Kevin Love had an emotional verbal outburst directed toward general manager Koby Altman following shootaround on Saturday, expressing his displeasure and disgust with the organization, league sources told The Athletic. Love was screaming in front of teammates and Cavs coaches and front-office members that there was “no feel here,” league sources said.
Love was fined $1,000 by the Cavs for an outburst on the bench on Dec. 31 in Toronto, sources said, and disagreed with the fine. He was spotted by cameras slapping chairs on the Cavaliers bench away from the team huddle in the third quarter of the blowout. He asked a Cavs coach to take him out of the game so he could cool down. During the next timeout, when a coach asked what was wrong, Love said he didn’t like how selfish the first unit was playing, sources said.
As Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein was about to give his view of a heated exchange with Tristan Thompson during the team’s overtime win in San Antonio, Thompson wrapped up his post-shootaround on-court workout session, walked toward the other end of the floor and overheard the line of questioning. Thompson stopped. And then gave his coach a big hug. “You know I love this guy,” Thompson said Saturday morning at Fiserv Forum, his first comments since getting benched in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The incident between Beilein and Thompson took place late in the third quarter Thursday night. Following Matthew Dellavedova’s steal, Thompson received a pass and threw down a two-handed breakaway dunk that put the Cavs ahead by nine. But as the Spurs called timeout and players sauntered toward the bench, Thompson was still fuming. Dellavedova, one of Thompson’s longest-tenured teammates, tried to restrain the veteran. But it didn’t work. Thompson was seen on camera shouting something at Beilein.
Was Thompson peeved at Beilein? “No. Not at all,” Thompson said. “I was just frustrated with how the game was going because they were going on a run and I saw the opportunity for us to get a win, especially in San Antonio. Just a little frustrated seeing the lead slip away. But coach did a great job with our second unit. They brought that energy and they were rolling and you have to keep going with those guys, the hot hand.”
Love acknowledged the difficulty in Beilein’s adjustment to the NBA from college but said Beilein’s style is what the Cavs need at this point, especially with so many young players who spent only a year in college. “It’s a throwback because he does a lot of skill work and fundamental work,” Love told The Detroit News on Tuesday. “It reminds me of when I was back in college and we definitely did a lot of film there, so player development-wise, that’s really key — especially when you’re young — is to adopt that as a strategy to better your game. “When you look at film, it doesn’t lie. You can’t make excuses on the film and say, ‘I was here,’ when you weren’t. It always shows you where your game is.”
The former Michigan coach said he believes he has his players' attention, and they have been receptive. "We've met ... and it's like, 'Coach, keep doing what you're doing because we really need this. We need accountability, we need to play harder, stronger, tougher. Don't stop what you're doing,'" Beilein said. "We were the worst defensive team in the NBA last year. What do we do, practice less? "I have a lot of confidence the guys in the locker room are on board, and they've told me that.''
“I don’t really see the comparison of college,” John Henson said before praising Beilein for reminding him of his old Hall-of-Fame coach at North Carolina Roy Williams. “This is an NBA team, it’s run like an NBA team. What he’s doing, I don’t think anybody’s complaining. I think it’s kind of overshot, you know what I mean. They just kind of ran with it media wise. I think he’s doing fine, got a great staff. You saw tonight, we played hard, played well within our schemes, just didn’t come (out) on top.”
Slowly getting dressed, tossing a stocking cap on his head, with an inhaler by his locker to help battle a cold, Thompson was next ready to fight a few of his own teammates when he was informed that three were quoted in an article that dropped hours before the Cavs’ fifth straight loss. “Y’all better find them names ‘cause I’ll pull up on ‘em right now,” Thompson said. “You can’t do that s---. “At the end of the day if you’re going to build a culture and a family, you can’t have that Chatty Patty s--- going on. That s--- is whack to me. Everyone’s got to look in the mirror, there’s only so much coach can do and there’s only so much we can do. Do we have the best roster in the NBA? No. But we’re going to go out there and compete every night. Guys got to look in the mirror. So I hope whoever reported that was just bulls------g and blamed it on a player.”
One player skimmed through The Athletic article prior to the game. In it, players complained about long film sessions, Beilein’s repeated nitpicking over basic fundamentals, not enough versatility on offense and a lack of understanding of the NBA game and opposing players. When that player, sitting at his locker, saw some of the quotes, he couldn’t help but chuckle. “What are we even mad about,” he asked. “It’s a story about nothing. I’ve enjoyed my time with coach thus far."
But the ones who spoke on record, and three more who talked with cleveland.com anonymously, were supportive of Beilein, who made the NBA leap after 27 successful seasons in college, including 12 at the University of Michigan, where he took the Wolverines to nine NCAA Tournaments and two Final Fours.
Chris Fedor: #Cavs Tristan Thompson is ANGRY that he just came out of the game. Just held his arms out and shouted at the bench. Demonstrably.
Cavaliers coach John Beilein defended his methods and said he’s drastically changed his style from college, responding to a critical story posted by The Athletic Friday afternoon. “I have made huge changes in everything,” Beilein said before the Cavs faced the Orlando Magic at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. “I would say 85 percent of our language is NBA language. Our typical practice (at Michigan) the day before a game would be two hours and 10 minutes, now it might be 60 or 70 minutes.”
John Beilein: “We were the worst defensive team in the NBA last year. What do we do, practice less? We have to do that and we’ve got to continue to work at it. I have a lot of confidence the guys in the locker room are on board, and they’ve told me that. So we’ve just got to keep pushing through.”
Cavs forward Larry Nance Jr. said if some players have issues with Beilein, “Ideally you want to keep that in house.” “I guess that’s today’s NBA,” Nance said. “Am I worried about it? No. My job doesn’t change. I’m going to play as hard as I can for as long as I can and try to get us to win.”
In the midst of losses in four consecutive games and 10 of their past 11, Cavaliers players are bristling at new coach John Beilein because he’s treating this season like they, and he, are still in college, numerous sources told The Athletic. It’s already gotten to the point where players are looking past Beilein to his lead assistant, J.B. Bickerstaff, for guidance, those sources said.
“Guys drowned out his voice, and when guys start searching for the next in line for help, I believe you’ve lost them,” one Cavs player said. “The little things become big things, and sometimes very big things,” another player said. “Our assistants are definitely more prepared for the NBA,” a third said.
Veterans and younger players, from all corners of the roster, are frustrated with what they see as the pitfalls of a college environment Beilein brought with him. When the Cavs were 4-5, players viewed some of these things as quirks of a coach with a different approach. Now, they consider them grating. Grievances include his nitpicking over basic fundamentals, too much harping in lengthy film sessions, not enough versatility on offense, and a broader lack of understanding of the NBA game and opposing players. Some of that comes with this being his first year in the league.
On Wednesday, players and coaches met for a lengthy film session that turned even longer when both sides vented over things happening during games, sources said. The players’ problems with Beilein aren’t necessarily sour grapes over a losing streak. “At the same time I think the players are the reasons things are happening the way they are,” one player said. “Coaching can’t fix 20- and 30-point blowouts.”
On Friday night, Harden added 12 assists and 10 rebounds, another triple-double. Forget those stats. The most irritating number to Thompson was six -- as in the amount of players who scored double figures for Houston. If the Cavs entered the night determined to take Harden's teammates out of the game then how did that many get going? "How many games has it been? At this point, we've taught everything we can teach," Thompson said. "Now it's up to the players to come out there and just do their job. Do your job. Simple. Our players didn't do their job."
On Friday night, every member of the Rockets -- all 11 that played -- scored at least four points. The non-Hardens erupted for 98 points, as Houston scored a season-high 141 points. "He's a dynamic scorer, one of the best scorers in our league," Thompson said of Harden. "But what makes him more dangerous is when he's finding guys and getting other guys going. Rather have him score all the points and have the other guys be cold and not engaged in the game. That's what we did last time. That's what teams do. That's what Milwaukee was doing. Had some success. Guys just didn't follow along the game plan."
Rick Noland: Drew: "It was a disappointing loss, but moreso that we didn't play with more energy. That was the thing that hit home the most"
Rick Noland: Nance: "Guys have career nights on us. That's something we have to take personally. That was the message passed around the locker room. We have to man up"
A few hours later, the Cavs and Smith agreed to his excommunication. In the same Athletic piece, veteran point guard George Hill said he believed the focus shifted away from winning before the start of this season — Cleveland’s first without LeBron. Hill said “in the summer, it felt like politically you have to say we can still do these things because you want everyone to buy in to being here. Once everybody is here, I don’t know. The directions change.” It does not appear that Hill, who is injured, will be disciplined for his comments, as the organization views them differently from what Smith said.
Then there is JR Smith. He is finding it harder and harder to hide his contempt toward the organization these days. Smith has asked to be traded twice, but he’s still here in part because he refuses to accept a buyout. He made it clear in a conversation with The Athletic on Monday that he has no relationship with general manager Koby Altman and he has no interest in playing for a team that has no interest in winning.
“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.” And as long as the Cavs are operating this way, Smith is not interested in being part of it. “Not if the goal isn’t to compete, to win,” he said.
But that isn’t what they sold their players or the public. They kept up this silly “playoffs” belief even when everyone else understood it wasn’t reality. “I think that was to save face with everybody else, honestly,” Smith said.
Sexton's struggles, and how his teammates responded to them, led to head coach Larry Drew addressing that with players. "I actually pulled some guys to the side when we were in Orlando," Drew said. "That was my exact point -- having to be patient with a 19-year-old kid."
Thompson said he wasn't one of the players Drew talked to in Orlando. JR Smith wouldn't confirm one way or the other, but dropped a hint that he was. "It gets frustrating sometimes in the moment, but you have to take a quick flashback and understand he's still 19 years old," Smith told cleveland.com. "He's a young player and he's going to go through the same situations I was in. For me, I have to look at it I have to be that guy I didn't have who is trying to push me to be better and make sure I'm on the right path. He's definitely on his way there. It's obviously going to take time."
It’s becoming increasingly clear that when you hear a Cavs veteran talk about younger players not knowing their role, or knowing how to win, or what to do on the court, they mean Sexton. Throughout the organization, the line on Sexton is that he does not “know how to play.” He doesn’t know how to defend the pick and roll. He doesn’t know how to set up teammates as a point guard. He’s playing 25 minutes a night, averaging 11.1 points and 2.2 assists (2.1 turnovers) and is shooting 22 percent from 3-point range. Against the Hornets, he had as many points (four) as fouls. He had no chance against Tony Parker.
His vision to get teammates involved is lacking, as he has just 20 assists in nine games. He takes an inordinate amount of 2s. He plays out of control, committing 19 turnovers. While he crouches down in his defensive stance, Sexton still doesn't understand how to guard, especially the pick and roll. Nor does he get the nuances of being a quality team defender. George Hill has offered to mentor the teenager, teach him how to play defense. But Sexton has, to this point, rebuffed that. While teammates don't think he's a bad kid and recognize he's trying his best in an extremely tough situation, they are also growing frustrated with Sexton because he doesn't show anger or disappointment following losses.
Whether he chooses to admit it or not, Smith was informed, along with his people, that his spot in the rotation was dicey prior to training camp. A logjam on the wing and new organizational goals, with player development at the center, made the preseason incredibly important for him. But hip and elbow issues derailed his chances of earning that spot.
The argument for playing him is he's a veteran, one of the few guys, according to others in the locker room, that knows what he's doing. He may not always be in the right place, but he at least recognizes where he should be.
Smith has a tendency to "say the right things but not back them up," one member of the organization told cleveland.com.
The Cavs are no longer just tussling with their opponent. But also the disharmony that has started to contaminate a group that entered this season with the best intentions. "Team is in a very weird place right now," JR Smith said following his return to the rotation in Cleveland's 126-94 loss to the Hornets. You can say that again. "We have to figure it out, whether it's a players-only meeting or coaches or front office meeting or whatever it is, we have to figure it out and let everyone know what their individual role is and what to expect," Smith said.
George Hill has offered to mentor the teenager, teach him how to play defense. But Sexton has, to this point, rebuffed that. While teammates don't think he's a bad kid and recognize he's trying his best in an extremely tough situation, they are also growing frustrated with Sexton because he doesn't show anger or disappointment following losses.
Chants of Smith's name echoed through the mostly-vacated arena late in the fourth quarter, as fans wanted Smith to get some playing time. It never happened. Smith was one of two players not to see action. Channing Frye was the other.
On Tuesday, ESPN reported Smith considered taking a leave because he was informed he’d no longer be playing in the wake of Lue’s firing Sunday. Both Smith and several members of the Cavs’ organization denied that report, insisting instead that it was Altman who made the offer to leave to Smith. “To come from where I came from, from pretty much nothing to Cleveland and the way the city embraced me, the fans embraced me, the relationship I have with them, I can’t do that to them,” Smith said.
But a few days ago, after seeing some questionable body language from Smith, Altman sat down with the mercurial shooting guard and asked him if he wanted to stay with the team or take a leave of absence. Smith opted to stay. "It's a tough situation as a veteran and I totally understand that," Drew said. "I'm very glad he decided to stick around. I had no knowledge about what his options were, but yes, I'm very happy that he did make that decision to stay with the team."
ESPN reported that Smith, upset over being told he was out of the rotation for the second time in seven games, considered leaving the team. A Cavs front-office official denied the report.
While that situation plays out, the Cavs had to manage another issue on the team Tuesday with veteran guard JR Smith. For the second time this season, Smith was informed he would be removed from the rotation and not receive guaranteed playing time, sources said. Smith was upset by the news and considered taking some time away from the team, sources said. Smith decided to stay for the time being, but he didn't play in Tuesday night's 136-114 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Marla Ridenour: #Cavs acting coach Larry Drew “ very disappointed” has not received a restructured contract. Cavs said it’s possible could bring in someone, he would go back to to associate HC. “ I would never quit.”
Tom Withers: Drew says he will “remain professional” and does not plan to quit. He has been told it’s possible team may bring someone in and he would remain as assistant. #Cavs
Marla Ridenour: #Cavs Drew said this is different than last season when Lue was out with health issues. Knew then Lue would be back. “This is almost the whole season.”
Rick Noland: Drew said he and Miller have talked to Cavs, and said team would be willing to let him go back to bench if someone else is hired as interim coach. "If that happens, I'm fine with that. My contract is over in July"
Cayleigh Griffin: “I have to get guys in the right frame of mind. We have to take those 6 losses and sweep them under the rug.” - Coach Drew on changing the team’s mentality moving forward
Joe Vardon: Larry Drew said he’s ‘very disappointed’ the Cavs have not yet given him the new contract he wants to be interim coach
The reasons for the Cleveland Cavaliers' dismissal of Tyronn Lue are numerous. Near the top of the list: general manager Koby Altman believing this group - an unusual mixture of veterans and young players - needed a new voice. In the short term, that's Larry Drew.
Drew led the team through practice on Monday afternoon. He used an unusual tactic - a 3 on 0 drill that turns into full-court 13 on 0 that demands organization, communication and attention to detail -- to stimulate the team. It's no coincidence those areas are considered weak points during the horrific start.
The blame game has already started. In the past few days, it was reported that LeBron and Tyronn Lue never wanted to trade Kyrie Irving even if the Nets pick were included (in August, a league sourced told me that James and Lue “cooled” on the deal after learning the extent of Isaiah Thomas’s health concerns), and that LeBron wanted the Cavs to acquire DeAndre Jordan, not the collection of misfits they ended up acquiring at the trade deadline.
Cleveland was getting a three-time champion, a future first ballot Basketball Hall of Famer, a shooting guard who could fill in some of the scoring void created after the Kyrie Irving trade -- for the low, low price of a veteran's minimum contract worth $2.3 million. For a luxury tax-laden team like the Cavs, it felt like divine intervention. But the blessed union took a turn for the worse almost immediately, according to sources. First, when bringing on Wade meant needing to trade away popular locker room presence Richard Jefferson to create an open roster spot. Then, when Wade balked at Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue's plan to bring him off the bench. Wade, insisting he was more comfortable playing the starting role he had filled his entire 15-year NBA career, started the Cavs' first three games and struggled mightily, shooting 7-for-25 from the field. After a blowout loss to the Orlando Magic in the third game, Wade approached Lue about coming off the bench, as Lue initially suggested. JR Smith, displaced by Wade's addition, was plugged back into the starting unit, but the damage was done: The demotion affected Smith mentally, and his on-court production dipped.
Mary Schmitt Boyer/Jodie Valade: LeBron James on the adversity the Cavs have faced, and could still face, this season: "I'll be available, so we got a chance."
The injuries are a worthy excuse, as everyone from five-time All-Star Kevin Love (left hand; expected back later this month) to new addition Rodney Hood (back; day to day), Cedi Osman (left hip; two weeks) and Tristan Thompson (right ankle; multiple games) remain out. It’s the kind of ill-timed rash of injuries that muddies these all-important waters, with James fully admitting that conclusions about the revamped Cavs are hard to reach in times like these. “Listen, at the end of the day you’ve got to (play with) whoever you’ve got out on the floor,” James said afterward. “You want to get the most out of whoever’s playing, but sometimes you just can’t overcome this many injuries that we have.” James was then asked if it’s hard to figure out if the Cavs are heading in the right direction. “You don’t know,” he answered. “I mean, you don’t know.”
The same stubborn side to which [Isaiah Thomas] owed his success worked against him at times, sources said, when he would question workouts or want to push harder rather than follow the program. After Thomas finally played his first game with the Cavs on Jan. 2 and entered the postgame locker room at Quicken Loans Arena, the team presented the game ball to Cavs physical therapist George Sibel -- and not to Thomas -- in a tongue-in-cheek gesture of appreciation for managing Thomas through his rehab. A significant part of Sibel's time with Thomas became handling the guard's sometimes-prickly personality as much as strengthening the injured hip.
The Cavs were aware of the challenge when they made the trade. Not that Irving was without warts -- this was a guy who between playoff rounds last spring became so distant from teammates he wouldn't engage in conversation at practice, according to sources, leaving team officials perplexed as to what could be bothering him. The book on Thomas was that at times he grated on teammates and coaches. There was a reason the Cavs were Thomas' fourth team in seven years. Not that this is unusual in the NBA. But Thomas consistently has been an overachiever and consistently outplayed his contracts, two typically desired attributes in a league in which talent trumps all. Yet teams kept moving on from him.
And the struggles became more acute as Irving and the Celtics excelled. The grumbling got louder as the Cavs' losses piled up. James privately began to complain about how other all-time greats in the tail end of their primes played for franchises that added Hall of Fame-level talent to support their championship aspirations. The Chicago Bulls got Dennis Rodman for Michael Jordan. The Los Angeles Lakers got Pau Gasol for Kobe Bryant. The San Antonio Spurs got Kawhi Leonard for Tim Duncan. The All-Star whom the Cavs got for James wasn't impressing him. Or other players on the team. As one team source put it, when asked about Thomas in the week leading up to the trade deadline: "I'm all for an underdog story, but you usually expect some humility to be a part of that story."
LeBron James has nearly 36 million followers on Instagram, so there is a fair chance you saw his footage of him on roller skates Sunday, skating along with Jeff Green. [...] In Green's case, he will miss his third game out of the last four tonight because of lower back soreness. He was held out of Saturday's loss to Denver and on Saturday was also ruled out for tonight's game against the Pistons. In between, he went skating?
Cavs staff, in talking with cleveland.com, said while the appearance of Green on roller skates at a time when he can't play because of a back injury is not a great look, the team's intent was to keep Green out of games for a period of five days to rest his body from the rigors of NBA court battles. Roller skating should not be equated with the pounding the body takes during a game, they said. Green's back is improving -- he was moving and shooting well during the team's shootaround this morning.
Smith would not say whether he believed the act deserved a suspension or not. "It's not really my call," Smith said. "More than anything, I talked to my teammates about it, everybody seemed cool. We moved on from it as a team, so whether it warranted a suspension or not, that's not my job. I'm just here to play basketball."
But not here to watch basketball, apparently. Smith didn't bother to tune into the loss to the Sixers when he was suspended. "I didn't watch the game," Smith said. "When I'm not a part of the game, it's hard for me to watch -- and that's whether I'm watching somebody else or watching my team. I don't watch basketball in my spare time." Smith also said he did not have any specific conversation with Damon Jones in the days that have passed.
LeBron James took a similar tact when asked on Saturday if he attempted to broker and peace between Smith and Jones. "Ain't got nothing to do with me," James said. "No. Momma told me a long time ago to mind your business. Stay out of grown folks' business that ain't got nothing to do with me. That's what I did."
Marla Ridenour: J.R. Smith on social media reaction to his soup-throwing incident: "Some of them were actually pretty funny. I understand that everything I do is going to have a meme or whatever behind it." #Cavs
Chris Fedor: When #Cavs JR Smith was asked about whether this was a buildup of his terrible season or something that happened in the moment, Smith said, “I have an idea of what I want to say, but I’m not going to say it, so I’m going to leave that as it is.”
Without knowing many details, it’s worth noting Jones certainly talks enough to irritate people. Kevin Love joked (I think) during All-Star weekend that he’d love nothing more than for the Heat’s Wayne Ellington to this year break Jones’ Miami franchise record for 3-pointers in a single season. “I don’t know if there is anybody who likes to listen to his own voice more than Damon Jones,” Love joked (I think) in Los Angeles. “I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite guy to talk about, and I’ll just leave it at that.”
Even if Love was (maybe) joking, it’s clear just from being around this team that Jones has a tendency to aggravate. That isn’t to excuse Smith, but to try to paint the entire picture without details of the incident. Regardless, the Cavs have already acted as judge and jury and handed out their sentence. Jones and Tyronn Lue are extremely close, and Lue has helped launch Jones’ coaching career by bringing him on staff and permitting him to coach the Cavs’ summer league team in Las Vegas.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith earned his one-game suspension from the team Thursday by throwing a bowl of soup at assistant coach Damon Jones, multiple sources with knowledge of the incident told ESPN.
Damon Jones, a former Cavs player, has been back with Cleveland since 2014 and worked his way up from an assistant coach with the Canton Charge, the Cavs' G League affiliate, to the Cavs where he is a trusted voice for head coach Tyronn Lue. JR Smith will return to practice Friday, according to Lue, and resume his starting shooting guard spot Saturday when the Cavs host the Denver Nuggets.
While the Cavs were struggling in late December through early January, LeBron James questioned Koby Altman's absentee status on a long Cleveland road trip, team sources told ESPN. It was a big difference from David Griffin, who was in constant communication with James in their three seasons in Cleveland together. Altman had his reasons, however. For one, he and his fiancée welcomed the birth of their first child, who experienced health complications, and Altman was there for his family as a father. Also, unlike in years past, the Cavs had two first-round draft picks to prepare for in the 2018 NBA draft. Altman's scouting duties were more involved than Griffin's were in the past. The fact that Altman went to James prior to the trade deadline for a sit-down meeting to loop in his superstar about the potential deals the Cavs would swing, as earlier reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, was seen as progress.
Kevin Love left the arena early after feeling sick during an embarrassing 148-124 loss to the Thunder on ABC's Saturday prime-time game on Jan. 20, and missed practice the following day. That led to a tumultuous team meeting when the Cavs convened for practice the following Monday, prompted by Isaiah Thomas and Dwyane Wade -- two teammates Love was playing with for the first time. The confrontation began after Tyronn Lue brought the team in to start practice and Love didn't offer up anything about his status. Several team sources told ESPN they believe the meeting never would have occurred the way it did had Love provided an explanation. There were still lingering feelings, sources told ESPN, from how Love handled a loss in Chicago last March when he fouled out midway through the fourth quarter and immediately retreated to the locker room, rather than remain on the bench in support of his team. Jefferson ran to the back to bring him back out, but the damage was done.
Kevin Love said the Cavaliers' blowing up of their locker room last week was necessary. "Yeah, I think that was pretty apparent," Love said at All-Star Saturday in Los Angeles. Love was selected as an All-Star this season, but cannot play due to a broken bone in his left hand.
Manny Navarro: Love on if there was a rift between him and D-Wade during Cavs struggles: "If there was a lot of friction, I didn’t see it. I think there were a number of guys that used Ty Lue as a sounding board and wanted to bounce ideas off him and D-Wade happened to be one of those guys."
Kevin Love, a week removed from Cleveland's overhaul with several weeks left in his recovery from a broken hand, says the Cavaliers have found "joy" again and that his return won't pose a problem with the team's newfound chemistry. "We have a lot of selfless guys added, young guys who are playing extremely hard," Love said Friday in an appearance on ESPN's The Jump. "I think you've seen that in the last two games in wins over Boston and OKC. So we just to continue to keep playing hard.”
"Finding an identity with our team -- we never found that," Love said. "And even with guys coming back from injury or inserting different guys into the lineup and finding different lineups that work together on the floor. We never quite found that. So we feel like the new players ... it's going to take a little bit of time. But hopefully as in years past -- you know, we've had a little bit of chaos every time the new year comes around; we thrive under chaos -- but we'll find a way to make it work once April rolls around and hopefully have a big run."
As things started heading south for the Cavs in January, Dwyane Wade was an instigator in the infamous team meeting Jan. 22, hours before they flew to San Antonio. Yes, Thomas was upset that Kevin Love went home with an illness before a 24-point loss to Oklahoma City had concluded on Jan. 20, and that he was not at practice the following day. But, sources said, it was Wade who first made an issue of it on Monday, challenging Lue to disclose where Love had been. Numerous players verbally attacked Love, who eventually explained his absence as part of a wide-ranging, heated discussion in which virtually no one was immune from criticism.
Did Isaiah Thomas inspire this move with his outspoken ways in these past few weeks? Amick: In a word, yes. The locker room dynamic was not healthy, and Thomas’ penchant for speaking his mind about the inner turmoil only made matters worse. Add in the fact that he struggled during his 15-game stay and the Cavs were more than happy to send him to the exits. There is a strong sense from Thomas’ side that James was among those who wanted to see him go – a claim that is refuted by James’ associates. Either way, Thomas now gets a better pathway to his own free agency this summer while the Cavs can get to work repairing their well-chronicled chemistry problems.
Coach Tyronn Lue was succinct and direct in his rebuttal to point guard Isaiah Thomas' critique that the Cleveland Cavaliers are suffering this season because of their failure to execute in-game adjustments effectively. "That's not true," Lue said before Cleveland's 140-138 overtime win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. When a reporter repeated that it was Thomas' words he was quoting, not his own, Lue doubled down. "Yeah," he said. "Well, that's not true."
Wednesday is Thomas' 29th birthday. The Cavs organization posted a tribute photo in honor of their point guard to their official Instagram account which has approximately 5.9 million followers.
The team decided to turn the comments off on the post, however, in an attempt to keep the spirit of the post about positivity and shield Thomas from some of the ire of fans looking to leave negative comments after seeing the Cavs drop 13 of their last 19 games since Christmas Day. "No Haters Hours (typically 9-5, M-F) allowed on Birthdays at all," a Cavs spokesman said, offering a tongue-in-cheek explanation of the decision to turn off the comments on the post.
The Cavs also posted the birthday message to their official Twitter account, which has approximately 3.1 million followers. Disabling comments is not allowed on Twitter. Many of the comments were derisive and referenced Thomas' reported role in the Cavs' explosive team meeting several weeks ago when the seven-year veteran called out forward Kevin Love for leaving a game early because of an illness.
Following yet another disheartening loss by the Cleveland Cavaliers, 116-98 to an Orlando Magic team tied for the worst record in the Eastern Conference, LeBron James said he will not waive his no-trade clause ahead of Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. "I'm here for the long haul," James said. "I'm here for this season right now, [to] try to figure out ways we can still compete. I couldn't give up on my teammates like that. I couldn't do that. I just couldn't do it. We put too much into the game every single day. We go out and prepare. Win, lose or draw, at the end of the day, we're all brothers, and we understand that. I owe it to my teammates to finish this season out no matter how it ends up. I would never waive my no-trade clause."
May 21, 2022 | 6:32 am EDT Update
The Lakers may be willing to take that leap of faith because Ham spent two years with the organization. His personality isn’t easily forgotten. Ham brings a lot of energy to a gym. He’s arguably the best fit for the locker room, with veterans like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and possibly Russell Westbrook in need of a coach they can relate to and respect. “He’s the guy LeBron wants,” a competing source said. It will be up to Ham to spell out his basketball vision, in general and in context to the Lakers’ roster makeup. He could be the hire if he can sell that side to the team’s front office.
Stotts may be the opposite of Vogel, a high-level defensive coach with a limited offensive repertoire. If Stotts is the hire, the Lakers should pair him with a high-level lead defensive assistant. Some sources wondered if Stotts would struggle, like Vogel, to command the locker room’s respect, although he worked well with Lillard for a long stretch.
He also has a reputation for being a bit headstrong or rigid in personality. He’s going to demand respect, but he’s going to need to clarify precisely why he and the Nets divorced in-season. Is he the right coach for star players with strong personalities like James? Atkinson may have the most outside-the-box style of the three finalists. Per a competing source, he’s similar to Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, willing to experiment with unconventional strategies to win by whatever means necessary.
Donatas Urbonas: Vasilije Micic on the possibility to go to the NBA next season: “I’m in a situation where I have two more years of the contract no matter what happens. But of course, I like to look at all kinds of challenges. If this option comes out, I would be ready to risk.”
The Warriors came back from a 19-point deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 126-117 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. The Warriors now have a 2-0 advantage in the series. The first two quarters of the game were owned by the Mavericks. They hit 15 3-pointers in the first half, setting a new franchise record for 3s made in a playoff half. Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson became the second pair of starting guards to each score 20 points in the first half of a playoff game in the past 25 seasons. “I told them that if we developed some poise in the second half, the game would come to us,” Kerr said. “But I thought we were so scattered in the first half. Maybe emotionally more so than anything. Dallas came out and just punched us. We felt confident that if we [got poised], they wouldn’t make 15 3s in the second half.”
On defense, Looney held the Mavericks to 1-of-11 shooting from the field as the primary defender, including holding Doncic to 0-of-3. He also grabbed 12 rebounds. Looney is accustomed to being switched onto guards like Doncic. During the Warriors’ dynastic runs, he was switched onto James Harden when Golden State faced Houston multiple times during the postseason. “I take kind of the same approach,” Looney said. “I’m just a little bit more battle-tested. That was my first time playing on a big stage like this. I don’t know if even my teammates had the most faith in me, but they put me out there and I handled it pretty well.
Clutch Points: The Golden State Warriors are 14-1 in playoff series under Steve Kerr when they take a 2-0 lead. Their lone series loss came vs. the Cavs in the 2016 NBA Finals. pic.twitter.com/f4Yq6h6zoN