Cavs acquire Rondo in three-team deal

With Ricky Rubio out for the season due to a torn ACL, the Cleveland Cavaliers needed a backup point guard, and on Monday, they got their guy.

The Cavs acquired point guard Rajon Rondo from the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-team trade.

In the deal, the New York Knicks receive guard Denzel Valentine from Cleveland and the draft rights to Wang Zhelin (57th pick in 2016 NBA Draft) and Brad Newley (54th pick in 2007 NBA Draft) and cash considerations from the Lakers. In addition, Los Angeles receives the draft rights to Louis Labeyrie (57th pick in 2014 NBA Draft) from New York.

The 35-year-old Rondo played in 18 games for the Lakers this season.

Over his 16-year NBA career, he has appeared in 936 games (732 starts) with the Lakers, Clippers, Hawks, Pelicans, Bulls, Kings, Mavericks, and Celtics, owning career averages of 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.6 steals in 30.1 minutes per contest.

A two-time NBA Champion (2008, 2020) and four-time NBA All-Star (2010-2013), Rondo has been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team four times (2009-2012), including two First Team nods (2010, 2011), and was an All-NBA Third Team selection in 2012. Additionally, Rondo has appeared in 134 playoff games (105 starts), averaging 12.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 8.5 assists, and 1.7 steals in 34.0 minutes per game.

Valentine, 26, signed with the Cavaliers in the offseason and appeared in 22 games this season.

In other news, Cavaliers guard/forward Isaac Okoro left Sunday night’s game against Indiana in the second quarter with a left elbow injury and did not return. Okoro, who underwent an MRI Monday, will be out 2-3 weeks with a left elbow sprain.

Cavs’ Mobley: ‘I feel like I’m pretty ahead of schedule so far’

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ three-game winning streak was snapped on Friday night as they fell to LeBron James and the Lakers 113-101 at Staples Center.

The game was tied at 54 at halftime, but the Lakers(3-3) pulled away in the fourth quarter to get the victory.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of Cleveland’s loss to the Lakers.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Evan Mobley is the real deal. The rookie had a team-high 23 points and snatched six rebounds, and three assists in a team-high 36 minutes of action. This kid does not appear to get rattled, and according to him, he’s ahead of schedule, which could be scary for the rest of the league.

“I feel like I’m getting adjusted to the NBA pretty fast,” Mobley said postgame. “I feel like I’m pretty ahead of schedule so far.”

-Darius Garland had a double-double with 18 points and 11 assists(six turnovers). It was Garland’s second double-double of the season. 

-Lauri Markkanen had a season-high 17 points(7/14 FG) on Friday night, which included a season-high three three-pointers. Markkanen has struggled with his shot(30.5 FG%) thus far this season, so it’s good to see him put the ball in the basket.

-Ricky Rubio continues to bring it every night. He had 18 points, six rebounds, and four assists off the bench. What an acquisition for this team.  It’s early, but if Rubio keeps playing at this level, he could be in the discussion for Sixth-Man of the Year.

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

-Fourth-quarter: Cleveland trailed 88-85, heading into the fourth quarter. However, they went completely cold in the fourth. They shot 4/18(22%) from the field and were outscored 25-16 in the quarter. The Cavs took their last lead of 91-90 with just under eight minutes left, but the Lakers would go on a 10-0 run, and Cleveland never threatened after that.

-Defense: One of the reasons Cleveland won three straight was their defense. The Cavaliers held teams below 90 points and below 410% shooting from the floor in those three wins. However, the Lakers scored 113 points with 55% shooting. Los Angeles also had 60 points in the paint.

-After scoring 26 points against the Clippers on Wednesday night, Collin Sexton, the team’s leading scorer, was a non-factor against Los Angeles. He scored 9 points on 2/9 shooting.

Bottom Line:

This was not a bad loss for the Cavs. They competed against the Lakers, who you knew would be tough to beat after their loss to the Thunder on Wednesday. In addition, Cleveland kept it close and even had a lead in the fourth. The Cavs can hold their heads up high after this loss.

What’s Next:

Cleveland(3-3) continues their five-game road trip as they travel to Phoenix to battle the Western Conference Champions, the Suns(1-3), on Saturday night; Phoenix, who has lost two straight, is 0-2 at home this season.

Best of the Rest:

In his return from an ankle injury, LeBron James led the Lakers with 26 points, eights assists, and three rebounds; Carmelo Anthony added 24 points, including six three-pointers off the bench.

Watch below as Mobley, Rubio, and Markkanen react to loss against Lakers:

Suns’ Booker on Chris Paul: ‘I was a fan before we were teammates’

Phoenix Suns legendary point guard Chris Paul made history in the team’s 115-105 victory over the Lakers at Staples Center on Friday night. 

Coming into the game against the Lakers, Paul needed seven points to become the first player in NBA history to amass 20,000 points and 10,000 assists. The 11-time All-Star, who was also named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team this week, hit the milestone with a free throw in the second quarter.

Paul, who finished Friday’s game with 23 points, 14 assists, and five rebounds, was clutching the game ball at the post game press conference after Phoenix’s first victory of the season.

“When you get done playing this game,” Paul said. “Sometimes, you want to have things(game ball) to remember things. I’m going to keep this for sure.”

‘The first player ever,” Suns’ Devin Booker interjected. “That’s the crazy part about it… It’s inspiring, and I tell him daily, I was a fan before we were teammates, so I give him his flowers daily, and he deserves that. I think a lot of people wait until somebody retires or wait until their career is over to tell them certain type things. I get to say that often to him; that’s inspiring.”

The closest players to the 20,000 points and 10,000 assists mark were John Stockton(289 points short), Oscar Robertson(113 assists short), and Gary Payton(1034 assists short). Among active players, LeBron James(294 assists short) could get there this season, and Russell Westbrook(1926 assists short) may get there soon.

Paul is a fantastic player and arguably one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. At age 36, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Phoenix travels to Portland to battle the Trailblazers on Saturday night.

Watch below as Paul and Booker react to Paul’s record and the team’s first victory of the season:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lakers’ Howard on altercation with AD: ‘We squashed it right then and there’

The Los Angles Lakers added a few pieces to their team in the offseason. They brought in guys like Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan and brought in two guys from their 2020 championship team in Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, but they have gotten off to a slow start.

On Friday, the Lakers(0-2) dropped their second straight game as they were defeated by the Suns(1-1) 115-105 at Staples Center.

The loss is not too concerning when you consider it’s only the second game of the season. However, what might be more concerning is what transpired on the team’s bench between Howard and Anthony Davis.

The two got into a shoving match in the second quarter after a Suns timeout. 

Watch below:

After the game, both Howard and Davis said it was squashed.

“We squashed it right then and there,” Howard said. “We just had a disagreement about something that was on the floor… We’re grown men, things happen. But we are going to squash this little issue between me and him, and that’s my brother, that’s my teammate.”

Davis, who had 22 points and 14 rebounds on Friday night, added: “After the situation happened, me and DH, we talked about it, and we left it at that.”

According to Davis, the argument started over an issue with their pick-and-roll defense.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel says stuff like this happens when you’re losing:

“When you’re getting your a** kicked, sometimes those conversations get heated,” he said. “They talked it out, and that’s going to happen from time to time.”

Howard did not play in the second half, but Vogel said it had nothing to do with the incident with Davis.

In an 82-game season, stuff like this does happen. This could bring the Lakers closer, and we’ll see the impact this altercation may have on Los Angeles going forward.

Howard talks altercation with Davis:

76ers’ Morey on Drummond: ‘We’re excited to add a veteran player of his caliber to our roster’

With Dwight Howard returning to the Lakers, the 76ers had a void at the backup center spot. On Wednesday, they officially filled that spot. Philadelphia announced that they had signed two-time All-Star Andre Drummond.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a one-year deal for the veteran minimum. 

Last season, Drummond played for the Cavaliers and the Lakers. He appeared in 46 games (all starts) last season, posting averages of 14.9 points and 12.0 rebounds along with 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks. He was one of three NBA players, including new teammate Joel Embiid, to average a point-rebound double-double as well as one steal and one block last season. 

“Andre is a great addition to the 76ers family,” President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey said via a press release from the team. “He is a two-time NBA All-Star who has consistently been one of the NBA’s very best rebounders and rim protectors,” Morey said. “We’re excited to add a veteran player of his caliber to our roster and look forward to the impact he’ll make this season.” 

In nine seasons, Drummond holds career averages of 14.5 points, 13.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game. His career 13.7 rebounding average ranks seventh all-time in NBA history among players who have appeared in at least 250 contests.

In essence, the 76ers swapped Drummond for Howard. The 27-year-old Drummond is probably an upgrade over the 35-year-old Howard. He’s younger, a better rebounder, scorer, and a guy looking to get another big contract, which could bode well for Philadelphia.

Drummond will wear No. 1 for the 76ers. 

Suns’ Booker on 47-point explosion: ‘I was just locked in’

It’s hard to win back-to-back titles in the NBA; so much has to go your way, including staying healthy. Last season, LeBron James and Anthony Davis were healthy, which led to an NBA title for the Los Angeles Lakers. This season, both Davis and James miss extended time due to injuries, and both Davis and James were not completely healthy in the playoffs.

James battled an ankle injury, while Davis battled a groin injury that occurred in Game 4, which forced him to miss Game 5 and led to him leaving in early in the first quarter and not coming back after trying to give it a go in Game 6 on Wednesday night.

All that aside, this game was about the greatness of Devin Booker, who scored 22 of his playoff career-high 47 points in the first quarter as the Suns defeated the Lakers 113-100 at Staples Center. 

Phoenix led by as many as 22 points in the first quarter and by as many as 29 points in the game.

The Suns, who won the series 4-2 to capture their first playoff series victory in 11 years, move on to the Western Conference semifinals to battle the Denver Nuggets, while the defending- champion Lakers go home. 

Booker, who’s making his playoff debut after missing the postseason in the first four years of his career, shot 8-10 from the field in the first quarter and was 6/6 from three-point range(six threes is his regular-season career-high). He finished the game shooting 15/22 from the field and made a career-high eight threes.

Booker was ready for this game, which he discussed after the victory. 

“I was just locked in, to be completely honest with you,” Booker said. “I had a tough time taking my pregame nap, all out of excitement. We treated this game like a Game 7. We were stressing since we won the last game that we wanted to end it here on their home court.”

Booker is a huge fan of Laker great, the late Kobe Bryant, and he brought that “Mamba Mentality” in Game 6.  Bryant once gave Booker a pair of his sneakers and wrote ‘Be Legendary’ on them. Booker would later get that phrase tattooed on him. The two-time All-Star felt Bryant’s presence when he saw Kobe’s 8 and 24 resting in the rafters at Staples Center, which he discussed post-game.  

“Honestly, I was thinking about Kobe and the conversations that we had, kind of about what we just went through, the postseason and being legendary and taking the steps to get there,” Booker said. “So, seeing that 8 and that 24 up there, with the way that the lighting at Staples has right here, it feels like it’s shining down on you.”

Booker has star potential and talent, and now the world gets the see how good of a player he is and can be on the playoff stage.

Notes:

James, who led the Lakers with 29 points on Thursday night, lost for the first time in the first round of the playoffs.  Coming into this series, James was 14-0.

Chris Paul, who appeared to hurt his shoulder again in the first quarter, but would return, finished the game with eight points and 12 assists.

Poor shooting, turnovers hurt the Cavs as they fall to Los Angeles

The Cleveland Cavaliers(17-28) had the first half they desired on Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers(29-17). They played good defense, holding the Lakers to 44 points, and they shared the ball, 15 assists on 20 field goals. Cleveland led by seven points at halftime, but the second half was a much different story especially the third quarter.

In that third quarter, Cleveland shot 14% from the field, including 0/9 from three-point range, and scored only 10 points. Conversely, the Lakers shot 57% from the field and outscored Cleveland by 18 points in the quarter. Ultimately, Los Angeles would outscore Cleveland by 21 points in the second half and defeat the Cavaliers 100-86 at Staples Center.

The Lakers, who snapped their four-game losing streak on Friday night, were without LeBron James(ankle) and Anthony Davis(calf), but Montrezl Harrell stepped up and had a game-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Cleveland, who was without their leading scorer, Collin Sexton(hamstring), was led by Larry Nance Jr., who had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The third quarter killed the Cavaliers, but according to their head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the team got good looks. However, they could not make shots.

“We missed shots,” Bickerstaff said. “I thought we did a good job of moving the ball. You go back in look at how we created shots for one another; we just didn’t make them.” 

Nance Jr. added: “We got good looks; we took good shots. We just didn’t make them.”

Cleveland also finished the game with 21 turnovers, which led to 21 points for the Lakers. 

“We turned it over too much in the first half,” Bickerstaff said. “But in the second half, we turned it over more at the top of the floor, which gave them opportunities to get out in transition. We just have to be more sure with the ball.”

Tough loss for the Cavs when you consider the start they had, but it’s challenging to win the NBA when you don’t make shots and turn the ball over at a high rate.

Cleveland gets back at it on Saturday night against the Sacramento Kings, who beat the Cavaliers 119-105 last Monday night in Cleveland. The Cavaliers finish their four-game road trip on Monday in Utah against the Jazz.

Notes:

On Friday, the Cavs announced that they have agreed on a buyout with Andre Drummond, who now will become a free agent. Drummond has not played since February 12 after he and the team agreed to have him sit until they can either trade or buy out the two-tIme All-Star.

The 27-year-old Drummond was acquired by the Cavaliers in a trade with Detroit last season on February 6, 2020. In 33 games (all starts) with Cleveland, he averaged 17.5 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 28.7 minutes per contest. 

Cavs sign Quinn Cook to 10-day contract

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed guard Quinn Cook to a 10-day contract, the team announced on Friday.

On Thursday, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff discussed how Cook can help the team.

“One, is experience. Obviously, he has the ability and has played in big moments,” Bickerstaff said. “Two, I think he’s a veteran player who could help our young guards understand and grow as well, and three, he has the ability to score the basketball at a high clip, so I think he gives you another guy who can play make, another guy who can create, not only for himself, but for others on the court, and he brings a ton of intangibles off the court.”

Cook, 27, appeared in 16 games for the Los Angeles Lakers this season before being waived on February 24. A two-time NBA champion (2018, 2020), Cook has played in 181 career regular season games (29 starts) over five NBA seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors and Lakers, holding averages of 6.4 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 14.1 minutes. He has also appeared in 40 postseason games, including six contests in last year’s title run with the Lakers.

Additionally, the six-year veteran was a member of Cleveland’s 2015 Training Camp roster and spent nearly two seasons with the Canton Charge (2015-16, 2016-17), the Cavaliers’ exclusively owned and operated NBA G League team. With the Charge, he was a two-time All-Star (2016, 2017) and the G League’s Rookie of the Year (2016).

LeBron: ‘I just go out and try to prepare to be the best every night’

Plenty of history was made on Wednesday night in San Antonio. Some we expected and some that was a surprise. First, LeBron James, on his 36th birthday, became the first player in NBA history to have one-thousand straight game in double figures. Next, after Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected in the second quarter, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon became the first woman in NBA history to serve as head coach.

Ultimately, behind James’ team-high 26 points, the Lakers would defeat San Antonio 121-107 at AT&T Center. 

Michael Jordan previously held the record with 866 straight games in double-figures, but James would surpass that mark in 2018. 

After the game, James reflected on one-thousand straight games of 10 points or more.

“I just go out and try to prepare to be the best every night I step out on the floor,” James said about one-thousand straight games in double-figures. “If I’m in uniform, I gotta do things to help our team win. If that’s scoring, rebounding, defending, assisting. Doing the little things, and just be available for my teammates throughout the course of the game when I’m on the floor or when I’m also on the bench.”

This is James’ 17th season in the NBA, so first, you need longevity to pull this type of streak off, and next, you have to have consistency, which means this record will be tough to break.

It’s not easy to score a basket in the NBA, and scoring in double-figures is even harder, but as he continues, James is making many things in the NBA look easy. 

At 36, James is still playing at an elite level, and the way the world-champion Lakers are presently constructed, this team could make another deep playoff run this season. James shows no signs of slowing down, and he appears to be a guy who could play at a high level for years to come. Expect James to achieve more milestones and do more amazing things moving forward. 

At this point, it’s clear, we are all witnesses to greatness.

Mavs’ Doncic: ‘We box out, we win the game’

Playing good defense in the NBA requires players to contest shots and try to stay in front of the offensive player, and at the end, grabbing the rebound on a missed shot. 

On Christmas day against the Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks may have done some of that, but they did not do the rebounding part. Dallas allowed the Lakers to have 35 second-chance points to the Mavericks zero. Ultimately, the world-champion Los Angeles(1-1) would rout Dallas(0-2) 138-115 at Staples Center on Friday night. 

Mavericks-Lakers was the marquee matchup on Christmas day in the NBA. LeBron James against Luka Doncic. James would finish 22 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds, while Doncic poured in 27 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds, but unfortunately for Dallas, LeBron had more help. Anthony Davis led all scorers with 28 points, and Montrezl Harrell chipped in 22 points off the bench.

According to Doncic, the Mavericks’ inability to rebound cost them this game.

“I’m not surprised we lost,” he said. “You can’t win a game when second-chance points is 35 to zero. It’s as simple as that. We box out, we win the game. It’s that simple. I think we did some great stuff on defense, but at the end, you have to finish with the boxing out, and that’s what we gotta work on…

“I think it’s everything about mentality and toughness. It’s gotta be mental. If somebody is rebounding like that, you just have to box them out no matter what. Somebody else is going to get the rebound. Like I said, we have to work on it, and we just gotta get better.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle added: “A team has given up 35 points second chance and had gotten zero. It’s obviously the story of the game.”

At this point, Dallas is missing what Kristaps Porzingis brings to the table. They miss his scoring(20.4 ppg last season) and his ability to rebound(9.5 rpg). Porzingis is expected to return sometime in January after he needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus back in October. 

You’re not going to win in the NBA when you get beat that bad on the glass. The Lakers out-hustled and dominated Dallas on Friday night. After two games, the Mavericks remain winless as they get ready to battle the Clippers on Sunday, which will be another challenging game. Dallas has to find a way to bring more energy and effort against the Clippers if they want to get their first win of the season. 

The first two games have been a disappointment, but fortunately for Dallas, there is a lot of basketball left in the season.