a Feb. 18 trade with the Orlando Magic “a breath of fresh air.”
That internal struggle feels more urgent as two superteams without apparent weaknesses prepare to defeat you in the NBA Finals. It has created obvious turmoil, especially with James. He lashed out at teammates during a players-only meeting after the Cavs fired David Blatt in January, sources have told ESPN.com, and his social media droppings have been inscrutable.
August 14, 2022 | 9:22 pm EDT Update
Any team looking to acquire Micic would have to give Oklahoma City some draft compensation—preferably a first-rounder, though it’s possible the price could have been brought down. “I think that was where it was a little too much for teams,” one Western Conference executive said. “No one wanted to give up a pick plus everything else it would take. The guy can play, I think he’d be good in the NBA. But no one wanted to give up picks and money for him.”
First, there was Micic himself. To ditch Efes and head to the NBA, Micic wanted a few things—a salary in the $6-7 million per year range, a starting spot (or, at least, starter-type minutes), and a role with a contending team. That eliminated a chunk of NBA interest off the bat.
“I knew what the move was,” Hyland told The Denver Post last week via Zoom. “They were already contacting me before and letting me know what was happening. After the moves even happened, the coaches called me, players called me, like, ‘Time to just go out there and be Bizzy. It’s a big opportunity for you.’ And they tell me every day, like, ‘You’re going to have a big role, big opportunity, a lot more minutes, just to just go out there and be yourself.’”
If he’s going to become a staple of Denver’s crunch-time rotation, simultaneously earning trust from coach Michael Malone, Hyland knows he needs to become a more consistent two-way player. “I think it’s moreso the defensive part, but I know I can guard,” he said. “I wasn’t the player this year who got picked on. When I put my mind to it, I know I can guard. … That’s just something I gotta do and be willing to do every possession.”
August 14, 2022 | 7:33 pm EDT Update
August 14, 2022 | 5:21 pm EDT Update
Michael Singer: After getting bypassed for a Christmas game last season, the #Nuggets are slated to host the Suns on Christmas this year according to the initial draft of the schedule, a league source told @denverpost.