Knicks are one loss away from making worst possible history

Quicken Loans Arena hosted a raft of big playoff games across the past four years. Now it will stage the “Zion Bowl’’ when the Knicks invade Cleveland for Monday’s encounter between the teams with two of the NBA’s worst records.

The Knicks, at 10-45, have been dead last for two weeks, but a victory Monday would vault them past the 11-45 Cavaliers and the 11-47 Suns and out of the NBA’s basement.

Monday’s “Zion Bowl” can also be a landmark moment for the Knicks’ franchise. One more loss will extend the losing streak to 17 games — and give David Fizdale’s tank machine sole possession of the longest losing streak in team annals.

The Knicks tied the franchise’s worst losing streak at 16 on Saturday in a 104-99 loss to Toronto, after which Knicks coach David Fizdale seemed uplifted despite it being their 29th loss in 31 games. The Knicks, who haven’t won since beating the LeBron James-less Lakers on Jan. 4 in Los Angeles, have a shot of setting the worst record in their history — held by the 2014-15 Derek Fisher Knicks at 17-65.

Indeed, the close showing in which they held Toronto to 38 percent shooting was one of the top five moral victories this season.

“Whatever happens to us this year won’t make us crack or waver,’’ Fizdale said when asked if he’s concerned about the pile of defeats. “We’re going to keep chopping. I don’t see a crack in our spirit. We have a lot of character in the locker room.’’

The race for finishing at the NBA’s very bottom is not as compelling as in the past. In commissioner Adam Silver’s new lottery overhaul to prevent tanking, the worst three records share the same odds (14 percent) of winning the rights to the top pick, which is expected to be Duke’s 6-foot-7, 280-pound Mack Truck, Zion Williamson.

However, the team with the worst record has one benefit — it can’t fall beyond the fifth pick. Some NBA scouts consider this a weak draft after the top five picks.

The LeBron James-less Cavaliers have lost four straight, but are 2-8 in the past 10 games. Plus their star, Kevin Love, just returned from a toe injury after missing 50 games. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton, who is averaging 14.8 points on 40.9 percent shooting, could have something to prove after getting passed over as an injury replacement in the Rising Stars Challenge. Kevin Knox got the nod.

The Knicks were beaten in December in their last appearance in Cleveland, 113-106, and have since lost their leading scorer, Tim Hardaway Jr., in the Kristaps Porzingis trade 11 days ago. Point guard Dennis Smith Jr. has become their No. 1 option and the Knicks are expected to add a shooting-guard piece Monday in NBA sharpshooter John Jenkins, who will be signed to a 10-day contract.

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NBA Rumors: Cavs Could Explore 3-Team Trade With Jazz & Clippers Centered On Kevin Love, Per ‘Bleacher Report’

Despite having the worst record in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers made it clear to the entire league that they have no intention of trading the new face of the franchise, Kevin Love, before the February NBA trade deadline. The Cavaliers revealed that they still see the All-Star forward as the centerpiece of the title-contending team they are trying to build in the post-LeBron James era.

Kevin Love is currently recovering from an injury, but when he becomes trade-eligible and proves that he’s 100 healthy, his name is expected to surface once again in various trade rumors. Though the Cavaliers haven’t made him available on the trading block, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that some rival front offices view Love as a “difference maker” who could be traded for a “proverbial right price.”

According to Dan Favale of Bleacher Report, one of the NBA teams who could express a strong interest in acquiring Kevin Love is the Utah Jazz.

“Utah is among the most tantalizing destinations for Love. Pairing him with Rudy Gobert in the frontcourt makes a ton of sense, and the Jazz have the active perimeter defenders to survive minutes with him at center. Derrick Favors has been fantastic on an individual level this year, but a fully healthy Love is the more dangerous weapon. Utah is at its best spreading the floor around Gobert, and frontcourt spacing has become that much more important with Donovan Mitchell’s belly-flopping efficiency.”

Kevin Love could form his new “Big Three” in Utah with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Aside from being a reliable scoring option, the 30-year-old power forward will give the Jazz a big man who has the ability to space the floor. Last season, Love averaged 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds on 45.8 percent shooting from the field and 41.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Based on his performance earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season, Love is undeniably better off teaming up with other NBA superstars than serving as the team’s main guy.

To acquire Kevin Love, Favale suggested that the Jazz could engage in a three-team trade with the Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers. In the proposed trade deal, the Cavaliers will receive Grayson Allen, Marcin Gortat, Jerome Robinson, a 2019 first-round pick, and a 2019 second-round pick, the Jazz will acquire Kevin Love and Milos Teodosic, and the Clippers will get Derrick Favors, David Nwaba, and Thabo Sefolosha.

The deal will not only be beneficial for the Jazz but also for the Clippers and the Cavaliers. In exchange for their lone superstar, the Cavaliers will get young players and future draft picks that could help them speed up the rebuilding process. Meanwhile, the potential acquisitions of Derrick Favors, David Nwaba, and Thabo Sefolosha will help the Clippers become a more competitive team in the deep Western Conference this season.

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NBA Rumors: Denver Nuggets Might Trade For Kevin Love Before February Deadline, Per Marc Stein

With little more than three weeks remaining before Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love becomes eligible to be traded, reports are now suggesting that the struggling Cavs might be willing to trade the five-time All-Star to another team before the February trade deadline. One of those teams — according to Marc Stein of the New York Times — might be the Denver Nuggets, who have surprised many NBA observers with their unlikely status as top contenders in the Western Conference.

Although Stein did not offer too many details in his report for the New York Times, he noted that a number of NBA teams see the 30-year-old Love as a “difference-maker” who could be acquired from the Cavaliers “for the right price.” With four-time NBA MVP LeBron James having left the Cavaliers in the summer to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent, Cleveland has been reluctant to trade Love, with Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writing last month that the Cavs will only accept a trade offer if they are “blown away” by it.

Citing an example of how many teams appear to be willing to trade for Love, Stein mentioned the Denver Nuggets — who currently lead the Western Conference with a 24-11 record. He stressed that the team has “maintained a longstanding fondness” for the veteran big man, and could possibly trade for him in a “win-now” move, as they hope to continue their surprisingly strong run atop the Western Conference going forward. No Nuggets players were mentioned in Stein’s article as potential trade pieces.

“Can I guarantee a Love trade before the deadline? No. Can I promise you that we’ll wind up talking about Love as a trade candidate in a few weeks? I think I can,” Stein predicted.

As noted by Bleacher Report, Kevin Love signed a four-year, $120 million extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the offseason — after James joined the Lakers. So far, he has played in only four games in the 2018-19 season due to toe surgery, averaging 19 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game — but shooting just 32.3 percent from the field. Per the terms of his contract extension, Love will become eligible to be traded on January 24.

With a league-worst 8-29 record, the Cavaliers have been busy unloading a number of veterans who contributed to some — or all — of their four consecutive NBA Finals appearances from 2015 to 2018. Although these trades have mainly involved role players such as George Hill and Kyle Korver, Yahoo Sports‘ Keith Smith wrote in December that it wouldn’t be surprising if the Cavs’ rebuilding campaign also sees them trading bigger contributors such as Love and Tristan Thompson, who could both play valuable roles for other teams despite their “bloated” contracts.

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Tristan Thompson isn’t in the Kardashian doghouse this time

Tristan Thompson is in the doghouse again.

On Thursday, the NBA announced it would fine Khloe Kardashian’s boyfriend $15,000 for “making an inappropriate gesture toward a spectator,” stemming from an incident that occurred during the Cavaliers’ Monday game against the Nets in Brooklyn.

Thompson, 27, flipped the middle finger to hecklers in the stands at the Barclays Center, as seen in footage obtained by TMZ.

The 5-19 Cavaliers would go on to beat the Nets, 99-97.

Meanwhile, Thompson’s relationship with Kardashian, 34, appears to be on the upswing following a very public cheating scandal earlier this year. The “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” staple supported the Cavaliers forward at a game in Cleveland back in October.

The couple welcomed daughter True Thompson in April.

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NBA Rumors: Coach Steve Kerr Talks About Facing LeBron James-less Cavaliers, ‘It’s Just Different’

The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers built one of the most intense rivalries in the NBA history. Both teams have ruled their respective conferences in the last four years where the Warriors beat the Cavaliers thrice in the NBA Finals and succeeded to establish a dynasty. However, this year is expected to be different, especially after LeBron James left the Cavaliers in the recent free agency.

Without James, most people believe that the Eastern Conference will have a new representative in the NBA Finals 2019. On Wednesday night, the Warriors faced the Cavaliers for the first time in the 2018-19 NBA season. The Cavaliers established an impressive performance earlier in the game and finished the first half with a six-point lead. Unfortunately, the Warriors exploded in the second half and defeated the Cavaliers, 129-105, in their own house.

In a post-game interview, Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr was asked how he felt returning to the Quicken Loans Arena playing against the LeBron James-less Cavaliers.

“It’s just different walking into the building,” Kerr said, via Yahoo Sports. “There’s still a ton of great memories, some of the best basketball I’ve ever seen in my life played between these two teams over the last four seasons. Obviously, they have a new team, so you move on. Part of me is a little nostalgic for that. I’ll miss that.”

The departure of LeBron James didn’t only take away the Cavaliers’ status as a legitimate title contender, but they may even have a hard time earning a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season. Without James, the Cavaliers struggled in the 2018-19 NBA season and are currently sitting in the No. 13 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 5-19 record. After realizing that they don’t have the capability to contend for the NBA championship title, the Cavaliers decided to move some of their veterans to focus on the development of their young players.

While the Cavaliers lost the best basketball player on the planet, the Warriors have managed to make a huge upgrade on their roster with the acquisition of All-Star DeMarcus Cousins in the recent free agency. Though Cousins remains sideline due to injury, he is expected to rejoin the Warriors when the real battle begins in the Western Conference Playoffs.

The Warriors may no longer need to worry about the Cavaliers this season, but LeBron James will still be trying to block their way on their road to the NBA Finals 2019. As of now, James and the Los Angeles Lakers are starting to build a good chemistry and expected to be one of the major threats to the Warriors in the postseason.

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