June 6, 2016, 9:43 am
It is getting more and more apparent that the Cleveland Cavaliers do not belong in the same class as the Warriors. Apparently, the Warriors already took home the championship trophy after they came back to beat the Thunder. They have dominated the Cavs in five straight games in the NBA Finals dating back to last season, and the Cavs do not have an answer.
In the first two NBA Finals contests of 2016, the Warriors have outscored the Cavs by 48 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. The Cavs would have to beat a Golden State Warriors team who has won 87-0f-101 games four out of five times to take home an NBA title. Stick a fork in them.
IT’S PLAIN UGLY
From a personnel perspective, the Cavs simply do not have the size and length to keep up with the Warriors. Even when they show flashes of a championship caliber team, they muck it up with an undisciplined turnover or set. It is getting too hard for them to score buckets and too easy for the Warriors to get open looks. This doesn’t seem like the shorthanded Cavs team who had a chip on their shoulder one year ago.
You know the story. LeBron James needs help. It’s becoming a lazy narrative but after we fast forward to June year-in and year-out, that is really what it comes down to. He had one of the greatest finals performances of all-time in 2015 but lost to the Warriors in six. His cast is supposedly improved this season but they aren’t showing up. In Game 2, Kyrie Irving shot 5-for-14 from the field for 10 points with three rebounds, one assist and three steals. For all of the fight that he endured to train and get back to the NBA Finals, last night was a performance to forget about. The Cavs have a +/- of -71 with Irving in the game in these Finals.
Kevin Love is quickly becoming useless, as I predicted in my NBA Finals preview last week. He doesn’t fit the mold against these Warriors, as they have repeatedly attacked him on defense. Love scored just five points on 2-for-7 shooting from the field, adding three rebounds and one steal in 21 minutes. He did leave the game in the third quarter and was diagnosed with a concussion, so that explains a low threshold of minutes. Love has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol and his status for Game 3 is unknown. It could be a blessing in disguise for the Cavs as they need Love off the floor if they want to attempt to match the Warriors.
Outside of LeBron playing par for the course, the only other bright spot for the Cavs has been Richard Jefferson (yes, it’s that bad right now). Jefferson shot 4-for-6 from the field for 12 points with five boards, one block and one steal in an energetic 26 minutes off the bench. His aggressive style is a good compliment to a style of play that the Cavs need to adapt if they want any chance of climbing back in to this series.
THEY FORGOT ABOUT DRAY
If you are searching for an MVP for the NBA Finals so far, look no further than Draymond Green. He put up 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting (including five threes) with seven boards, five assists and one steal in 34 minutes on Sunday. He is a matchup nightmare for the Cavs. LeBron has been forced to check Green after he torched every other Cav. Even then, LeBron is helping too often and forgetting about Dray. He is 7-for-14 this series from beyond the arc. They might want to close out on him. Just a thought.
Dray’s splash brothers haven’t made much of a mess in these finals, but it hasn’t been necessary. Stephen Curry is making a habit out of playing second fiddle in the NBA Finals, on his way to perhaps a second ring but zero Finals MVP awards. Curry only had to play 25 minutes in Game 2, scoring 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting with four threes, nine boards, four assists and one block. He was in foul trouble in the first half, but sat most of the fourth quarter due to the blowout. Klay Thompson had four threes of his own for 17 points in 31 minutes. These guys are cruising to a back-to-back title. It seems like the hard work is behind them.
IS THERE HOPE?
No. In league history, 31 teams have fallen behind 0-2 in the NBA Finals. Only three of those teams came back to win the series. Again, the Cavs have to win four out of five games against the best team in NBA history. Drastic changes are necessary.
The Cavs don’t really have a death lineup to match the Warriors, but if they did, it would go something like this: LeBron at center, with Tristan Thompson, Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova as the supporting cast. Plug in Kyrie and add some Channing Frye to space things out. It’s not a fun scenario to think about. Something must be done.
LeBron has to play out of his mind, much like he did in 2015. Everyone else needs to play much better if they want to defend home court. There isn’t really much more to it than that. They will have to rediscover their scrappy style that won them two games against the Warriors last season and even this series by the weekend. We are quickly looking at a 2-5 Finals record for the King. Hope is lost. Only the Cavs locker room can keep believing. We are all smarter than that.
July 20, 2019, 6:42 pmKenny WootenPF, New York Knicks
The Knicks have signed Kenny Wooten to an Exhibit 10 contract.
Wooten posted 10 blocks in only 52 minutes during Summer League and possesses some serious leaping ability. He will spend most of his time in the G-League and should not be on the radar in drafts.
Source: Marc Berman of The New York Post
July 20, 2019, 3:09 pmOshae BrissettSG-SF, Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have signed Oshae Brissett to an Exhibit 10 contract.
Brissett, a Toronto native, went undrafted after two seasons at Syracuse and played with the Clippers at Summer League, where he averaged 6.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals in 17.6 minutes a night across five games. This puts Toronto's roster at 20 for the time being, so barring any further transactions the Raptors have their camp group set.
Source: Blake Murphy on Twitter
July 20, 2019, 2:32 pmJordan McLaughlinG, Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves have inked point guard Jordan McLaughlin to a two-way contract.
McLaughlin went undrafted in 2018 after a four-year USC career where he averaged 12.8 points, 7.8 assists and 2.0 steals in his senior season. After his strong play for the G-League's Long Island Nets last season, he earned a spot on this years Wolves summer league roster where he continued to impress, leading his team to a 6-1 record. He is unlikely to get many NBA minutes this season with Jeff Teague, Shabazz Napier and Tyrone Wallace on the roster.
Source: Jon Krawczynski on Twitter
July 20, 2019, 1:26 pmEmmanuel MudiayPG, Utah Jazz
The Jazz have officially announced the signing of Emmanuel Mudiay, Jeff Green and Ed Davis.
All three project to come off the bench this season with Green and Davis part of the frontcourt second string while it is unclear if Mudiay or Dante Exum will assume the backup point guard duties. Davis is coming off a career-high 8.6 rebounds per game in only 17.9 minutes last season while Mudiay enjoyed his best year as a pro with the Knicks but all three players can be left undrafted in standard leagues for the time being.
July 20, 2019, 12:59 pmCJ McCollumSG, Trail Blazers
C.J. McCollum has withdrawn his name from the Team USA training camp and 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Following the trend, McCollumn is the fourth player to withdraw his name this week in order to focus on the upcoming season. The original 20 invites are now down to 16 with the final 12-man roster expected to be announced on August 17.
Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter
July 20, 2019, 12:51 pmFrank MasonPG, Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have agreed on a two-way contract with Frank Mason III.
Mason did not get much opportunity with the Kings last year and sat out all of Summer League with a sore hip. He projects to spend most of his time in the G-League and called up only if Eric Bledsoe or George Hill need to miss time. The Bucks recently signed Cameron Reynolds to a two-way deal and still have Bonzie Colson on one from last season so they are one over the limit. They still have an empty roster spot even after signing Kyle Korver so maybe one of their two-ways gets a standard deal instead. Otherwise, one of them will need to be waived.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
July 20, 2019, 12:25 pmKyle KorverSF, Milwaukee Bucks
Kyle Korver has agreed to a one-year deal with the Bucks per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
This is not the worst landing spot for Korver but he will strictly be a backup and entering his 17th season, he should not be relevant in standard leagues. He was able to knock down 2.1 triples per game in only 20.1 minutes last season so he may have value as a specialist in super-deep leagues however.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
July 20, 2019, 11:49 amChris PaulPG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Chris Paul has reportedly settled on the idea of starting the season for the Thunder.
Although Oklahoma City and Miami did not have formal discussions regarding a Chris Paul trade according to Brian Windhorst, the Thunder were willing to discuss giving back the Heat some picks but the Heat would have also wanted Paul to decline his $44 million player option in 2021-2022, which is not going to happen. The Heat want to remain flexible in the next big free agent class of 2021 and adding Paul on his current deal would take that away. Paul's usage rate will likely increase on the Thunder but keep in mind that he has missed at least 21 games in each of the three seasons before drafting him as the 9-time All-Star enters his 15th season in the league.
July 20, 2019, 11:20 amEric GordonSG, Houston Rockets
Eric Gordon withdraws from Team USA training camp for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Gordon is the third player to withdraw this week after James Harden and Anthony Davis. The original training camp list of 20 is now down to 17 and the official 12-team roster will be announced on August 17.
Source: Shams Charanis on Twitter
July 19, 2019, 9:59 pmLuke KornetPF-C, Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have officially announced the signings of Luke Kornet and Shaquille Harrison.
Kornet can provide threes and blocks as a backup big for the Bulls. He is currently behind Lauri Markkanen, Thaddeus Young and Wendell Carter Jr. but may be able to carve out some minutes for deep-league owners. Harrison will be fighting for minutes with the Bulls' plethora of point guards at the moment. If he can find some minutes during the season, he can be a source of steals as a player to stream or for deep leagues.