What the Cavaliers do with Kevin Love, more than any other player, will determine their post-LeBron James direction. There are mixed signals about Love’s future in Cleveland. But perhaps the Cavs are willing to take a smaller step back by dealing Kyle Korver. Terry Pluto of The Plain Deale saidr: “I hear the Cavs are looking to move Korver.” Korver is due $7.56 million next season, and $3.44 million of his $7.5 million salary the following season is guaranteed. He’s a great 3-point shooter, but his defense – which tops out as passable in a team concept – becomes a liability when opponents target him the playoffs. At 37, he’s likely to decline further defensive and maybe even lose ability to gain separation as a shooter. There will never be a better time to trade him for value. And if the Cavaliers trade Korver, it’ll make it even harder for them to win satisfactorily with Love – which should prompt them to shop Love, too.
Marc Smart wants more than $12 million-$14 million annually. Instead, he’s “hurt and disgusted” by the Celtics’ handling of his restricted free agency. What will he do about it? A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston: “While no deal is imminent, two NBA officials whose teams have had some level of interest in Marcus Smart are getting a strong sense that he will sign the $6.1 million qualifying offer made by the Celtics and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019.” The Celtics don’t seem to fear Smart taking his qualifying offer. They’ve shown a willingness to pay the luxury tax, but with their stacked roster, they could be over the tax line for several seasons in the foreseeable future. Keeping Smart at his $6,053,719 qualifying offer could allow Boston to avoid the tax this season and delay costly repeater-rate penalties down the line. The downside: Smart would become an unrestricted free agent next summer and could leave unilaterally. That might be worth the risk – especially with Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier also at point guard (though they can also become free agents next summer). Smart can pursue an offer sheet now, though potential suitors are dwindling. He could negotiate a multi-year deal with the Celtics, though that would require him taking enough of a discount they’d prefer it to him signing his qualifying offer. So, Smart accepting the qualifying offer is far from his only option. But it definitely appears increasingly likely.
Veteran center Kyle O’Quinn was blunt about his decision to sign with the Pacers and leave the New York Knicks after three seasons. “I wanted to play for something more than next year’s draft,” O’Quinn said to reporters Monday. The Knicks won 92 games over the previous three years, which tied for the sixth-fewest in the NBA during that time, per Basketball Reference. Before that, O’Quinn played for the Magic, who had a league-worst 68 wins over three seasons. In short, it’s not hard to see why O’Quinn wants to play for a playoff contender. The Pacers finished fifth in the Eastern Conference in 2017-18, and like the rest of the conference, they won’t have to deal with LeBron James after he agreed to a four-year deal with the Lakers. The Knicks, on the other hand, are going nowhere for the time being. They had 29 wins this past year, and Kristaps Porzingis is recovering from a torn ACL. Head coach David Fizdale seemed to indicate the team’s priorities when he praised the front office for “lining it up so that we’re in a position next summer to make moves,” per the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy. That’s not exactly a great pitch when trying to sell veteran free agents on signing with the team this offseason.