November 20, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
25°F

Cavs falling short on free agency

CLEVELAND — The Cava­liers continue to come up empty in their pursuit of free agents this summer.

Cleveland’s latest attempt came Wednesday when it signed Houston point guard Kyle Lowry, a restricted free agent, to a four-year, $24 mil­lion offer sheet.

Less than six hours later, how­ever, the Rockets announced they would match the offer and keep the fifth-year pro in Texas.

“Congratulations to Kyle Lowry on signing his new deal,” Houston general manager Daryl Morey wrote on his Twit­ter account. “We are excited he will be returning to the Rockets. “Credit (owner Leslie) Alexander. Bringing Kyle back took one quick phone call. I appreciate the unshakable faith he has in the plan we laid out in February.”

The Cavs offered Lowry their midlevel salary cap exception, which is valued at $5.8 million this season, after failing to reach a sign-and-trade agree­ment with the Rockets over the past week.

Once they put pen to paper, Houston had seven days to either match or pass on that contract.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Rockets promptly chose the former — and retained Lowry, who averaged 9.1 points and 4.5 assists last season. The 6-foot Villanova product shot just .397 from the floor in 2009-10, but is known more for his foot speed and defense.

Failing to land Lowry is the third free agency failure for Cleveland since July 8. The fran­chise previously lost two-time NBA MVP LeBron James and beloved center Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the Miami Heat.

The Cavs also have shown interest in Houston’s other prominent restricted free agent, power forward/center Luis Scola. Morey, though, indicated that his club was likely to retain the Argentine’s services, as well.

“One down (Lowry), one to go (Scola),” he said.

Meanwhile, the saga of current Cleveland guard Delonte West will continue this morning with a plea hearing on concealed weapons and speeding charges in Maryland.

According to the docket of the Prince George’s County Circuit Court, West will be in the courtroom of Judge Graydon S. McKee III in Upper Marlboro, Md. He had been scheduled to go to trial next week, but reached a compromise with state’s attorney Glenn Ivey.

News radio WTOP-FM 103.5 in Washington, D.C., reported that West will enter a guilty plea on the charges and receive an undisclosed sentence. He faces six weapons offenses, and one count each of reckless driving and negligent driving on his motorcycle.

West, who has battled depression for many years, was arrested last Sept. 17 on the Capital Beltway for speeding. Officers subsequently found two loaded handguns, a loaded shotgun, and an 8 1 / 2- inch Bowie knife — each a violation of Maryland law.

Once the case is settled, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard is facing a potentially long NBA suspension. He also is expected to be jettisoned by the Cavs before Aug. 5, when the final year of his $4.65 million contract would become guaranteed.

Trade talk

Rumors out of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas claim the Cavs and Hawks are discussing a trade of big men.

Cleveland reportedly would sign-and-trade center Shaquille O’Neal, an unrestricted free agent, in exchange for athletic power forward Marvin Williams.

The 6-9 Williams has spent all five of his pro seasons with Atlanta, the last four starting alongside Josh Smith at forward. He averaged 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds last year, but has become too costly for the Hawks to retain with four years and $30 million left on his contract.

As was the case with Lowry, it’s hard to imagine Williams starting for the Cavs — especially since new coach Byron Scott told NBA TV that J.J. Hickson will be his full-time starting power forward.

Additionally, those two players have very similar skill sets, though Williams is much more polished than Hickson and a fine free throw shooter.

Advance info

Sharpshooting swingman Mike Miller, another player high on the Cavs’ wish list, is expected to ink a five-year contract with the Heat today. He shot .479 on 3-pointers last season with Washington, ranking second in the league.

In yet another indication that James was planning on leaving Cleveland while he was still under contract to the club, Miller said the two of them talked during the NBA Finals.

“He told me, ‘Sit tight,’” Miller told WHBQ-AM 560 in Memphis. “I’m excited about it. It’s a good opportunity for me.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.