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“The trade deadline has traditionally involved two factions: contenders desperate to plug a hole — and possibly under pressure from ownership and fans to win now — and the cellar dwellers looking to add future talent by dumping assets that don’t figure into their long-term plans. There are some subfactors to this dynamic, of course. Small-market teams are less willing to add payroll or trade prospects who could provide inexpensive talent down the road, and big-market teams may make incremental additions merely for the sake of doing something.
I believe it’s time for general managers to re-evaluate this traditional line of thinking
The Indians are also grouped into the small-market operations, although their new local cable deal in the offseason was reportedly worth $400 million over 10 years. They’re in the race; they need pitching. I’m not sure the Indians have the prospects to acquire (Cliff) Lee — they’re not trading Francisco Lindor — but the same philosophy applies. Lee is a difference-maker, and they can always trade him in the offseason if they don’t want to absorb his future millions.” [Schoenfield/ESPN]—
Earlier this week Grantland re-published a fascinating article from last May on Greg Oden written by childhood friend, Ohio State teammate, and infamous benchwarmer Mark Titus. Titus goes one on one with Oden giving readers a raw look at the former buckeye number one pick.
“His emphasis on privacy explains why you probably didn’t know the real reason he injured his wrist just before he got to Ohio State — you know, the reported basketball-related injury that sidelined him for the first half of his freshman season. What actually happened? He damaged ligaments defending himself in a fight with his hotheaded younger brother, Anthony. The incident occurred shortly before the Indiana state tournament, when Greg was a senior leading Lawrence North High to a third straight state title. Greg and Anthony’s occasionally ugly sibling rivalry is similar to a lot of brothers’ relationships, but the fact that one brother, Greg, was the best basketball player in the country during his high school years only intensified things. Even though Greg’s success has always been a wedge between him and Anthony, Greg’s first tattoo — the words “Always There” on his left shoulder — was meant to be a message of unyielding support and love for his brother. Unfortunately, that support has not always been mutual.
Greg’s emphasis on privacy also explains why you probably didn’t know that, during his lone season at Ohio State, his best friend since childhood, Travis Smith, died in a car accident the same night that Greg scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds in a two-point home win over Michigan State. Travis had planned on coming to that game until Greg’s mother and grandmother stepped in and claimed Greg’s remaining tickets. But a few hours before the game, Greg was informed they weren’t coming because his grandma didn’t feel well, which meant Travis could have attended the game after all.
Greg found out about Travis’s passing shortly after the game. When he heard the news, he promptly left the gym and drove around the outer belt of Columbus while sobbing. He wasn’t seen or heard from until practice the next afternoon. A few days later, he served as a pallbearer in Travis’s funeral just hours before 14,000 Purdue fans rained boos on him at Mackey Arena during pregame introductions. Today, he never takes the rubber bands with Travis’s name inscribed on them off his wrists. He still considers Travis’s parents to be his own. He visits Travis’s hometown of Terre Haute multiple times throughout the year, including every summer for a golf outing he helped organize that honors his fallen friend and raises money for the local Boys & Girls Club in Travis’s name.
It’s almost like a cloud has been following Greg since high school. He even had bad luck with the 2007 draft, landing in the same class as Kevin Durant. Experts spent two months comparing them and picking apart Greg’s résumé, which didn’t stop Portland from selecting him with the first overall pick. That summer, his right knee started bothering him and doctors determined that he needed microfracture surgery. Greg’s rookie season was over before it even began. Portland fans, who endured the injury-ravaged careers of Bill Walton and Sam Bowie, freaked out. What those fans didn’t know was that Greg’s heart was still aching because of Travis’s death; he was already headed down a destructive path of drinking and “doing things I shouldn’t have been doing” (his words at dinner). The knee surgery only made things worse.” [Titus/Grantland]
“Yes, I know, Dan Gilbert promised us improvement. Nick Gilbert said he didn’t want to be on the lottery podium next year. Mr. Gilbert is as impulsive as they come. When the season ended, his internal thought bubbles probably read in comic sans, “I can’t watch the Cavs lose anymore. I can’t watch Byron Scott with his arms folded any more. We’vegot to make the playoffs next year.” I admire Gilbert’s passion. But as the weeks after the lottery passed, I think Chris Grant wore him down. In classic Rick Pitino fashion, Grant said, “Dwight Howard’s not walking through that door, Dan. Chris Paul’s not walking through that door. Josh Smith’s not walking through that door. Mr Gilbert… We can’t get Marco freaking Belinelli to walk through that door. We have to rethink this.”
The signs are clear. If the Cavs can’t get major talent back in return, the Cavs aren’t signing or trading for anyone that puts their 2014-2015 cap space in jeopardy. If the player wouldn’t be appealing to LeBron James, he’s not getting money beyond next season unless he’s on a rookie contract. The Cavs’ only free agent move so far has been for Earl Clark, for two years and $9 million dollars. But the second year of the contract is a team option. For further proof of their intentions, look at who the Cleveland has been linked to in trades.
Bogut, Biedrins, and Jefferson are all on the last year of their deal. Furthermore, Pau Gasol, Robin Lopez, and Omer Asik have also been linked to the Cavs as possible trade targets, by Brian Windhorst. Lopez is off the board now, and Asik is the only one left of those players who has a contract that stretches beyond 2013-2014. He has a very reasonable $8.37 million cap number, and probably wouldn’t be all that hard to move if needed. These are all guys that can help the Cavs now and be used in a sign and trade later.
There’s still a possibility the Cavs could end up with a major player. Whoever doesn’t get Howard, and whoever misses out on the free agent bonanza will have the choice of either hiring middling level free agents, or blowing their teams up. Chris Grant will be on the phone either way. Teams like Atlanta, Milwaukee, Phoenix, etc. who have assets to pluck and want to stink next year will listen. But Chris Grant isn’t going to sacrifice 2014 flexibility for anything short of an all-star or elite defensive player. Think Al Horford or (maybe) Omer Asik. This is the right strategy. 2014 is too good of a draft class to try to be the last team in the playoffs.” [Smith/Cavs: The Blog]
“Ray Lewis’ long football career with the Baltimore Ravens might have gotten in the way of his philanthropic goals.Lewis was unable to take part in a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro this week because of foot swelling and a fever. Lewis was in Tanzania to raise money and awareness about the need for clean water in East Africa. He was set to do the climb with formerChicago Bears defensive lineman Tommie Harris, among others.
“Ray stood all day yesterday doing a hearing mission,” trip organizer Frank Gamble said in a video, via The Baltimore Sun, summarizing the climb so far. “Last night, he had a bad night, fevered and really rough. So this morning, when he woke up, the foot was killing him, years of injuries and all of that. So we’re going to miss him.” [Rosenthal/NFL.com]