NBA Today: Cavaliers seek more ball movement from Kyrie
News and notes as NBA teams begin to reach double figures in games played:
• Kyrie Irving is a former Rookie of the Year and East All-Star, but the Cavaliers believe there is room for improvement. The Cavs haven’t been pleased with Irving’s ball distribution through the first nine games. While they don’t consider Irving a selfish player, they feel he has been bypassing far too many open teammates in the early going.
• Irving is actually averaging a career-high 6.9 assists — one better than last season. His turnovers are down to a career-best 3.0. But it’s sometimes about more than just getting the assist. It’s about making the right pass at the right time.
• Irving is in his third year overall but first under Mike Brown. So Irving is being asked to exert himself more defensively than in previous seasons. The results have been mixed, but Brown has given his star point guard credit for effort. Brown has also said Irving’s determination on defense will likely affect Irving on offense, at least early. At the moment, Irving is averaging 19.4 points on a career-low 39 percent shooting.
• A national NBA writer appeared as a guest on a Cleveland radio station Thursday and indicated the Cavs and Kings may be involved in trade talks. However, a league source told FOX Sports Ohio there’s “nothing of substance” to the report.
• That said, of the early contenders to actually make a deal, the Kings seem to be considered the league-wide frontrunners. New management explored moving several pieces in the offseason, including guard Jimmer Fredette, and will likely take calls right up to the trading deadline in February.
• Rockets center Omer Asik has requested a trade, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle. Asik played just four minutes in the team’s loss to the 76ers on Wednesday. While the Rockets aren’t looking to deal Asik at the moment, multiple sources said the Raptors are one team that’s already highly interested.
• Entering Thursday night’s games, only three teams in the Eastern Conference sported winning records — the Pacers, Heat and Sixers. Nine had losing records and three were .500 (Bulls, Bobcats, Hawks).
• Most teams don’t overly concern themselves with wins and losses until the 20-game mark. “The offense we’re running right now is still not complete,” said Cavs forward Tristan Thompson. “We’re still working on understanding our positions, when to cut, when to set the screens.”
• Nets guard Jason Terry had a different take after a 21-point loss at Sacramento. When asked if a team with high-profile newcomers such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and coach Jason Kidd needs time to adjust, Terry said, “We’re going to use that excuse for now.”
• Terry added: “At the same time, this is basketball at the end of the day. If we were playing five-on-five pickup at the park, and you were getting your (butt) whooped, three or four runs now, when are you going to pick it up and get a game, get a win, stay on the court?”
• Finally, the Pistons are another slow-starting Eastern team, and league-wide speculation is they will try to move the expiring contracts of guard Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva in search of more talent. The Pistons could act soon, sources said.