The Cleveland Cavaliers wanted a player who could contribute immediately, and they might have found that in Thursday’s NBA Draft at Barclays Center.
With the 14th overall pick, the Cavaliers selected Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji.
The 22-year-old Agbaji started in all 39 games this past season as a senior at Kansas, averaging a Big-12 leading 18.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in a team-high 35.0 minutes. Agbaji finished second in the Big-12 in three-point percentage (.409) and three-point field goals made per game (2.64). He helped lead Kansas to its fourth national championship in program history and was named the 2022 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
The 6-5 guard also finished as a 2021-22 consensus All-American First Team selection and the 2021-22 Big 12 Player of the Year.
“First off, I just want to thank the organization and Cleveland for drafting me, believing in me,” Agbaji said Thursday night. “I’m going to give you 110 percent every single day and a positive attitude. That’s really all. I’m just going to be a hard worker, come in, be humble, and represent my city well.”
Cavs president of basketball operations Koby Altman wanted a player who could contribute right away and be a solid fit for the team, and he feels they’ve gotten that with Agbaji.
“This was more about who can come in and really help us, help this team achieve,” Altman said after the selection. “It was a different process in terms of trying to find the most upside swing talent versus who can be the best fit. Certainly more of a finished product than what we’ve drafted in the past.”
Agbaji’s coach at Kansas, Bill Self, credits his work ethic and believes Agbaji will be in the NBA for a long time.
“To see the natural progression that’s taken place and to see him being a guy that is going to make a lot of money playing this game for a long time when he wasn’t projected to do that, it’s been special to watch,” Self said before the draft. “And he deserves all the credit because there’s nobody that works like him.”
This selection shows that the Cavs want to make the playoffs now. No more developmental picks; they were a game away from the playoffs and wanted to ensure that they had enough to get into the postseason.
With Agbaji, the Cavs have a guy who is a solid defender, decent athlete, and a good shooter. Many believe he is your prototypical 3-and-D guy, which should help the Cavs immediately.
In the second round, Cleveland selected center Khalifa Diop with the 39th pick out of Senegal, forward Isaiah Mobley with the 49th pick out of USC, and forward Luke Travers with the 56th pick out of Australia.
Diop (7-1, 240) appeared in 49 games for Gran Canaria in Spain, averaging 6.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in 15.7 minutes. Diop was the winner of the 2021-22 EuroCup Rising Star Trophy, which honors the best under-22 player in the EuroCup. The Senegalese center also represented Senegal at the 2021 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup, averaging 14.0 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks.
Mobley (6-10, 240) appeared in 32 games (all starts) as a sophomore for USC this past season, averaging team-highs in points (14.2) and rebounds (8.3) in 34.0 minutes. Mobley started in all 64 of his career games for the Trojans and held career averages of 12.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. His brother Evan Mobley was an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection for the Cavaliers this past season and was selected with the 3rd pick by the Cavaliers in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Travers (6-7, 208) played in 27 games (six starts) for the Perth Wildcats in the Australian NBL, averaging 7.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 22.0 minutes. Travers appeared in 71 NBL games for Perth over three seasons with the club.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have hired Luke Walton as an Assistant Coach, the team announced Tuesday.
The 42-year-old Walton coached the Kings for three seasons before getting fired last November. Before that, he was the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers from 2016 to 2019.
“We are very excited to add someone of Luke’s caliber and championship DNA to our coaching staff,” said Altman via team statement. “His on-court experiences as a head coach, assistant coach and player in this league fit seamlessly into J.B.’s existing coaching staff. Luke is someone who truly embraces player development, a team-first mentality, and a history of creating winning basketball habits. We welcome Luke, his wife Bre and the entire Walton family back to Northeast Ohio.”
Additionally, Walton was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors for two campaigns (2014-15, 2015-16), reaching the NBA Finals both years and winning the NBA Championship in 2015. Walton also received Western Conference Coach of the Month honors (October/November 2015) while serving as interim head coach in Steve Kerr’s absence and leading Golden State to a 39-4 start in 2015-16, including winning the first 24 games, an NBA record.
“It’s rare when you can strengthen your staff with someone of similar experiences and a passion for the game of basketball,” said Bickerstaff said via team statement. “Luke is someone who identifies with our five core values as a coach, but also traits he was recognized for as a player, both in college and the NBA. I’m excited for our players to have another valuable resource to work with on the court, as we continue doing things the right way for sustainable success.”
Walton enjoyed a 10-year NBA playing career, including his final season in 2012-13 and part of 2011-12 as a member of the Cavaliers. He finished his career appearing in 564 games (138 starts) with the Lakers and Cavaliers while averaging 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 17.2 minutes per contest.
On Tuesday, Cleveland Cavaliers President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman addressed the media at Cleveland Clinic Courts. The Cavs’ season ended at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Friday night as they fell to the Hawks in the Play-In Tournament.
“I’m still a little heartsick, to be honest with you,” Altman said about not making the playoffs. “It’s hard to process the season ending the way it did.”
J.B. Bickerstaff helped Cleveland improve by 22 wins from a year ago and finished the season 44-38, but despite the success, they fell short of the playoffs.
However, according to Atman, the Cavs have caught the attention of teams around the league.
“They captivated the city and put the league on notice, forced the league to put us on a national TV game because they had to, and more of that will come.”
Altman felt this season was a success, but Cleveland does have some questions, and one of the biggest questions is what will happen with Collin Sexton, who missed 71 games with a torn meniscus and can become a restricted free agent at season’s end if the Cavs extend a qualifying offer of $7.2 million.
The 23-year-old Sexton will probably be back in Cleveland next season based on what Altman said today.
“He, in a lot of ways, was the start of not only the rebuild, but the culture that we have in place now,” Altman said. “He’s enormously important to us. He’s been enormously important to us. To lose him, you can see throughout the year why we missed him, how we missed him, so we owe Collin a great deal of gratitude for the work he’s put in and continues to put in, (he) an important part of this team.”
Caris LeVert came over from the Pacers in a trade back in February. Altman believes both LeVert and Sexton, who have a similar skillset and play the same position, can thrive together in Cleveland.
“Yes, there’s a place for that level of talent, especially with the character that they bring and the fact that both really love it here,” Altman said.
It’s one thing to be a surprise team, but it’s another thing to win when the expectations are high, so the challenge for Altman and the players is to be even better next season.
“We’re not going to surprise teams next year,” Altman said. “I think we were two games out of being in sixth place. So like, it’s that close. We don’t want to lose grasp of what got us here, which is the hard work in the summer. We haven’t accomplished anything yet, so how do we keep that hunger, that humbleness, and attack this offseason?”
From top to bottom, the Eastern Conference will be tough next season, and Cleveland could be better next season and still be fighting to make the playoffs. They have a young, talented core.Obviously, they have three guys they can build around in All-Stars, Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley.
In addition, they will have a lottery pick, so the future is very bright. However, sometimes that next step is the hardest step, and the Cavs are hoping to take that next step next season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers promoted Assistant General Manager Mike Gansey to General Manager, the team announced Wednesday.
According to the Cavs, Gansey, who became Assistant General Manager in 2017, will continue assisting Altman in scouting and personnel decisions while increasing his role in the Cavaliers’ draft preparations and logistics.
In January, Altman was given an extension and promoted from GM to President of Basketball Operations.
“Mike has been an incredible resource to me, and this organization and his work behind the scenes gives me great confidence that he is ready to take on more of a leadership role,” Altman said via a statement from the team. “His community roots provides a unique perspective when evaluating players and the type of commitment needed to make a positive impact in Cleveland. I could not think of a better person to work alongside as we continue building this team toward sustainable success.”
The 39-year-old Gansey has been part of the Cavaliers organization since 2011. Before his role as assistant GM, he was previously General Manager for the Cleveland Charge, the Cavaliers’ exclusively-owned NBA G League team, where he earned the 2016-17 NBA G League Executive of the Year award.
In addition to Gansey, the team announced the promotion of Brandon Weems, who was LeBron James high school teammate, to Assistant General Manager from his previous title as Sr. Director of Player Personnel.
Also, Jason Hillman was promoted to Vice President of Basketball Operations from his previous title as Basketball Chief of Staff/Team Counsel, and Jon Nichols to Vice President of Basketball Strategy and Personnel from his previous title of Sr. Director of Strategy & Research.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and GM Koby Altman have agreed on a new long-term contract extension, the team announced Wednesday.
Altman, 39, will also take on the title of President of Basketball Operations effective immediately.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the extension runs through the 2027-2028 season.
Last month, the Cavaliers signed head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to a multi-year extension that will reportedly run through the 2026-2027 season, and now they’ve locked up Altman.
Cleveland (23-18) is off to a great start, and with lottery picks Darius Garland (No. 5 in 2019) and Evan Mobley (No. 3 in 2021), Altman has built a solid young core. In addition, Altman, who was named Cavs general manager in 2017, acquired 23-year-old center Jarrett Allen, who is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and field goal percentage, and signed him to a five-year contract extension this past offseason. Altman also traded for NBA veteransRicky Rubio and 24-year-old Lauri Markkanen.
Altman has the Cavs going in the right direction post-LeBron James, and it appears this team has the potential to do big things going forward.
“I will forever be grateful for this continued opportunity. With Dan setting the example and providing us with amazing resources, we are building something truly special here in Northeast Ohio,” said Altman via a press release from the team. “We remain committed to our player development program, and our players have shown incredible growth and improvement this season. Our evolving culture is driven by our players, coaches, and staff, who all play a significant role in defining what it truly means to be a Cavalier, and we are very excited for our future.”
Before being named GM, Altman had been a part of the Cavaliers’ basketball staff for five years, including being promoted to assistant general manager in September 2016. As a member of Cleveland’s front office, Altman has been an integral part of a team that reached four straight NBA Finals (2015-2018) and won an NBA Championship in 2016.
Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has signed a multi-year contract extension, the team announced Saturday.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the extension will keep him under contract through the 2026-2027 season.
This season, the 42-year-old Bickerstaff has led the Cavaliers to the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 19-13 and the franchise’s best 32-game start since 2017-18 (23-9). Cleveland has recorded 12 of their 19 victories against teams with a winning record, and their 14 wins by at least 10 points trails only Golden State (18) and Utah (17).
“J.B. Bickerstaff is, with all certainty, the right head coach to lead this franchise into what we believe is a very promising future,” said Cavs GM Koby Altman. “The decision to extend J.B. is not based solely on the early success of this season, but rather a body of work since his arrival to Cleveland.”
Cleveland has faced one of the NBA’s most demanding schedules, playing 25 of their 32 games against teams that made the playoffs or play-in tournament last season. Cleveland has had at least a 10-point lead in 24 contests and has registered three separate win streaks of at least four games this season, including a season-high six-game win streak.
Before coming to Cleveland, he was the Memphis Grizzlies head coach for the 2018-19 season; Bickerstaff was named head coach of the Cavaliers on February 19, 2020.
The Cleveland Cavaliers received the number three overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft as a result of the NBA Draft Lottery, which was conducted virtually on Tuesday night.
The 2021 NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, July 29th.
The Cavaliers’ 2021 lottery pick will mark the 22nd lottery pick the Cavs have owned all-time and their first time selecting third overall since the current lottery format was introduced in 1985.
This is considered a deep draft, and Cleveland, if they keep the pick, has a chance to get an excellent player.
“There’s some real game-changers at the top of this draft,” Cavs GM Koby Altman said after the lottery. “But it also puts us in a position to capitalize on different opportunities throughout the landscape of the NBA with this position.”
Altman also expects to get some calls from other teams about the third pick.
“We know what pick we have,” Altman said. “We know what calls we will probably get on it. We’ll figure out what we can potentially do with it.”
Coming into the lottery, Cleveland, who was in the fifth-place position, had an 11.5% chance of getting the number one pick, so they should be happy with three.
Now, what they do should be interesting. Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham is probably going number one to Detroit. You have the Rockets at two, and many mock drafts have them grabbing USC’s Evan Mobley, so that leaves G League Ignite’s Jalen Green, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs, or maybe even a trade.
Cleveland has options. Do they continue to add young players, or do they try to trade for an established veteran? We’ll find out in a few weeks, but Altman’s phone will be getting many calls.
The full results of tonight’s Draft Lottery are as follows:
1. Detroit Pistons
2. Houston Rockets
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Toronto Raptors
5. Orlando Magic
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
7. Golden State Warriors
8. Orlando Magic
9. Sacramento Kings
10. New Orleans Pelicans
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. San Antonio Spurs
13. Indiana Pacers
14. Golden State Warriors
Listen below as Altman reacts to getting the third pick in this year’s draft:
The Cleveland Cavaliers will need some luck to get the number one overall pick in this year’s draft.
The NBA Draft Lottery will be held virtually this year on Tuesday(8:30 pm, ESPN); Cleveland GM Koby Altman will represent the team.
The Cavaliers finished the 2020-21 season with a 22-50 record, tied with Oklahoma City for the fourth-place position entering the lottery. A random drawing was held on May 25 to determine the order of selection for NBA Draft 2021, with the Thunder winning the tiebreaker.
Cleveland enters the lottery with the fifth-best odds for the number one overall pick and will land no lower than the 9th pick.
The Cavaliers have won the NBA Draft Lottery five times since the lottery format was introduced in 1985 (Brad Daugherty, 1986; LeBron James, 2003; Kyrie Irving, 2011; Anthony Bennett, 2013; Andrew Wiggins, 2014). Overall, Cleveland has held the #1 overall draft pick six times (Austin Carr, 1971).