April 24, 2014

Cleveland Cavs Notes: Kyrie Irving’s Injury, Luis Scola, Andrew Bynum, Start of Summer League

What a hectic week to be a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. It seems that almost every single day brings along a new news cycle, and this week has brought along its fair share of hectic news.

From the Kris Humphries-Brooklyn Nets rumors to the possible Luis Scola waiver claim, to the more recent Andrew Bynum murmurs and recent Kyrie Irving injury, there’s been plenty to talk about in Cavs town lately.

Tonight, the Cavaliers begin summer league play in Las Vegas at 8:30 p.m. against the Charlotte Bobcats. With this in mind, I thought this would be a great time to round up some of the recent rumors and my thoughts on the team for this Sunday afternoon.

Kyrie Irving

This one hurt. The news came in slowly but surely last night, and we’ve learned the upcoming fate of our star point guard: out 6-8 weeks with a fractured bone in his hand. Let’s start with some good news and bad news.

Good: He likely won’t miss training camp at all. He certainly should be perfectly ready for the preseason and regular season. The injury was a freak accident that just again shows Kyrie’s fire and intensity anywhere around the court.

Bad: The injury-prone label continues to hover over his head, as he’s had significant ailments for three straight years now (toe, shoulder, hand). He’ll miss the summer league and a crucial opportunity where he could have bonded with new backcourt mate Dion Waiters.

Overall, however, we’ve learned throughout the summer that Kyrie Irving truly is the real deal. As if averaging 18.5 points and 5.4 assists on 46.9% shooting wasn’t enough last season as a 19-year-old. He’s impressed everyone from LeBron James to Jerry Colangelo and more through his participation with the USA Select Team, and is a near-guaranteed Olympian for 2016.

Irving’s a fierce competitor, there’s no doubt about that, and he’s cemented his status this summer as one of the more talked-about players in the league. He’s building quite a reputation too, and this injury appears to be just a minor summer setback that won’t actually matter too much in the end.

Luis Scola

As opposed to many other rumors over the past couple weeks, this one appears to have some legs. The Cavs along with the Dallas Mavericks are two of the top squads supposedly targeting forward Luis Scola, who the Houston Rockets amnestied earlier this week.

Scola is a 32-year-old Argentine who has put up some solid consistent numbers over his five-year NBA career. He’s missed just five games total during that span, and has averaged 14.5 points with 7.7 rebounds in 30.2 minutes per game, shooting 51.0% from the field.

A frontcourt of Scola, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller would be one of the more pesky, underappreciated yet productive in the Eastern Conference. The foursome wouldn’t necessarily dominate every night, but I really like that potential combination of offense-defense, old-young and more.

Many folks on Twitter have theorized that the Cavs’ interest in Scola could signal a trade of Varejao sometime soon. For folks that don’t watch basketball, it possibly seems redundant to have two South American forwards on a NBA team. For folks that actually watch basketball however, you’d understand that the two have entirely different skill sets and could easily play together on the court.

Scola’s a pesky veteran who has a good scoring touch in the post. He’s a solid rebounder, average athlete and mediocre defender. Cleveland desperately needed more low-post scoring last season, and Scola would be a great fit.

For now, I’m estimating the chances based on the Twitter vibes that there’s maybe a 50% chance the Cavs nab Scola in the coming days (FSO’s Sam Amico said a move likely won’t be finalized until Monday). This won’t automatically propel the Wine & Gold to the playoffs, but, outside of his lengthy and expensive contract, this is a relatively low-risk that could pay solid dividends.

Andrew Bynum

It’s time to forgive and forget. All anyone could talk about yesterday was the possibility that the Cavaliers might end up with LA Lakers center Andrew Bynum in a deal that would send Dwight Howard to LA. As time has passed, it appears this was just yet another Twitter rumor that doesn’t have too many legs.

It was reported earlier in the week that Bynum could be interested in Cleveland as a free agent in 2013, and I’d guess that’s still on the table. It’s been historically difficult for the Cavs to attract marquee free agents, but stars could align here for various reasons: 1) Kyrie Irving is as good a teammate Bynum could partner up with, 2) The Cavs don’t have a current long-term star in the paint (sorry, Tyler Zeller), and 3) Cleveland has tons of long-term cap space.

People tend to forget that Bynum is only 24 years old. Combining him with Irving potentially next season would catapult Cleveland to being one of the top six teams in the East, guaranteed. That young combination of those two plus Dion Waiters and Zeller would arguably be the best in the league, up there with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

For now, however, it’s probably just best to move on from all of the murmurs and just get back to preparing for the season as fans. It’d take a huge miracle for everything to align in Orlando and LA’s favor for this three-way to actually work, as we learned earlier with the possible Brooklyn Nets deal.

Summer League

It’s been two years since we had summer basketball going on with the Wine & Gold. It should be plenty of fun to see things begin tonight against the Bobcats. I know I’ll be first intrigued to see how Michael Kidd-Gilchrist does against the team that was so enamored with him leading up to the draft.

With Irving gone, Cavs fans will still have the trio of Waiters, Thompson and Zeller to look forward to over the next week. The big surprise of the roster was that Kevin Jones won’t be around, as he’s injured, but should report back to the squad in time for training camp.

Fans should expect very little defense but some exciting things from the young players. Some odd names have dominated summer league over the years, and I wouldn’t be shocked if all anyone can talk about is Dion Waiters when things are all said and done. It just seems like this expected pace of play could favor some big games for the rookie from Syracuse.

It’s been pretty cool to see so much coverage of summer play so far this summer both from Orlando and starting recently in Vegas. Basketball fans are spoiled to see continuous coverage of their teams on Twitter and more, even despite the hectic rumors, so enjoy these contests over the next few days here, folks.

(BluePlanet/YouTube screenshot)

  • SDA

    Will that game be on NBA tv? I’m not a huge college fan so i’m excited to get a glimpse of both of the new guys.

  • DOMBARD

    8:30pm on NBATV

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I still wouldn’t be shocked if the Bynum trade resurfaces. As much as we Cavs fans think it’s about Bynum, it’s about Howard, which is why the Cavs aren’t the team that has to shell out a ton in it, though they still have to give some pieces.

    I wouldn’t be shocked to see a trade which involves the Cavs getting Bynum while giving up Varajeo and some picks. They’d also sign Scola as has been rumored. I don’t think they’d give up TT in a deal, either – they truly believe he’s extremely valuable. (Did you know he was second in the league in ORR%?)

    The consistent pattern in Cavs’ moves under Grant is a serious dedication to advanced statistics: Guys who hit a high percentage of their shots from the areas where they’d take them, guys who rebound at an incredibly high rate, and guys who play tough defense that brings down opposing players’ FG%s.

    I wouldn’t be shocked if that’s what’s holding up this deal, too: The Cavs believe they’ve got good pieces now. They’d love to upgrade to Bynum, and are even willing to give up Andy and picks to do it, but if they had to give up TT, too, it would defeat the purpose. They’d have to pick up a subpar player to fill that hole and that wouldn’t net out positively.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I am, however, shocked that I wrote “I wouldn’t be shocked” three times in the same comment. Ugh.

  • SDA

    Thank you I guess I coulda looked myself but …well….. The pool and a Glenlevet was calling my name :)

  • humboldt

    Good analysis. I’m undecided about TT, but you present a compelling case (statistically at that) for the value of playing hardball in this trade scenario and making him untouchable. Would be mighty sweet to have a core of Irving, Bynum, TT, Waiters, Zoeller.

  • BrownsFanSF
  • Vindictive_Pat

    See you there. Go CAVS!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Looks like the Suns won the blind auction for the services of Scola.

  • mgbode

    3yrs/$13mil and we did put a bid in. i’m guessing 3yrs/$12mil was our bid? (minimum was 3yrs / $10mil)

    getting a player like Scola for 3yrs just over $4mil/year is a good deal for the Suns. he’s a good scorer and rebounder, which should continue (doesn’t really use athleticism for either – just solid fundamentals), but his already below average defense will likely continue to drop as he ages.

    would have liked him, but we’ll have to find someone else now (still think we are short a backup PG and 4th rotational big at least. would also like a backup wing as well this offseason).

  • mgbode

    i’m thinking Orlando was trying to see what the most they could get from teams now as opposed to when the 2012 draft picks could be traded (which is needed if they do make a deal with Houston).

    they came away liking the Rocket deal better (IMO) and will likely wait that one out unless something else pops up before then (not sure if it’s the 3way between Orlando & Houston & LAL or just Houston & LAL).

    note: all of the above is speculation and my complete opinion on the matter. just seems to be the case reading the tea leaves.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    More then a good deal it’s a steal kind of bummed this didn’t happen.