August 15, 2014

The NBA’s marketing machine is fantastic … While We’re Waiting

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“When’s the schedule coming out?” This was a text I received every few days since LeBron’s return to the Cavaliers. For weeks and weeks, many have been on edge. No official announcement came at first – the NBA had been said to want to delay the release to closer to mid-August.

Finally, there was news. The schedule was set to be released at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13 on NBA TV. The NBA’s marketing was brilliant. They had kept the free agency circuit on edge just enough to then kickstart an entirely new news cycle with the schedule reactions on their own network. [Read more...]

Charlotte joins Cleveland in running to host 2017 or 2018 NBA All-Star Game

quicken loans arenaEarlier this week, the Charlotte Hornets threw their hat in the ring for the right to host an upcoming NBA All-Star Game. A joint statement was released by the team and the recently founded non-profit Charlotte Sports Foundation.

Charlotte, which did not have a franchise from 2002-04, last hosted the All-Star Game back in 1991. Of course, if you may have forgotten, the other contender for the 2017 or 2018 game appears to be the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Not many other legitimate competitors are on the horizon. Portland had been a contender, but infrastructure issues derailed their 2017 bid. Orlando, which hosted the 2012 game, hopes to remain a future contender as well. There haven’t been too many other reports of interested host cities.

The upcoming schedule includes New York City in 2015 and Toronto in 2016. This season’s game will be played at Madison Square Garden, with Saturday festivities to be played at the Barclays Center. The Toronto announcement was made with much fanfare and lots and lots of Drake.

Previously, the Cavs had announced their intention to host a future game in spring 2012 and then submitted an official bid in spring 2013. The announcement about Toronto was made last September, but early reports are that the 2017 decision won’t come until later this winter or next spring.

Of course, the 2016 Republican National Convention will take place in Cleveland sometime that summer. Thus, necessary and centrally located infrastructure will likely already be in place for the city by the time of possibly hosting the NBA’s mid-season extravaganza.

Cleveland last hosted the NBA All-Star Game back in 1997, the year of the league’s 50th anniversary celebration. The Indians also hosted the MLB All-Star Game that summer and advanced to the World Series.

[Related from WFNY’s Scott Sargent at the 2014 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans:
On Crescent City, Community and Creation]

All the numbers on new Cleveland star Kevin Love

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota Timberwolves

Analyzing the statistics on the soon-to-be-acquired power forward

Where does Kevin Love rank in the NBA’s elite class?

Confidently, I’d say he’s a top-12 player. In case you haven’t done this exercise in a while, it is indeed very difficult to rank NBA players. We know pretty well that the top three are LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. From there … there are lots of possible directions one could go, both anecdotally and statistically.

ESPN Insider’s Kevin Pelton ($) recently argued that Love is a current top-five player. For me, that seems a bit too high too soon. Love is only 25 years old, after all1. He’s only a three-time All-Star. He missed most of 2012-13 and was inefficient when he played that season. He’s at best a purely average defensive player. Is he that concretely better and more dominant than Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard AND Anthony Davis? He’s maybe better than some, but not likely all. That’s why I prefer to say top-12 with confidence. And I hope to explain why in this post. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Here’s your scary reminder that Durant is three weeks younger than Love, but we never use age as an excuse for his ranking. []

Cavs team age, Dion Waiters interview and quick sports takes … While We’re Waiting

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Let’s talk about age. The Cavaliers are reportedly close to signing 36-year-old Shawn Marion. This is on top of the official signings of 34-year-old Mike Miller and 33-year-old James Jones. And the recent trade for 34-year-old Brendan Haywood. And the possible signing of 39-year-old Ray Allen. Suddenly, the Cavs look kinda old, no?

Oh well. Boo hoo. Last season, the Cavs were the seventh-youngest team in the league with a minutes-adjusted age of 24.9. Have they removed any youngins? Sure, some, within the necessary departures of recent draftees Tyler Zeller and Sergey Karasev and average-aged Alonzo Gee and C.J. Miles. But there’s no doubt the Cavs are much better. [Read more...]

Indians plan to renovate Progressive Field over next two years

indians stadiumThe Cleveland Indians are planning an “extensive renovation” of Progressive Field over the next two years, reported Tom Withers of the Associated Press on Wednesday evening. The plans are set to be unveiled during a press conference today.

Among the highlights: “interior and exterior modifications to the area stretching from center to right field” and a “modest reduction in seats.” In return, the team would then create more social areas for fans to congregate and mingle.

The first phase of changes, expected to be completed by the start of the 2015 season, will be privately financed. Future improvements could use a portion of the team’s proceeds from the May-approved Sin Tax.

The 43,000-seat Progressive Field is celebrating its 20th birthday this season. Eighteen new MLB stadiums have debuted since the opening of the parks in Cleveland and Arlington, Texas, in 1994.

One of the older stadiums, Kansas City’s 1962 Kaufman Stadium that hosted the 2012 All-Star Game, actually underwent major renovations from 2007-10. And one of those newer stadiums, Atlanta’s 1996 Turner Field, is actually set to be replaced by the 2017 season.

Last week, Crain’s Cleveland’s Kevin Kleps wrote about the team’s efforts to use analytics to study its attendance. The team is averaging an announced crowd of only 18,327 this season, second-worst in baseball only ahead of Tampa Bay.

The team’s top two attended games this season were Opening Day on April 4 (41,274) and the Omar Vizquel Hall of Fame induction on June 21 (40,712). In only two of the other 55 home games has the team surpassed even 30,000 paying fans. So certainly, reducing seats does not appear to be much of a concern.

None of the attendance issues should be news at all, either. The franchise’s average attendance dropped quickly from over 39,000 in 2001 to under 22,000 in 2003. According to past research from Crain’s Cleveland, season-ticket sales dropped from 15,000 in 2008 to only 8,000 in 2010.

[Related from August 2013: Why we shouldn’t be surprised by the Indians attendance]

Photo: WFNY, Jacob Rosen

Reds 9, Indians 2: Cueto is Cueto and Tomlin is Tomlin

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Baseball has a long, grueling and agitating season. Life might be especially annoying as a baseball fan of a .500 team.

When you’re a bad team, almost every game is bad. It’s like being a Cubs fan. When things are good, yes the expectations are high, but again, you’re winning. The ‘90s were so much fun. But the 2014 Cleveland Indians are the epitome of what can make baseball a frustrating sport.

Just after a four-game winning streak filled with drama and excitement, they fell back down to earth with a 9-2 loss on Tuesday to the Cincinnati Reds. It was the second game of this four-game Ohio Cup series. The two teams square off for the final two in Cincinnati starting tonight.

Johnny Cueto, one of the game’s best, silenced the Tribe’s bats and Josh Tomlin had a very disappointing kind of Josh Tomlin game. It’s an understandable loss. But at the same time, still maddeningly frustrating. [Read more...]

Indians trade Asdrubal Cabrera to Washington for Zach Walters

Asdrubal-CabreraAfter yesterday’s unloading of Justin Masterson, this can’t be much of a surprise: The Indians have traded long-time shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to the Washington Nationals.

In return, the Indians reportedly will receive 24-year-old infielder Zach Walters. He was Washington’s ninth-rounder in the 2010 draft. In 223 games for Triple-A Syracuse, he has a .262/.304/.516 line with 45 home runs. He has just 40 games and 52 plate appearances in the majors.

Paul Hoynes was first to report that Cabrera was being traded. Jordan Bastian reported that he was off to Washington and Nick Camino chimed in first with the Walters return.

At first, it appears to be a relatively light load for Cabrera, the 28-year-old soon-to-be free agent. Of course, Cabrera is making $10 million this season, so the Nats will likely be responsible for the final third of that payment.

In 914 games with the Indians, Cabrera finishes with a .270/.331/.410 line. He had an above-average bat for a shorstop, but was annually regarded as one of the game’s worst defensively. He was a sparkplug in the team’s 2007 playoff run and had his best career offensive season in 2011.

More reaction to come shortly. For now, stay tuned for the likely Jose Ramirez and Mike Aviles platoon at short. I wouldn’t necessarily expect this to trigger Francisco Lindor’s promotion — he only recently got moved to Triple-A.

Columbus no-hitter and Kevin Love almost cried? … While We’re Waiting

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Who threw a no-hitter?! While Corey Kluber was dealing in Cleveland last night, a Columbus Clippers starter broke history. Tyler Cloyd, a 27-year-old claimed off waivers last October from Philadelphia, threw the first no-hitter in Huntington Park history. Cloyd struck out six and his lone blemish was a hit-by-pitch in the ninth inning. He is now 9-5 with a 3.91 ERA in 22 games this season. [Read more...]

Cavaliers to reportedly play in Miami on Christmas Day

LeBron James will reportedly return to Miami for a nationally televised game on Christmas Day.

The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported the rumor late on Tuesday evening, citing a personal familiar with the situation. The schedule is expected to be released in the next week or two.

The Cavaliers-Heat game is set to take place “barring an unexpected change of heart by the NBA.” The game, much-desired by ABC, would likely take place at 2:30 or 5 p.m.

We’ve seen murmurs already of the Cavs reportedly playing the San Antonio Spurs on Opening Night. Certainly, the Cavaliers will receive dozens of national TV games this year — probably as many in one season as they’ve had in the previous four since LeBron’s departure.

Are you as a Cavs fan upset by the road game on Christmas Day? LeBron returning to Miami obviously is a bit more of a storyline than Cavs-Heat in Cleveland. There will be plenty other of hyped games at The Q this season, anyway.

Anthony Bennett pulled from pro-am tournament in Toronto?

Anthony Bennett had been one of many Canadian basketball players participating in the second annual OVO Bounce tournament this week in Toronto. He played on Monday in the pro-am and he started playing again on Tuesday. Nothing seemed noteworthy, just the slimmed-down and finally-breathing 21-year-old Cleveland Cavalier playing in front of some fans.

But according to various reports, he was then oddly pulled out early tonight and lounged around at the tournament. The move was reportedly made by Bennett’s agent and he will not play the rest of the event.

The tournament, which is being played at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto, is sponsored by Drake and named after his label, October’s Very Own. The eight-team tournament will conclude with Saturday’s fifth annual OVO Fest, also to be headlined by Outkast. Other participating players include Tyler Ennis, Jordan Clarkson, Sim Bhullar, Myck Kabongo and Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson.

Bennett’s agent was among the players in the tournament. So it’s certainly possible that there is nothing to be made of this little odd piece of news. But as always, we’re just passing along the update in case anything might be in the works. Of course, Kevin Love withdrew from Team USA amid his uncertain NBA destination status as well.

NBA expansion, Indians inconsistency and the Dayton Flyers rebrand … While We’re Waiting

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Warning: Today’s While We’re Waiting will be a Kevin Love-free zone. Please give me my peace. I need it, badly.

NBA Expansion?! SonicsRising reported yesterday that the NBA is having private discussions over possible expansion to two new franchises, one in Seattle and one in Louisville. With the upcoming TV contract negotiations, it’s not a shocking idea. Seattle wants one back desperately. Louisville’s infrastructure and basketball-loving character make some sense. Keep your eye on this, folks.

Personally, I have a lot of sympathy for Seattle and I’m a big fan of the city of Louisville. I remember when Louisville popped its head into the Sacramento Kings talks to try and take that franchise. This would be good for the NBA. Folks might talk about thinning out the talent pool, but I don’t see rational proof of that most anywhere. The league would work itself out just fine. [Read more...]

LeBron has talked to Kevin Love about playing in Cleveland

The murmurs continue: LeBron James has reportedly talked to Kevin Love about the possibility of playing together with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears reported the news on Thursday evening.

Love is enthusiastic about the idea of teaming with James on the Cleveland Cavaliers, sources said. James’ decision to sign only a two-year contract that affords him the option of again becoming a free agent at the end of next season has not tempered Love’s interest in joining James on the roster.

The report stated that a deal is still not imminent, but again cited sources on the topic of the Cavs’ willingness to include Andrew Wiggins. An interesting new caveat: A third team would indeed be likely for the deal to make plausible sense. Otherwise, the Cavs would likely be depleting their roster too much.

Golden State remains reluctant to include Klay Thompson in a potential trade for Love. Such a deal with the Warriors — including forward David Lee — would perhaps be a bit more logical. But with LeBron’s persistence, anything can change in a hurry.

We’ll keep you posted on anything new. Although a deal might not happen by the weekend, there’s certain to be continued buzz and updates.

Indians playoff odds, Craiglist, stats and Byron Scott… While We’re Waiting

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Holding out hope: The Cleveland Indians are 47-47 at the All-Star Break. There are only 68 games left to play in the regular season. In order to make the playoffs again, the Indians will likely have to go on a torrid second-half run yet again Last year, you might recall how I often updated the team’s playoff odds from three different outlets. Today, as we begin the second half, I’ll take a look at where those odds stand: [Read more...]

Cavs in talks with Larry Drew to join coaching staff

Former Atlanta and Milwaukee head coach Larry Drew has chatted with the Cleveland Cavaliers about joining the team’s coaching staff. The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn reported the news late Tuesday evening.

Drew was awkwardly fired two weeks ago as Milwaukee’s head coach. He was only 15-67 in his lone season with the Bucks, then the team went out and recruited the unhappy Jason Kidd away from Brooklyn to take Drew’s job. It was a pretty messy situation.

He coached the previous three seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, bringing them to the playoffs each year. But then the team went in a new direction as well, bringing in Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer to work under Danny Ferry.

It’s possible that Drew has received a tad bit of bad luck in both draws. Milwaukee had a bunch of injuries last season amid their overall suckiness. Atlanta’s been a perennial playoff team that has never seemed to have enough talent to make any significant playoff noise. It’s possible Drew wasn’t too much to blame.

But on Twitter, many Milwaukee fans chastised Cleveland’s interest. And it’s important to note that we’re also talking about Gary Washburn here. Washburn, if you recall, was lambasted by the national media — including Deadspin — for voting for Carmelo Anthony over LeBron James for the 2013 MVP award. So take this report with a mild grain of salt, although he is a veteran reporter.

The Cavs have David Blatt as their new head coach and Tyronn Lue as their new associate head coach. The Cavs made Lue one of the highest-paid assistants in league history. On the team’s website, Bernie Bickerstaff, Jim Boylan, Igor Kokoskov and Bret Brielmaier are still listed as holdovers from the previous regime. It’s uncertain how many more assistants Blatt might be looking to still add.

WFNY Roundtable: Should the Cavs trade for Kevin Love?

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And you thought that the Cleveland Cavaliers were done with lightning-rod debates for the summer? No, my friend, they are just getting started.

During the four days since LeBron James’ letter, Twitter has been on fire with all sorts of takes on the potential for a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love. To get a sense of where we all stand, I asked my Waiting For Next Year colleagues for their brief responses to the current rumors. Stay tuned for more posts to come soon and share your thoughts in the comments.

Scott Sargent (@WFNYScott): This won’t make for great debate, but I somewhat feel that the Cavaliers—especially David Griffin—will be in a no-lose situation. The decision, reduced to its most simplest terms, comes down to winning more games sooner, or delaying potential dominance, but with the window open a bit longer. [Read more...]

Dion Waiters is tremendous fun on Twitter

Dion Waiters, oft-criticized Cleveland Cavaliers guard, is on Twitter. A lot. He’ll stay up late at night retweeting his fans and admirers, sharing photoshops and pictures of them wearing his gear.

Over the past few days since LeBron James’ announcement, Waiters has been particularly excitable on Twitter. Below are a collection of some of my recent favorites. Here he is, a 22-year-old shooting down trade rumors and cementing his spot in the team’s starting lineup all in front of his 100K-plus followers. He’s a fan favorite for a reason.

Browns to unveil live bull mastiff mascot named Swagger

cleveland_browns_dawgReady for a hot sports take? I actually kind of like the name Swagger. It fits the Dawg Pound. It fits the momentum and energy carried over from May’s draft. It fits the tough-nosed defense and head coach Mike Pettine. It fits the revitalization of Cleveland. It’s hip and it’s young. It’s kind of like the Akron Rubberducks; the name is supposed to be over the top.

So if you haven’t heard the news yet, the Browns are set to debut a live dog mascot next season. Its name will be Swagger. The story has, quite predictably, made the rounds on national news circuits. 92.3 The Fan’s Chris Fillar broke the story via Kevin Griffin, the team’s VP of marketing. Fillar initially reported the dog will be a bulldog, but instead, he corrected himself to say it will be a bull mastiff. I’m slightly disappointed in that change but I’ll let it slide for now.

Either way, the Browns have promised more in-stadium excitement for a long time now. This likely came as a direct result of the team’s new Fan Advisory Board, with Griffin serving as the point person for that 20-person committee. Baltimore, Seattle and Denver are the three other NFL teams that use live animal mascots during games. Of course, the University of Georgia is famous for its long history of Uga bulldogs.

We have Chomps, we have the return of Brownie The Elf and now we have Swagger. I’m kinda digging it. Now, you are permitted to tell me how much you hate the name. Go.

How the CBA incentivizes LeBron to opt out next summer

lebron james cavsWhen news emerged of LeBron James’ contract details, most of Northeast Ohio was likely surprised and caught off guard. “He just committed to a long-term future in Cleveland, why only two years? Why an opt-out?” The clear-cut answer lies within the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, signed back in 2011.

LeBron is dead-on with his Cavaliers contract. If he truly wants to maximize his earnings – and as the best player in the league, he certainly deserves to – then he absolutely set up the right deal and his management team did a great job. Let’s start with the basics, all found via the fantastic Larry Coon CBA FAQ website.

Cleveland signed LeBron to the maximum possible salary for two years with a one-year opt out. They signed him as a free agent to their available cap space from the Miami Heat, meaning they signed him without owning his Bird rights. This is important when it comes to future raises.

Max deals signed without Bird rights carry only 4.5% annual raises from the first year’s salary. When signed with Bird rights, the annual raise is much higher at 7.5% (and contracts can include a fifth year, hence why players turn down money when signing away from their team). However, as a free agent, LeBron would guarantee himself at least a 105% increase on his previous year’s salary. Huh? Check out the math below.

lebron opt out info

By opting out, LeBron guarantees a minimum 5% raise, not the set 4.5% raise for max deals signed without Bird rights. The added 0.5% of his salary guarantees him of at least $100K more for the 2015-16 season. But that’s not the only reason why this is advantageous for LeBron. He’s thinking bigger.

The NBA salary cap actually increased by 7.5% this summer to approximately $63.065 million for the 2014-15 season. If the cap increases by more than just 5% for next year, LeBron would be advised to re-work his deal in summer 2015 and make more money with a new maximum contract based on that year’s cap number.

It is expected that the cap number will increase to at least $67 million next season and perhaps skyrocket even further. With the NBA’s new TV deal taking place for the 2016-17 season, the cap could go over $80 million in summer 2016. If the year-over-year cap increase is larger than 7.5% (LeBron’s annual raise with a new max with Bird rights), then again LeBron would be advised to re-work another deal.

So yes, it makes a ton of sense for LeBron James to go year-to-year for now1. It’s not necessarily an indictment on the Cavaliers by any means. It does mean that the circus of LeBron’s future will continue to be a topic and the Cavs will spend more money on his salary than if he had signed for the long term. But this is a pretty clear business decision.

William Perlman/The Star-Ledger

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Footnotes:

  1. It’s possible the cap’s growth will stall somewhat after summer 2016 and thus, LeBron might finally sign a long-term deal. []

David Blatt on Anthony Bennett: ‘Last year is in the past’

anthony bennett summer leagueAnthony Bennett has been a little bit of a media darling at this year’s Las Vegas Summer League. After missing last year’s event following shoulder surgery, he’s had a hot start in the Cavs’ first two games this weekend.

During Friday’s 70-68 victory over Milwaukee, he had 15 points and eight rebounds, somewhat over-shadowing the hyped Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins showdown. His open-court dunk became a viral hit.

Today, he secured a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds in a 82-70 win over the San Antonio Spurs. He even had a nifty crossover that caught some attention on social media.

After the game, head coach David Blatt was asked several questions about Bennett’s performance. He even joked “What is this, the Anthony Bennett show?” You can view the entire video on Cavs.com. Below are the quotes about Bennett specifically.

“I didn’t think (Bennett) played badly (Friday). I just think today like the rest of the guys having played a game before and getting those jitters out of their system, and being a little bit more patient, and not over-doing things, they all looked better. AB has been good since day one, since I came. He’s really working hard to get himself in shape. He’s really, really trying to do a lot of different things on the court to help the team win and not being under pressure to do one thing, just to stay on the floor. It’s a work in progress, but he’s doing a great job and I hope he continues with the same passion.”

“Anthony has the ability to do a lot of things, he can play with his face to the basket, with his back to the basket. I think it’s very important that he feels comfortable and that he tries not to hurry. As long as he lets the game come to him, as long as he makes good decisions, he’s in a good place like he was today. And you know what, people? Everybody at the end of the game, they always look, ‘Well, how many did he score?’ Guy had 14 rebounds. You get 14 rebounds, you got a place to play.”

“I came in and Anthony also came in with a clean slate. Physically, as I said, he’s really worked hard and I think that’s the most important thing for him to get in shape to be the kind of player that he can be. Last year is in the past. We’re looking ahead and I really believe and hope that Anthony can be a big part of what’s ahead.”

“Anthony can shoot the three-point shot. I don’t think he needs to take eight a game, but when he’s got a good look and he’s in rhythm and he’s comfortable, it’s definitely a part of his game, yes.”

Let the Anthony Bennett hype train begin. Hardwood Paroxysm’s Scott Rafferty is one of the many to already write about Bennett’s early performance. It’s nearly impossible not to get even mildly excited about these two games and how Bennett might emerge into hopefully a rotation player.

Yes, it’s the Las Vegas Summer League, a circuit known for its open-court highlights and statistics that don’t translate too well to real NBA basketball. But Bennett was atrocious in 2013-14. He wouldn’t have been a rotation-caliber player for any NBA team. Progress is progress, however mild. Losing 25 pounds was exciting; seeing Bennett play like this and hearing Blatt talk about Bennett like this is really, really, really exciting.

Photo via Ben Golliver on Twitter

With LeBron James, Cavs franchise value could eclipse billion-dollar mark

Dan GilbertThere’s no doubt the Cleveland Cavaliers instantly became a more valuable franchise yesterday. The only question would be how much more valuable LeBron James makes the team.

According to an article by Bloomberg News’ Scott Soshnick, we could be talking about a billion-dollar franchise. Soshnick spoke with a few experts in the field, including Peter Schwartz, a venture capitalist, and Chad Estis, a former chief marketing officer for the Cavs. They both were incredibly optimistic of how the team perhaps doubled in value.

“Certainly the brand itself, as well as the revenue that the team is able to generate, is much stronger with him — to the point of a billion-dollar franchise,” Schwartz said.

Forbes estimated the team’s value to be $515 million back in January. Forbes’ Patrick Rishe expected the James return to add at least $100-150 million more. He noted that the team’s estimated value dropped by 26% back in 2010.

But Forbes — already an inconsistent estimator of team values, albeit one of the only public data sources — likely underestimates James’ massive impact in concert with the rapidly increasing values of NBA franchises. The Los Angeles Clippers sold for $2 billion recently to Steve Ballmer. The Sacramento Kings, a struggling organization that nearly moved from town, sold for $534 million last May to Vivek Ranadive.

NBA franchises are insanely valuable commodities because only 30 of them exist in the world, with so few ever coming close to the open market. Lest we forget, Dan Gilbert purchased the Cavaliers from Gordon Gund for an astounding $375 million in March 2005. After James’ departure, the team’s estimated value actually dipped under that mark. Now? Gilbert has to be one happy camper, banking in “The Return” with a glory period of skyrocketing values.

And if you didn’t see the news yesterday, the Cavs reportedly sold out of their entire allotted season ticket distribution for 2014-15 already. More than half of those 12,000 tickets were sold yesterday alone, according to reports from the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd and ESPN’s Darren Rovell. The rest of capacity for the Quicken Loans Arena, including partial season tickets, individual games and group sales, will be sold at a later time.

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)