Cavs Odds: Derrick Rose may Sign with Cleveland

derrick-rose-cavsThe Cleveland Cavaliers need more talent to contend with the Golden State Warriors. And point guard Derrick Rose needs somewhere to play as the offseason winds down. This makes both sides a good fit for each other.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Rose and Cleveland are “in serious talks” to agree on a 1-year contract.

Rose is one the top unrestricted free agents this summer. And if he signs a deal with Cleveland, he’d play backup point guard behind All-Star Kyrie Irving.

The Cavs have already signed Jose Calderon, who averaged 3.4 points and 2.1 assists for the LA Lakers and Atlanta Hawks last season. Calderon is presumed to be Cleveland’s backup, however, he’d play third-string if Rose signs.

But will Rose sign? If so, how does he change the Cavs 2018 championship odds?

We’ll answer these questions below and also discuss how Rose fits into this team.

How can Rose Help the Cavaliers?

rose-knicks-free-agent-2017Derrick Rose is a three-time All-Star who won the league MVP award in 2010. But multiple knee injuries have hampered Rose since the 2011 MVP campaign, when he averaged 25.0 points and 7.7 assists.

Nevertheless, he’s still a productive player who averaged 18.0 PPG, 4.4 APG, and shot 47.1% for the New York Knicks last season.

Number aside, it’s hard to figure out how Rose fits into Cleveland’s plans. Starter LeBron James often plays with the bench unit and handles the ball. The backup point guard has usually been a good shooter who’s comfortable coming off screens.

Rose, on the other hand, is one of the league’s worst point guards at outside shooting. He hit just 21.7% of his three-point attempts last season and is a career 29.8% shooter from beyond the arc.

Obviously the Cavs’ past bench formula won’t work with Rose. But what he can do is run the offense by himself when James and Irving sit.

derrick-rose-clevelandOne of Cleveland’s biggest problems has been supplying offense whenever either Irving or James rest. And Rose could take care of this problem.

If he can score 18 points and get to the rim for the dysfunctional Knicks, he should have no trouble doing well against reserve point guards.

As for the way Cleveland normally likes to use their bench, Calderon could still have a role.

Again, he wouldn’t play many minutes with both Rose and Irving on the team. But he could be the off-the-ball point guard Cleveland needs when LeBron runs the bench offense. Calderon is a career 40.9% three-point shooter, which would help.

What does Rose have Left?

Derrick Rose may be 28 years old, but he’s an old 28.

After being selected No. 1 overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2008, he played extremely well from then until his MVP season in 2011. The Bulls were also great, finishing first in the Eastern Conference standings in 2011 and 2012.

derrick-rose-2017-knicks-resignBut Rose tore his ACL for the first time in the opening round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Since then, he’s had other knee injuries that have robbed him of his signature explosiveness.

Rose did prove he has something left with the Knicks, though, playing 64 games and recording his best scoring average since 2012.

It was his most effective offensive season of the past five years. He also shot his highest field goal percentage since then too.

And Cleveland isn’t asking Rose to be their superstar. They just need somebody to help the offense when James, Irving, and/or Kevin Love are sitting.

Rose’s Impact on Cavs 2017/18 Odds

derrick-rose-carmeloCurrently, we have Cleveland’s odds of winning the 2018 NBA championship at +350. For comparison, we had them in the +200s throughout much of last offseason after they won the 2016 title.

But the Cavs looked outclassed by the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals. And it’s clear that they need help because the Warriors (-220 odds) are bringing back their entire core.

Rose doesn’t suddenly swing the odds in Cleveland’s favor. But what he does do is give them a better chance. Assuming Rose signs, the Cavs’ true odds swing to the low +300s or high +200s.

Will Rose Take a Low Contract?

One big roadblock is that Cleveland doesn’t have any cap space. The highest contract they can offer Rose is the remaining $2.5 million of their taxpayer mid-level exception.

He made $21.5 million playing for the Knicks last year. Perhaps he’ll take far less money for the opportunity to compete for a championship.

According to ESPN, they’re only offering him a $2.1 million veteran minimum. As reported by Chris Haynes, Rose “just wants to play ball” and will be looking closely at the Cavs’ and other team’s culture.

Cleveland did have a good team culture, one that includes three straight NBA Finals trips. But a dark cloud hangs over the Cavs with all the reports on James eyeing the LA Lakers in 2019.

Rose also Interested in LA Lakers and Chicago Bulls

Lakers Nation reports that Rose is intrigued with the prospect of signing with LA or Chicago. Of these two, he’s mostly interested in the Lakers:

“The Lakers and Cavs are the favorites to land Rose and each offers something completely different,” writes Lakers Nation’s Corey Hansford. “The Cavaliers would give Rose the opportunity to win a championship as they’ve made the NBA Finals three straight seasons and will again be the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference this year.”

The big draw to either LA or Chicago is that they can both offer Rose more money. Chicago offers the added benefit of being Rose’s former team and hometown.

However, the drawback is that both teams are in rebuilding situations. And Rose would lose far more games with either team than with the Cavs.

Given that Rose is expected to make a decision this weekend, we should know very soon what he decides.

LeBron James’ “We Top-Heavy as Sh**” Rant Shows Cavs in Trouble

lebron-james-top-heavy-rantAfter toppling the favored Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers looked set for another year of success and potential back-to-back championships. But after an injury to J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova walking in free agency, the Cavs find themselves struggling a bit.

I emphasize a bit because Cleveland is still 30-13 and sitting three games ahead of the second-place Toronto Raptors in the East. But after losing five out of their last seven games, including the most-recent one to the lowly New Orleans Pelicans (w/o Anthony Davis), the defending champs are experiencing a mid-season slump.

Following the loss to the Pelicans, LeBron James let his frustrations be known. Speaking on how the Cavaliers Big Three (James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love) combined for 97 of the team’s 122 points in a 124-122 loss, James strongly implied that the team needs to bolster their bench.

“We’re not better than last year, from a personnel standpoint … we’re a top-heavy team. I just hope that we’re not satisfied as an organization,” James said, via quotes provided by the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd. “I just hope we not satisfied. How hard it was to do that s***. I just hope we’re not satisfied.”

James continued by saying, “It’s like when you don’t have bodies. It’s tough. The f***ing grind of the regular season. We’re a top-heavy team. We have a top-heavy team. We top-heavy as s***. It’s me, [Irving], [Love]. It’s top-heavy.”

Two players that LeBron identified as ones who could’ve helped the team are Milwaukee Bucks forward Michael Beasley and L.A. Clippers guard Raymond Felton, both of whom are playing on minimum veteran contracts.

lebron-james-benchHe also discussed Mo Williams, who refused to report to the team or retire, thus taking up a roster spot until the Cavs were able to trade him. “We got f**cked with that.”

While attempting not to throw young players Kay Felder and DeAndre Liggins under the bus, James discussed how both have been thrust into prominent roles that they’re not ready for.

“No disrespect to DeAndre and to Kay, you think we can rely on them to help us win a playoff game right now? And it’s no disrespect to them. But it’s like, it’s not fair to them. It’s tough for coach [Tyronn Lue] because we’re in the process of trying to win a f***ing championship.

“It would’ve been unfair to [Matthew Dellavedova] to ask him his rookie year to play on a championship-level team. So that’s why you got guys in front of him that allows him to [grow]. We telling Kay to be a backup point guard to a f***ing superstar right now, instead of being a backup point guard to a guy that’s proven in the league. You know what I’m saying?”

James Says He Doesn’t Have a Problem with Cavs’ Front Office

Another thing that James is unhappy about is Cleveland’s lack of a rim-protecting center. He watched Golden State sign JaVale McGee, and the San Antonio Spurs sign Dewayne Dedmon for cheap contracts.

Cleveland did sign Chris “Birdman” Anderson in the offseason, who’s known for his shot-blocking abilities. But Anderson is out for the season with a torn ACL. Tristan Thompson leads the team in blocks with 1.21 per game, while James is a distant second with 0.55 blocks.

tristan-thompsonDespite his complaints, James claims that he doesn’t have an issue with GM David Griffin and the rest of Cleveland’s front office.

“I ain’t got no problems with the front office,” said James. “I told (Griffin) to his face, so it ain’t like I’m telling y’all to put it on record. I see Griff all the time. One thing about me, if I got something to say, I’m going to tell it to your face. We need a f***ing playmaker. I’m not saying you can just go find one, like you can go outside and see trees. I didn’t say that.”

“For the most part, all championship-contending teams has got guys that are ready to step in. Knock on wood, what if Ky goes down? For two weeks. Let’s say two. What if I went down for three weeks?”

James clarified his thoughts further with this tweet:

Does Cleveland Have Anything to Offer Other Teams?

While it’s great that LeBron is so passionate about improving, the problem is that the team doesn’t have many more assets to trade, and there aren’t many veteran contributors floating around right now.

kyle-korver-cavsThey recently got Kyle Korver from the Hawks in exchange for a draft pick and Mike Dunleavy. They’ve also maxed out the salary cap thanks to big deals for Thompson, Smith, James, Irving, and Love.

The only potential trades that Cleveland might have to offer would be Felder, who wouldn’t net much right now, and Shumpert, who’s part of the rotation.

“I don’t know what we got to offer,” LeBron said. “I just know me, personally? I don’t got no time to waste. I’ll be 33 in the winter, and I ain’t got time to waste. That’s what I’m talking about. Listen, when I feel like physically and mentally, me personally, can’t compete for a championship no more or I feel like I can’t do it, then I won’t have this problem.”

Nate Robinson Offers His Services to the Cavs

As USA Today points out, Nate Robinson would love to fill Cleveland’s need for a backup point guard. He wrote the following on Instagram:

“Do I gotta put my number on ig @kingjames ??? Cause I will until you call me lol #holdat”

Robinson also commented on the situation last month when speaking to HYPEBEAST.

nate-robinson-cavs“Yeah, but I don’t understand why they wouldn’t hit me up,” he said. “I don’t know why they don’t like me, man. I’m the most hated.”

The last time that Robinson played in the NBA was two games for the Pelicans last season. The 5’9” guard also played in Israel in 2016 to keep sharp in case any NBA suitors are interested.

In the 2014-15 season, he split 42 games between the Clippers and Denver Nuggets, shooting just 34% from the field.

Now 32, Robinson hasn’t been able to attract any serious attention, even from the guard-hungry Cavs. But as you can see in his Instagram post, he’s in excellent shape if Cleveland does come calling.

The Robinson matter aside, James obviously feels that Cleveland needs another veteran backcourt player until Smith returns. And if the losing continues, he won’t be happy until that happens.

How Much Does Kyle Korver Boost Cavs Championship Odds?

kyle-korver-cavsThe Cleveland Cavaliers recently completed a deal with the Atlanta Hawks to get Kyle Korver in exchange for Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams, and a protected first-round draft pick.

Korver isn’t a superstar, and he’s a couple years removed from his 2014 All-Star appearance. He’s also 35 years old, meaning the 13-year veteran is on the downside of his career.

Still, Korver can shoot the lights out, which begs the question of how much he can help the Cavs in their quest for a second championship. Let’s take a look below at the ways that Korver can help, and come to a final determination on what his impact will be.

Korver’s 3-Pointers Come from the Same Spots Cleveland Shoots Them

Looking at the shot chart below, you can see that Korver’s sweet spots are in the same areas that Cleveland ends up shooting three’s in their sets:

korver-cavs-shooting

We know Korver can shoot the three, given that he’s hitting 41% this season, and he’s a 42.9% career three-point shooter. But this shot chart shows that he won’t have to adjust from his sweet spots on the right and left sides because this is where the highest volume of Cavs’ three’s come from.

Atlanta and Cleveland Run Similar Sets

Additionally, Cleveland runs many similar sets that Korver has run in Atlanta for the past four and a half years. As you can see in the following video from NBC Sports, he’s used to starting in the corner and running off single and double screens to get space.

Here’s a video that shows how Cleveland runs similar plays, with Mike Dunleavy beginning in the corner and Channing Frye providing him with the handoff.

3-Pointers in Transition

While Cleveland’s half-court sets and passing are important, where they really shine is in transition. This means that Korver will cash in on lots of open opportunities when LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are bringing the ball down and drawing attention.

Korver has the stamina to run the floor, get to the corners, and release quick three’s. Here’s an example:

Hitting 3’s off Offensive Rebounds

Cleveland has one of the best offensive rebounders in the league in Tristan Thompson (3.7 per game), while Kevin Love is also good too (2.5 per game). This should mix well with Korver’s ability to hit three’s when his teammates get offensive boards:

Korver has a high basketball IQ, and, as seen above, he quickly runs to the corner as soon as he sees the rebounder turn around.

Giving His Teammates More Driving Room

It’s correct to say that the driving abilities of LeBron and Irving are going to set Korver up for more open three’s than he’s ever had. But it’s also true that Korver will create more driving space for Cleveland’s superstars:

As you can see in this video, Toronto is trying to cover Dunleavy, Frye, and Iman Shumpert around the three-point line.

Terrence Ross tries trailing Dunleavy because he doesn’t want him going over the pick. And this is the same type of situation that Korver is going to benefit from. Given that Pascal Siakam can’t leave Frye, and Shumpert has slipped a screen, Frye eventually gets open.

These favorable scenarios will happen even more with Korver’s three-point shooting acumen.

An Elite 3-Point Shooting Team

Kyle Korver is one of the best shooters in the game, and, even at age 35, he can still play.

Cleveland was already good at shooting three’s before he came over. And they’re going to get better when J.R. Smith comes back from injury in a few months.

Just imagine if they can get Smith healthy and in tune for the playoffs: they’ll have Smith, Irving, Korver, and Frye who can all hit the three with good consistency. Frye and Korver are especially important because they’ll come off the bench to ensure that Cleveland always has three-point threats on the floor.

It’s unclear if this move will ensure that the Cavs can repeat, especially with a loaded Warriors team and solid Spurs club. But what is clear is that Korver makes this a better and more-dangerous team. That said, we like Cleveland’s chances of winning now far more than we did a couple weeks ago.