Cavs Kevin Love could Start at Center – Tristan Thompson would be on Bench

kevin-love-staying-clevelandKevin Love has spent the majority of his NBA career playing power forward. Tristan Thompson has started most of his Cleveland Cavaliers career at center. But Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue plans to change both of these things in the upcoming 2017-18 NBA season.

Cleveland now has more quality players than they know what to do with. This includes picking up Jae Crowder in an off-season trade for Kyrie Irving.

Crowder is a versatile 6’6″, 235-pound forward in the same mold as LeBron James. This means that Crowder can play both forward spots.

jae-crowder-celticsGiven that LeBron James often mans the small forward position for 36 to 40 minutes per game, putting Crowder at power forward would be the best way to keep him on the floor. But this also means that Love would have to slide over to center because he also plays around 30 minutes a night.

“We did a lot of that last training camp, but as far as how the sets are put together right now throughout training camp I am seeing a pretty significant amount of time there,” Love told Cleveland.com. “Depends on, now with so many guys on the team and so many lineups that we can throw out there it will probably change.”

Thompson will Come Off the Bench

With Love at center, Tristan Thompson will be forced to come off the bench for the first time in his career.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland CavaliersThis makes sense from a numbers perspective because Love is a more versatile player.

He averaged 19.0 PPG and 11.1 RPG last season, while shooting 37.3% from the three-point line. Thompson, meanwhile, averaged 8.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG and 1.1 blocks.

The upside is that Love is a much better outside shooter than Thompson and can space the floor better. The downside is that Thompson is a better defender and one of the few shot-blocking presences on the Cavaliers. Going further, center is a more physically demanding position than power forward, meaning that Love could wear down faster during the season.

Of course, the other scenario would be playing Love and Thompson together like last year. Crowder would then have to come off the bench. But he’s become accustomed to starting in his previous four seasons with the Boston Celtics.

“Spacing opportunities, spacing the floor,” said Lue of the change. “Being able to play through the elbows with multiple guys.”

Coach Lue Hoping for a Different Look

Lue wasn’t really in the mood to talk much about his plan to start Love at center. But he did mention the team’s newfound depth with the acquisitions of Crowder, Dwayne Wade, Jeff Green, Derrick Rose, and Isaiah Thomas.

kevin-love-cavsLove was willing to talk more about the matter than his coach, offering some analysis on how people will be used this season.

“Tristan is a very dynamic roller, guy that plays a lot as a dunker,” Love explained. “Myself, I have to play inside-out, mix that up and really take what the defense gives you. But it gives us a different look.

“I mentioned different dynamics out there on the floor with different lineups and we’re so deep now that D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) and a lot of guys similar in size at that 4-5 spot, we’re going to see guys playing interchangeable. It’s not just going to be on the defensive end in that regard.”

Team Holding First Scrimmages

Cleveland had their first scrimmage this past week, which gave Lue a chance to experiment with his new lineup. Love was with the first unit at center, while Thompson played as the second unit’s big man.

The Cavs will hold their first public scrimmage on Monday at 6pm. However, Lue said that fans shouldn’t put too much stock into the lineups since Lebron James (ankle) won’t be playing.

“We’ve been definitely interchangeable in that respect, but also I think Ty likes to match Tristan and I against each other so I think I will see a lot time at the 5 in practices going against T-top,” said Love.

Lue Expects Big Season for Love

Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland CavaliersLue told ESPN’s Zach Lowe earlier in December that he believes Kevin Love is set for one of his biggest season’s yet.

“Kevin is going to have the best year that he’s had here,” said Lue. “I thought he was great anyway. You keep bringing up [Chris] Bosh. What did Bosh average in Miami?

“Kevin averaged almost 20 [points] and 10 [rebounds] with two other All-Stars. If you are on a championship-caliber team, you have to sacrifice. But this year is going to be a big opportunity for him. We’re going to play through him more. He’s going to get those elbow touches again.”

Cavs Odds for 2017-18 Season

The Cleveland Cavaliers open at -140 in our Eastern Conference futures at GTBets. The next-closest competition is the Boston Celtics, who have +220 odds of winning the East.

The Cavs have certainly changed their roster from last season thanks to the Irving trade. They also picked up important free agents like Rose and Green over the summer. This is why some believe that Cleveland could be even better this year than last, when they made the NBA Finals.

isaiah-thomas-celticsWill the Cavs be able to top the defending champion Warriors? Odds are no because Golden State is a historic team. But there’s still a chance if their new parts quickly gel.

This includes Thomas, who will likely be out until Christmas with a hip injury. Thomas offers the same high offensive pedigree as Irving. But the key will be integrating him with James, Love, and the rest of the Cavs before the playoffs began.

It’ll also be interesting to see how Lue’s experiment with Love at center works out. I assume that Thompson will be starting some games at center just to reduce Love’s load. But we’ll see how things progress through the season.

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.

Celtics Sign Gordon Hayward – Impact on 2018 Odds

gordon-hayward-isaiah-thomasThe Boston Celtics set their sights on Gordon Hayward ever since the 2017 offseason began. And their efforts proved fruitful as they landed the former Utah Jazz forward.

Hayward gives this club another star besides point guard Isaiah Thomas. And the 6’8″ forward better positions this team to get past the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Playoffs.

But just how good are Boston’s chances of making the NBA Finals with Hayward? Find out as we cover what he’ll do for the Celtics 2018 odds.

Hayward is the Perfect Fit

Paul George, another Boston offseason target, also could’ve made the Celtics much better. But there are questions of how another ball-dominant player would’ve fit in with Thomas.

hayward-boston-oddsBoston doesn’t need to worry about answering these questions now because Hayward will make a seamless transition to this team.

The 6-year veteran can be a playmaker, spot-up shooter, driver, decoy…basically, whatever Boston needs. Just as important as his offensive versatility is Hayward’s defensive prowess. He can guard multiple positions, defend the pick and roll, and has length (7-foot wingspan).

Hayward is somebody who’s improved every year in the league. Last season, he averaged a career-high 21.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and shot 39.8% from the 3-point line. With good shooting, great defense, and playmaking ability, Hayward is the total package for Boston.

The Celtics are Even Deeper

Thanks to their trade robbery of the Brooklyn Nets a few years ago, the Celtics just keep getting better and better.

jaylen-brown-celticsLast summer, they added forward Jaylen Brown with the third-overall pick. And Brown showed flashes of a great player as his playing time increased during the season.

This year, the Celtics picked up Duke small forward Jayson Tatum. Yet another versatile forward, Tatum has the potential to be the best offensive player in the draft.

Now, add these players to a lineup that already includes Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Hayward, and Marcus Smart. This possibly makes for the league’s best defensive team, and one of the deepest too.

Hayward is a Proven Winner

The Celtics know how to win since they finished first in the Eastern Conference with a 53-29 record. And now, they add another winner to their roster.

Hayward was the center of Utah’s rebuild, as the team showed the following improvement over the past four seasons: 25 wins, 38 wins, 40 wins, 51 wins.

It’s possible that the Jazz would’ve experienced another increase in 2018. But Hayward saw a better opportunity by joining the East’s top regular-season team. Now, he has a clearer path to the Finals that doesn’t include the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs.

Danny Ainge Avoids Losing in the 2017 Offseason

On a side note, Boston GM Danny Ainge avoids the scrutiny that he’s been facing over not landing a major free agent this summer. After all, Ainge is sitting on a pile of draft picks over the next few years, and people want to see him turn these picks into proven players.

celtics-aingeThe Celtics could’ve gotten Jimmy Butler for the third-overall selection. They also failed to trade for George, although he’s expressed his desire to sign with the LA Lakers next summer.

If Ainge had also failed to sign Hayward, it would’ve really put a damper on this offseason. But now, Boston has a prized free agent and looks to be a much stronger team moving forward.

Hayward Gives Boston a Height Upgrade

Hayward’s height will certainly help this undersized team. The four Boston players who log the most minutes include PG Thomas (5’9″), SG Bradley (6’2″), SF Crowder (6’6″), and C Al Horford (6’9″).

Even in the small-ball era, this is small. But when you throw Hayward in Crowder’s spot – or alongside him – he gives Boston more height and length. Assuming Brown plays heavier minutes, this will give Boston yet one more sizable wing.

What will Boston do with Jae Crowder?

jae-crowder-celticsCrowder is an invaluable part of the Celtics’ core. But Hayward plays the same position as Crowder and is an upgrade.

This leaves Boston with the following three options moving forward:

  • Put Crowder at power forward, which puts him at a disadvantage against bigger lineups.
  • Bring him off the bench.
  • Trade him.

The latter scenario is the most viable. The 5-year veteran is highly coveted for his defense and three-point shooting (39.8%). Plus, Boston has Brown and Tatum on the roster, who’ll both need time to develop.

The Celtics would do best to trade Crowder while he still has maximum value. After all, his numbers will dwindle when he’s coming off the bench.

Does Hayward Give Boston a Chance to Beat Cleveland?

Currently, we have the Celtics at +1000 odds of winning the 2018 NBA championship. This is tied for third best with the San Antonio Spurs, and behind both the Cleveland Cavaliers (+350) and Warriors (-220).

gordon-hayward-jazzThe Cavs are the important one here because they dismantled Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. However, adding Hayward gives them a legitimate chance to beat Cleveland.

But barring any major Cleveland injuries, we still don’t see Boston getting by them. The biggest problem is that Hayward plays the same position as one of Boston’s top-4 players. And while Hayward is an upgrade over Crowder, he doesn’t significantly improve their team from last year.

But with rumors about LeBron James bolting Cleveland after this season, Boston is poised to rule the East. They also look like a team that’ll contend for the title very soon too.