Dan Favale | Wed 17/01/2018 - 03:51 EST

NBA Trends and Rumors: Are The Cleveland Cavavaliers Title Chances Kaput?

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Cleveland Cavaliers (+550) - Team Pessimistic On Its Title Chances

cavs

All is not well with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Please don't stop us if you've heard this one before. We know you have. Pessimistic outlooks around January and February are an annual thing for LeBron James' teams. But things appeared particularly bleak following their most recent loss to the Warriors (-225), a game that, effectively, serves as an end-all, be-all measuring stick for their championship hopes.

Hence why the locker room was so dour afterward, with players expressing doubt they'd be able to fix all their issues in time for the postseason, according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin: "...multiple players acknowledged growing discontent and a strong sense of concern that unlike past seasons, the team does not have the capability to fix its problems and get back on a championship track." 

Several prominent players, speaking on condition of anonymity to ESPN, Cleveland.com and The Athletic, expressed doubt that the problems—an aging roster, defensively challenged personnel and a glut of redundant role players -- could simply be worked out through patience and a chance to coalesce when fully healthy.

These concerns are not unfounded. The Cavaliers own the NBA's second-worst defense and don't have the talent in-house to get much better. They do have the trade chips to make a splash ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline—with the Brooklyn Nets pick serving as their primary chip—but that doesn't mean much unless the right players are available.

It takes a nice collection of like-sized wings who can stroke threes, attack off the dribble and switch across three to five positions at the defensive end to instill real fear in the Warriors. Those players aren't readily accessible on the trade market. Teams generally don't want to move them once they have them. 

Unless the Cavaliers are able to strike deals for someone like Khris Middleton, Nicolas Batum, Kent Bazemore, etc., it doesn't look like they'll be hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy this year. Never mind that this current slump is temporary, or that they're still the favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference. They don't stack up with the Warriors, which is all that matters.

Houston Rockets (+1000) And L.A. Clippers (+50000) - DeAndre Jordan To Relocate To Texas?

clippers

DeAndre Jordan apparently isn't angry about the Houston Rockets fighting with the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. To the contrary, he's interested in joining them.

That's what ESPN's Stephen A. Smith says anyway. With Jordan nearing free agency this summer and Los Angeles angling for, at best, a first-round playoff exit, he's intrigued by the idea of a potential relocation.

Perhaps this shouldn't come as a real surprise. Houston is stocked with familiar faces—most notably Chris Paul. Jordan has seen his field-goal percentage plummet in the point guard's absence. He's not finishing as often out of the pick-and-roll either. He could see a potential trade as a much-needed reunion, one that not only brings him closer to winning a title now but maximizes his market value ahead of the offseason.

Don't hold your breath for anything to happen. The Rockets have a similar, and cheaper, and younger, big man who does a lot of the same things in Clint Capela. The 23-year-old might even be better overall, given his increased switchability on the defensive end.

Now, if the Clippers go full tank and are willing to accept Capela and Ryan Anderson's salary, maybe something could happen. But this whole thing feels like a longer-than-long shot. 

Atlanta Hawks (+200000) - Dewayne Dedmon Officially On The Chopping Block

hawks

The Atlanta Hawks recently fell into a two-way tie with the Orlando Magic (+200000) for the NBA's worst record. And as one of the league's foremost tankers, they're responding accordingly: by shopping Dewayne Dedmon, one of their most prized veterans.

According to Give Me Sports' Mark Deeks, the Hawks are willing to move him to a team in need of size. This tracks with everything else we've heard from them of late. Kent Bazemore, Luke Babbitt and Ersan Ilysavoa are all expected to be up for grabs as well.

Dedmon specifically is interesting for squads like the Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks (+5000) and the Boston Celtics (+900). He's a good defensive rebounder, solid switcher, decent screen-setter and rim-runner, and the Hawks have given him the green light to shoot threes.

Anyone who acquires him must do so while assuming he's a rental. He has a player option worth $6.3 million for next season he's expected to decline, and his next team won't have his Bird rights, so it'll take cap space to re-sign him. Still, if the Bucks, Celtics or Cavs consider themselves one frontcourt piece away from making serious noise, they might be willing to fork over a first-round pick for his services. 

Orlando Magic (+200000) - Another Teardown Candidate

magic

The Magic see the Hawks working the phones, and they raise them one more fire sale.

Per The New York Times' Marc Stein, rival executives believe "Jeff Weltman, Orlando’s new team president, to aggressively hunt for new homes for the likes of Evan Fournier, Elfrid Payton and Mario Hezonja, given that Nikola Vucevic’s broken finger is likely to preclude dealing the center." Speaking on an episode of the Dunc'd On podcast, Stein again communicated that essentially no one on the Magic is considered untouchable—including, perhaps, Aaron Gordon.

Now, let's be clear: Aaron Gordon isn't going anywhere. Ditto for Jonathan Isaac. Those two are as close to building-building block options as the Magic come. Both Vucevic and Terrence Ross are likely off the block as well, given that they're both injured.

Everyone else, though, should be considered fair game. (Except Bismack Biyombo, whose terrible contract makes him untradeable.) Fournier is the most interesting name of the listed bunch. He's owed a hefty $51 million over the next three seasons and cannot be the No. 1 or No. 2 scorer on a great team, but he's a sweet-shooting option who elevates the ceiling of a fringe contender as a No. 3 or No. 4 guy.

Keep an eye on the Detroit Pistons (+10000), Miami Heat (+10000) and, maybe, the Utah Jazz (+30000). They all have ample reason to go after him. 

Philadelphia 76ers (+10000) - J.J. Redick's Left Leg Injury Not Considered Serious

sixers

The Philadelphia 76ers are free to breathe a sigh of relief. J.J. Redick's left leg injury isn't expected to keep him out of the lineup for very long, according to ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski.

This doesn't just come as good news. It's huge news. The Sixers don't have the depth to overcome the absence of any one of their starters. Their second-stringers are 21st in point differential per 100 possessions, and they don't have any proven shooting coming off the pine.

Which isn't to say Redick's imminent return should translate to complacency. If the playoffs started today, the Sixers would not be in them. Though they don't want to compromise cap space for next summer, they should seriously consider making a move for a wing—such as Wesley Matthews or Kent Bazemore—as we inch closer toward the trade deadline.

Pulling the trigger on a deal like this strips them of automatic max room, but they can chisel out cap space later on if a big-time free-agent shows interest. For now, their focus should be on adding mid-end talent that gives them an airtight postseason bid.

L.A. Lakers (+500000) - LaVar Ball's Off-Court Antics May Adversely Impact Pitch To Free Agents

lakers

Um, uh-oh.

The Lakers' interest in hammering out two max-contract slots this summer is one of the NBA's worst-kept secrets. They're in part letting this season slip away because of it. And yet, their ambitions may be getting torpedoed by LaVar Ball, the father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball.

LaVar has been widely critical of Los Angeles' head coach, Luke Walton. And while the team has come out in support of Walton, players around the league are taking notice. One Eastern Conference executive even speculated to Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher that LaVar's public diatribes—aimed at Lonzo's teammates and coaches—would dissuade outside talent from flocking toward Hollywood.

This obviously isn't ideal. It might also be a bit hyperbolized. If push really comes to shove, and someone like Paul George or LeBron James refuses to join the Lakers for this season, the front office can always turn around and trade Lonzo. But that's the worst-worst-worst case scenario.  

Charlotte Hornets (+50000) - People Think Team Will Look At Trading Kemba Walker

hornets

During that same episode of the Dunc'd On podcast from above, Marc Stein talked about the possibility of the Charlotte Hornets exploring Kemba Walker trades. Though he didn't cite anything concrete, he did note that there's an increasing belief around the league that Charlotte doesn't have much of choice.

And he's right.

The Hornets are done this year. Finished. Over with. Cooked. While they have the point differential of a top-10 team with Walker on the court, they're faring like the league's absolute worst squad when he steps off. With five games separating them from the East's eighth and final playoff slot, and with Walker ticketed for free agency in 2019, they should absolutely be gauging the market for his services. Trading him is their best, and only, shot at recouping enough assets to begin a viable rebuild.

Regardless of what they do, though, you'll want to avoid betting on them altogether. Single-game wagers are fine, but big-picture dice rolls are, officially, taboo.

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Category : Sports Betting News

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