Is Kyrie Irving “all in” on Cleveland? While We’re Waiting…

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Griff dropping subtle hints? In the 24 hours immediately following the NBA Draft, Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin was carefully selecting his words, seen by many to be verbal warning shots. When the Cavs used the No. 1 pick on Andrew Wiggins, Griffin—in what was a change from previous years—immediately addressed the pick via conference call. During said address, he made sure to mention that Wiggins wanted to be in Cleveland, which was seen by many to be a jab at Jabari Parker, the player taken with the No. 2 pick, who allegedly tanked his workout with the team.

But was this a shot at a player he didn’t draft? A day later, Griffin used the term “all in on Cleveland” to describe Wiggins, a descriptor he used to describe himself just weeks earlier when he won the team’s general manager job. In his Sunday column, Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto iterated that Griffin’s word choice may in fact be aimed in the direction of one of his current players in Kyrie Irving.

Irving is reportedly on board with the selecting of Wiggins. He was one of the first to usher in David Blatt as the team’s new head coach. The Cavs will offer him the maximum contract extension allowable by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. If Irving is “all in,” he’ll accept the deal. If he tries to be cute, Pluto believes the team will try to trade him. This leads to an intriguing, if not potentially agonizing, topic that has gone a bit under-discussed: The extensions signed by John Wall and Paul George last season were not inked until July 31 and September 22, respectively. Just because Irving doesn’t sign on July 1 doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to be in Cleveland.

The two-time All-Star has a crazy summer ahead of him—Team USA responsibilities will keep him in Las Vegas (OMG LAS VEGAS!?) in late July, Chicago and New York (OMG NEW YORK!?) in mid-August, Spain in late August through the middle of September. Sure, Jeff Wechsler (his agent) will be the one doing the bulk of the work, but it’s not like Irving will be sitting in Independence deliberating until a decision is made. These things take time—just enough for the rumors to swirl in countless directions, whether he’s “all in” or not.

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Bringing back the ground and pound? The writing is on the wall for the Cleveland Browns to pull a 180 this season and become a run-first team. Several local papers focused an ample amount of coverage on Ben Tate and what he brings to the fold (we’ll throw the ABJ a bone here) as the team reverts away from being one that led the entire NFL in passing attempts a season ago. Browns OC Kyle Shanahan’s offense will reportedly be “predicated on being able to run effectively while mixing in the pass,” which means that Tate and his colleagues (Terrence West, for starters) will be seeing plenty of work while Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel will be asked to keep the defenses honest. After a season of having nary a run game, the zone-blocking scheme mixed with talented running backs could make for an interesting season on the lakefront.

The Browns’ offense will never be confused for the Broncos or Saints, but if things go according to plan, there will be some methodical movements of the ball as they wear down the opposition and strike when the time is right.

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These photos of this weekend’s Rock Hall yoga event from Ariel Agents over at Cleveland Scene are worth your time.

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So remember that “fan advisory board” the Browns were putting together? Apparently they sounded off during their first meeting. Topics of disdain? The lack of care for season-ticket holders (compared to the Cavs and Indians, the Browns are AWFUL when it comes to taking care of their top clients), the constant turnover within the franchise, and the way FirstEnergy Stadium is constantly overrun with opposing fans. There are some interesting tidbits that err on the side of vague regarding the Dawg Pound—a concept that it appears the team would like to have transcend just one section of the stadium. The Browns appear to be “all in” on modeling themselves after the Seattle Seawhawks and their incredible fan base. We’ll see if this initiative helps.

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Flush those listicles, folks. Here’s this week’s edition of #ActualSportsWriting:

How Scott Kazmir came back” by Tim Keown (ESPN The Magazine): “He needed silence as an asylum from judgment and expectation. He needed to be alone with his doubts and embarrassment and confusion, to retreat from the well-meaning cacophony of advice, away from the Angels’ stadium parking attendant who told him he needed to keep his front side closed a bit longer, away from the usher who thought his stride was too short, away from even his father, who said he’d be every bit as proud of his son if he never threw a baseball again. Yes, Scott Kazmir needed the noise — the infinite chirping of an infinite number of birds — to cease. He needed the only voice in his head to be his own.”

From St. Louis to Recife in search of “the spot” by Chris Jones (ESPNFC blog): “A man called simply The Mustache unlocked the gate for Steven Lange, and he took his first few steps onto the grass, still wet from Thursday’s calamitous rain. By Friday morning there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the high sun lit every quiet corner of Estadio Ilha do Retiro, the storied home of Sport Recife, a local first-division side.”

Astro-Matic Baseball” by Ben Reiter (Sports Illustrated, with bonus points for production): “It is one thing to commit to only making decisions that will lead to a long-term goal, and another to figure out how to make those decisions. Blackjack is an exercise in hard probabilities. Evaluating baseball players is something else. Some information you can gather about a baseball player is hard: how fast he can throw a fastball, how quickly he can reach first base. But much of it is soft: how diligently he will work, how his power stroke might develop, how likely he is to become injured.”

A century of American Soccer anxiety” by Ian Crouch (The New Yorker): “Haven’t we reached a point where it is enough simply to watch the games? Millions of people do, taking pleasure in seeing top-flight soccer and in the tournament’s distinctive global drama. For newcomers, it can be met with curiosity, even wonder, rather than contempt dressed up as national pride. We can be shy about soccer, but we don’t need to be afraid.”

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And just because: Bartolo being Bartolo…

  • Horace

    Re: Kyrie….As soon as Jason Kidd becomes president/coach of the Bucks, Griffin should RUN, not walk, to the nearest phone can call Kidd. Make a ridiculous offer, maybe Kyrie for Giannis or Parker, and 3 unprotected 1sts. This Bucks team has new owners looking to win now and a new president/coach looking to make a splash. Not to mention, Kidd is a former PG.

    This Bucks team is set up perfectly to be fleeced in an epic fashion. The Cavs need to take advantage ASAP…

  • mgbode

    Are we now allowed to call out how stupid it was that there were people saying that Gilbert & the FO were at odds over the #1 pick? Terry even mentions Wiggins was ahead of Jabari for as long as Griffin was GM.

  • mgbode

    I would never mind taking advantage of a stupid team. And, the Bucks sure seem to be a stupid team if they gift Kidd as much power as he is seeking.
    It would take a ton to pry Kyrie (why does that say ‘OR’ above?), but it’d be a phone call to make.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Sure. A LOT of the news leading up to the draft was inaccurate, but I tend to lean to the side of this being a good thing. Griffin played things incredibly close to the vest—something I’ll take every time.

    I will say that I also heard Parker’s workout was dreadful, so that dart appears to be sticking. Other than that, fair game.

  • mgbode

    agreed it is a good thing that we kept things in-house and kept people guessing. just the immediate supposition that there was acrimony and we were the “worst run basketball team” annoyed me even if it meant very little.

  • architrance

    If there’s anyone who shouldn’t be playing basketball 12 months out of the year it’s Kyrie Irving. Seriously. Whatever happened to an offseason? Give the guy some rest!

  • RGB

    If we can soak somebody, then by all means, have at it.
    But, we need to get more than 100 pairs of underpants…

  • technivore

    Last time I checked, Kyrie hasn’t picked up a basketball in anger since April 16th.

  • Harv 21

    Agree. But just remember, Bucks have every reason to depict the Cavs the same way: stupid team that wants to win now, trade their young all-star, an owner with poor impulse control, and a newbie FO. These two teams could swing a deal that hurts both of them.

    [Btw, they’re not trading Parker. He will be the center of their marketing campaign].

  • Chris Mc

    Griffin is anything but a “newbie”. He’s got 20 years of front office experience.

  • mgbode

    That is nothing compared to the 20minutes that Kidd has.

  • Horace

    To your first point, you are sadly correct. As long as Dan Gilbert is trying to call the shots and wrestle with the front office, then te Cavs are a ticking time bomb.

    I also agree with you re: Parker. That’s why I said or Giannis, who is more likely to be moved bc he has no ties to the new regime. Still, Giannis plus, say, 3 unprotected firsts from Milwaukee would be tempting.

  • mgbode

    Oh, meant to mention earlier that Bartolo prefers you show him in the slimming pinstripe uniform instead:

    http://d3j5vwomefv46c.cloudfront.net/photos/large/849173833.gif?1397954109

  • mgbode

    Is he though? Or is it just a tired national storyline? What decisions has Dan affected other than the firing of the old regime?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ WFNYRick

    Maybe Bartolo should consider a smaller size helmet, or one with double ear flaps as this helmet thing seems to happen to him a lot.

  • Harv 21

    chin strap

  • Harv 21

    I meant The Letter, that has had the most to do with the national Gilbert storyline, as it should. Here’s my point: Cavs fans have no right to believe any other org is ripe for our expert picking. No matter how optimistic we may feel immediately post-draft, the fact that the roster has players as talented as Kyrie and Wiggins (hopefully) is a function of nothing but dumb luck, the same thing that brought LeBron here. The Bucks at least were smart enough to draft an already promising building block like Giannis at #15.

  • mgbode

    to your point, if our org. is messed up, then, at least, dealing with another messed up org. at least levels the playing field ;)

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ WFNYRick

    Chins strap- fixed.

  • Horace

    To some extent, you are correct. However, if Chris Grant did one thing well, it was make trades (up until Gilbert’s proclamation at the last lottery, that is). Among Grant’s better trades were Clippers (Kyrie), Sacto/Hickson, Memphis first, Ramon sessions for a first, and a couple others that I’m forgetting. While grant is obviously gone, the hope is that David Griffin has learned a thing or two from Grant’s trade abilities.

    While the cavs have unquestionably been a joke of late, the Bucks team, at this present moment, appear to be a disaster. In fact, the guy who drafted Giannis at 15 will be on his way out in the near future and has zero power.

    Making a one sided offer to a team in turmoil doesn’t require RC Buford, Hinkie, or Morey as your GM. If a guy on a message board can see this as an opportunity, then surely david griffin can as well.

  • Horace

    Off the top of my head, things that Gilbert has done that have adversely affected the Cavs: the Lebron letter, the Mike Brown debacle, conducting a shadow coaching search (calipari, the other college coaches, etc.) while Griffin conducted a realistic search (per windhorst), the 2013 lottery guarantee, meddling with trade/draft decisions, etc.

    At least some of this is from windhorst, woj, etc., but I’m inclined to believe what is being reported. Further, while Grant made the bennett decision, from what Woj and others have reported, this was under Gilbert’s marching orders to make the playoffs NOW and draft someone who can contribute ASAP (e.g., not nerlens).

  • mgbode

    I personally believe Mike Brown is what got Chris Grant fired and that is on him. He did trade well.

    The LeBron letter was dumb but honestly it was good business for goodwill and time it bought him. The playoff mandate was definitely dumb though we still need to see about the pick as most of that draft looks like garbage.

    Rest is pure rumor and doesn’t seem backed up by what actually ended up happening.