A quick look at the latest news, views and moves from around pro hoops.
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “For the past month, Kyrie Irving’s primary concern has not been strategy, it has been chemistry. As the team’s resident psychologist, or at least its most willing to discuss off-the-court issues, Irving saw some barriers to the Cavs’ success fall, barriers that may have more to do with their chances of repeating as NBA champions than anything that happened on the hardwood against the Pacers.”
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “It was just a lot of mistakes, but a lot of things we got to cover up for just based on effort, big plays made by some special players as well as guys coming off the bench. Everybody played huge,” Irving said Wednesday after practice at the Cleveland Clinic Courts as the Cavs prepare to face the Toronto Raptors in the second round. “For us to have that, sustain that type of energy and be able to play nine, 10 guys, and everyone still be comfortable and everyone still be able to play no matter whose number is called, that’s the true growth of a team.”
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “In the fourth quarter of that game, Lue benched Irving and Kevin Love, both struggling through unproductive nights. They cheered enthusiastically as James, Kyle Korver, Channing Frye, Deron Williams and Iman Shumpert pulled off the stunning comeback. So when Irving talked about egos, he was talking about his own as well.” (Full report.)
Per the Medina County Gazette: “Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, noting his 32-year-old small forward is like Benjamin Button and appears to be getting younger, isn’t the slightest bit concerned.” (Full report.)
Per the Medina County Gazette: “I don’t understand why people make a big deal out of minutes,” Lue said Wednesday. “He had a week off before the series started, we won four straight games and he got a week off again. Now he might play 48 minutes.” (Full report.)
Per Amico Hoops: “Jonas Valanciunas was drafted one spot behind Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, who was selected No. 4 overall in 2011. But now the two may not go head-to-head when the Cavs and the Toronto Raptors meet in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.” (Full report.)
Per Amico Hoops: “Valanciunas, a throwback pivot and starter for the majority of his career, came off the bench for all but two of the Raptors’ 4-2 series win over Milwaukee in Round One.” (Full report.)
— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) April 28, 2017
Per the Houston Chronicle: “Zhou Qi, a Rockets second-round draft pick last June, is in Houston to train with the Rockets staff and potentially begin talks he hopes could lead to a contract with the team for next season, his agent Tony Leng said on Thursday.” (Full report.)
Per the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “Dion Waiters has yet to get his big NBA payday and James Johnson could be looking at his final multi-year deal of any significant heft. So I just can’t see, even with the Heat tradition of sacrifice, of either accepting a two-year deal without at least a player option attached.” (Full report.)
Per the Philadelphia Inquirer: “The 76ers concluded the regular season two weeks ago, and president Bryan Colangelo hasn’t thought about relaxing.”
Per the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Colangelo attended Tuesday’s EuroLeague playoff game between Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz and CSKA Moscow in Vitoria, Spain. CSKA’s roster includes Serbian standout Milos Teodosic, a 6-foot-5 point guard whom ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla calls the best passer in the world.”
Per the Philadelphia Inquirer: “In addition to scouting talent, Colangelo will watch shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz play in the Basketball Champions League semifinals on Friday and Sunday in Tenerife, Spain.” (Full report.)
Per Nuggets.com: “Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has undergone successful surgery to repair core muscle-related injuries, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.” (Full report.)
Per Amico Hoops: “Despite suffering some nasty playoff losses and another first-round exit, Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey is saying never when it comes to the backcourt of Damian Lillard nand C.J. McCollum.” (Full report.)
Per The Vertical: “Whomever Orlando hires will become the franchise’s third general manager in the last 10 years. The new GM should have full autonomy over the roster. The team’s direction needs to be all about the long-term health of the organization. The team needs to build through the draft and become active on the trade front. It should not rely on cap space to put a foundation in place.” (Full report.)
Per Hoops Rumors: “Thursday was a good night for the Raptors’ organization. Not only did the NBA squad pull out a Game 6 victory in Milwaukee to make it through to the second round, but Toronto’s D-League affiliate, Raptors 905, won its first NBADL championship.” (Full report.)
Former NBA center center Sim Bhullar has agreed to a contract with the Guangxi Rhinos of China, per Amico Hoops.
Former D-League guard Nick Murphy has agreed to a deal with Los Mochis of Mexico, per Amico Hoops.