Rumor Roundup: Cavs, Raptors, Howard

Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers face the Raptors in the second round.

A look at the latest news, views and moves around the world of pro hoops.

Per Cleveland.com: “The Cavaliers came out of the first round of the playoffs a better team than they were at the start. That’s the most promising part of their four-game sweep of the Indiana Pacers.”

Per Cleveland.com: “The Cavs had a much easier time with Atlanta in the second round of the 2016 playoffs than Detroit. They swept the Hawks, winning by an average of 10 points. The Cavs now hope the same pattern follows, the team improving considerably from Round One to Round Two.”

Per Cleveland.com: “Kyrie Irving seemed to have tired legs. His jumper was often short, especially on 3-pointers. He was 7-of-32 (22 percent) from long range. That came after he shot 40 percent from there in the regular season.”

Per Cleveland.com: “Last year, the Cavs beat Toronto in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Their four victories were blowouts, an average margin of 28 points. When the Cavs played hard and focused on defense, they humiliated Toronto. In their two losses, they played sloppy basketball.” (Full report.)

Per ESPN: “Cleveland went 3-1 in the regular season against Toronto, but none of those games featured Serge Ibaka. The Cavs won the first three meetings by a total of 11 points before Ibaka joined Toronto. He was on the Raptors when they beat Cleveland 98-83 in the teams’ regular-season finale, but he was held out of that game to rest, as were the Cavs’ three stars.” (Full report.)

Per ESPN: “Dwane Casey says he loves that people doubt Toronto or may say, ‘same old Raptors.’ Casey liked what he saw and said other teams he’s coached likely would’ve fell apart after blowing a 25-point lead in a hostile environment. ‘I loved our resiliency,’ Casey said. ‘I loved that we didn’t cave in… We found a way to scratch and (come) through.”

Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “For Game 4 against the Bucks, Raptors coach Dwane Casey brought Jonas Valanciunas off the bench and went small, replacing him with 6-4 Norman Powell. Although that lineup went 3-0, most observers expect Casey to go big against the Cavs.” (Full report.)

Per the Atlanta Journal Constitution: “It took some doing, but Paul Millsap finally said what everyone knows to be a certainty. The Hawks’ power forward will opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent July 1.”

Per the Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Millsap, 32, certainly will entertain offers from several teams once he is a free agent, much the same way he did two years ago when he was unrestricted, but remained with the Hawks. A deal likely will be a maximum contract.” (Full report.)

Per the Atlanta Journal Constitution: “The Hawks’ offense didn’t work this season. The on-floor chemistry never developed. Mike Budenholzer, who was most responsible for bringing Dwight Howard here, came to the conclusion his team was better with Howard on the bench.”

Per the Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Howard is not happy. The day after the Hawks were drop-kicked into the offseason by Washington, he used the word ‘pissed’ three times to describe his feelings about the way both his and the team’s the season ended.” (Full report.)

Along with Cavaliers GM David Griffin, the Magic are interested in Bucks GM John Hammond and assistant GM David Morway for their own vacancy, per Basketball Insiders.

‘Per ESPN: “The NBA has sent invites to more than 60 players, including likely lottery picks Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum, for the draft combine.”

Per ESPN: “According to sources, Ball won’t attend, and he might be joined by others expected to be selected high in the lottery. Another source said that Fultz, as of now, is likely to attend but won’t do on-court activities.” (Full report.)

Per Scout Hoops: “Indiana’s Thomas Bryant will sign with an agent, rather than return to school, a source told Scout.”

Per Scout Hoops: “Bryant, a 6-foot-10 post player out of New York, declared for the NBA Draft on April 11, but hadn’t made up his mind whether he would stay or go. ”

Per the Chicago Sun-Times: “The front office believes Fred Hoiberg has made great strides, and his players feel the same way, especially after he went against general manager Gar Forman’s wishes to play point guard Cameron Payne more.”

Per the Chicago Sun-Times: “As I tell Fred, some great coaches have coached this game, but talent is very important,” Dwyane Wade said. “Talent makes all of us look better. Fred was dealt a young team and a team that didn’t really have an identity. It’s kind of unfair in a second year to get a whole new team and say, ‘OK, be great with it.’ It takes awhile.” (Full report.)

Per Yahoo Sports: “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.”

Per Yahoo Sports: “The new GM will inherit an unbalanced roster that includes $30 million in salary at the center position. In a league in which teams are focusing on position-less players, Orlando went in the opposite direction last summer with the additions of Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green and D.J. Augustin.” (Full report.)

Per Hoops Rumors: “In an interview with TSN 1050 Toronto, former Raptors forward Luis Scola said that he doesn’t see himself playing another season in the NBA. The 36-year-old didn’t rule it out altogether, however.” (Full report.)

Per ESPN: “New Orleans forward Dante Cunningham plans to decline player option to become unrestricted free agent this summer, league sources tell ESPN.”

Decision time looming for Cavs and their GM