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Source — Cleveland Cavaliers trading Kevin Porter Jr. to Houston Rockets for second-round pick

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The Houston Rockets are acquiring Cleveland Cavaliers wing Kevin Porter Jr. for a future protected second-round pick, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Cleveland was looking to trade Porter following an incident last week that involved a screaming match with team officials, sources confirmed to ESPN.

Porter hasn’t played for Cleveland this season and has largely been away from the team for what has been termed personal reasons. He was working his way back and attended his first game Friday night when the Cavs beat the New York Knicks.

That night, however, he had a screaming match with team officials after his locker was moved to an auxiliary area to accommodate new teammate Taurean Prince, who arrived from the Brooklyn Nets with Jarrett Allen in a trade last week. After the episode, Porter was told to clean out his locker and other members of the roster were informed he’d no longer be on the team, sources said.

The Athletic first reported the incident with Porter.

The team picked up an option in Porter’s contract last month; he has one year at $1.7 million left on his deal.

Porter, 20, had a promising rookie season for the Cavs in 2019-20, averaging 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 50 games.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst contributed to this report.

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Source — Houston Rockets to waive DeMarcus Cousins

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The Houston Rockets will waive DeMarcus Cousins, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Cousins, whos is coming back from multiple significant injuries, is averaging career lows of 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds a game in his first season with Houston.

A four-time All-Star, the 6-foot-10 big man has bounced around the league the past few seasons after rupturing his Achilles tendon during the 2017-18 season while with the New Orleans Pelicans. He then signed with the Golden State Warriors, but tore his quadriceps muscle in the 2018-19 season. Cousins joined the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2019-2020 campaign, but tore his ACL before ever suiting up for the team.

Cousins, 30, has averaged 20.8 points and 10.7 rebounds for his career since being drafted by the Sacramento Kings with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft.

The Athletic earlier reported news of Cousins’ impending release.

The Rockets have lost eight straight games and next play Wednesday night in Cleveland.

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Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James unfazed by workload, pushes back on ‘narrative’ that he needs more rest

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LOS ANGELES — After logging 40-plus minutes for the fourth time this month only to see the Los Angeles Lakers lose 127-124 in overtime to the Washington Wizards on Monday night, LeBron James insisted he can handle the workload that’s being asked of him.

“I think this whole narrative of ‘LeBron needs more rest’ or I should take more rest or I should take time here, it’s become a lot bigger than what it actually is,” James said. “I’ve never talked about it, I don’t talk about it, I don’t believe in it. We all need more rest, s—. This is a fast turnaround from last season and we all wish we could have more rest. But I’m here to work, I’m here to punch my clock in and be available to my teammates.

“And if I’m hurt or if I’m not feeling well then we can look at it then, but I have nothing but honest people around me [advising me] but I’m also honest with myself as well, and me having a love for the game and me being able to be available to my teammates is more important than anything.”

James played 43 minutes against the Wizards and amassed 31 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds, but admitted he wasn’t his sharpest.

He played all but one minute and six seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime and scored 13 points, but shot 6-for-13 in doing so (0-for-4 from 3), with four of his game-high eight turnovers coming in that time period. He also went 1-for-3 from the free throw line, including a miss on an and-1 attempt that would have put L.A. up by one with 9.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

“Obviously I take full responsibility [for] missing that free throw,” he said. “I got to make the free throw up there, it’s an easy point for us. But we didn’t lose the game there, but I take that responsibility for sure, and I got to be better.”

For the first month and a half of the season, Lakers coach Frank Vogel was certainly better at managing the 18-year veteran’s minutes. Prior to February, James averaged 33.3 minutes per game this season — which ranked 43rd in the league and represented the least amount of playing time in his career, according to data compiled by ESPN Stats & Information.

Since the start of the month, however, James has averaged 38.2 minutes in 11 games — the most in the NBA — and L.A. is starting to struggle, having lost four out of their last five games since Anthony Davis re-aggravated tendinosis while suffering a calf strain in his right leg against the Denver Nuggets.

“I’m not pushing myself,” said the 36-year-old James, who has played in all 32 of L.A.’s games this season. “I wouldn’t say that, I’m going out and playing the game. I’m doing my job and I’m trying to do it at a high level, but that’s been a narrative around the league.

“I have never asked for time off or time throughout the season. And it’s growing to a point where it’s not even coming from me anymore, it’s just like, ‘OK, LeBron should take time off,’ or, ‘Why is his workload at this,’ I’ve been hearing it for five, six, seven years now and I’m still going strong. So I don’t need a handout, I’m not looking for a handout, my job is to go out when I’m available, when I’m healthy to go out and play and that’s what it’s all about.”

James has never played this condensed of a schedule coming off just a 71-day offseason, however.

Vogel was asked if he’s considered holding James out of the lineup in order to keep the Lakers’ captain fresh, with a repeat title being the team’s ultimate goal.

“We’ve considered that all season long with him. And we’ll make those decisions on a game-by-game basis,” Vogel said.

Alex Caruso likened the Lakers’ current slide — a season-long three-game losing streak while missing Davis and Dennis Schroder — to the four-game skid L.A. had about a third of the way into last season. And Montrezl Harrell said the team’s struggles will cause “a lot of soul searching.”

As for James, the heart and soul of the defending champions, Vogel lauded the job he’s doing, even while losses are starting to pile up.

“He’s a workhorse,” Vogel said. “He’s doing everything he can for us.”

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Minnesota Timberwolves’ front office was drawn to experience of new coach Chris Finch, feels it will help team ‘on both sides of the floor’

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The “diverse experience” of newly hired Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch is what intrigued president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas to make the move.

During Monday’s introductory news conference, Rosas welcomed the former Toronto Raptors assistant to try to turn things around after firing Ryan Saunders following Sunday’s loss in New York.

“The things that he’s done coaching all around the world at different levels, those experiences, I think, are very relevant to our current game,” Rosas said. “We play a very international game in the NBA and the experience that Chris has, the perspective that he has, the time that he’s been a head coach outside of the NBA, an assistant in the NBA as well, I think those perspectives, those expertise are really important for our organization on both sides of the floor.”

In addition to Finch’s stops in Houston, Denver, New Orleans and Toronto as an assistant, he also served as a head coach of the Rockets’ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who won the 2010 championship.

Internationally, he coached in England, Germany and Belgium.

“I would like to be judged by wins and losses. That’s what it’s about,” Finch said. “This is about winning and hopefully we can stack some wins on top of each other. Beyond that, we want to see the growth of our young players and we want to develop an identity. I think if we can accomplish all three, that’s a home run, if we get two out of three, I think that’s a great step forward.”

Although the timing of the hiring is not desirable, with Minnesota in the midst of a four-game losing skid while in last place in the league standings at 7-24, he’s trying to make the best of the situation.

“This is a less than ideal situation for a coach and we don’t have a summer, we don’t have a preseason,” Finch said. “We’ve got a back to back, but that’s life in some of the leagues that I’ve coached in and those challenges have really sharpened my resolve and my ability to be prepared and I’m taking that as a big challenge right now and we’ll figure out as we go forward. We’ll figure out slowly the tweaks we need to make.”

Rosas described Sunday as a “crazy day for everybody involved.” He called the choice to dismiss Saunders “tough” but said they came to the decision to make a change over the weekend.

The Timberwolves’ front office went through the process of who would be available midseason but still was unsure until Toronto granted permission to let Finch interview for the new role, which happened late in the afternoon Sunday then the decision to relieve Saunders happened after the Knicks loss.

The deal was finalized on Monday morning.

“The decision to dismiss Ryan wasn’t made until Sunday, and at that point, we were already in game preparation and to be fair to Ryan, these decisions take time,” Rosas said. “We spoke with ownership and as we met with our leadership group, it was a process and a decision that wasn’t easy and you have a team that’s going through the season in a pandemic where there’s no pause button.

“There’s no stop button, there’s shootarounds and games that have to be prepared for. And we did the best that we could under the environment of time that we were given.”

Rosas says they looked at internal options such as David Vanterpool and Pablo Prigioni on the staff, but were realistic in terms of their league standing. Rosas didn’t feel they could get the real change they needed without being “bold and direct with this opportunity.”

“With Chris, we have a guy here who we share a vision, we share a philosophy and feel very confident about his ability to impact this team,” Rosas said. “And unfortunately, with our struggles here over the last year and a half, the ability to change that narrative was going to be hard from an internal perspective.”

“I haven’t listened to too much of the outside comments, just because it’s been a real whirlwind for 24 hours for me,” Finch added. “I can say that I’m very excited and I enjoy every day that I have in the NBA. I live the dream.”

The Timberwolves will take on the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday night.

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