Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast
Coast To Coast is your bi-weekly (as in, twice a week, not every other week…or does that mean it’s semi-weekly?) look at the NBA outside of Cleveland through the perspective of the Cavaliers. Because the Cleveland Cavaliers generate more web traffic than the New York Knicks do.

The Cavaliers are not the only Eastern Conference team struggling with elite teams. Jeff Clark points out in CelticsBlog:

Celtics are now 1 – 4 vs. the teams that are legit title contenders this year (LA, Cleveland, San Antonio).

I wonder if they don’t count Orlando because they don’t believe in Orlando’s chances or because they are 2-0 against Orlando and so it would make that stat look much different? Anyway, the Cavaliers are 1-5 against Boston, LA, and Orlando (haven’t played San Antonio yet). The Magic are 0-2 against Boston, 1-0 against Cleveland, 2-0 against the Lakers, and 2-0 against the Spurs. That’s an incredible 5-2 record against the NBA’s elite. Perhaps it goes to show you how devastating the Jameer Nelson injury really is.
[Not Enough (Part II)]

Can’t get enough of LeBron’s 52 Triple Double and/or Kobe’s 61 point night in Madison Square Garden last week? Me either. Which is why I find this video showing highlights from both epic performances:

It really doesn’t get any better than that. Nights like those are why I love the NBA so much. No other sport can give you such great individual performances.
[Dream Week At The Garden]

Oh yeah, about that Triple Double… I was happy to read TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott give his take on the league’s curious decision to overturn LeBron’s feat. He raises some great points:

The league removed LeBron James’ triple double from the record books. And they announced it via a press release, which concluded with the very official line: “All NBA games are reviewed to ensure the accuracy of the game statistics.” It sounded good. It sounded serious. It sounded professional. And frankly, the league would, I presume, rather have their stars achieving great milestones, rather than just missing them. There’s nothing in it for David Stern, in other words, and so I salute this unpopular nod to integrity. But after I thought about it for a while, I couldn’t help but wonder: Really? I mean, profoundly: Really? People assess every game for statistical integrity? That would take an army of eagle-eyed observers, and surely it would result in thousands of corrections a year. Yet there are almost never corrections. Yes, there have been some instances here and there in the past. But out of those 1,230 regular season games every year, and those zillions of statistics, very few are announced. (As the Plain Dealer’s Brian Windhorst points out: How come in this very game Ben Wallace similarly tipped some passes to Wally Szczerbiak, and those still count as past of Szczerbiak’s rebound total?) Every time David Friedman charts assists, he seems to find several that were awarded incorrectly … but the NBA’s review team doesn’t seem to be catching those. So, is every game really scrutinized at that level — or are certain prominent ones?

Those are many of the exact same questions I have. It really bothers me how vague and inauspicious the league is trying to be over this. Especially when you consider the seemingly high level of transparency they were trying to convey by announcing the change so loudly via press release. Anyway, Henry has since given us an updated link to this story where ESPN The Mag asks the NBA directly about this decision:

So if you have people reviewing every single play of every single player, of every single game, then you had somebody double check Kobe’s 61 points?
Yes. We don’t have somebody who sits down with a computer and double checks every aspect of every play per se, but we do have a secondary unit who reviews almost all plays. And whatever box score that’s filed at the end of the game is the final, official score, unless its been noted and confirmed as a mistake.

But who raised the red flag on that last rebound?
There were so many people watching that game—even just in our office—that I’m not sure exactly who pinpointed it. Mike Breen was calling the game and even he said, “Wallace rebound.” It would have stood out to a lot of people besides whoever was reviewing the play-by-play. And that game made its way onto the internet.

I don’t know, I still don’t like it, and I feel like none of that is offering us a straight answer. Regardless, I seriously wonder how one goes about applying for a job to be the person who watches all these games and gets to arbitrarily change statistics at their own discretion. It sounds like fun to me.
[Tuesday Bullets]

It doesn’t sound like the Cavaliers have to worry about PJ Brown going back to Boston. Or anywhere else, for that matter. According to a story by Brendan Hall in the Boston Globe, all indications are that PJ Brown is going to be staying retired this time:

It won’t be like last February, when Ray Allen and Paul Pierce persuaded Brown to join the Celtics during an All-Star weekend party. In fact, when coach Doc Rivers last talked to Brown two weeks ago, the conversation had nothing to do with hoops.

“I don’t talk to him about basketball. I don’t think he’s going to be coming back,” Rivers said. “He works out all the time, but I don’t think he has any interest.”

Since the Celtics won the NBA championship last June, Brown, 39, has yet to poke his head around the Boston area. He didn’t re-sign with the team, and was not present at the ring ceremony in October (his was mailed to him). In December, Brown told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “I’m officially done. My career is over.”

This is definitely good news for the Cavaliers. Cleveland is struggling enough with their interior play as it is, the last thing they need is for their chief rival in the East this year to be getting any better in the post. You can never say never, and I would not be shocked at all if PJ Brown were to suddenly decide to go ahead and rejoin the Celtics this year, but for now at least, that doesn’t sound all that likely.
[Brown Will Probably Remain Retired]

The Knicks might not have as much future cap space as some believe. Earlier in the year, it really sounded like New York was looking to trade David Lee. With their improved play as of late, though, many now think the Knicks will try to re-sign David Lee. Should they keep both David Lee and Nate Robinson, KnickerBlogger’s Caleb projects the Knicks would then have just under $16 million, approximately, to spend in the summer of 2010. Using his cap projection for that summer of $59 million, that would make LeBron’s max contract number start at $16,672,705. The Knicks wouldn’t have enough to even offer LeBron a max deal. Caleb writes:

Since the last overview, I’ve modified my cap forecast, and my guesstimate on the cost of extending Lee & Robinson.  Keep in mind that the Knicks can offer Lee a 6-year, $60 million contract by starting the deal around $8.5 million and including maximum annual raises. I’m now projecting that the cap will stay flat this year, and grow by $1 million each of the following years.  All this math involves a lot of estimates and guesswork.  It also assumes that we don’t sign any new players between now and 2010.  No mid-levels!  These rosters include 12 players; that assumes we would reach the 13-player minimum by signing a (star) free agent. To find more cap space, our options include renouncing Lee and/or Robinson, trading them for picks or shorter contracts, trading Curry or Jeffries for players with shorter contracts or trading away the 2009 draft pick.

The Knicks aren’t going to be so stupid as to not leave them enough cap space to offer LeBron the max. Eddy Curry’s contract is going to be tough to move, but not impossible. Jeffries’ will probably be easier, but if push comes to shove, I would guess they will probably have to just go ahead and renounce Robinson (although they could always trade Lee to Cleveland, and that would be just fine by me). Suppose they don’t free up the cap space and they keep everyone. In that scenario, they would have over $30 million in cap space in the summer of 2011. If LeBron truly wants to go to New York, would he consider picking up his 2010 option in Cleveland and waiting for the cap space to open in New York in 2011? Probably not very likely, but just some food for thought to ponder.
[Trade Deadline Math]

I keep telling people over and over again, LeBron doesn’t need to be in New York to have a major media presence and to be on the minds of NBA fans. And here’s someone who shows some data that backs me up a bit. John Lombardo takes a look at the web site hit data for every team in the NBA. He found that the Lakers lead all teams in terms of Total Page Views and Average Daily Unique visitors. The Cavaliers are 3rd in unique visitors (Boston in 2nd) and 2nd in total page views. Here is some of the analysis of those numbers:

The team site had 1,861,636 page views during the week ended Feb. 1, while the Cavaliers attracted 1,763,416 page views. While it’s little surprise that the marquee Lakers, led by superstar Kobe Bryant, generated the greatest traction, it’s notable that the Cavaliers, even with LeBron James, are a close second given the much smaller Cleveland market size.

“The Cavaliers are very interesting given that they are in a much smaller market, but when you see a team that is not in the top-10 media market but getting that type of traffic, it starts to show that the fan base is no longer found just in the market to where the team lives,” said Pat Coyle, president of Coyle Media and who also runs, a digital marketing online community.

A while back, we were asked to participate over at Hardwood Paroxysm in a discussion on small market teams and their roles in the NBA. I pointed out at that time that the NBA was changing, and that small market teams are finding it easier than ever to thrive in today’s smaller global marketplace:

With that being said, though, I think the NBA is going through a bit of a renaissance right now where stars are finding they can thrive in smaller markets. Tim Duncan does ok for himself in San Antonio. KG never had trouble being elected to start All Star games in Minnesota. Dwight Howard is blossoming in Orlando. Chris Paul is thriving in New Orleans. The league is being driven by young stars right now, and it seems that fan interest is higher than ever thanks to the explosion of quality blogs and easily accessible local coverage of every team on the internet and affordable TV packages that allow you to watch every game. Fans are finding it easier than ever to support the best players in the league no matter what remote corner of the country they might be playing in, and as a writer for a small market blog, I find this to be an exciting time in the NBA.

So naturally, yes, I am very encouraged to see the Cavaliers continue to be a marquee draw and point of interest in the NBA.
[NBA High Fliers Lead League’s Web Standings]

And I can think of no finer way of ending this edition of Coast To Coast than that.

  • kevin

    being french i think that the small market argument isnt relevant anymore because the game is now global, and for us living so far we don’t really care about the cities. we do care about good teams and players. it might sound as we are “fake fans”….well it might be true. i know that i’m a die hard cleveland fan…since shawn kemp….dont ask me why lol.

  • IRB?

    The Knicks could get LeBron to play for free, cause he’d get so much in endorsements it wouldn’t matter.

    /Stephen A Smith

    David Stern, not giving a straight answer? Say it ain’t so Rock, say it ain’t so!

  • Scott

    “David Stern, not giving a straight answer?”

    No kidding. You dont get much more smug than the Commish.

  • tim

    when the knicks started their housecleaning and Stephen a smith started yelling about how “THE KNICKS CAN NOW SIGN NOT 1 BUT TWO MARQUEE FREE AGENTS IN 2010” (caps for SAS typical yelling of course) i said then that its really not possible. the knicks might possibly have the cap space to sign 2 top guys, but would have bare cupboards and would be forced to sign a bunch of minimum contract players (ie d-leaguers) to fill out their roster. i fail to see how going to ny to play with chris bosh (presumably), danillo, jared jeffries, wilson chandler and a bunch of trey johnson’s would entice lebron to go there. on the other hand, they would have to sign at least lee and nate robinson (and duhon?) to extensions, but those guys arent going to sign for $1million/year. those guys are going to sign for market value, which will kill NY’s cap space and prevent them from getting “NOT 1 BUT TWO MARQUEE FREE AGENTS IN 2010”.

  • buu

    i kept enjoying the fact that the knicks kept calling last week “dream week” when in fact they were playing the 3 best teams in the NBA, and proceeded to lose each game.
    a lot of history was made in “the world’s most famous arena” at the expense of the home team.