Judging by the bags under coach Tyronn Lue’s eyes, not everyone is taking the Cleveland Cavaliers’ early season slide lightly. “Look at me,” Lue said before the morning shootaround prior to Friday night’s game against the Washington Wizards. “I ain’t slept in days.”
Having lost four in a row and five of their past six games, Lue and his coaching staff have tried to turn things around schematically. Cavs superstar LeBron James, meanwhile, is not letting the losing streak affect him spiritually. "We're definitely struggling right now, which is OK," James said Friday. "I felt that we would struggle at some point throughout the season. I think it's surprising to all of us that it's happening right now, but hey, it is what it is and it's exciting to see how we can turn this thing around."
It's just the timing of the current slump and its severity -- Cleveland lost its past three games by a combined 58 points -- that is alarming. However, Lue would rather get the bad basketball out of the way now and build until April, rather than be as uneven as his teams have been in the past. "I think it makes us better," Lue said. "I think going through it now early in the season, instead of going through it late when you want to hit your peak and playing great going into the playoffs. Right now, it's a rough patch, but it's no excuse. We have to be better and we will."
Off to a 3-4 start and struggling to live up to the standard set en route to three straight Eastern Conference titles, the Cleveland Cavaliers held an air-it-out meeting with the entire team prior to practice Tuesday. LeBron James was a "vocal" participant in the meeting, a source present on Tuesday told ESPN, but he was not the lone voice. "Most everyone spoke," the source added. "Was very productive."
Team meetings are nothing new for NBA teams, the Cavs especially. During their championship season in 2015-16, they had several players-only talks as early as November. But with James off to his worst personal start to a season since the Cavs went 2-5 his rookie year, Cleveland trying to incorporate eight new players added from last season's NBA Finals team and the group already having to juggle several injuries on top of Isaiah Thomas' injured hip, it was time.
Love said that even before the team meeting, the Cavs started the week off right at James' annual Halloween party. James dressed like Pennywise the clown from "It;" Love was WWE wrestler Sting, complete with red face paint; Thomas was Eazy-E from N.W.A.; Kyle Korver was Willy Wonka (the Johnny Depp version); Tristan Thompson was Khal Drogo from "Game of Thrones"; Dwyane Wade and his wife, Gabrielle Union, dressed up as Milli Vanilli; JR Smith was a Conehead; Channing Frye was Blankman; Jae Crowder was Prince Akeem from "Coming to America"; and rookie Cedi Osman wore a Freddy Krueger costume so intricate that it took him two hours to put it on and two hours to take it off. "I think it was good for us," Love said. "I think it definitely lightened the mood and it was definitely a get-to-know-you moment with a lot of guys. ... I think in some odd way it will definitely help us."
Josh Lewenberg: Cavs didnt lose 4th game until Dec 1 last season. They're 3-4 with losses to Magic/Nets/Pelicans/Knicks (combined record of 114-214 last yr)
Rick Noland: LJ on starts: "It's been costing us the game. It's the starting unit. We've got to figure it out someway, somehow. Guys are scoring at will"
Vincent Goodwill: Talked to a league exec today and he said the earlier start to the season has led to some funky team performances. Hence Cavs-NY, no shock
JR Smith was taken aback by Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue's decision to start Dwyane Wade after he was initially told that Wade was brought in as a backup, Smith shared on an episode of the "Road Trippin'" podcast with teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye. "Honestly, I was hurt, man," Smith said on the podcast, which posted Friday. "I was really emotionally drained at that point. I got wind of it that it was going to go down, but I didn't know. I was told he's going to be great for the second unit. ... It would be a great fit for the team, whatever, whatever. I'm like, 'Awesome, let's do it. One hundred percent. Out of all people, another person we're going to just grab for damn-near nothing? For sure. Let's do it.'"
"My first initial thought, it wasn't even to be selfish because that's not just who I am as a player and as a person," Smith said. "I'm a one-track mind. It's what I've always been. That's just me. So when you tell me something, I look at it as gold. So when you tell me something else, literally a couple of days later, it's like, ah, now I got to change my mind frame from where I was at the last three years to flip it back to me being the sixth man -- a successful three years, an extremely successful three years, I mean, we've been to three straight Finals.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson said that Kyrie Irving's search for a more stable situation by requesting a trade is understandable considering the state of the Cavs' franchise. "I think Kyrie is a hyper-intelligent kid," Jefferson said on the latest episode of his "Road Trippin'" podcast, released Monday. "Really, really smart. Doesn't get enough credit for how smart he is, and I think seeing that the franchise is in flux, I think seeing (David Griffin) leave and the amount of coaches … I think Kyrie has had a much tougher time in this stretch of the organization than anyone ever wants to ever really fully (recognize).”
Richard Jefferson: He's the No. 1 pick right after LeBron (left for Miami in 2010), then he has three different coaches, then LeBron comes back, now there's trade rumors, now it's 'LeBron's leaving.' It's like at some point in time, anybody would want some sort of stability."
As USA TODAY Sports reported earlier in the week, LeBron James is frustrated by Cleveland's quiet offseason and the departure of two of the team's top front-office executives, general manager David Griffin and vice president of basketball operations Trent Redden, before the draft and free agency.
Further exacerbating James’ frustration is the Cavs were close to making a deal for then-Chicago Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler the day Gilbert decided to mutually part ways with Griffin and Redden, two people familiar with negotiations told USA TODAY Sports. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the negotiations.
While the NBA's free-agency frenzy kicked off Friday night, signaling the official start of the Cleveland Cavaliers' mission to return to a championship level, the team's biggest star is remaining hands-off as he watches the action unfold. LeBron James is not actively recruiting on behalf of the Cavs as the franchise zeroes in on its top free-agent targets, a league source told ESPN on Saturday.
The choice by James to be a bystander comes at a fragile time for the team, which is navigating free agency without a general manager in place after parting ways with David Griffin nearly two weeks ago. Assistant GM Koby Altman has been elevated to the de facto interim GM while Cleveland continues to negotiate with Chauncey Billups to accept a position to run the front office.
"We shouldn't be shocked after we fired our head coach when we were in first place in the middle of the season," Jefferson said Tuesday, referring to David Blatt's dismissal in January 2016. "Still, it's surprising."
Jefferson expressed confidence in Griffin's future prospects of becoming a general manager once again, comparing him to one of Major League Baseball's brightest executives who achieved unthinkable success with both the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. "He's the Theo Epstein of basketball," Jefferson said of Griffin. "He ended the curse. Not just for a team, but for an entire city."
Josh Lewenberg: In one of the worst collapses I've seen, Cavs blow a 26-point 4th-quarter lead and lose to the Hawks in OT. They're now 12-13 since All-Star
Dave McMenamin: Hawks' P.A. announcer as we head to overtime: "A lot of people went home! Guess who stayed ..." ATL was down 26 and now we're in OT.
AJ Neuharth-Keusch: LeBron has played 216 minutes (43.2 per game) in five games this month. Not ideal.
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.
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.
"Just defensively get back to being a stopper," Lue said of what he needed from the enigmatic shooting guard. "Of course, it wasn't Shump's fault. Just something we were trying to different and it didn't work either. He's OK."
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
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.