• I’m sitting here not knowing what to do with no NBA basketball on so I thought I’d jot down some notes as I try to figure out some ways for the Cavs to beat the Warriors.

    LeBron, you’re a center now

    We’ll tackle the Steph and Klay issue in a second, but the first and most important piece the Cavs have to use on their side of the chessboard is King James.  Moving like a queen in chess, it’s the one move the Cavs can make that the Warriors can’t really do anything about.

    The Cavs need to ignore their urge to play things straight-up with a normal rotation and match LeBron’s minutes at center to any minutes that the Warriors use their death lineup with Draymond Green at center.  This effectively knocks one of the tripod’s legs out from underneath the favorites.  LeBron can outplay him in any phase of their games and the refs will protect LeBron, too.  The heart and soul of the Warriors will be ripped out of their chests and handed back to them in a doggie bag.

    Now I know – what if the Warriors go to the death lineup a lot.  Like 20-30 minutes or more per game a lot.  That would only leave 18-28 minutes for Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye.  Tough titty said the kitty when the milk went dry (or chocolate milk in the case of Love).

    So where does that leave both squads?  For the Warriors the death lineup is comprised of Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Barnes and Green.  Either Iguodala or Barnes will shred any of those three bigs in any number of ways.  And yes, Thompson can rebound all over them and Love wasn’t around for last year’s battle and yes, the Cavs going small would go against the ‘you can’t play small against the Warriors’ mantra.

    It doesn’t matter.  You’re going to lose putting your inferior bigs up against the Warriors serviceable bigs or the Warriors’ stable of versatile smalls.  Love isn’t a game-changing player like many hoped he would be, Thompson is a 1-2 trick pony and any minute Frye is on the floor is a losing minute in this series.

    If you know you’re going to lose with that arrangement it’s time to look at Door No. 2.  So what would the Cavs look like if they play LeBron at center for 20-30 minutes or more per game.

    Bad Boys: 2010’s Edition

    The Cavs desperately have to muck up this series.  They need the games to be bloodbaths called with a loose whistle.  They need grabbing and clutching to be commonplace and they need Warriors players to lose their legs if they want to put a dent in the unworldly shooting percentages.

    Introducing Matthew Dellavedova, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Richard Jefferson.  All of them range from defensive-minded to dirty and each of them is a more than fair swap in the event of any fisticuffs.  Any second spent getting into that mental warfare on the Warriors’ side is a second won by the Cavs.

    Matthew Dellavedova, Starter

    Dellavedova should start and at a minimum have his minutes matched up with Curry.  Because he’s a Steph stopper?  No.  That was ridiculous last season and it’s still ridiculous this season.  But what isn’t ridiculous is saying that Dellavedova has improved his game on both ends of the floor.  He’s not going to stop Steph but he’ll help create the air of a junked up game, setting the tone for refs to have to swallow their whistles or be forced to call a bunch of fouls and most refs don’t want to do that in a Finals series.

    But that’s not even the most important benefit of starting Delly.  The best part about doing it is that Kyrie Irving doesn’t have to cover Steph and he doesn’t even have to cover Klay, who can be guarded by J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert.  Irving gets to cover Iguodala who isn’t likely to take over the offense and especially while he’s killing himself covering LeBron.  And if you’ve forced Green to cover LeBron by going to this lineup you’ve already won because LeBron will beat Green most of the time.

    Bring this home for me Bru, you’re crazy

    So you’re looking at playing Dellavedova around 30-36 minutes, Smith his normal 30-35 minutes, Kyrie about 35-40 minutes, Shumpert from 25-35 minutes, Jefferson up to about 20 minutes and finally LeBron 40+ minutes.  You are left with 30-60 minutes per game to dole out to those bigs.

    If you want to match them up to any minutes that Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, Marreese Speights or Anderson Varejao plays you have the better players on the floor and you’re still going small to some degree.  With Love and Frye you’re getting that spacing Tyronn Lue and the offense crave.  With Thompson you’re hoping your bigs beat their smalls on the glass or can match the energy of Bogut and Ezeli, who profile as better opponents for the Cavs than the rest of the Warriors’ lineup.

    PG: Barbosa | Curry || Dellavedova
    SG: Livingston | Thompson || Smith | Shumpert
    SF: Iguodala || Irving
    PF: Barnes || Jefferson
    C: Green || LeBron
    Big: Speights | Ezeli | Bogut || Love | Thompson

    This helps cover the 3-point line with quicker players, it gets the scrappy/dirty players on the floor, it takes away the Green advantage, puts the best defenders on the floor against Curry and Klay, and makes any minutes played by the ‘Big’ lineup of GSW a win for the Cavs.  Yes, they have to be very unorthodox in playing nearly $200 million worth of contracts for just 30-60 mpg, but orthodox isn’t going to win.  Cavs fans should hope it doesn’t take 2-3 games for them to assuage the egos of all involved before implementing such a plan.

Fantasy News

  • Russell Westbrook
    PG, Houston Rockets

    The Rockets and Thunder officially completed their blockbuster trade of Chris Paul, first round picks in 2024 and 2026, and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025 for Russell Westbrook on Tuesday.

    Westbrook and Harden and now officially reunited and will be performing massive pre-game routines at the Toyota Center. Meanwhile, the Thunder officially have Chris Paul on the roster and are free to move him if they choose. Watching how Sam Presti begins this rebuild process will be interesting, to say the least.

    Source: Royce Young on Twitter

  • Jarrell Brantley
    PF, Utah Jazz

    The Jazz have signed rookies Jarrell Brantley and Justin Wright-Foreman to two-way contracts.

    Brantley was selected 50th overall in this June's draft after putting up big numbers in four seasons at the College of Charleston. He averaged 4.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in two games at Summer League, though he also missed time with right hamstring soreness. Wright-Foreman, the 53rd pick out of Hofstra, fared a little better with 10.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals, though he also battled right knee/hamstring issues and left the team for personal reasons at the end of their Vegas run. There's not much fantasy impact here.

    Source: Utah Jazz

  • Lonzo Ball
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Lonzo Ball (left ankle) said he'll be ready to go in "a week or two."

    Ball missed the final 35 games of the season because of a Grade 3 left ankle sprain and bone bruise that he suffered in January. Last season also started off slowly as a preseason groin injury cost him a chance to open the year as a starter, and he was forced into sharing point guard work with Rajon Rondo and LeBron James when healthy. A fresh start in New Orleans, where Ball can play an up-tempo game as a franchise building block, should do him wonders. There's some injury risk here considering he's logged only 99 games through two seasons, but Ball's stat set — even with the poor efficiency — could support middle-round numbers. It sounds as though he'll be good to go for training camp.

    Source: Andrew Lopez on Twitter

  • Brandon Ingram
    SF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Brandon Ingram (right arm DVT) said that he's "really close" to resuming normal workouts.

    Ingram underwent surgery on March 16 and the Pelicans have been consistent in saying they have no long-term concerns about Ingram's health. We're fully expecting him to be ready for training camp, though you'll want to keep an eye out for further updates as camp approaches. Ingram's stat set has the same holes as always, but it's possible that this season he'll become a featured player and bludgeon his way to enough volume to make up for his weak spots. His outlook improves on what it would've been with the Lakers, but Ingram still looks like a player that will be overdrafted.

    Source: Andrew Lopez on Twitter

  • Richaun Holmes
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings have announced the signing of Richaun Holmes.

    Holmes is set to make $10 million over the next two seasons. He'll push for minutes in a crowded frontcourt, but if it's a true meritocracy then he should quickly rise to the front of the pack. Last season he was able to deliver standard-league value in only 16.9 mpg, so he's someone to target late in drafts on the expectation that he gets more burn in Sacramento. It's a potentially messy situation but we have faith that Holmes will make the most of it for fantasy purposes. For the Kings, it's a straight up steal.

    Source: Sacramento Kings

  • Marcus Morris
    PF, New York Knicks

    The Knicks have announced the signings of Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock.

    Morris is on a one-year, $15 million deal while Bullock is coming in on a two-year deal worth less than $4.7 million annually, with a second season that isn't fully guaranteed. While both players began the offseason as potential standard-league targets, there's not much to see given the sudden depth of the Knicks roster. Morris will be one of five players who should mostly be playing power forward, while Bullock will slot into a busy backcourt and is already expected to miss at least a month of the season. New York's rotations are going to be a mess and we'd steer clear.

    Source: New York Knicks

  • Reggie Bullock
    SG-SF, New York Knicks

    Reggie Bullock is expected to miss at least one month of the regular season, per SNY's Ian Begley.

    Bullock, who initially agreed to a two-year deal worth $21 million, re-worked his contract to clock in at two years (with a second year that isn't fully guaranteed) for under the $4.7 million exception. There's no word on what exactly Bullock is dealing with, though he suffered from neck stiffness and plantar fasciitis in his right foot late last season. There's no need to monitor Bullock in standard leagues to open the year.

    Source: Ian Begley on Twitter

  • Markelle Fultz
    PG, Orlando Magic

    Speaking to Sirius XM, Steve Clifford said that although there remains no timetable for Markelle Fultz (shoulder), he is making good progress.

    Clifford said, "You know, right now we don't have a timetable for when he'll be back, but he's really doing a great job." Fultz simply wasn't ready to suit up, and even though we haven't really had any concrete updates on him since his last game on November 18, we're still expecting him to be ready to start the season. Fultz will make for a late-round flier on the chance that he finally gets healthy and puts it all together.

    Source: Sirius XM NBA Radio on Twitter

  • Blake Griffin
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Blake Griffin (left knee) has been cleared to start light basketball activities after undergoing arthroscopic surgery in late April.

    Griffin dealt with left knee soreness in the season's final games and missed the first two games of the playoffs. His issues were dealt with quickly after the season ended and he should be ready for the start of the season. Look for Griffin to come off draft boards in the early-middle rounds after he put up a career season last year, though there might not be much profit margin at that price. There's a definite 8-cat lean as well.

    Source: Rod Beard on Twitter

  • Nicolo Melli
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli underwent knee surgery and will not participate in Italy’s training camp at the end of July, ahead of the FIBA World Tournament.

    This comes out of nowhere and the only relative information we have is that Melli will be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis. The Italian big should be fine for the Pelicans training camp where he will compete for the backup power forward minutes as long as the surgery is not anything too serious.

    Source: Sportando