Cavs Report: Embiid back issue a concern, sources say
Some notes on the Cavaliers as they make preparations for the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft and look for a new head coach:
* Despite a recent national report, Kansas center Joel Embiid does not top the Cavs’ list of prospects, sources said. Embiid suffered through some well-documented back issues in his one year of college, and one source said the Cavs therefore have him "red-flagged."
* Embiid will need to undergo an extensive physical by the Cavs, sources said. In other words, the Cavs will not rely on an independent evaluation, such as the one being offered by Embiid’s camp.
* New general manager David Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert have both indicated if there is any question about a player’s present or long-term health, the Cavs will take a pass on the prospect in the draft. They appear to be handling the Embiid situation similarly to how they approached their pre-draft assessment of center Nerlens Noel last summer.
* Noel was considered a possibility for the top overall pick (which the Cavs also owned) in 2013. But he wound up sliding to the sixth pick as a result of concerns over his injury. Noel’s knee caused him to miss his entire rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers.
* With Embiid suddenly a major question mark, the Cavs have likely narrowed their early possibilities at No. 1 to Duke forward Jabari Parker and Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins. Sources cautioned, however, that Embiid has not been entirely ruled out.
* According to sources, the Cavs feel Parker is the most NBA-ready player in the draft, and that he will be a much better pro than collegian.
* That said, the Cavs are also supposedly very high on Wiggins. Not surprisingly, they are said to believe he has the potential to be an explosive scorer at the next level. They are also impressed with his length and athleticism, particularly when it comes to defending the all-important wing spots.
* One concern with Wiggins, it seems, is how well he would fit. Sources said the Cavs are somewhat concerned with his need to have the ball in his hands. The Cavs occasionally struggled in that area this past season with young guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Wiggins would add a third such player. Although, it seems that concern alone is not something that would keep the Cavs from selecting Wiggins.
* One source said the Cavs are "very willing to send the farm" to the Minnesota Timberwolves for star power forward Kevin Love. However, the Cavs are apprehensive about any trade that might involve the No. 1 pick — something the Wolves would likely demand in any such deal.
* The Cavs are also expected to explore a sign-and-trade deal involving small forward Luol Deng, an unrestricted free agent. Veteran big man Anderson Varejao could also be moved, sources said.
* Talk around the league is that Waiters and power forward Tristan Thompson are both drawing interest as well.
* Meanwhile, the Cavs are said to be wavering a little on center Spencer Hawes. Like Deng, Hawes will be an unrestricted free agent in July.
* As for the coaching search, the Cavs still appear to be in the very early stages, with only exploratory calls being made. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Kentucky coach John Calipari are among the more prominent names mentioned as possibilities — but Izzo is out and Calipari is extremely doubtful.
* Chicago Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin has also been linked to the vacancy, and once source described Griffin as "legit in the mix." Los Angeles Clippers assistant Alvin Gentry is reportedly another candidate, but sources said he would have to wow Gilbert to get the job.
* The Cavaliers do not appear poised to go the George Karl route at the moment, said a source familiar with the search. Karl is a former NBA Coach of the Year and began his pro coaching career in Cleveland. Word around the league is Karl has expressed a strong interest in the Cavs’ opening.