The Boots are my method of applauding or criticizing various newsworthy events in the world of sports. The word “Boot” refers to a torturous childhood nickname, and thus, now serves as my own personal sports writing payback. More of these features can be found with the University of Dayton’s Flyer News, and topics for future articles can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boot Up: Building Blocks – There’s no question in my mind that last week’s trade with the Los Angeles Clippers assured the Cleveland Cavaliers of a more straight-forward rebuild process. Yes, you can go ahead and read Kelly Dwyer’s drivel all you want, but you really can’t afford to contradict yourself so many times.
Dwyer makes the point that Mo Williams should have been traded months ago, but then he’s overweight anyway. He says Baron Davis is a team cancer, but that he will actually be a major aspect of the Cavs’ future. That’s my criticism for Dwyer because it’s simply obvious that Davis is not a long-term solution to anything here in Cleveland.
Sure, Davis is signed through the 2012-2013 season at a hefty price tag, but when that contract expires, it will likely mark the end of his NBA career. Owner Dan Gilbert and head coach Byron Scott are saying all the right things about Davis now, and that’s because you can’t show up the Players Association in any way, shape or form (take note NFL).
Either way, the Cavaliers will now be rebuilding with some of their other younger existing parts and an additional draft pick this season. Williams and Jamario Moon were taking away too much time from Ramon Sessions, Christian Eyenga, Manny Harris and others, so I don’t have a problem with this move one bit.
Boot Down: June Jitters – The 2011 NBA Draft has already been criticized ad nauseum for being the league’s worst in at least 12 years. There likely won’t be a Blake Griffin or John Wall or Derrick Rose up for grabs by any team, yet I still believe there will be value here for the Cavaliers and other teams that analysts are simply missing.
More likely than not, the Cleveland Cavs will be drafting in the lottery portion of the first round for the next two or three seasons. And in an ironic sense, one bad draft cycle actually helps the organization build a more consistent winner as opposed to last time.
The worst place you can be in as an NBA organization is as a lower-ranking seed in the playoffs, where you just miss out on the lottery jackpot, and can’t advance anywhere into May or June. By not picking up a superstar in this June’s draft, the Cavaliers will actually be at an odd advantage to rebuild the franchise in a similar fashion to the Oklahoma City Thunder, as opposed to what they were with LeBron James for all those years.
Adding two pieces such as Kyrie Irving, Perry Jones, Enes Kanter, Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger or Derrick Williams is a start. Surrounding them with keepers like Sessions, Eyenga, Semih Erden, J.J. Hickson and others won’t hurt, and then you can expect the Cavs to be contenders for the potential superstar top lottery position again in 2012 and 2013.
Boot Up: Peace and Harmony – I’ll get to one peculiar aspect of this year’s crazy trade deadline deals in a moment, but let’s just begin with the apparent absence of modern parity in the NBA. Just look at the list of current and former All-Stars as well as the fringe key contributors dealt this month.
Another odd way to analyze the current NBA scenery is just to look at the player movement within the top 10 to 15 players in the game. LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Deron Williams, Amare Stoudamire, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, Carlos Boozer and Paul Gasol have all changed teams in the past three years. And it’s not just in random order, but in an organized fashion in order to gang up on the smaller markets.
So this is a big shoutout to all of the superstar-heavy teams out there in the Lakers, Heat, Knicks, Bulls, Celtics and more, and soon to be joined by the Nets within the next two years. It’s pretty disgusting to an average Cleveland fan, but I suppose the NBA must be happy based on the ratings in the major markets. Ugh, sports these days.
Boot Down: Not So Melo – I should have commented on this before Friday’s embarrassing Knicks performance, although that just adds to this argument anyway. I’m an applied mathematical economics major so I love a good sports statistics debate, and that’s why I was so intrigued by the conversations revolving around Carmelo Anthony last week.
With his near-forced trade to New York, analysts everywhere were debating the value in the move, how the team will be ready to compete immediately, and the eventual timeline to a Knicks championship. But there are a growing number of statistically-minded sports junkies that just don’t think Anthony is all that special.
Case in point: Nate Silver. An original Basketball Prospectus writer turned political guru turned New York Times contributor, he unloaded all of his bells and whistles to break down how the move doesn’t make any sense. I’m of the mind that Chris Paul or someone else joins this team in two years which makes this a mute point, but Silver’s got quite the reputation now, and I’m pretty convinced he has it dead on at the moment.
(Photos above via Scott Shaw/Plain Dealer and AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)