A look at the latest news, moves and views from around the world of pro hoops:
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “It’s possible that with nine games remaining in the regular season, Tyronn Lue will toss aside his concern for the Cavs’ seeding in the East to rest LeBron James and Kyrie Irving for an extended stretch.”
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “James was resistant to Lue’s idea, which in most cases means it won’t happen. ‘I feel great. I feel really good actually,’ James said. ‘Coach is going to have his logic of things, but at the end of the day, we need to play.'”
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “I’ll be shocked if Lue goes through with such a bold move. James called the Cavs’ situation ‘delicate’ because they’re not playing good basketball and it seems hard to believe they can find their rhythm without James and Irving.” (Full column.)
Per the Sporting News: “Should Cleveland close the year with much the same defense we’ve seen lately, and still earn a spot in the Finals in two-and-a-half months, the Cavaliers will earn a special place in modern league history: They’ll be, statistically, the worst regular-season defensive team ever to reach the NBA Finals.”
Per the Sporting News: “Defensively, it is an uphill climb for Cleveland. The roster is old, and the Cavs are capable of playing decent defense, except when they are asked to move anywhere with any sort of speed.”
Per the Sporting News: “Maybe Lue’s ‘what-me-worry?’ stance is the right one with a veteran team like the Cavs. The East is light on teams with real contender experience, thanks to LeBron James. No non-LBJ team has reached the Finals in seven years.” (Full column.)
Per Amico Hoops: “It’s amazing the ills that can be cured with three home games against three wretched teams. By this time next week, we could all be talking about how the Cavs are playing oh-so-great and rolling into Boston.” (Full column.)
Per Cleveland.com: “Kyle Korver’s absence and its impact cannot be overstated.”
Per Cleveland.com: “Since Feb. 1, Korver is shooting 51.7 percent from 3-point range (60-of-116) and is averaging 12.7 points per game. He’s third on the team among players with at least 25 shots in total field-goal percentage (52.3). In February, when the Cavs went 9-2, he averaged a blistering 15.5 points and shot a ridiculous .589 from 3-point range, and better than 60 percent overall.” (Full column.)
Per USA Today: “These current-day Cavs know the truth of the matter, how they’ve been playing so much bad basketball since starting the season 28-8 (19-18 since) and defending with all the force of a feather on so many nights (29th in defensive rating during that stretch; 23rd for the season). Yet as James indicated afterward, their problems go deeper than rest.” (Full report.)
Per ESPN: “Isaiah Thomas thinks the Cavaliers will be OK despite recent struggles. ‘They’ve been struggling for whatever reason but it’s still an NBA-championship-caliber team. They’re defending champions so it goes through them until someone eliminates them. I don’t think you can be too worried about the things that they’re struggling with right now. They’re a really good team. Sooner or later they’ll probably figure it out.'”
Per Amico Hoops: “Larry Sanders’ second game in the D-League went much better than the first. … Sanders is working his way back into basketball shape, and until Tuesday, it appeared to be a miserable process.” (Full report.)
Per The Washington Post: “For all of Eric Bledsoe’s talents, it would seem likely Phoenix will want to see what he’s worth. Devin Booker is 20, and Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender, the team’s first round picks in the 2016 NBA draft, are both going to turn 20 later this year.”
Per The Washington Post: “The three of them, plus whomever Phoenix takes with their first rounder in this year’s draft, are going to form the core of the Suns moving forward — all on a different time frame than Bledsoe, who will play next season at 28.”
Per Hoops Rumors: “The Magic seem ready to replace GM Rob Hennigan, with Pistons executive and former Orlando player Pat Garrity as the leading candidate to be offered the job.”
Per Hoops Rumors: “A recent report said coach Alvin Gentry and GM Dell Demps could both be fired without significant progress by the end of the season. Demps may have bought himself more time with the DeMarcus Cousins trade, but the Pelicans have reached the playoffs just twice during his seven years at the helm. Louisiana native Joe Dumars is close to ownership and is reportedly being considered as a replacement.”
Per The Associated Press: “North Carolina State freshman Dennis Smith Jr. is heading to the NBA.”
Per The Associated Press: “The point guard declared for the draft during a Tuesday morning announcement on ESPN. The move was no surprise since Smith was considered a likely one-and-done prospect this year and is projected to be a potential top-five pick.” (Full report.)
Per Pacers.com: “Rodney Stuckey has a left patellar tendon strain and is expected to miss four to six weeks. He sustained the injury in Sunday night’s victory over Philadelphia.”
Per Pacers.com: “Al Jefferson will miss at least two weeks with a sprained left ankle. He will be reevaluated at that time. He sustained the injury in Sunday’s win over Philadelphia.”
The Raptors have assigned Bruno Caboclo, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet to Raptors 905, per the team.
The Knicks have assigned Maurice Ndour, Marshall Plumlee and Chasson Randle to the Westchester Knicks, per the team.
The Bulls have assigned Cameron Payne to the Windy City Bulls, per the team.