LAS VEGAS: Shortly after reports began circulating Tuesday that the Cavaliers were pulling out of the Dwight Howard trade talks, General Manager Chris Grant boarded a plane following Team USA’s practice here and returned to Cleveland.
In truth, that was the most movement the Cavs had made in three days.
The Cavaliers were never really engaged in the trade talks initially and their involvement was overblown from the start, a league source with direct knowledge of the negotiations reiterated on Tuesday.
While national reports painted the Cavs as difficult to deal with and hesitant to make the trade for fear of the backlash it would create, the simple reality is the Cavs never believed they were close to making a deal.
Sources indicated to the Beacon Journal on Sunday that there was no real substance to the trade negotiations and maintained that for the wild 72-hour ride that the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic dragged the NBA through while trying to hammer out a deal that would’ve sent Howard to the Nets.
An Eastern Conference executive said Sunday the Nets were frantically reaching out to any and all teams with available cap space to try and get a deal done. That search continues, with as many as five new teams thrown into a rumor mill that has spun dangerously out of control.
All indications point to the fact the Cavs were uncomfortable taking on Kris Humphries for more than one season of guaranteed dollars, particularly if the lone payoff is a first-round draft pick saddled with heavy protections.
Since Humphries is a free agent coming off a one-year contract and two consecutive seasons of averaging a double-double, he rightfully is seeking a long-term commitment from an organization. The Cavs were never going to be that team.
Yahoo Sports reported on Tuesday that the Cavs may have pulled out of the deal because they were growing sensitive to the backlash they were receiving for enabling another superpower team to be constructed.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, however, has been a target of national backlash since his infamous letter the night LeBron James left and again last winter when he complained to NBA Commissioner David Stern about a potential trade that would’ve sent Chris Paul to the Lakers.
The Cavs are used to the criticisms. They’ve been ripped in consecutive drafts now for taking players higher than they were projected to go — first Tristan Thompson and now Dion Waiters.
The Cavs simply didn’t cooperate with this deal because they never liked the terms.
The Nets and Magic continue to try and hash out a deal, while the Magic are continuing talks with other organizations. The Cavs’ involvement may not be completely dead yet. League sources continue to maintain their position has never changed. They were never fully engaged, nor do they consider themselves completely out of it. But a deal, at this point, appears remote.
The Cavs officially released their summer league roster and it includes eight players under contract for next season: Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Luke Harangody, Samardo Samuels, Donald Sloan and D.J. Kennedy.
T.J. Campbell, Michael Eric, Justin Holiday, Rob Jones, Matt Pressey and Garrett Temple are the nonroster summer league invites. Pressey is the son of Cavs assistant coach Paul Pressey.
The one notable name missing is West Virginia forward Kevin Jones. He will miss summer league because of a bone bruise in his left heel, but the injury isn’t considered serious and he has been invited to Cavs training camp in the fall. He became the third player in Big East history to lead the conference in both scoring (19.9 points) and rebounding (10.9), but surprisingly went undrafted last month.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.