July 23, 2014

Is there a difference between lucky and good? While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday WFNY!

I have to be honest, for sports fans like myself, the period from MLB post-All Star break to the start of the NFL season can be a bit of a drag. It’s not that I dislike watching the Indians. In fact, I have them on right now as I am writing this (yes, I write these on Monday nights, not Tuesday mornings). But in terms of really exciting events in sports, there just isn’t much.

NBA free agency has mostly wound down. Sometimes there are still some big trades, but August is typically the time most team executives take their vacations. NFL training camp is starting, and that’s fun, but it’s not always the most exciting thing in the world. English Premier League soccer doesn’t start until August 16th. These next couple weeks can be somewhat slow on the hard hitting headlines outside the annual Browns QB Competition.

I say all of this not to be a downer, but more to serve as a pre-emptive explanation/apology for today’s WWW being a little shorter than what I normally do and a little more outside the Cleveland Sports box. I just don’t have a ton of Cleveland Sports related things to talk about at the moment.

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What does it mean to be a “well run” NBA team?

I’ve been thinking about this a little bit lately. I’ve seen some talk about how lucky the Cavs are to have LeBron back and how it’s unfair that the Cavs are rewarded for their incompetence. I can’t sit here and say those people are wrong. I said last week that nobody in the Cavs organization deserves credit for LeBron’s return. Heck, we all know that if LeBron was from Omaha, there’s no way he’d be on the Cavaliers right now.

Scheiner and MoreyBut there can be a fine line between perception and reality within the confines of being a well run team. The Spurs are often credited as being the best run franchise in sports. Very few people would disagree with that. But the Spurs haven’t had to deal with losing Tim Duncan yet. The Detroit Red Wings were considered the best run NHL franchise just a few years ago. But after Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement, the Red Wings have struggled to regain their status as an elite franchise. Now some are question both GM Ken Holland and head coach Mike Babcock. Being a well run franchise is so much easier when you have that superstar anchor.

But perhaps the most fascinating case study falls with Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently after reading Matt Moore’s take on the Cavs’ “petulance” being rewarded with LeBron. In particular, Moore writes:

The big winners of the 2014 NBA offseason are the Cleveland Cavaliers and the big losers are the Houston Rockets. Except Houston has been run well, and Cleveland has been a disaster. Go figure.[…]

Meanwhile, on the other side, here’s Daryl Morey. He turned Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and picks into James Harden. He cleared space for Dwight Howard and successfully pitched him after years of building a competitive team while also accumulating assets. He found takers for Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, contracts he signed because at the time, they were major talent upgrades. He offered Chris Bosh the chance to compete for a title now, in a role preventing him from having to bang down low and would maximize his talents in a tech-savvy organization with no state income tax.

Instead, he got Trevor Ariza.

The NBA’s not fair. And you can ask Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Greg Oden … or former Bucks owner Herb Kohl, who tried to build a winner the right way during his tenure. But the events of the past four days reveal more than just that simple imbalance. It reveals a legitimate flaw in the NBA’s design.

These are points that most people across the NBA would probably agree with. But not everyone is buying into this line of thinking, especially when it comes to Morey. Last week in a post on Medium.com, T.D. Williams wrote a scathing rebuke of Morey’s reputation among those in the media.

Whereas Moore listed the great moves Morey has made, Williams looks at it a little differently:

A close examination of Morey’s signings and trades raises as much skepticism as reason for praise: when the Rockets were forward-heavy and in need of a point guard, he traded Kyle Lowry and let Goran Dragic leave, only to replace them with an overpaid Jeremy Lin — a player the Rockets had on their roster the season before, at league minimum salary, before they waived him. He traded Nicolas Batum — a do-it-all small forward who might be an even better piece on a title contender than Parsons — for Joey Dorsey and a draft pick that became Sam Young. He overpaid the offensively limited Omer Asik, then gave max money to Dwight Howard, whose presence made Asik redundant. He wasted a mid-first-round draft pick on Royce White, a red-flagged prospect who provided Houston more headaches off the court than minutes on it. He has boasted about advanced strategy while employing a coach who is known more as a player favorite than a tactician. Houston’s supposedly revolutionary offense of driving and shooting 3s has often looked disorganized and short-sighted down the stretch in playoff games.

So which one is right? They probably both are. To paraphrase Pat Riley, “this stuff is hard”. Building a team requires a lot of things, some of which is scouting talent, but a lot of which is luck. Daryl Morey is hardly faultless as a GM. And yes, I would argue he is pretty severely overrated as a front office executive. He makes a lot of moves that look great on paper, but his big picture plan is never really in focus. He cycles through player acquisitions at an insane rate, endlessly searching for that magical fit that will work. However, most teams would absolutely be thrilled to have Morey working for them.

As for the Cavaliers and their plan, well, up to this point the post-Decision plan hasn’t been working at all, and there are plenty of fingers to be pointed and plenty of deserving recipients of said pointing. However, if I have a point of contention with the likes of Matt Moore and Bill Simmons who have questioned a system that they feel rewards teams who are run poorly, it’s that I think the system is actually kind of doing what it is supposed to.

Basketball is a funny sport where teams like the 76ers and Celtics who try to lose and succeed at it are perceived as doing things right while teams like the Cavaliers and Bucks who have tried to win and failed are perceived as the ones benefitting from a flawed system. The NBA Draft Lottery was designed to be a safety net for teams that fail. The whole purpose of using a lottery instead of a pure record-based draft order is to prevent teams from tanking. The fact that the Cavaliers won the lottery from the ninth position this time or from the eighth spot with the Clippers pick in 2011 should be a sign that the system is working. Now, it’s bizarre that the same team keeps winning, but there’s nothing strange about teams jumping up to win the lottery. That’s how it is supposed to work.

Again, none of this is to say the Cavaliers have done things right. Their plan was not to finish outside the playoffs and then jump up to the number one slot. They got insanely lucky. And they are lucky that LeBron James is from Akron, Ohio. And they are lucky that LeBron is willing to stop chasing rings to instead try to bring that elusive title back to Cleveland. This isn’t a defense of the Cavaliers last few seasons, but rather, a defense of the system and a closer look at what makes a team a well run team. Morey’s reputation has been largely untouchable, but what separates him from RC Buford in San Antonio? Is it all structural and organizational, or is some of it luck that the Spurs have had Tim Duncan, a once in a lifetime kind of player and person? What happens to the Spurs when he eventually retires? Will the Spurs continue to be the class of the NBA, or, like the Red Wings in the NHL, will they become a franchise that flounders through continuous seasons of mediocrity and early playoff exits? Only time will tell.

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Kyrie Irving’s adjustment

I said on Twitter last week that in some ways, I kind of feel sorry for Kyrie Irving. Sure, he just signed a massive long term contract extension and now he gets to play with LeBron James and thus, for the first time in his NBA career, not be the sole point of focus for opposing defenses. So maybe feeling sorry for him is a bit strong.

kyrie editHowever, after everything he went through last season, all the insane levels of criticism, the doubting of his desire to be in Cleveland, the constant string of article after article questioning his commitment to the franchise and his commitment to winning, the fact is that Kyrie took all of about five seconds to agree to an extension with the Cavaliers. And he did so well before the LeBron rumors had really heated up. He answered at least that aspect of his critics’ questions about his commitment to Cleveland.

Sure, some will say “of course he signed right away….nobody else was going to offer him that kind of money”. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t criticize a guy all season and say there’s no way he’s going to stay in Cleveland, but then turn around when he does sign and say “well of course he did”. For many, maybe even most, Kyrie staying in Cleveland was not a certainty. So on a certain level, Kyrie deserves some credit for doing what so many thought he wouldn’t do.

And for a day or two, he did get the credit and recognition he deserved for it. But then the LeBron avalanche started and suddenly Kyrie’s commitment was an afterthought. No longer is Kyrie answering questions about himself, but instead it seems like every question he is asked is about LeBron. So where I feel sorry for Kyrie a bit is in my fear that fans are overlooking how important it was for Kyrie to buy in.

But now come the questions about Kyrie adjusting, and those are certainly fair. For the last couple years, despite being just 20-21 years old, Kyrie has been asked to be a leader on this team. Everything has been about building around Kyrie. The Cavaliers were his team, and when he signed his extension, we assumed it would be his team for the future. All of that changed when LeBron decided to return.

Now, this will immediately become LeBron’s team again and Kyrie will have to adjust to not being “the guy”. In late game situations with the game on the line, the ball will start in LeBron’s hands, not Kyrie’s. If Kyrie embraces this adjustment, though, it can be a huge thing for him. LeBron’s presence can finally give Kyrie a veteran mentor who can show him how to lead, and how to win, and how to deal with being the focal point of a team. LeBron’s presence could be and should be positively liberating for Kyrie.

And eventually, as LeBron gets older and starts to slow down, the team can transition into Kyrie’s hands when he’s more ready for it. Similar to how the Spurs slowly morphed from purely being Tim Duncan’s team into Tony Parker’s team. The same kind of mentorship program can exist in Cleveland. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see how Kyrie accepts his changing role on the team.

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Dare we talk about prison on a sports site?

Ok, I’m going to go way off topic here. When we initiated the change in format to WWW with Scott, Rick, Craig, Jacob, and myself each taking a designated day of the week, I wrote that one of my goals for this change was to allow all of our personalities and interests to carry through. Some of that will extend beyond sports. Obviously sports will always be the main topic of WWW, but sometimes we like to show some of the other sides of our personalities and the things that interest us. So, with that being said, why not try talking about something quite different here?

By now you guys who read WWW every day know that I am an enormous fan of John Oliver’s work on HBO’s phenomenal “Last Week Tonight”. This week, his main segment touched on America’s broken prison system:

This was a pretty coincidental topic, because another one of my favorite forms of entertainment is listening to NPR podcasts and, in particular, one of my favorite shows “This American Life”. In Act Two of this week’s show, “Mind Your Business”, they talked about the recent scandal involving Los Angeles County’s abuse of inmates. So, with two of my favorite shows talking about incarceration this week, I thought I would share these links and encourage everyone to watch/listen.

I’m far from qualified to offer up any kind of solution, but it’s clear to see we have an issue in America. Our prisons are becoming increasingly overpopulated, creating an increasing burden on tax payers. And while some feel the solution is the privatization of jail services, these cost cutting businesses open the door for severe human rights issues. The treatment of prisoners is pretty alarming in some situations, particularly with what happened in Los Angeles County. And while I know some people feel that we shouldn’t care what happens to people in prison, that they deserve whatever happens to them there, I struggle with that line of thinking when these kind of studies exist.

At the end of the day, like I said previously, I recognize that I don’t have the answers. Yet I feel like turning our backs on issues because they don’t personally affect us isn’t the best way to find answers. There are so many bleak stories on the news and we are trending toward apathy. I’d love to exist in a world where issues like this, and the environment, and energy, and equality would transcend politics. I get disheartened when conversations boil down to liberals and conservatives rehashing tired party lines. I’d just like us to at least be able to agree on what the problems in America are. It’s hard to figure out answers when we can’t even agree what the issues are.

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Anyway, that’s it from me this week. Hope you all enjoy the rest of your week, and I’ll be back next Tuesday where we might have some actual Browns stuff to talk about! Cheers!

LeBron, Wiggins, Love, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday WFNY!!!

I hope everyone had a great weekend. If you’re anything like me, it would have been awfully hard not to. I had some things not go as planned over the weekend, and had it been any other weekend, it might have been a fairly miserable one. But just the knowledge that LeBron James was coming back to Cleveland carried me through. I can’t recall the last time I watched as much ESPN as I did over the weekend. I just couldn’t seem to get enough of watching people talk about the Cavaliers and the return of Mr LeBron.

In so many ways, it still doesn’t feel real. I remember feeling the same way when he left. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that my favorite basketball player ever wouldn’t be playing for my team anymore. Like an idiot, I watched the Heat celebration live when they introduced LeBron and Chris Bosh. It wasn’t so much like watching a car wreck, but it was more of just trying to affirm that I wasn’t dreaming and that this was real. But when I saw him turn around on the stage in the Heat uniform, it became real. It was over.

Over the last four years, I probably only watched LeBron play in the regular season less than five times, outside of when he was playing against the Cavaliers. It never got any easier. I wasn’t angry these last couple years anymore, but I still just didn’t enjoy watching him play for another team. But I watched almost all of his playoff games, and while I rooted against his teams from afar, I was constantly reminded of what it was the Cavs had lost and just how far they had to go to get back to that kind of level of play.

Now, he’s back. And this time the thought of seeing him play in a Cavs uniform again doesn’t seem real. In many ways, because I avoided watching the Heat play so much, it feels a bit like a long lost best friend moving back into the neighborhood. Sure, you saw each other a couple times over the years, and you saw the Facebook photos through the years, but you had mostly lost touch. Now you’re back to seeing each other all the time again. In so many ways you’re excited to resume your friendship, but things are a little different. Your friend has changed a bit, and you’ve changed a bit as well through the years. You’ll always share a common nostalgia and you’ll both want things to be like they once were, but the truth is time moves on and nothing stays the same. It’s going to be different this time. It has to be. I just hope things can be even better than they were the first time.

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So how did this happen?

I’m fascinated by the Butterfly Effect. Not the movie, but the theory. Well, actually, I kind of thought the movie was sort of interesting, too, I’m ashamed to admit. But I love contemplating how the smallest things can set a course of events into motion. I love reading about American History, in particular, the American Revolution. There are so many things that happened just right to allow the colonies to outlast the mighty British military and secure freedom from the crown.

For example, in 1777 the British were advancing to Philadelphia. They sent a group of sharp shooters to hide in the woods outside Philadelphia in an attempt to take down George Washington’s unit. Eventually a couple American officers came riding through the woods. The British sharpshooters were led by Captain Patrick Ferguson, one of the best marksmen in the British army. Ferguson had one of the officers in his sights, but couldn’t bring himself to shoot an unsuspecting officer in the back without warning. He called out to the officer, who just looked back quickly and then rode away. That officer was none other than George Washington. Had Ferguson just taken the shot, who knows how history would have been changed. But he let Washington ride away, and it was George Washington who did his best to keep the American army together and who kept forcing the British to chase them throughout the rough terrain of the American wilderness.

So what’s the point? I keep going back to that 1.7% chance the Cavaliers had to win the lottery. By all reason and logic, the Cavaliers shouldn’t have won the lottery. 1.7%! Are you kidding me? How does that happen? For a rough approximation, imagine putting the numbers one through fifty into a hat. How many times do you think it would take for you to pull, say, the number 21 (Wiggins’ number) out of the hat? Probably a lot. But what if you could only pull numbers once. Just think about how crazy it would be to pull the number 21. That’s what the Cavaliers did.

What if a different number was pulled out of the hat. Any of the other 49 numbers. Would LeBron still be a Cavalier? Would David Blatt still be the Cavaliers’ coach? I just keep going back to an alternate timeline, the darkest timeline, where the Cavaliers had the ninth pick in the draft, Alvin Gentry was the coach, Kyrie Irving was refusing to sign a full extension, and LeBron just didn’t feel the Cavs roster and situation was compelling enough to return to.

Maybe it wouldn’t matter. Maybe this solely was an emotional decision to come home. But I can’t fully believe that. I think this was a long term basketball decision as well. But again, going back to Butterfly Effects, what if Ray Allen misses that three pointer in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals and the Spurs win the Championship? What if that fuels the Heat to come back and beat the Spurs instead of the other way around? Would LeBron still be leaving the Heat.

I just can’t shake the feeling that literally every single thing that had to happen for LeBron to come home did happen. Call it luck, fate, karma, serendipity, coincidence, whatever you want. When the Cavaliers’ ridiculous Season of Huh came to an end back in April, there was no chance LeBron was returning. None. But so many things fell into place, and now LeBron is back.

Make no mistake, nobody on the Cavaliers’ side deserves any credit for this. Not Dan Gilbert, not Chris Grant, not David Griffin, not Kyrie Irving. The only person who gets credit is LeBron. He’s the one who made the unprecedented decision to return to his roots. I said in last Friday’s podcast that in so many ways his decision was a validation of home. If him leaving was a reflection of Cleveland’s deepest insecurities, his return is a tip of the hat to the fact that there really is power in the idea of the hometown hero and prodigal son coming back to reclaim his birthright. This is truly one of the most remarkable sports stories to happen in my lifetime, and I can’t wait to get the next phase of this journey started.

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A quick thought on that two-year deal

I realized immediately when LeBron’s two-year contract was announced that all he was doing was making sure he maximized his earning potential. I read LeBron’s letter, of course. I believe him when he wrote “I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there.” After crafting such a beautiful letter with SI’s Lee Jenkins, it’s hard to imagine LeBron leaving Cleveland again.

But this is Cleveland. Strange things happen in Cleveland sports. Unimaginable things. The future is bright now, but what if Kyrie doesn’t mesh with LeBron and regresses? What if the Cavaliers decide not to trade for Kevin Love and Andrew Wiggins turns into a bust? What if LeBron and David Blatt don’t get along? What if Dan Gilbert and LeBron find it too hard to coexist? What if all of those things happen and a situation presents itself where LeBron and Kevin Durant can go play for the Lakers together?

We hope LeBron never leaves again, and I’d say the smart money is on LeBron retiring as a Cavalier. But I’m not willing to say there is zero chance he ever leaves again. There’s a bit of an unknown to all of this because we are in some seriously uncharted waters here. I thought ESPN’s Bomani Jones made some great points on this subject on Twitter over the weekend:

I think it’s easy to say “Hey, LeBron and Dan talked it out and they’re all good now and everything is going to be ‘happily ever after’ in the end!” But we don’t know that. The odds of LeBron leaving in a year or two are slim, but it is a possibility. This isn’t anything we should be freaking out over, we just have to hope the Cavaliers’ front office can make the right moves to keep the team competitive moving forward and that Dan Gilbert can mostly stay out of LeBron’s way.

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What is Love worth?

Because it’s so important for the Cavaliers not to squander this second-chance opportunity with LeBron, it makes the Kevin Love trade situation so fascinating. The Cavaliers must do the right thing here. But what is the right thing? Some would say the Kevin Love is a known quantity and the Cavaliers should just trade Andrew Wiggins for him right away rather than risk Wiggins being a bust. Others point to the salary difference between Love and Wiggins and the potential for a long term title run with a young potential superstar like Wiggins.

The truth is, there is no obvious right or wrong answer here at this point. The only certainty is that at this point in time, right now, the Cavaliers absolutely should not trade Wiggins for Love. There’s no reason to even entertain the idea. The Wolves don’t have a quality offer on the table from another team that the Cavaliers need to be worried about. The Cavaliers can be patient, wait until the trade deadline, see what other players that we’re not even thinking about right now become available, and then decide based on seeing Wiggins play a couple months whether or not they want to trade him.

Make no mistake, though. Kevin Love is an incredible basketball player. Very few bigs are as skilled as Love. He can shoot, pass, rebound, handle the basketball, etc. He’s been an All-Star in three of his six seasons. He has won a three-point shootout. The Cavaliers are always said to have failed to deliver a Pippen to LeBron’s Jordan, well, on Basketball-Reference’s ’Similarity Scores’, the second comparison to Love is Pippen. You put Love on a team with Kyrie and LeBron and you would like to think the Cavaliers are absolutely the favorites to win the East and compete for an NBA Championship. And that’s what this is all about.

But you had better be sure about that. You have to be absolutely certain that Love’s defense won’t be too much to overcome, especially when you also have Kyrie on the floor at the same time. You have to be certain Love won’t fracture either of his hands again (he has fractured his left hand once and his right hand twice already in his brief career). You have to be certain that Kyrie, LeBron, and Love are good enough to win a Championship.

Why? Because the moment the Cavaliers trade Wiggins for Love, that’s it for the team building exercise. With the contracts of Kyrie, LeBron, and Love the team will basically be in the same situation the Heat were in, being able to only sign players using Mid-Level and Bi-Annual exceptions and veteran minimums. There’s something scary about just jumping into the deep end like that.

If it were up to me, I would do exactly what the Cavaliers are doing right now. I would be patient and wait. I would tell the media every day that Wiggins is going nowhere. I would keep the pressure on the Wolves. Because the Cavaliers are in the better position here. If no trade happens, the Wolves lose Love and get absolutely nothing back in return. But for the Cavaliers? Life goes on with Kyrie, LeBron, and a bunch of really young, developing players. And like I said earlier, the Cavaliers can still make another trade. It’s not Love or bust. Other really good players will become available at some point in the trade market.

If the Cavaliers traded Wiggins for Love today, yes, they would be a better team this season. But they would lose all flexibility. Keeping Wiggins for now not only keeps the team’s salary more flexible, but it gives the Cavaliers four (FOUR!) young, developing players who should benefit from playing with LeBron and Kyrie and can eventually be used in trade offers. Wiggins, Waiters, Bennett, and Thompson can all grow into nice looking trade pieces if needed. Or maybe they develop into a young core of supporting players on a dynastic run of NBA Finals appearances.

The point is, there’s a fine line between going for a title now and maintaining flexibility. You can’t have flexibility forever. At some point you have to strike and maximize assets to go after the title. There’s plenty of time for the Cavaliers to figure this stuff out. There’s no reason to do anything right now. The longer the Cavs wait, the more pressure there will be on Minnesota to get a deal done. If the Cavaliers can eventually make a deal where they get Love and also keep Wiggins, well, the future will look brighter than it ever has for any Cleveland sports team in my life. If they trade Wiggins for Love, this upcoming season has potential to be special and the future will still be pretty exciting. If they make no trade at all, the future looks good to me, as the team still has young players, flexibility, and the tools to make other trades. It’s a pretty nice position to be in.

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That’s it for me this week. No new music to really talk about as we’re still stuck in the annual July rut for new releases. I’m enjoying The Leftovers still, but I don’t have much to say about it right now. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly is all going on. In truth, the LeBron news pretty much put me into a pop culture hiatus for a few days.

I hope everyone has a great week, and maybe next week I’ll have a more diverse set of topics to discuss.

 

 

NBA Musical Chairs, ClevelandRox, and Losing My Voice, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday WFNY! I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend. Now it’s time to get back to business.

It’s July 8, 2014…exactly four years after the original Decision. I don’t expect the 2014 Decision to happen today, but I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on what it was like around this time in 2010. There were so many emotions involved in those final days of the 2010 free agency process. It’s interesting to look back at the roller coaster I went on back then. On July 7, when we found out about Wade and Bosh going to Miami, I wrote this. I still was feeling confident. I just couldn’t believe he would join Wade and Bosh in Miami.

On the morning of July 8, we woke up to the horrible reality that LeBron was going to Miami. But even then, I still wanted to hold on to hope. Even in the face of overwhelming reports of LeBron going to Miami being a virtual certainty, I just couldn’t allow myself to give up. Then, after the aftermath of The Decision, I wrote on July 9 that loyalty in sports was dead.

It’s a little tough to go back and re-read the things I thought on those days. It’s funny to see how much my perspective on sports has changed in the four years since. Of course, a lot of that is probably a direct result of everything that happened on the night of the Decision. Just remembering how raw the emotions of that night were, it makes it seem even crazier to me that there seems to be a chance LeBron could return. I have no clue what’s going to happen in these next few days. I honestly feel like all of these recent reports and optimism have all come from external sources. By all accounts, LeBron has shut himself off from everyone. I remain pretty skeptical that he’s going to come back to Cleveland. But if nothing else, this week has been fun. Unlike last time, the Cavaliers have nothing to lose. And that has been a very fulfilling point to keep in mind.

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The NBA’s game of Musical Chairs

If nothing else, the NBA’s free agent market this offseason is starting to feel like a fun little game of Musical Chairs. Or maybe “Duck, Duck, Goose” is the better game. With so many rumors swirling, you wonder which free agents and which teams are going to be safe inside the circle, and who might potentially be left out.

As of Sunday, the Knicks were pretty confident that Carmelo Anthony would be returning. They were reported to be expecting Carmelo to announce his return on Monday. However, on Monday afternoon the Rockets reportedly offered Chris Bosh a max contract. This is where things get interesting. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst was on Mike & Mike in the Morning on Monday morning, and he said that LeBron has cut off communication to pretty much everyone, including people with the Heat. He said there have been a few texts between the Big 3, but beyond that, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are just as in the dark as everyone else regarding what LeBron is going to do.

With the uncertainty of LeBron’s future, Chris Bosh is now said to be at least considering taking the Houston deal, even though his preference remains to return to Miami with LeBron. But now Carmelo has held off on announcing anything. Some speculate it’s because he remains torn between the Lakers, Bulls, and Knicks, but others have suggested that perhaps Carmelo is now waiting to see if Bosh takes the Houston deal. If he does, then Carmelo could see if he could sign with the Heat and bring LeBron back.

Of course, knowing this, Bosh seems likely to wait and see what LeBron does first before deciding what he’s going to do. But what if in the meantime Carmelo goes back to Houston and, seeing how much they offered Bosh, says he’ll take that deal? In that way, Carmelo could actually put pressure on Bosh to act first or risk losing out on the Houston deal and possibly seeing LeBron sign somewhere other than Miami.

Phew. Did you get all that?

I’ve said from the beginning and I continue to maintain that I think these rumors have gotten out of hand and that the odds of LeBron returning to Cleveland are being blown way out of proportion. In reading the tea leaves, it just seems like the source of all this speculation comes from external sources on the periphery of LeBron’s inner circle. In other words, some of the Akron/Cleveland people who want LeBron to return are using the media to put pressure on LeBron to do just that. By all accounts, LeBron has gone completely ghost. So I just don’t trust all these reports. Windhorst said there’s only three people he believes when it comes to info about LeBron’s future: one is LeBron and the other two are unnamed sources presumably in his extreme inner circle. Windhorst said he hasn’t heard anything about LeBron returning from any of those three.

I fully admit there seems to be something weird going on. I think when Bosh and Wade opted out, they fully believed that they were working with LeBron. But there have been reports that Wade and Bosh are a little confused by LeBron’s silence and isolation. There are reports that Miami is starting to feel a little uneasy and unsure. But at the end of the day, Pat Riley is going to get his face to face with LeBron, and I have a feeling Riley will get the job done and secure LeBron’s return. I think LeBron will have a hard time saying no to Riley and perhaps to a greater extent, a hard time saying no to Dwyane Wade after Wade opted out of $42 million just to facilitate keeping the Big 3 together. From there, Bosh and Wade will return, as will Ray Allen most likely. That gives them a core of LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Allen, Norris Cole, Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger, and Shabazz Napier. Udonis Haslam would probably return as well.

That’s not the greatest team to project going forward, and the Heat will always have trouble finding cap space to sign free agents. But it’s good enough to walk through the pathetic Eastern Conference the next couple years, and from there, the Heat would be playing for a Championship every year. There are plenty of good reasons for LeBron to return to Cleveland, but Dan Gilbert continues to be one gigantic reason for LeBron not to. And you better believe Pat Riley will spend a good portion of his meeting with LeBron making that exact point, while illustrating the obvious differences between himself and Dan Gilbert. I want LeBron to return to Cleveland, but as long as Gilbert owns the team, I just don’t see it happening.

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Guess who’s back?!

One of the most beloved Cavaliers of all time is finally back in the NBA…sort of. Delonte West has seen his shares of ups and downs. Recently Slate.com ran this amazing feature on Delonte, asking the question ‘Why isn’t Delonte West in the NBA?’. Well, it appears Delonte is being given a chance:

Now, obviously, being on a Summer League roster isn’t the same thing as being on an NBA roster, but it’s a start. And this is the beautiful thing about the Summer League. In addition to rookies and undrafted free agents trying to make their way into the league, the Summer League also offers a chance at redemption for players who have somehow found themselves adrift from the league.

I think I speak for almost all Cavs fans when I say I wish Delonte the absolute best of luck and I truly hope that this can lead to a future back in the league for Delonte.

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#ClevelandRox!

I think this is one of the more interesting PR campaigns I’ve seen in quite some time. For anyone who may have missed it, the Indians and Rockies are teaming up to ask their fans to vote for Corey Kluber and Justin Morneau for the final All-Star spots in the AL and NL, respectively. The campaign is using the hashtag #ClevelandRox.

The Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies have teamed up to get Tribe starter Corey Kluber and Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau into the All-Star Game through the All-Star Game Final Vote.Fans can vote online at Indians.com or MLB.com/vote through Thursday, July 10 at 4PM ET. Votes on Twitter will count on Thursday from 10AM-4PM; fans are encouraged to use #VoteKluber, #VoteMorneau and #ClevelandRox.

I don’t know if it will be effective or not, but it’s just fun to see these two small market teams combining efforts to try to get their guys voted in.

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Album of the Week

Finally, we have our new music release of the week. Now, I know this is going to look like favoritism, but my vote for new album of the week goes to WFNY’s own Craig Lyndall, whose new album “Losing My Voice” is out today under his band’s name, The Company Line.

Yes, Craig is a good friend of mine so I’m hardly objective here, but in case you guys haven’t figured out by now, I take music discussions seriously. I wouldn’t recommend this album if I didn’t think it was up to par. To begin with, you need to read Craig’s backstory on how and why this album came to be:

During that consultation the surgeon casually mentioned that part of the surgery would temporarily relocate a nerve connected to my vocal cord and that one of the risks of surgery was that I could lose my voice.As a singer and songwriter, this was terrifying to me. I am not prolific as a songwriter, but I always go back to it when I have something I really want to say. It was eating me alive that I had unrecorded songs that could be lost forever so I decided to do something about it. A week before surgery, I recorded these six songs to document that moment in time when I thought I might lose the ability to ever sing again.

And that’s my favorite thing about this album. I absolutely love music that carries a purpose, and Craig delivers on allowing that sense of urgency to carry through. There’s a great dichotomy between the fragility of the future of his vocals and the way he pushes his vocals to the limit on some of these songs.

Thankfully, the surgery was a success and Craig’s worst fears weren’t realized. But there’s still a very real and raw power in this songs. Despite his simple setup of just an acoustic guitar and his voice, you can hear his resolve in his delivery and the lyrics themselves.

I hope you guys at least read the backstory and then listen to some of the songs. I hope some of you will enjoy it, and if you guys want to learn or hear more, you can check out the following links:

Backstory | iTunes | Amazon MP3 | Spotify

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Anyway, that’s it from me this week. Between the Cavs Summer League games starting on Friday and the free agent market coming close to reaching it’s resolution, I have a feeling we’ll have some more good stuff to talk about next week!

WFNY Roundtable – What is Miami’s next move?

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Hey, did you guys hear the news? LeBron is coming back!!!!!!

Well, ok, that might not be true. It’s probably not true. But somehow we find ourselves in a world where there seems to at least be a realistic possibility of The Return happening. So naturally, we decided to discuss the issue in one of our Roundtables. Specifically, Craig wanted to find out everyone’s thoughts on what the Heat can realistically do to improve their roster.  [Read more...]

Kyrie’s staying, Klinsmann’s “American-ness”, and The Leftovers, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday, WFNY! And Happy July!

Sometimes July can be a bit of a dull sports month for me. I’m not exactly the world’s biggest baseball fan, so sometimes the month can be a bit of a drag for me. But not this July. The World Cup has been the most exciting World Cup in my memory, and it lasts through July 13th. Then we have the NBA’s Summer League. The Cavaliers will once again participate in the Vegas edition of Summer League. It runs from July 11th through the 21st. In fact, the Cavaliers play the Bucks on the first day of Summer League, which means we’ll get to see the first Andrew Wiggins vs Jabari Parker matchup. Finally, the Browns start Training Camp on July 25th, just four days after Summer League wraps up. Not to mention NBA free agency will be ongoing all month.

So there will be no shortage of things to occupy my sports interest this July.

*****

Kyrie is one loyal Cavalier!

Well, he’s a rich one, anyway. I had pre-written a segment last night about Kyrie for this morning’s WWW. When I woke up and saw the news that he had already agreed to sign, I was naturally ecstatic, but it also meant I had to completely scratch my Kyrie section and write a new one from the start. And you know what? I am perfectly fine with that.

I happened to still be up at midnight for the official start of free agency, and I decided to be smart ass and tweet:

I figured there was a very good chance that this would drag out a bit as both sides worked out some details. Boy was I wrong. Just a couple hours later came the tweets from Dan Gilbert, Adrian Wojnarowski, and my favorite one of them all, this tweet from Kyrie Irving:

Look, far be it from me to try to put a damper on anyone’s jubilation. Nobody is a bigger Kyrie fan than I am, and today is one of the happiest mornings I’ve had as a Cavs fan for a very long time. A 22 year old two-time All Star PG just decided to sign the longest contract possible to stay in Cleveland. The cynics will say “of course he did, it’s just about the money and now that he has the contract done he can try to force a trade out of Cleveland”. I’m cynical about a lot of things, but Kyrie Irving is not one of them. Despite all the external speculation about his relationships with coaches and teammates and his burning desire to get out of Cleveland, the fact is he has always said the right things and, outside his one big mistake on Fan Night a couple years ago, he has done the right things and represented the Cavaliers in a way that we should all be proud of.

There’s a good portion of the fan base that has never warmed up to Kyrie and has chosen to blame him for most of the Cavs problems. Maybe they’re right. Maybe it is mostly his fault. I can’t say anyone is right or wrong, it is only my opinion that the Cavs problems have been much more with the players, front office, and ownership issues than with the one really good basketball player this team has actually had.

I feel like some fans have kept Kyrie at a distance in part because of latent feelings of mistrust and heartbreak over LeBron leaving. It takes time to let someone back in after getting burned like that on national TV. But I hope now that Kyrie has shown he means it when he has always said he wanted to be here long term, some of those fans will start to loosen up and just enjoy Kyrie Irving for what he is rather than judge him for who he is not.

We don’t always get good days being Cleveland sports fans. But today is one of those good days!

And now back to my debbie downer stuff that was written before Kyrie agreed to sign…

*****

Will the Cavaliers be free agency players this summer?

I want to say yes. I really do. The Cavaliers have plenty of cap space as is, and they can more or less create as much cap space as they need. They have an exciting young core in Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson (I guess). They have an intriguing new coach. They have incredible facilities and an owner who is more than happy to spend. And they have a pretty great fan base, too (if only that was a bigger factor….or even a factor at all). So why shouldn’t they be a free agency player?

The problem is, right now, it’s hard to find any information on any players being linked to the Cavaliers. I searched the web all over for rumors of any player having any interest in Cleveland whatsoever1. I found nothing.

That’s the hardest part of being a Cavaliers fan sometimes. It’s fun to fantasize about big free agency moves the team can make, but the reality is, free agents just aren’t interested in Cleveland unless the team is willing to overpay them to a degree that other teams won’t match. It’s just a brutal and harsh truth to swallow.

On Yahoo! Sports’s list of the Top Ten NBA Free Agents, not a single one is linked to Cleveland. NJ.com made a list of the Top 25 Free Agents and listed the top three most likely destinations for each of them. The only ones that had Cleveland in the list of three potential destinations are Lance Stephenson and Andray Blatche. ESPN.com did a roundtable discussion of the top free agents, and Cleveland wasn’t mentioned once anywhere. Lance Stephenson was mentioned as one of the most likely to be overpaid, so maybe Cleveland is inherently implied there. Finally, USA Today released their list of Five Teams to Watch When Free Agency Starts. No mention of Cleveland.

We’ll see what happens. I’m sure the Cavaliers will sign someone, but it just might be more of an Earl Clark type signing than a Chandler Parsons type deal. I hope I’m wrong. I hope David Griffin can succeed where Chris Grant failed and really bring in some exciting free agent targets. But history is not on Cleveland’s side.

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But at least the Cavs have Andrew Wiggins!

Last week I had WWW duties on Tuesday before the draft, so I still didn’t know who the Cavaliers were going to take. And while I was heartbroken over Joel Embiid’s injury, I had decided that I just wanted the Cavaliers to do the safe, smart, and relatively boring thing and take Andrew Wiggins. So I was ecstatic when they did just that.

When I say it was the boring move, I mean comparatively. In recent years the Cavs’ drafts have been an adventure. It was so enjoyable to have a nice, calm, relaxing evening knowing the Cavaliers had the player who was the consensus #1 pick for most of the previous year.

I don’t know how good Wiggins will be. Projecting potential is tricky. But I saw a photoshopped image of Wiggins next to 18 year old LeBron. I was struck by how similar their body types were. Not to say Wiggins will be even close to LeBron, but the photo got me thinking, what would have happened to LeBron’s draft stock had he been forced to go to college and then played in a system that maybe wasn’t exactly a perfect fit for him? Would playing in the slow constraints of 35 second shot clocks and deliberate offenses have hurt his stock at all like it did Wiggins? Perhaps.

I mean, there’s no reason to think LeBron wouldn’t have destroyed college players. He’s the best player in the world. But even thinking back to LeBron’s rookie year, as exciting as he was and as bright as you could see his future was, he wasn’t anything close to the dominant player he is today. These things can take time. So I hope fans can be somewhat patient with Wiggins as well. If Wiggins can grow into his body even to a degree half of what LeBron did it will only help his game. Wiggins may never be the physical presence LeBron is, and it’s silly that I keep mentioning their names together. It’s completely unfair to Wiggins. I just wanted to point out that Wiggins is an incredibly exciting prospect and the Cavaliers organization is unbelievably lucky to have won the lottery and have him. Now it’s up to the team to both be patient with him and also develop his skills and put him in the best position to succeed.

Anyway, check out Scott’s incredible Wiggins profile from yesterday. No matter what happens in free agency, this is a time to be excited about the Cavs and to allow ourselves to have a little hope.

*****

USMNT will win in whatever way is necessary

Today is a big day for another reason. The US team will face Belgium in the first knockout round of the World Cup today at 4:00 pm ET. I’m more nervous and excited for this game than I was for the Ghana game four years ago at this same point in the tournament. I feel like last World Cup the US felt a little lucky to have advanced thanks to Landon Donovan’s incredible late goal. This year, I feel like the team is more on a mission, making a statement by advancing out of the Group of Death.

I really want the team to capitalize on this opportunity to show the world that US soccer is on the rise and that Jürgen Klinsmann is changing the very perception and definition of what “US Soccer” stands for. I’ve made no secret of my personal admiration for Klinsmann and what he is trying to accomplish for the sport inside this country. But he is leaving behind a trail of scorned doubters along the way.

I’ve seen some criticism lately of Klinsmann’s philosophy of going out and recruiting multinationals to play for the US. It’s this idea that Klinsmann’s German heritage is an affront to what being a “real” American is all about. But this was a country founded on principles of inclusion. This country has been and continues to be far from perfect in that goal, but the American Dream stands for something real.

I suppose in a perfect world it would be nice if the USMNT only featured “true blue” Americans. I guess. But where would this team be without those multinationals? It was John Brooks who put in the winner against Ghana. It was Jermaine Jones whose incredible strike turned the tide against Portugal. Fabian Johnson has been one of the most consistent players for the US in the World Cup, flying down the sides and keeping possession for the US in attacks. When Jozy Altidore went down against Ghana, it was Aron Johannsson who stepped in and did the best he could. All of these players have one thing in common….they are all American citizens. They may not live in the US, English may not be their first language, they may not “look like us”. But they all have at least one American parent and they all are citizens of this country.

Klinsmann is dreaming big. People may not have liked his comments about it not being realistic to think the US can win the World Cup, but I think they missed the point he was trying to make. He’s trying to grow something special in the US Soccer establishment, and he’s not just trying to win this World Cup. He’s looking even bigger picture than that. And his first step was to raise the talent level of the entire team by looking at all Americans, not just those who are “real” Americans.

By bringing in some multinational Americans to elevate the play of the USMNT, Klinsmann is banking on elevating the national awareness of the sport as well. The US team has now made it to the knockout round in consecutive World Cups for the first time ever. That’s a huge achievement. But they can’t stop there. It’s time to start making some consistent noise in the knockout rounds as well. So today is a huge day for the team and the sport in general in this country. But even if they lose, I don’t think it’s the end. I think it’s only the beginning for future opportunities for this team. Those who only tangentially follow the sport may not care for all of Klinsmann’s antics, but I get what he’s doing and I’m really happy he’s in charge of US Soccer. I just hope he can follow through on his vision, and a big part of that starts today against Belgium.

This piece is a little old, but I loved what Aaron Gordon wrote for Sports on Earth on the topic of Klinsmann and his perceived “American-ness”:

American soccer differentiated itself from the European game only because it had to. Italy could have played an attacking style at any point, but it chose not to until recently. In the 1950s, Brazil adopted an individualistic, talent-driven style, because they had five of the best forwards in the world on the same team. England typically has deployed a rough defensive style, relying on long balls, because it fit their talent pool. Likewise, American soccer has relied on physical prowess and lots of running, because that’s what you do when you don’t have the instincts and skills to be in the right place at the right time. The team developed its identity not to align with American ideals, but because it was not very good at soccer.

But we are getting better, and as a result we are evolving. Largely due to an influx of continental players, the U.S. team has options now and is reaching beyond its previous identity, the way a toddler goes from a crawl to a walk. It’s a natural progression of a growing, improving entity, and here again, it has very little to do with a national identity.

We are not that different from Europe, but we are very different from what we imagine ourselves to be. The German journalist Josef Joffe once said that America is “less a country [than a] canvas, a continent-size Rorschach blot, on which to project their own preoccupations.” His observation holds true for American soccer. We can look at the same manager and come to two diametrically opposed conclusions as to whether he is a representation of American ideals, because America is whatever you want it to be.

*****

The Leftovers

Time to wrap up WWW with this week’s pop culture segment.

I don’t know if Lost is my absolute favorite drama of all time. But it’s Top Three for sure, right up there with Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. I was on board with Lost from day one through the finale. I loved every second of it (with the exception of some of the middle parts of Season Three before the writers had set an end date for the show). As a result of my love of the show, I’ve been anticipating the new HBO drama The Leftovers for quite some time.

The Leftovers is based on the book by Tom Perrotta, and the show is being run by former Lost show runner Damon Lindleof. The show debuted last Sunday and….well…I don’t know how to feel about what I saw. Keeping this spoiler free, the premise of the show is that suddenly 2% of the world’s population just disappears in an instant. And nobody knows why. Was it the rapture? Was it something scientific? Was it something supernatural or alien? Nobody knows. And the show doesn’t really care, either.

You see, the show starts three years after the disappearances. Rather than focusing on the mystery of what happened, where those people are, and whether or not they’ll ever return, the show instead deals with those still living and how their lives have changed in dealing with the unexpected losses. The world of The Leftovers is dramatically different from the real world, but those still there try to masquerade their world as normal. To varying degrees and using dramatically different methods, everyone is just trying to cope.

And that’s where my issue with the show’s debut was. This was hands down the most wholly depressing pilot I have ever seen. I thought The Walking Dead was bleak, but that show has nothing on the soul-sucking emptiness of hope, happiness, and fulfillment we see in The Leftovers. There are no signs of redemption, no indicators that life is going to get better. In fact, there are clues that things are only going to get worse.

The show was directed by Peter Berg (of Friday Night Lights fame) and Lindleof and Perrotta are working together on the show’s script and direction. So there’s no reason this show shouldn’t be a success with those three guys leading the project. But I don’t know. I just don’t know if I can take a whole season of this show’s emptiness. I want to like this show, I really do. So I’m going to give it the whole season to win me over. But at some point I hope there is something to cling to. Some kind of chance for redemption for these characters. Otherwise, watching these zombie-like shells of human beings just wallowing their way through abject misery just might be a little too much even for me.

But I’d love to hear from you guys. If you watched the premiere, what did you think? Are you excited for more, or are feeling the same apprehension that I am? Let me know in the comments.

That’s it for me this week. I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July, and I’ll see you guys here next Tuesday!

I believe that we will win! Go USA!

 

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Footnotes:

  1. with the exception of a certain someone who I do not believe will really consider coming back []

According to AP report, the Cavaliers have traded Alonzo Gee

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On Thursday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers decided not to draft Joel Embiid, the center prospect with the fractured foot. However, that doesn’t mean the Cavaliers weren’t still in the market for acquiring other centers with fractured feet.

According to the AP, the Cavaliers traded much maligned Alonzo Gee to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Dwight Powell (who was taken with the 45th pick in Thursday night’s draft) and center Brendan Haywood. Powell was a first-team All-Pac 12 power forward for Stanford last season who possessed excellent athleticism and will try to bring a face up game to the Cavaliers. Haywood missed all of last season with a stress fracture in his foot.

As for Alonzo Gee, this ends his roller coaster time with the Cavaliers. Initially brought on as an undrafted free agent in 2010, Gee won over the team and many fans with his hustle, effort, and defensive ability. Gee carved out a role for himself on the team, playing 24 minutes per game his first season with the Cavs. But as expectations for Gee grew in Cleveland, his performance began to decline into a bit of an inconsistent period of frustration. After averaging over 30 minutes a night the previous season, Gee saw his minutes dwindle to around 15 per game under Mike Brown this past season.

Gee finishes his 4-year period in Cleveland averaging 8.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game.

[Related: Cavs draft sharp-shooting Joe Harris with No. 33 pick]

Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY

Coach Blatt, NBA Draft, and Soccer in the USA, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday, WFNY!!!

I spent much of Monday pretty down. It took me a long time to recover from the most gut-wrenching draw I have ever felt. Going in to the USMNT’s match-up with Portugal, I was just keeping my fingers crossed for a draw. But I wouldn’t have been hoping for that if you would have told me the US would be up 2-1 in the 95th minute. No, I would have told you to take your draw and shove it. That one hurt deep, but it was a meaningful hurt. For a World Cup loss to hurt this much, it means that the US was actually playing for something. That the team actually matters and is a legit player in this tournament. Today is a new day, and I’m feeling so damn proud and excited for the USMNT. I cannot wait for Thursday and to see what our future in the World Cup looks like.

I know you guys didn’t come to WFNY originally for soccer, though, so I promise I shall try my absolute best to not go overboard in talking about the World Cup today. But I do have some things to say about the US team, the sport in general, and outlook of the game in the United States. So I’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s take care of some house cleaning. A lot has happened with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the week since my last WWW, so lets talk about the Cavs!

Fate is not an eagle, it creeps like a Blatt

If nothing else, all the easy puns will be fun. The Cavaliers hired David Blatt on Friday and will be introducing him to the fans and media at a Wednesday press conference. As I said last week, Blatt was the coach I wanted. Recycled coaches like Vinny Del Negro and Alvin Gentry just didn’t excite me. I was somewhat intrigued by Tyronn Lue for no other reason than he would at least be something new and really smart basketball people seemed to like him. But to me, Blatt was the combination of experience and winning pedigree that I cherished. Now, granted, that experience and winning happened overseas and not in the NBA, but I refuse to believe that someone who has won everywhere he’s ever coached is incapable of adapting and adjusting to the NBA.

This was something that was years in the making. Indeed, fate is not an eagle. It takes dedication, perseverance, and hard work. All of those qualities led Blatt to this moment in his life, where he finally gets a chance to showcase his coaching skills on the world’s biggest and greatest basketball stage, the NBA. And it might take time for him to fully adjust and to figure out which parts of his style work and which ones do not, but I sure hope Dan Gilbert gives him the time he needs to do so. Because when he gets it to click, I truly believe he is going to be a successful NBA coach, and I’m pretty happy that he’s going to try to figure it out in Cleveland.

I also think that hiring Lue as an associate head coach was another really nice move by the franchise. It’s obvious the Cavaliers think quite highly of Lue, and having him be there as a resource on today’s NBA for Blatt should help smooth the transition from European basketball to NBA basketball. To get your top choice as head coach and then to get your second choice to come in as an associate head coach is a pretty nice luxury.

So……what now???!?!?!?

Joel Embiid. You have got to be freaking kidding me. My dream scenario was to hire David Blatt and to draft Joel Embiid, and everything looked good last Tuesday. I felt like everything was lining up for the Cavaliers to get my favorite center prospect in many, many years. And then we find out that he has a fractured foot. [Insert profanity bleep here]

It’s funny because I still believe Embiid will end up being the best player in this draft. But to do that, he has to be able to stay on the court, and the risk is just too great for the Cavaliers to use the #1 overall pick on him. If the Cavaliers stay in the No. 1 spot they’ll choose from either Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins. I’m probably going to change my mind a hundred more times before Thursday, but on this Tuesday morning, I’m a soft-lean for Wiggins. I saw limited amounts of college basketball this season, but I never saw Andrew Wiggins look better than Jabari Parker. To me, Parker looked like one of the best college basketball players all year. He had a level of consistency that Wiggins couldn’t touch.

So why am I leaning Wiggins? I don’t know. I don’t like the reports that Parker is overweight, I don’t like that he doesn’t play defense, I don’t like that he’s a bit of a SF/PF tweener. I am far from convinced that Wiggins will be a great NBA player. But I see the upside. I like that Wiggins feels like a more natural SF than Parker does (to me, anyway). I like that Wiggins will defend. I like Wiggins’ athleticism and the room he has to grow.

I don’t like Wiggins or Parker near as much as I like Embiid, but I have to let that go. Unless the Cavs trade out of the #1 spot, that is…

The Cavs almost certainly are not going to trade out of the #1 spot

This is the time of year when rumors run rampant and fans all freak out and assume the worst. Most of the information we’ve heard so far has come from Sam Amico1, and he notes that the Cavaliers have talked with the Jazz, Sixers, Timberwolves, and Magic in the last day alone.

But it was this tweet that got most of the attention:

There seems to be a sense that the Utah rumor is the one that has the most legs. On Twitter, Cavs fans began freaking out about the Cavs trading out of the top spot in the theoretical best draft in about five years.

NBA draft rumors definitely fall under the Candy Corn Principle. You know, the theory that every fall you try candy corn, somehow inexplicably forgetting just how awful it really is. The same thing happens with the NBA draft. Every year there are a million rumors and everybody panics and freaks out about them all, but then none of the rumored trades ever seem to actually happen. Oh, there are lots of trades during the draft. But they are almost never the trades that were rumored just days before.

This is simple. The Cavs will float all kinds of stuff out there. They are going to talk to as many teams as they can, and each time they’re going to try to get the other team to up their ante. If the Cavs get some kind of unreal, absolute home run of a trade offer that guarantees them more success in the future, sure, then maybe they would do it. But until that happens, this is all just posturing in preparation of Thursday’s big event. Unless something crazy happens, the Cavaliers will pick someone at #1.

Now, having said all that, the Utah offer is somewhat intriguing. If I was the Cavs, I would consider moving down to find myself in a position where it’s acceptable to draft Embiid. But you can’t risk the player you want not being there at No. 5. So I would draft Wiggins or Parker No. 1, then wait and see if the player I wanted was there at No. 5. If he is, then I tell Utah we can do the trade. Otherwise, you just hang on to the guy you picked and you move forward.

Regardless, I still think the chances of the Cavs trading out are awfully small. I fully expect the Cavs to keep their pick, whoever it ends up being.

Ok, so lets talk soccer for a second

The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, mainly because almost everywhere outside of the US and Canada, it is everyone else’s favorite sport. For so long the US have felt like outsiders in the World Cup, impostors who who show up to the concert wearing the shirt of the band who is playing that they went out and bought that day just to wear to that show. For the first time since I started paying closer attention to the sport in 2002, I feel like that’s starting to change.

The match against Portugal, while wholly deflating, was also an eye opener. Yes, Portugal is an overrated team and they obviously have some serious issues. I fully expect them to lose to Ghana on Thursday. But still, this is one Europe’s elite teams and the US didn’t just hang in there against them. For most of the match, the US took it to them. They looked like they belonged. They had real soccer credibility.

One of the best things about following soccer in America is that we are lucky enough to have the Men In Blazers who, if you’re not familiar with, are two Englishmen living and working in America who have one of the absolute best podcasts in the world. During the World Cup they’ve been doing video blogs of the events, and I just loved the post-Portugal episode:

That video is kind of long, but I encourage people to at least watch the first few minutes. In soccer, you never want to overreact to any single match. It’s not that kind of sport. Developing momentum takes a span of many, many matches over many months. But under the leadership of coach Jürgen Klinsmann, team USA really does feel like they are at last starting to develop an identity.

But more importantly, there are just so many positives to take out of the Portugal match. The US has never fought back like that when trailing in the World Cup before. They weren’t scared or intimidated by Portugal. They weren’t star struck by Ronaldo. The US didn’t just feel like they belonged, they believed that they were the better team and that they were going to win.

Every year when the World Cup comes around people mistake American nationalism for American interest in soccer. While World Cup success certainly helps maintain American interest in the sport, the more important part is what happens when the World Cup is over.

NBC Sports did an amazing job covering English Premier League soccer last season. If they continue to do what they’re doing, they will continue to grow organic interest in the sport. “An MLS”2 has more talent than ever before. I’d like to see the league raise its television profile a bit. But the biggest thing happening for the sport inside America is Klinsmann’s vision.

When Klinsmann was hired, he wasn’t hired because he had some strategic idea of how to win with the current players. No, he was hired because of his vision for what soccer could be in America. More importantly, he had ideas on how to capitalize on and achieve that vision. It starts with building brand identity and delivering a style of play at the top that is inspiring and fun to watch. He’s not all the way there, but over the last 18 months we’ve seen that vision come more and more into focus with this team. From there, it’s about building from the ground up with youth academies and spreading the philosophy grassroots-style at a young age. Call it the indoctrination of American soccer, if you will, but Klinsmann is not just a coach, he’s a visionary for where soccer is going in America.

It may not ever be on the level of the Big 3 sports in the US, and that’s fine. But soccer fans in America will be happy seeing some more elite athletes starting to not just play soccer, but play it in a style that fits into Jürgen’s plans. Klinsmann has taken a ton of heat from the press and even some fans in recent months. Not taking Landon Donovan was highly controversial. Saying that the US can’t win the World Cup this year ruffled some feathers. His comments about US athletes being rewarded for past success rather than what they bring in the present really made some people mad.

But for all the hand-wringing over his comments, Klinsmann has kept his team together and continued to get them to buy into his vision. Time and time again Klinsmann has seen his substitutes come into the game and make a huge impact on the outcome of the game. He is acutely tuned into his team and he absolutely knows what he is doing at every step on this journey.

The US may not advance out of the Group of Death. I don’t expect them to secure a point against Germany and like I said, I expect Ghana to beat Portugal. So the US’s fate is really up in the air as far as I can tell. And I don’t want to just be satisfied with a nice showing in the brutal group. No, I want the US to advance. I want them to win a game or two in the next round. But if Thursday should be their last match, I’m still pretty proud of this team and I’m excited about the future.

Album of the week

Finally, we wrap this up with this week’s selection for new album of the week. This week is a no-brainer for me. Mastodon’s new album “Once More ‘Round the Sun” is out and once again Mastodon shows why they are one of the absolute best bands on this planet today.

There just aren’t many metal bands that really excite me these days. And while Mastodon are certainly considered a metal band, they absolutely transcend metal with their versatility and musicality. Make no mistake, this is one of the most technically proficient bands you will find, but they balance it with a firm grip on excellent songwriting. From rhythm to melody, no stone is left unturned and no aspect is overlooked. This new album has been streaming on iTunes for the last week, and it’s once again another predictably great album. I can’t say enough great things about this band.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuMjmQMZu5A

And that’s it for me this week. We’ve got the draft on Thursday, and I have a feeling we’ll be discussing it more on WFNY this week and for sure in next Tuesday’s WWW. Have a phenomenal week everyone!

 

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Footnotes:

  1. Amico can be a polarizing figure, but with the Plain Dealer having an open spot on the Cavs beat, they could certainly do a lot worse than Amico. He has been pretty much the only consistent source of information coming out of the Cavs media this offseason []
  2. that’s a Men In Blazers inside joke []

David Blatt advised not to take Cavs job, but to take assistant job with Golden State

blatt

On Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers finally sat down with former Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach David Blatt to discuss the team’s vacant position. But how did it go? According to David Pick, it went well.

But who is David Pick, you ask? According to his Twitter profile, he is a Senior Correspondent with Eurobasket.com and ONE.co.il, as well as a contributor to Sportando.com. But more importantly, Pick is the guy who has been on top of the Blatt situation from Day 1.

It was David Pick who spoke first-hand to Blatt to ask him about interviewing with the Cavaliers. It was Pick who announced that Blatt was holding a press conference to announce he was leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv for the NBA. From the start, Pick has been all over the Blatt story. Having covered him so much for European basketball, it’s clear Pick is well connected on this story.

So why am I going so far out of my way to prop up Pick and defend him against doubters? Well, because right after he tweeted about how well Blatt’s interview went, he followed it up with this tweet:

Ouch. Remember, Blatt is 55 years old. He’s not exactly a spring chicken with plenty of time to find a head coaching job. If he were to get a head coaching job today, he would already be the eighth-oldest coach in the league1.

It would be easy, then, to discount Pick’s report as nonsense. How could anyone possibly tell Blatt he should take an assistant job rather than a head coaching job? Well, it all goes back to the Cavalier organization. I said from Day 1 that, regardless of whether Mike Brown deserved to be fired or not, removing a coach after one season carries consequences. On top of all the other talk about Dan Gilbert meddling with team affairs and having unrealistic expectations of his basketball people, you have the simple reality that the Cavaliers do not resemble a stable, professional organization. They are, quite frankly, a mess.

That doesn’t mean Blatt won’t take the job (or that the Cavs will even offer it to him, for that matter). It just means that it’s abundantly clear just how poorly outsiders view the franchise. While Dan Gilbert is running around behind Griffin’s back trying to lure big-name high-profile college coaches (and getting rejected left and right no matter how much money he throws at them), Griffin is left interviewing the reasonable candidates.

But what if Griffin wants to hire Blatt, and Blatt turns him down because of the advice of his advisors? Gilbert is playing an extremely dangerous game here if all the reports are true. He is undercutting his GM’s authority and tarnishing the reputation of the franchise.

As a fan, it’s just extremely disheartening to see that advisors to a 55-year-old highly successful Euopean basketball coach are telling him it would be better for him to go be an assistant for another team (where he would be working under a rookie head coach none the less) rather than be a head coach for the Cavaliers.

Cavs fans are now stuck hoping either a) the reports about Gilbert’s meddling in the coaching search are untrue, b) the report of Blatt’s advisor’s are untrue, or c) Dan Gilbert will finally acquire some self-awareness and realize that despite what I’m sure he feels are best intentions, he is hurting this franchise. Otherwise, it’s a long, bleak road ahead of the Cavaliers this summer.

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Footnotes:

  1. The seven coaches currently older than Blatt are Gregg Popovich, Flip Saunders, Dwane Casey, Tom Thibodeau, Larry Drew, Terry Stotts, and Kevin McHale []

Learning from the Spurs, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday, Cleveland!

Not a bad couple of days, eh? First we got to enjoy a little Schadenfreude on Sunday night as the Spurs won the NBA Championship over the Heat. The Cleveland Indians have now won three straight games and are 2.5 games behind the Tigers. Then last night we got to experience the incredible US victory over Ghana in their opening game of the World Cup! It was two of the most fun sports days I’ve had in quite some time. For the USMNT, though, that was theoretically supposed to be the “easy” part. Now the US has to move on to play two of the top four teams in the FIFA World Rankings in Portugal (No. 4) and Germany (No. 2). Joe Mastrantoni will have more on this later today, but Portugal surely didn’t look like the No. 4 team in the world in their 4-0 loss to Germany yesterday. If the US can muster a draw against Portugal, they will be in decent shape to advance as long as they don’t get blown out by Germany.

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When will it be our turn?

As fun as watching the Spurs beat the Heat was, I found the feeling a little bittersweet as well. Watching Tim Duncan hug his kids and seeing all the emotion in the players, I found myself reflecting on how much fun winning Championships are. I was in Tempe when Ohio State beat Miami, and I’ve seen my beloved Red Wings hoist four Stanley Cups in my life, so I know the feeling. But I so desperately want to experience the feeling with a Cleveland team. I don’t care if it’s the Cavaliers, Browns, or Indians. Any of them will suffice.

Yesterday Terry Pluto some notes on what the Cavaliers could learn from the Spurs. I thought it was a pretty good piece, as the only way to be the best is to learn from the current best and to try to find ways to achieve and surpass their level. One thing is abundantly clear, though. The Cavaliers are so far away from playing at a level even half of what the Spurs showed in that series. Of course, then again, even the Heat couldn’t achieve a level half of what the Spurs brought. But the point is, the Cavaliers have some work to do.

It starts at the top. I talked a little about Dan Gilbert last week, and I continued to be conflicted about the Cavs owner. Yahoo;s Adrian Wojnarowski talked about the Cavaliers’ coaching search this weekend. In it, he wrote:

Cleveland has narrowed its known field to three candidates, including Los Angeles Clippers assistant coaches Alvin Gentry and Tyronn Lue, but owner Dan Gilbert has continued to pursue high-profile college candidates in a far less public, far more clandestine process, sources said.

So, yeah, that’s still going on. This was put into stark contrast with the Spurs owner Peter Holt two nights ago. After being awarded the Larry O’Brien trophy, Holt was asked what his secret was to the team’s prolonged success. His answer was pretty simple. “My secret is these guys behind me [the players], Coach Pop, and [GM] RC Buford. That’s my secret. It doesn’t start at the top, it starts with them.”

Well, he’s half right, there. It does start at the top, but it starts by hiring the right people (not the “flashy” people, but the “right” people) and then staying out of their way and letting them do their job. If Gilbert doesn’t trust David Griffin to hire the coach, then he never should have given the job to Griffin.

Anyway, this will be a big week for the Cavaliers. They are interviewing David Blatt on Wednesday, and there are rumors of a second interview for Mark Price this week. The Cavaliers will also host Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker for workouts this week. Ideally the coaching search will conclude this week, and then next week the Cavaliers will have to either make their #1 overall pick or else find a suitable trade. It kind of feels like the first step in trying to get to the Spurs’ level starts this week.

In addition to Gilbert staying out of the way of his basketball people hired to make basketball decisions, the Cavaliers can learn a couple things from the Spurs. For starters, a franchise big man goes a long way. To expect any big to have the kind of career Tim Duncan has had is probably a fool’s errand, but still, the Spurs have shown the value of having an anchor to build around in the front court.

A lot has been said in recent years about the declining value of big men. I don’t quite see it that way. Just because we haven’t seen many franchise centers in recent years doesn’t make them any less valuable. I’m not saying Joel Embiid will definitely be a top 3 center, but having a top 3 player at any position in basketball is so valuable. Kyrie Irving isn’t there among PGs yet, but if he continues to learn and adapt his game, he has the talent to be close to a Top 3 PG. If Embiid can grow into the player I think he can, he’s got a great chance to be a Top 3 center. We just haven’t seen many (any) players quite like Embiid in such a long time. Yes, the back is a question mark, I realize this. But if you want to model yourself after the Spurs, locking up a big man like Embiid might be a good idea.

Then, if Kyrie signs his max deal, you can go to work with Irving and Embiid. You need a couple guys who can defend and rebound, you need some floor spacing shooters, and you need a coach who can get the players to run a system, buy in, and sacrifice good shots for better shots with quality ball movement. That’s where David Blatt comes into play. I didn’t know much about Blatt other than his name prior to him being discussed as a candidate. But I’ve been watching some videos of his teams, and I love the offense he runs. He emphasizes movement and passing in a way that isn’t totally unlike the Spurs.

Look, I don’t know for sure how good any of these guys will be. I’m not a scout, I’ve never interviewed any coaching candidates. So I’m not saying these are for sure the best moves for the Cavaliers. I’m just saying if you want a blueprint to follow, I think Embiid and Blatt are the best guys to try to replicate what the Spurs are doing.

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Yes, I really, really, really want the Cavaliers to draft Embiid

This isn’t a new article, but back in January the Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy had an excellent profile on Joel Embiid. It’s remarkable when you reflect on just how new Embiid is to the game of basketball and how incredibly far he has come in his short time playing it. He is such an impact player already, but he hasn’t even scratched the surface of what his real potential is.

I also love that he learned basketball by studying tapes of Hakeem Olajuwon. Olajuwon is one of my favorite centers I’ve ever seen play the game. He had such control and grace for his size, and he was capable of dominating opposing centers of all shapes and sizes. While everyone was reflecting on how dominant the Spurs were in this NBA Finals, I was reminded of when Olajowon’s Rockets faced off with Shaq’s Magic in the Finals, and Olajuwon absolutely ate Shaq alive.

Again, in the interest of slowing expectations, none of this is to say Embiid will be what Olajuwon was. I’m just saying that if there’s anyone I would want someone with Embiid’s size, athleticism, and coordination to emulate as best as he could, it would be Hakeem. I just think Embiid is the player most capable of impacting games equally on both ends of the court. And he seems like a really great kid and the kind of teammate and worker I would want on the Cavaliers.

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Were LeBron’s teammates worse in 2014 or in 2007?

The 2007 Cavaliers are sometimes cited as one of the worst teams to ever make the Finals. After getting swept by the Spurs, the team was recognized as being little more than LeBron James carrying a bunch of other players who couldn’t pull their own weight.

The 2007 team was a lot different than the 2010 team that LeBron turned his back on, but it was still said that LeBron had to leave the Cavaliers because he had to do too much by himself in Cleveland. He needed his superstar teammates in order to find Championship success, they said. But by 2014, those superstar teammates are starting to resemble the 2010 Cavaliers more and more. But is it possible that in reality they have been playing even worse than that 2007 team that got swept by the Spurs?

Deadspin thinks so:

Here’s how bad it was: Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined to post a game score of 18.5 (7.9 and 10.6, respectively). In 2007, when LeBron and the Cavs were swept by the Spurs, Drew Gooden and Boobie Gibson combined for 17.5. This is not flattering company, obviously. If you expand to the teams’ top seven non-LeBron rotational players, the ’07 Cavs actually pull ahead, with a combined Game Score of 42.2 to the ’14 Heat’s 36.2. (The average cumulative game score average for the numbers 2 through 8 players in a Finals is 47, because generally, teams in the Finals are good. The Spurs 2 through 8 combined for 66.) Which is to say, LeBron had more help in the Finals in 2007 than he did this year.

Obviously the 2014 Heat have more talent than the 2007 Cavaliers had, but this year’s Heat team has easily looked like the worst iteration of the super team that assembled in 2010. LeBron finds himself in a tough spot. If he leaves Miami, he will earn a bit of a reputation as a guy who kept changing teams and chasing glory rather than bringing glory to his teams. But on the other hand, staying in Miami will probably still guarantee the Heat an annual trip to the Finals thanks to the pathetic Eastern Conference, but winning Championships will get increasingly more difficult every season.

Whatever LeBron decides to do this summer1, there’s a certain irony in finding himself looking at a scenario not all that unlike the one he left in Cleveland just four years ago.

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Red, White, or Blue?

Have you ever wondered how teams in the World Cup decide which color uniforms to wear? Well, it turns out, they don’t. FIFA makes the first choice, and then it’s up to the officials to confirm the pick of colors. I’m not the biggest uniform guy in the world. We have Rick and Kirk here at WFNY who cover that stuff much more closely than I do. But I found this piece on how US Soccer’s equipment is handled to be a really fun and interesting read.

In a tournament the size of the World Cup, there are just so many little details that you don’t even realize that people are thinking about. This is just one small part of it, but it sort of puts into perspective just how much work goes into making the World Cup run as smoothly as possible. This article handles the individual team’s equipment, but there are issues of accommodations, safety, fan experience, contingency plans, etc, etc, etc.

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Album of the Week

Some pretty decent new music coming out this week, and my absolute favorite album coming out this week is the debut album “If Anything” by the Canadian band Greys. Coming from the Toronto scene and having a very similar sound to Metz, the comparisons are only natural. But whereas Metz has a consistent sound throughout their whole album, Greys push the envelope a little and try to color outside the lines a bit more and perhaps take a few more chances.

So far, Cloud Nothings’ “Here and Nowhere Else” has been my unquestioned favorite album of 2014. Greys is the first album that I think can legitimately give Cloud Nothings a run for their money for my top spot. Yes, I think this album is that good. Anyone who likes punk influenced music that tips its hat back to the glory days of grunge with a little Fugazi mixed in, all while still sounding modern will enjoy this album.

Other albums coming out today that I’m looking forward to checking out include:

  • Boris – “Noise”
  • Cerebral Ballzy – “Jaded and Faded”
  • Lower – “Seek Warmer Climates”
  • The Antlers – “Familiars”

That’s all I have for you guys today. I hope everyone has a great weekend and hopefully next week we’ll have a new Cavaliers coach to talk about.

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Footnotes:

  1. for the record, I think he stays in Miami. I just don’t think he says no to Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade []

Dissecting Dan Gilbert, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday everyone!

I know everyone hates hearing about other people’s fantasy teams, and I’m not going to try to bore you with too many details. But three weeks ago my team was in 11th place (out of 12). I had high hopes for my team this year, but it just absolutely sputtered out of the gate. However, after huge wins of 15-3, 13-5, and 14-3 over the last three weeks, my team suddenly finds itself in second place.

In many ways, my team is like the real life Cleveland Indians. On May 19th, the Indians stood at 19-25. They were dead last in the division and 10.5 games behind the Tigers. As of Tuesday morning, the Indians are now 33-31 and just two games back. It’s been a remarkable turnaround, and a welcome one at that. I don’t expect the Indians to catch Detroit, nor do I expect them to make the playoffs again. But summer is just so much more fun when your team is playing good baseball, both in real life and with your fantasy teams. And if the Indians can keep riding this hot streak, who knows, maybe they will even exceed expectations for the second year in a row.

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Are we still with Dan Gilbert?

withgilbert-237x300There’s been a lot of weird news coming out of the world of the Cleveland Cavaliers lately. First we heard from media out of New York that the Cavaliers might be giving second thought about offering Kyrie Irving a max extension next month. Then Terry Pluto reported that not only are the Cavaliers going to offer Kyrie the max, but they never even hesitated for a second. Then we heard about Dan Gilbert offering a monster contract to John Calipari to become both coach and President, despite already hiring David Griffin as full time GM. But then later Monday the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd had a rather confusing report with conflicting information about the timing of Gilbert’s discussion with Calipari. There have been wide-spread reports about Gilbert’s overbearning and heavy-handed approach to this coaching search, yet there are other reports that he didn’t even talk to candidates in the first round of interviews and that he will be meeting with Tyronn Lue and Alvin Gentry this week for second interviews.

Did you get all that? It’s a lot to take in. So what’s going on here? Is the franchise really this dysfunctional that nobody is on the same page? Or is this just some misinformation being spread to protect the secrecy of the team’s plans? I have no idea. I’ve stood with Dan Gilbert since the night of The Decision. As I’ve said on many occasions, while I understand why people took exception to the infamous letter, as a Cavs fan, I loved it. For the most part Gilbert has been exactly what I want an owner of my team to be. He’s passionate, ambitious, willing to spend money on the team, and above all else, is desperate to win. But is that desperation starting to become a problem?

There’s been a lot of talk about Gilbert on Twitter lately. People are losing their patience with him and feel he’s becoming a burden on the franchise. For many, the tipping point was the playoff proclamation last year. On one hand, I totally get it. The last thing we want to see is the team sacrifice long term success for short term meaningless gratification. But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a small part of me that feels conflicted about killing a guy for wanting to win. The Cavaliers have been atrocious for four straight seasons now. I’m tired of it and I’m ready for playoff basketball again. But what’s the best way to get there?

There’s some talk that the Cavaliers very well could draft Jabari Parker and hire someone like Vinny Del Negro or Lionel Hollins to chase that short term gratification. VDN and Hollins are coaches with playoff experience who have experience turning around long-term losing franchises. Jabari Parker is considered the safest of the top three prospects and the player who can probably help the most in year one.

But on the other hand, VDN and Hollins have their issues and there’s a reason they were let go from moderately successful teams. Nobody think Parker’s ceiling is as high as Joel Embiid or even Andrew Wiggins. Perhaps the better route is to get a young, fresh, hungry coach like Lue and to draft the player with the highest ceiling of all in Embiid, and let everyone develop for a year or two before the franchise can become a perennial playoff threat. And that’s where the consternation with Gilbert comes into play.

We all want to win. That goal is in complete alignment. But most fans don’t want the team to chase a year or two of low seeded early playoff exits. Most of us want to see the team build something that can last several years and have a chance at real contention.

It’s unfortunate to see Gilbert, by default the most popular owner in town, begin to lose the fan base. But even more troubling and unfortunate is the persistent talk of Gilbert’s ever growing influence on basketball decisions. When David Griffin held his press conference after being given the gig full time, he said that Gilbert had given him full control of basketball decisions and that he would be carrying out the coaching search. But if the things Adrian Wojnarowski and Jason Lloyd have written are true (and there’s no reason to think otherwise), then it seems Gilbert is running his own coaching search separate from what Griffin is doing. And that is a huge (HUGE) problem.

When coaches and GMs screw up, they can be replaced. But there’s no replacing an owner1. For better or worse, Dan Gilbert is the owner of the Cavaliers and he’s free to do whatever he wants to make as many mistakes as he cares to. And I’m not even saying I want Gilbert gone. For the most part, I’m still supportive of him as an owner. I’ve seen what lethargic, disinterested, absentee owners look like. I’ve seen what happens when an owner is hesitant to spend money. Gilbert is the kind of owner I want, I just want him to trust his basketball people to make their own decisions.

And maybe he will. Nothing has been done yet. Perhaps the Cavaliers will allow Griffin to name his own coach and the Cavaliers will pick the best player in the draft who gives the team the best chance at long term greatness. After all, this year’s coaching search is already about a million times better than last year’s. There’s nothing wrong with Gilbert doing his own due diligence. This is his team and that’s his right as an owner. Everything will come down to the degree to which the basketball folks get to make the basketball decisions. That will be Gilbert’s real test.

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Hey Donald Sterling, please just go away

Late last night, word broke that Donald Sterling has changed his mind (for about the 800th time) and now is going to pursue his lawsuit again. Whatever, Have fun suing yourself. When Shelly Sterling took control of the Clippers after two neurologists deemed Donald unfit to conduct his own business affairs, any leverage he had was gone. It was made even worse for him when Shelly indemnified the NBA against any lawsuits, including from Donald. So, if Sterling were to win the lawsuit2, it would be the Sterling Family Trust who would pay.

This is all just a lame attempt for Sterling to keep his name in the media and on the front page. He’s clinging to the last bit of relevancy he has left, and it’s both sad and annoying to watch. Even if he somehow succeeded in winning his lawsuit and blocking the sale of the team, he’s still banned for life. This is just a bunch of noise about nothing.

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It’s about time someone put FIFA in its place

Ok, while I may be a pretty big fan of soccer, I’ve always found it hard to get too excited about international soccer. I love watching the various professional leagues throughout Europe, and in my opinion, the Champions League offers some of the best drama, passion, and excitement in sports. But I’ve just never been as big on international cups. Of course, the one exception is the World Cup. Everyone who cares about soccer whatsoever gets excited for the World Cup. But one of the reasons why I have always been less interested in international cups has been because of FIFA, one of the worst sports governing bodies in existence. I knew they were bad, but I didn’t realize just how bad they truly were until this week’s episode of Last Week Tonight.

Now, I promise, I’m not going to post a John Oliver clip every single week. I hesitated posting this one since I just posted a clip last Tuesday, but with the World Cup starting this week and with WFNY’s World Cup coverage this just seemed too topical not to share. Enjoy:

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Forget about new music releases this week

This may be the one and only time that sentence is ever written by yours truly, but this week there is a much more important new release – the first season of HBO’s True Detective on Blu-Ray and DVD. If you missed the show on HBO, or if you don’t have HBO or access to HBO Go, this is your chance to catch up one of the absolute best seasons of a show in TV history. While I have no reason to doubt future seasons of this show, I also cannot fathom any way it will ever be able to top the epic performances of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in this first season. The story telling was phenomenal both in method and execution, the acting performances were great all around, and the directing and cinematography were insanely great for a TV show.

And in truth, this show sort of transcends the idea of television. It’s not the first or last to do this, but there are things being done stylistically in TV shows that we never could have imagined even just ten years ago. Calling True Detective a “TV show” somehow seems disingenuous. It’s not really anything. It’s not a TV Show, a miniseries, or a movie. It’s a self contained story, told in the best way possible.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you guys this week. Hope you all have a great Tuesday, and here’s to the Cavaliers hopefully making the right coaching hire and the right draft pick for the right reasons!

*****

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Footnotes:

  1. well, ok, Donald Sterling probably disagrees….but you know what I mean []
  2. which he probably won’t, considering the sale was conducted by the sole trustee of the Sterling family trust []

Vinny Del Negro and Net Neutrality, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday folks! I had a weird thought this weekend as the calendar turned to June already. I realized that we are basically a month away from the 4th of July, which I always consider the halfway point of summer. Because after the 4th, it’s just a month until August, which means the start of training camps for football, both college and pros, which thus means the start of the NFL season and autumn is just around the corner.

So yeah, on the first day of June, I found myself reflecting on how summer is basically over already. Anyway, we are 22 days away from the NBA draft. We are less than 100 days (93, to be exact) from the start of the NFL season. It’s a bittersweet realization because while I’m more excited for this Browns season than I have been for any in a long time, it also will mark the end of summer. Life can be funny like that sometimes. But the beautiful thing about sports is that they always give us something to look forward to. The only downside is that it seems like they always make the seasons pass on by so much quicker, because we are always looking forward to the next big event.

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Hey does anyone remember Kaz Tadano?

For those who don’t, he was a Japanese pitcher who played a couple seasons for the Indians back in 2004-05. He was known for his ability to throw some of the craziest pitches you would ever see, until he became known for something different. It led to one of the more awkward and unfortunate press conferences you could ever see. It may have only been ten years ago, but society was a lot different just ten years ago, and nobody seemed to quite know how to handle the situation.

Anyway, this isn’t about that. Tadano has since moved on and is back pitching in Japan. And man can he still throw some of the most bizarre pitches imaginable:

I realize the ump is caught off guard by it, but how is that not a strike?

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What to make of Vinny Del Negro?

The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to interview candidates for the vacant coaching seat. Last week the Cavaliers interviewed Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, and apparently it went well.

The Cavaliers followed that up with a talk with Alvin Gentry. The also talked with Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, and apparently that one went well too.

This weekend the Cavaliers also interviewed Vinny Del Negro. I haven’t seen any tweets saying how that one went, but VDN is an interesting case study. He sometimes seems like one of the most star crossed coaches in the NBA. He began his career with the Chicago Bulls. In his first year the Bulls improved from 33 wins to 41 wins. It was Derrick Rose’s rookie season and in the playoffs, the Bulls came incredibly close to knocking off the juggernaut Celtics. They lost in a seven game series that featured four overtime games.

In his second season, even though the Bulls once again finished 41-41, Derrick Rose was blossoming into a superstar and the Bulls played LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. The Cavs won, but the Bulls gave the Cavaliers all they could handle, with LeBron having to work extremely hard to help the Cavs gut out the four wins needed to move on. But it wasn’t enough for Chicago, and VDN was fired.

He was quickly hired by the Clippers, who went 29-53 the year before his arrival. In VDN’s three seasons he the Clippers won 32, 40 (in the 66-game lockout shortened season), and 56 games. Despite the Clippers having the best record in their entire franchise history in his third season there, VDN wasn’t offered a new contract.

He would be an incredibly unpopular hire with the fans in Cleveland, but there’s no denying he’s had some regular season success. He has a 210-184 record in five seasons. But he’s also coached Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul. Despite having some success, he’s been widely criticized for his coaching wherever he’s been. There’s a perception that his teams win games in spite of him thanks to the star players his teams have had. He clashed with Chris Paul in LA and it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t also clash with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.

VDN is one of those coaches that look good on paper. You can look at his successes and how tough his teams play, and you can convince yourself he’s the right guy to turn around the Cavaliers. But there’s a reason he has the reputation he has and why the thought of VDN coaching the team makes so many of us uneasy. Hopefully David Griffin can resist VDN’s siren song.

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Sometimes a silly segment can spark a serious thought

I’ve mentioned this before here, but I am a huge fan of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”. The show is topical, witty, sharp, and downright hilarious. John Oliver is absolutely killing it in this new platform.

On this week’s episode he dedicated the meat of his show talking about Net Neutrality. As Oliver points out, we’ve all heard of Net Neutrality, but how many of us really know what it is and what the repercussions of it are? So in the way only he can, Oliver brings everyone up to speed with a brilliant 13 minute rant about the future of the internet.

**Please note, the video contains NSFW language**

Again, WFNY does not have a singular editorial voice, so I am only speaking for myself here, but as someone who co-owns a moderately successful website, the issue of Net Neutrality has long been important to me.

What if ISPs relegate WFNY to a slower speed unless we pay a premium to get access to the faster service? We certainly don’t have the revenue to pay for it. And while I know that small sites like this aren’t the target of this issue, I’m worried about someday becoming collateral damage.

But as users and consumers, I hope we all realize that while the likes of Comcast and Time Warner will insist to us that this isn’t about charging us more money, it’s about charging the likes of streaming services like Netflix more money, the reality is that Netflix’s increased costs will be passed on to us, the consumers. Once again, there are enormous companies in Washington spending millions of dollars to influence legislation that will eventually force the average American citizens to have to pay more money.

If you don’t care about this issue, or if you are against Net Neutrality, I’m not necessarily trying to change your mind. But if you support Net Neutrality and want to see the Open Internet protected going forward into the future, I would only ask that you consider filing a comment with the FCC in support of Neutrality and the Open Internet by going here: http://www.fcc.gov/comments and clicking on Proceeding 14-28.

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Finally, the new music releases of the week

After an off week, some really, really great music comes out today for fans of punk-influenced rock.

Have a great rest of the week everyone, see you next Tuesday!

Johnny Likes Partying, While We’re Waiting…

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Hope everyone had an awesome Memorial Weekend. I spent most of mine with family enjoying copious amounts of food cooked on a grill. Other than watching a bit of the NBA Playoff games, I really didn’t see too much sports news this weekend and I didn’t get back into town until later last night, so this is going to be a shorter than normal WWW for me. I guess it’s better to just sort of ease back into things anyway, no? Let’s get started.

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Oh, the outrage!

One story I did catch was this rather laughable (in my opinion) piece from FOX Sports Ohio’s Zac Jackson in which he questions Manziel for partying in Vegas on his off days. This is nothing against Zac, who is normally pretty great, but come on. The Browns drafted Johnny Manziel in totality. You can’t just draft someone for their football skills and ask them to not bring their personality. It’s all the same person. Manziel likes the spotlight, he likes to party. That’s not going to change. But is it hurting him as a football player?

I’d probably like to see some evidence that it’s hurting him as a player before I would climb up on a soapbox and tell someone else how they should live their lives. The fact is, the Browns players had a free weekend. This didn’t happen during OTA sessions when he should be preparing for practice the next day. The whole point of an off weekend is to give players some time to get away and blow off some steam.

This is a young, exciting player who will be Cleveland’s biggest star if his on-field play lives up to his off-field persona. He’s going to party, and he’s going to do it very publicly. Texas A&M fans know all about it. It’s part of the deal. Cleveland fans and media always seem to have a very strict, unforgiving “right way to do things” mentality when it comes to this kind of stuff. I wish everyone would learn to loosen up a bit and let Cleveland athletes be themselves and have some fun.

If Manziel starts doing stuff like this on the Friday or Saturday night before a game, then we have something worth writing about and questioning. But telling athletes how we think they should spend their free time away from the team is a path I’m just not comfortable with whatsoever. I think WFNY will have more on this later today, so I’ll stop now so as not to step on anyone’s toes.

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Time to get serious about finding a Cavs coach

Well, after spending a couple weeks chasing down pipe dream candidates and big name college coaches who, of course, aren’t going to risk their cozy college jobs to come coach for a dysfunctional-until-proven-otherwise NBA team, the Cavaliers are finally getting serious and settling on some second tier choices.

According to Sam Amico, over the next two weeks the Cavaliers have a few interviews lined up. Some of the names include Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, Clippers assistant Alvin Gentry, and former head coaches Vinny Del Negro and Lionel Hollins. How fun!

I don’t know who I’m pulling for out of that lot. Probably Adrian Griffin, I guess. None of them really wow me too much. But as I’ve been saying all along, when you fire a coach after one year, there are going to be consequences. It doesn’t matter the reason why the coach was fired (unless, you know, he murdered someone or slept with the owner’s wife or something like that), it simply says too much negatively about the franchise. It speaks to a level of dysfunction and Dan Gilbert’s growing reputation as a meddlesome owner isn’t helping matters either.

I’m excited about David Griffin and the #1 pick and seeing how all of this is going to come together. But I’m a fan. I’m conditioned to always look on the bright side when it comes to the Cavaliers. A neutral coaching candidate who is primarily concerned about his own career and well-being will see things a little differently. Especially when he starts asking around and looking into the organization’s structural issues.

Still, there are only 30 NBA head coaching jobs. Like Mike Pettine, someone will be willing to risk it to have a shot and be one of only 30 people in the world to call themselves an NBA head coach. The task for David Griffin and Dan Gilbert is to find the best candidate who is willing to accept the job.

*****

A little early listening on this Tuesday morning

The Tuesday after Memorial Weekend is typically a pretty slow day for new music releases. Most bands don’t want to be lost in the post-cookout post-sun post-hangover haze of this day. So rather than talking about music coming out this week, I’ll instead point to music coming out next week.

Specifically, at Pitchfork Advance, you can now stream the new album “Glass Boys” from eclectic Toronto punk band F*cked Up1. Just as I was dying to see how Titus Andronicus would follow up their epic concept album “The Monitor”, I’ve been dying to see how F*cked Up would follow up their epic rock opera “David Comes to Life”. Much like Titus Andronicus, F*cked Up have chosen a back-to-basics approach. And like Titus Andronicus’ “Local Business”, “Glass Boys” really works as a follow up because of it’s return to the norm.

One of the biggest problems I had with Green Day is that they never knew how to come back from “American Idiot”. They’ve continued to try to get more and more grandiose, and they lost themselves along the way. “Glass Boys” is an anchor album, keeping the band’s feet tied to the ground. While the complexity of the guitar arrangements remain in tact, the song structures and themes are much more grounded and akin to their breakout album “The Chemistry of Common Life”.

“Glass Boys” comes out June 3rd and you can pre-order the album from Matador Records here.

Have a great four-day week back at work/school/life everyone!

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Footnotes:

  1. I really, really hate censoring band names, but we do have a family-friendly policy at WFNY and so the censored name is what we have to use []

Love Reign O’er Me, While We’re Waiting

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All you need is Love

In Kirk Lammers’ report yesterday on WFNY regarding Tristan Thompson’s status on the trading block, there was a part at the end about the Cavaliers making a run at Kevin Love. Now, granted, if the Cavaliers could somehow pull off a trade for Kevin Love, it would completely change everything about this team.

The Cavaliers haven’t had a consistent, reliable offensive player at the PF position since the days of Larry Nance (I wouldn’t use the words consistent or reliable for likes of Antawn Jamison or Shawn Kemp, the best offensive PFs the Cavs have had since Nance). Cavs fans have been conditioned to forget just how important and effective a frontcourt scoring option at the 4 is for team offense.

But are the Cavaliers really players for Love? Probably not. For one thing, Love wants to play in a big market or a marquee team. That isn’t the Cleveland Cavaliers. While I would still trade for Love and hope for the best when he’s a free agent next year, the Cavaliers might not see that as the best strategy. But what shows Kyrie Irving a commitment to winning more…trading for a 26 ppg and 12 rpg All-Star PF, or adding yet another draft pick and waiting for him to develop? I think the Cavaliers should go for it. Do whatever it takes to get Kevin Love, and see what happens when you pair two of the best players at their position in the NBA. If it doesn’t work and you lose both of them, then I tend to agree with WFNY’s Ben Cox:

Players like Kevin Love so rarely become available via trade. If the Cavaliers aren’t interested in pursuing a player like Love when he actually is available and the Timberwolves are open to trading him, then I’m not sure what the point of having a team is. The odds are slim of actually getting him1, but at least take a stab at it and try. If Minnesota and/or Love say no, then so be it.

When this franchise had LeBron James, they never did anything to add a real, legit 2nd All-Star to play beside LeBron, and it cost the team any chance of keeping LeBron. He left to go play with other good players. This feels like history frustratingly repeating itself all over again. The Cavaliers have spent three years of roster mismanagement with Kyrie Irving and haven’t come close to giving him another star quality player2. If there’s a chance to actually give Kyrie Irving this kind of teammate, I think the Cavaliers should do it.

I mean, come on, tell me this wouldn’t be fun:

***

On the other hand, what are the chances the Cavaliers can get a superstar sidekick in the lottery?

The NBA Draft Lottery is tonight, and obviously whatever happens will play a huge part in the Cavs’ offseason. I really think the Cavaliers are going to trade their first round pick this year or die trying. This roster is so insanely young and I don’t feel that adding more inexperienced youth that needs to develop is going to exactly help the Cavaliers.

But what if they get into the top 3? If that happens, they could still trade the pick. But in that case I don’t know if they would trade it for an expiring player like Love without an agreement on a contract extension first. But there could be some really good players still under contract who could get moved for a top 3 pick in this year’s draft. But even if they don’t trade it, a pretty good player can be had in the top 3 if they just keep it.

But alas, the Cavaliers don’t have very good odds. To demonstrate this point, I decided to open ESPN’s Lottery Machine and play the lottery just one time to see what would happen. Well, this happened:

nba draft lottery 2014

Hey, we can still dream, right?

***

Are you all scared of the vengeful retribution of Greg Little?

So Mr Little was picked up by the Oakland Raiders and he’s going to get his revenge on the Browns for cutting a player who saw his catches and yards decline every single year all while supplying the team with a frustrating amount of dropped passes? Well, ok then.

Look, it’s only natural for humans to want to stick it to the people who don’t believe in us. I can’t hold that against Little. But I also can’t sit here and pretend like the team wronged him somehow. They gave him three years to improve, and by all accounts he certainly tried. I’ll never question his work ethic. But he simply wasn’t good enough to be an NFL receiver, even on a team that desperately needs them.

***

When will the bass drop?

This weekend was the season finale of Saturday Night Live, and former cast member Andy Samberg was back to host it. Samberg, known for his hilarious and often non-sequitur Digital Shorts, made a new one which was absolutely one of his best ever:

I get why people listen to EDM and Dubstep music. I sometimes enjoy listening to it when playing video games. But I’ve never really understood the “live” performances of it. Anyway, Samberg does a pretty good job of poking fun at some of the funnier aspects of Dubstep.

***

If you’re not watching “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”, you’re missing out

When HBO announced they were giving John Oliver a weekly half hour news show, I think most people expected a Daily Show ripoff. To a degree, they were right. Oliver’s show does closely resemble John Stewart’s enterprise.

Yet there’s something different about Oliver’s style. I’m probably about to get crucified as a Stewart heretic, but I actually prefer Oliver’s approach to skewering the news and the people and organizations behind the scandals. While I think John Stewart is absolutely hilarious, there’s just something about his holier-than-thou smugness that feels heavy handed to me. Oliver isn’t any more forgiving with his targets, but he doesn’t it in a manner that focuses more on the humor and less on coming across like a sermon.

Plus, Oliver has another huge advantage: HBO. Being on the cable subscription service, Oliver is free to say, do, or show whatever he wants. There are no corporate sponsors to worry about offending and there are no censors to appease. He can literally say and show whatever he wants. It makes the show feel a little more free. Plus, by being a weekly show, Oliver doesn’t have the pressure of delivering every single night like Stewart does.

But I don’t want to pit the shows against each other. They are both great and they both have their place. I think the country is a funnier and more educated place because of these shows. So, ripoff or not, Last Week Tonight is an absolute riot and one of the things I most look forward to watching every week.

***

Finally, the album of the week:

Yesterday in Scott’s edition of WWW he mentioned The Roots’ new album. It was officially released this week and it’s a great listen.

But I’m going to go in a different direction for this week’s new album of the week. I’m going to give it to yet another Cleveland band, and it’s Herzog’s incredible new album titled “Boys”. It’s straight forward rock, the type of rock that Cleveland does best. This is a really great listen from start to finish and yet another band showcasing that Cleveland is still a city producing some really great rock music.

You can read Pitchfork’s review here and listen to the album below:

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Footnotes:

  1. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburn and Marc Stein say Love prefers the Warriors and Bulls, while Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is saying to keep an eye on the Celtics. Nobody is mentioning the Cavaliers as a possible destination []
  2. Luol Deng is close, and I can’t hold his ineptitude on the court against Chris Grant…how was he or anyone to know Deng would play as poorly for the Cavaliers as he did? []

So, Mike Brown was fired: While We’re Waiting

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Farewell Mike Brown….again – For the second time in his life, Mike Brown has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Acting GM was also given the job on a full time basis, and it appears his first move was to let Coach Brown go.

There are so many ways to look this. It’s deeply nuanced on so many levels. I’ve never held my admiration for Mike Brown a secret. I think he’s a pretty good coach with one of the best defensive schemes I’ve ever seen. With the right kind of players, his coaching style and philosophies can be really successful. However, Mike Brown’s successes and failures in large part depend on him having exactly the right pieces. He’s never been one to adapt his philosophy to the players he has. Rather, he asks his players to bend to his style. Unfortunately for him, that’s not how the NBA works. It is the ultimate players’ league.

There are plenty of reasons why this is a good move for the Cavaliers. Most importantly, the team massively underperformed to their massive expectations. Mike Brown was charged with getting this team into the playoffs, and he failed on that level. The “offense” was maddening. He was unable to reach these players and get them to buy into his system 100%. The inbounding issues were stunning. Nobody would look at this year’s Cavs team and feel they were seeing a well coached team. [Read more...]

The NBA Edition: While We’re Waiting

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My kingdom for a GM! – It’s really not a big deal that Dan Gilbert still hasn’t made any decisions regarding the Cavs’ coaching or front office situations. With the playoffs still going on, the draft is still a long way away and free agency is even further away. No trades can happen right now. For Gilbert, it probably makes a lot of sense to be patient and wait and see what GM and coaching candidates are out there and which ones might yet still become available.

But that doesn’t make it less frustrating for fans (and presumably for acting GM David Griffin). You have to believe Griffin would like to know his fate as soon as possible so he can make appropriate plans. From the fans’ point of view (and by no means should Gilbert take fans’ feelings into account), it’s just tough to look forward and think about what moves the team could make when you don’t know what kind of philosophy the team will have this offseason. [Read more...]

WFNY Roundtable: Latest Browns Draft Thoughts

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With the NFL Draft finally just a week away, we decided to take everyone’s temperature and see what they were thinking about the Browns draft possibilities. Check out the conversation below, and enjoy! [Read more...]

Boston Marathon, Donald Sterling, and TV Overdose: While We’re Waiting

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A few quick thoughts about the Boston Marathon – First, thanks to Craig for filling in for my WWW last week. The reason I wasn’t able to do it was because I was in Boston watching my sister run in the Boston Marathon. Shortly after qualifying for the marathon last year, my sister decided she was going to go ahead and run in this year’s Boston Marathon. So my parents, brother, and I all decided to head out to Boston to watch her run.

There’s not a whole lot to say that hasn’t already been said, but the one thing I was struck by was just how uneventful the event was. And I mean that in the best way. It was inspirational to see so many people run just one year after the horrific bombings last year, but everything had a bit of calming status quo feeling to it. There was definitely an increased police presence, but it wasn’t to the point of being distracting. Patriot’s Day was celebrated, the Red Sox played their early afternoon matinee, and the race was so well organized and handled that it was almost easy to forget the sentimental side of what the race stood for.

But above all else, I was mostly just incredibly proud of my sister for running the marathon. My sister has been a runner her whole life. She excelled in cross country and track in high school, she went to Youngstown State on a cross country scholarship, and despite working a full time job, being married and having two young kids, and coaching track on the side, she still finds time to run and managed to successfully train for and complete the Boston Marathon. All in all, it was a great weekend in Boston and I had an absolute blast just taking the whole scene in. [Read more...]

Through the Looking-Glass, and What the Cavaliers Found There

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Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

There’s a degree of order in life. Certain things fit together in ways that make sense. There are laws of math, and physics, and biology. Unbreakable truths. Anyone who has been watching the recent reincarnation of the show Cosmos on FOX has been able to look on with awe at the sheer depth of scale to the universe and life on earth. From observable galaxies that are billions of light years away to the beautiful complexity of life at the sub-molecular level, there are rules and order. The same laws of physics that govern our world apply to those billions of light years away.

None of those unbreakable rules of consistency apply to the 2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers. In a world of order, the Cavaliers are outlaws. They are agents of rebellion flying in the face of matters of consistency and basketball truths. Or, should I say, they “were” outlaws. The 2013-14 Cavaliers are no longer a fluid existence in the present, but instead are now frozen in time as a part of history. And when basketball scholars look back and study this team, what will they find? They won’t find answers, but more questions. That’s something everyone who lived through this season knows from personal experience. No matter where things go from here, this will always be remembered as one of the most confusing seasons in Cavalier history.

[Read more...]

Good riddance, Cavs season: While We’re Waiting

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Yet another uninspired crawl to the finish. We shouldn’t be surprised. This isn’t unique to the Cavaliers, necessarily. Teams in April playoff chases who get eliminated often coast to the end of the season. But just because it’s not surprising, it doesn’t make the end of this Cavaliers season any less disappointing. Above all else, that’s the word that defines this season more than any other. Disappointing. With a little frustration on the side.

This season couldn’t have been set up any better for the Cavaliers. For the first time in NBA history, the Lakers, Celtics, and Knicks all missed the playoffs. The Eastern Conference was historically bad. And yet even in this environment the Cavaliers couldn’t make the playoffs. They weren’t even all that close. With one game left to play the Cavaliers are 5.5 games out of the 8 seed. An 8 seed with a losing record. Six games under .500, to be exact. It demonstrates just how firmly entrenched at the kids’ table this team really is. [Read more...]

Cavs vs Pistons Behind the Box Score: Trees falling without making a sound

AP Photo/Mark Duncan

AP Photo/Mark Duncan

Don’t get me wrong…that was a fun game. The Cavaliers played some of the best team basketball we’ve seen this group play as they came out and just crushed the Pistons 122-100. But as fun as it was, it unfortunately didn’t matter. The Pistons quit a long time ago. They’re the same team who played a 76ers team on the verge of breaking the all time losing streak record. And the Pistons got killed by that Sixers team. So it wasn’t surprising that the Cavs were able to take care of business.

The fact is, the playoffs are gone, the Pistons are a team tanking as hard as can be, and so there’s just not much to take away from this game. Winning a game like this just doesn’t really mean much. You would like to think that the ball movement, spacing, and team scoring were all functions of a team developing and figuring things out. Unfortunately, it could just as easily be about playing a team that just doesn’t care anymore. And because I don’t want this to be coming across as too negative, I’ll point out that the Cavs legitimately deserve credit for caring. Or at least caring a lot more than the Pistons, anyway.

Now lets get into the numbers: [Read more...]