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The Cavs, a playoff team? As Lee Corso once said “not so fast my friend.”
Discussions about Cleveland pushing for the no. 7 or no. 8 seed are premature. Kyrie Irving will emerge by the end of this season as one of the league’s 15 best players, Anderson Varejao will help improve a bottom-five defense (if they don’t trade him), and the young guys will develop. But this team is still really green, and its most important veteran import (C.J. Miles) hasn’t even cracked 40 percent from the floor combined over the last two seasons.
There is promise, including a bonanza of future first-round picks courtesy of Miami, the Lakers, and Sacramento. The larger internal debate is how Cleveland uses Varejao, those picks, and $10 million in leftover cap space on the trade market this season. The Dwight Howard deal took away one target the Cavs discussed — Andrew Bynum — so perhaps they’ll sit tight. [Zach Lowe/Grantland]
The development of Alonzo Gee is how the NBA D-League is meant to be used:
An NBA team’s affiliate shouldn’t be to set up to produce the next Jeremy Lin, but the next Alonzo Gee. Sure, Gee-sanity won’t ever invigorate a franchise’s fanbase, but he was a D-League regular that has proven to be a rotation-quality wing in the NBA. In Cleveland, Gee will compete for starter’s minutes but if slotted into a reserve role on a contending team, he’s the perfect example of what a full minor league system can accomplish.
The problem facing the NBA isn’t the inability to develop stars — we almost always see them coming — but that the league outsources the development of many young, end-of-the-rotation-type players like Gee to teams overseas. Due to roster restrictions, NBA teams are simply unwilling or unable to invest 2-3 years in a player with the upside of a 20-minute-a-night reserve. Instead they try to fill those roles primarily with veteran riff-raff and cross their fingers these vets hold off Father Time or their play somehow drastically exceeds their well-established but underwhelming career norms. [Brent Koremenos/True Hoop]
For you College Hoop heads (like me), CBS Sports and their strong stable of beat writers are out with their pre-season predictions. All of you Buckeye honks won’t be happy to see whom all five pick as their Big Ten Champion.
The same guys have come out with their collective top 100 players in College Basketball. The Buckeyes carry two of the top 12:
10. Deshaun Thomas – 6-7, 215 lbs, SF, Jr, Ohio State – With Jared Sullinger and William Buford gone, the focal point of the Buckeyes’ offense will be Thomas. The lefty is an impossible matchup, given his ability to overpower defenders and finish at the rim.
12. Aaron Craft – 6-2, 195 lbs, PG, Jr, Ohio State – The consummate point guard, the Buckeyes junior is arguably the best perimeter defender in the country. He provides leadership, makes his teammates better — and will need to become more assertive on the offensive end. [Goodman, Parrish, Gottlieb, Borzello, Norlander/CBS Sports]
Hey look, speculation already about the first NFL Coach being fired. I bet you can’t guess who’s at the top of that list?
Last year, we had three teams with no wins at this point: Indianapolis, Miami, and St. Louis. Sparano didn’t survive the season, and Jim Caldwell and Steve Spagnuolo were let go after it ended. Shurmur looks like the most obvious guy in trouble in 2012.
Tony Grossi says this can’t go on or Shurmur will not make it through the season. The “this” in this case is not only the 4-17 record since he became head coach, but also the surly behavior with the media and in public.
Shurmur should go the Todd Haley route from last year and go with the homeless look. He has to know he is done. New owner Jimmy Haslem takes over officially in a week, so the guys above him are probably in trouble too. Unless he pulls a “Major League” and starts stripping Haslem’s clothes off in the locker room as the Browns surge to a division title, he’s not coming back. [Jason Lisk/The Big Lead]
People are still asking the question, Why exactly did Terry Francona take the Indians job?
Despite reports and story lines, Francona didn’t take the job because he’s had ties to the organization since his father played six seasons for the team from 1959-1964. And it’s not simply because he has done a good job of keeping in touch with team president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti since he worked in the front office in 2001. Nor is it because Francona learned trade secrets from John Farrell, his pitching coach for four seasons with the Red Sox and who had previously been an Indians personnel director.
These relationships might help. But they aren’t as significant as the “something different” that Francona has detected about the Indians. That is, the team maintains one of the most complete player development programs in baseball. It’s a department that is valued by executives and employees throughout the franchise as a critical part of the whole. And it operates with an eye towards training and developing players who understand how what they do contributes to the organization. If track records are any indication, this is very much the kind of place where Terry Francona belongs. [Lee Igel/Forbes]