April 23, 2014

Cavs could be targeting top agent Mark Bartelstein

bartelsteinAll options appear to be on the table for the Cavaliers as they seek a long-term general manager to replace Chris Grant, and the latest rumored name could be a surprise to many.

The Cavs are currently 20-33 at the All-Star Break and riding their first four-game winning streak in four years. Kyrie Irving will be making his first All-Star start and will attempt to defend his three-point shooting title.

On the rumor front, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported in the wee hours of Thursday night that the team could be targeting veteran multi-sport agent Mark Bartelstein. Here was the report:

Sources told ESPN.com this week that the Cavs have interest in trying to recruit Bartelstein into their management structure as other teams have done in recent years, most notably the Phoenix Suns’ hiring of Lon Babby and the Golden State Warriors’ hiring of Bob Myers.

The Cavs, though, are not expected to pursue significant changes to their basketball department until after the season. And it’s believed within the industry that they would have little hope convincing Bartelstein to leave Chicago-based Priority Sports, which he founded and which represents numerous NFL players in addition to his basketball clientele.

Of course, the Suns and Warriors are looking mighty good in 2013-14, so that could be pushing the Cavs to think creatively about hiring an long-time agent. Priority Sports got its first huge break in 1990 when, ironically, the Cavs handed Hot Rod Williams the NBA’s largest-ever contract at the time.

Among the NBA players Bartelstein currently represents are David Lee, Taj Gibson, Jose Calderon, Bradley Beal, Gordon Hayward, Tim Hardaway Jr. and former Cavalier Mo Williams. Current NFL clients include Arian Foster, AJ Hawk, Haloti Ngata, Sean Lee, Joe Staley, Tyson Alualu, Isaac Sopoaga and former Browns tackle Tony Pashos. In 2011, he took part in a panel at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston called “The Decision: How Players and Teams Will Choose in the Future.”

Interim Cavs GM David Griffin is hoping to secure the long-term role after twice rejecting previous openings, Stein said. He’ll have a gigantic opportunity to impress owner Dan Gilbert at the trade deadline, which is only six days away.

While We’re Waiting… Are the Cavs buyers or sellers?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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My good friend at FTS shares the usual options, then mentions this possibility too. “And what if the Cavs are actually buyers? Are they willing to put Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Anthony Bennett in deals for star type players, even as they have put together really good games of late? You would think so. But what about short term deals for guys like Pau Gasol? The team already went out and added Luol Deng. If the team really is hoping to make the playoffs, doesn’t it make sense to give yourself every opportunity to get there?” [David Zavac/Fear The Sword] [Read more...]

The Diff: Looking at extension examples for the Indians and Jason Kipnis

The Diff is your weekly WaitingForNextYear look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles over the last 12 months, click this link.

The Diff

This week has generally been an exciting one for Cleveland Indians fans. Beloved (yet probably overrated) outfielder Michael Brantley was signed to a long-term contract. The deal covered the Branley’s remaining arbitration seasons and guaranteed at least one free agency year. Many are thrilled about the team’s commitment to a fan favorite. With that deal out of the way, it’s now time to discuss the next young Indians position player extension candidate: 2013 American League All-Star Jason Kipnis. This deal might not be so easy to negotiate. [Read more...]

Game Preview: Cavs finish first half with pivotal road game in Detroit

Cavaliers vs PistonsAfter yet another surprising victory, the Cleveland Cavaliers have just one game left before the All-Star Break. And it’s against a familiar and troublesome opponent.

Tonight, the Cavs (19-33) will look to achieve their first four-game winning streak since LeBron James played in Cleveland. They’ll attempt to do so in Detroit against the Pistons, who have won seven straight contests against their Central Division rivals.

Not to be out-done by last week’s firing of Cavs GM Chris Grant, the Pistons factually fired their head coach Maurice Cheeks on Monday. They’ve actually been playing better ball of late, however, and beat the San Antonio Spurs later Monday night.

Can the Cavaliers somehow pull off another surprise? What have the Pistons been up to this year? How do the two franchises compare overall? Let’s explore all that in a game preview. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Mostly positive reactions to latest Berea upheaval

While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Harsh words about Joe Banner and his departed regime from this former Browns.com writer: “There’s a pattern here. The Browns have long had trouble figuring things out, and if it makes any sense, Haslam might be starting to figure that out. Now, if the Browns can just nail their two first-round picks, Haslam can be cleared of wrongdoing in the FBI investigation of his Pilot/Flying J companies and Farmer and Pettine can be on the same page in March, May, August and November, the Browns might just be able to eventually rejoin the ranks of the NFL living and competing again. Deep breath, Browns fans. With Farmer in charge, all of that (or at least some of that) has a better chance of happening.” [Zac Jackson/Fox Sports Ohio] [Read more...]

On defensive analytics and the Cavs’ recent issues

Cleveland Cavaliers v Dallas Mavericks

“Math is winning out on offense in the NBA.”

These were the words of Grantland’s Zach Lowe, the man whose writing represents basketball’s best combination of analytics with the league beat. But what does Lowe mean by that exactly? And where can we see information relevant for the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers, owners of the NBA’s worst defense since Luol Deng’s debut last month?

Looking into those questions requires background information on the rise of basketball analytics and a look into what we actually do know about defensive analytics in the game today. [Read more...]

Indians win arbitration case with reliever Vinnie Pestano

20130118-121651.jpgThe Cleveland Indians have won their arbitration case with relief pitcher Vinnie Pestano, reports CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The Indians’ filing of $975,000 won out over Pestano’s offer of $1.45 million for the 2014 season. The two sides met in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Friday morning.

The setup man, who turns 29 in a couple weeks, is in his first season of arbitration eligibility. He’s eligible to be a free agent after the 2017 season. He owns a career 2.82 ERA with 205 strikeouts in 172.1 innings over 179 MLB relief appearances.

Most memorably, Pestano was demoted to Triple-A Columbus on July 31 this past season. He had a 3.29 ERA in 14 games for the Clippers last year, his first stint back in the minors since 2010. He pitched in three September games for the Tribe. He’s one of the favorites for the final bullpen roles this season.

MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian shared some insights on the case on Thursday. It was the Indians’ first arbitration hearing since 1991 with Greg Swindell and Jerry Browne. The team also is likely headed to arbitration in the next two weeks with Josh Tomlin, Michael Brantley and Justin Masterson.

Masterson, who turns 29 in March, had the largest arbitration filing gap in baseball this offseason. The team filed for $8.05 million and the player’s camp filed for $11.8 million. This is his final season of arbitration eligibility and the team’s ace is scheduled to be a free agent after this year. Recently, extension talks were put on hold in order to focus on a one-year deal.

Why are so many arbitration cases happening for the Indians? Why would they even both going to a hearing over such relatively small gaps for Pestano and Tomlin?

Sports Illustrated’s Ben Reiter had a very detailed article on Friday about the “file-to-go” or “file and trial” strategy that many more teams are adopting. The team strategy declares that “once they have officially exchanged arbitration figures with a player, they will no longer negotiate with him. His salary will be decided in a hearing.”

The specifics of why such a strategy can be beneficial to teams are a bit complex. Essentially, it is designed to avoid going to hearings and force agents to file actually realistic numbers for their players. Certainly, rightfully or not, Cleveland’s arbitration cases this season – their first in over 20 years – won’t help the fan narrative about the team’s willingness to spend competitively.

[Related: Could Ubaldo have a Cleveland Homecoming?]

Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY

Indianapolis Colts hire Rob Chudzinski as special assistant

Weeden - ChudFormer Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski will be joining the Indianapolis Colts as a special assistant, the team announced on Saturday.

The Browns fired Chudzinski, 45, on Dec. 29 after their final game of the season. Cleveland eventually replaced him with Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Over in Indianapolis, Chudzinski will join the staff of head coach Chuck Pagano. The two previously worked together at The University of Miami and for the Browns in the early 2000s.

He’ll also be reuniting with running back Trent Richardson, traded in mid-September this past season. Offseason murmurs out of Indianapolis indicate that the team will not retain Donald Brown, who served as the starter for the season’s second half. They appear to be committed to Richardson’s long-term future.

Shortly after the firing, there had been previous murmurs that Chudzinski could be a candidate for the Miami Hurricanes, his alma mater program. Eventually, Al Golden decided to stay at The U and Penn State hired Vanderbilt’s James Franklin instead.

Overall, Chudzinski’s resume isn’t too shabby and he should probably nab an assistant job of some kind next season. Recall that he did have four years of NFL offensive coordinator experience (two in Cleveland, two in Carolina) and five years of assistant jobs (one in Cleveland, four in San Diego) prior to his toxic one head coaching season.

For the comedic, this now means that former Cleveland athletes Richardson, Chudzinski and even Andrew Bynum are all employed by sports teams in the city of Indianapolis. There certainly are plenty of jokes to be made there (even if the Pacers are one of the NBA’s best and the Colts made the playoffs).

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: The Firing of Rob Chudzinski]

Luol Deng unlikely to resign with Cavs this offseason per report

luol_deng_cavsThe last 24 hours have been very Cleveland Cavaliers-heavy at ESPN.com. While Brian Windhorst was second to confirm Chris Grant’s firing, there also was a detailed article on Anthony Bennett’s next steps for growth.

In a separate article focused on Bennett, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein also shared some rumblings about Luol Deng and the Cavs summer of 2014. Here is the entire paragraph midway through the Bennett article, with emphasis added by me:

That’s right: What was supposed to be a season exciting enough to make LeBron James think seriously about leaving Miami to come back to the Cavs has descended into such farce that sources close to the situation are already saying that there’s little-to-no chance Deng will agree to stay once he hits free agency.

Deng, who turns 29 in April, is an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. Previously, there had somewhat positive indications of Deng’s future in Cleveland. He had said he was fine with waiting until the summer to talk.

The Cavs, of course, do own Deng’s Bird Rights. That means they can offer him a more lucrative deal than any other team. Multiple sites previously reported that Deng turned down a three-year $30 million offer from the Bulls, perhaps leading to the eventual trade.

Given the unlikely nature of a resigning, GM David Griffin could look to move Deng this season. Since he was traded within the last two months, however, he cannot be combined with other assets by the Cavs in a theoretical subsequent trade. Cap expert Larry Coon has a great FAQ about this exact detail.

Another big part of the team’s offseason (and next 13 days leading up to the trade deadline) will be the status of Anderson Varejao. The 31-year-old big man has a $4 million guarantee out of his $9.8 million contract for the 2014-15 season. He could be an attractive trade piece for a contending team.

[Related: Dan Gilbert needs to abandon playoff goals for this season]

Photo: Mark Duncan, AP

Indians ranked as baseball’s 15th-best team by ESPN and MLB.com

The Cleveland Indians, winners of 92 games a season ago, were ranked as baseball’s 15th-best team in two separate online articles this week.

Giambi walk off 2

MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince, formerly a Tribe beat writer, concluded his top-10 series with a look at the best teams in the game. Within the honorable mention section, he wrote this tidbit about the Indians and an AL Central rival:

15. Indians and Royals (tie): As far as I’m concerned, it’s a pick-’em for second-best team in the AL Central. The Indians have a really good offense that could be even better, and the Royals have several tantalizing players who have not yet reached their potential. Both have rotation questions.

The Detroit Tigers, despite the loss of star slugger Prince Fielder, were ranked as Castrovince’s No. 2 team in MLB.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday over at ESPN’s SweetSpot blog, writer David Schoenfield shared his No. 18-13 teams. He concluded the series with the game’s top six teams on Friday. Within Wednesday’s article, here’s a tidbit of what he said about the Tribe.

I’m just the messenger: The red flag for me in Cleveland’s run to the playoffs was that the bullpen was 19th in the majors in ERA and yet went 33-16. A few of those wins came after blown saves, but that’s still an impressive W-L record for a mediocre relief corps. The Indians also lost Smith and replaced him with the erratic Axford. While Cody Allen appears ready to step in as the closer, they also need Axford to provide quality innings in the setup role.

So yes, early reports are not too optimistic about these Indians. If you recall during WFNY’s 2013 predictions, we all were between 80-86 wins. The range likely will be much larger heading into 2014.

Pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday to Goodyear, Arizona. The team’s first game is on Monday, Feb. 17. SportsTimeOhio announced earlier in the week that it will air eight spring training games on TV.

[Related: Could Ubaldo have a Cleveland Homecoming?]

While We’re Waiting… Where exactly Chris Grant was wrong

While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Blaming the Cavs for falling into the trap of the LeBron years: “This is the latest example of a franchise assuming that there is a template for the type of success enjoyed by the likes of the San Antonio Spurs translating to every other market. It takes stars, superstars usually, and just the right fit to launch an outfit from the lottery to the upper echelon of the league. The players come first, then the success. That’s the way it’s always been and always will be. Assuming that some set infrastructure is supposed to come first is where the Cavaliers went wrong.” [Sekou Smith/NBA.com] [Read more...]

Chris Grant resisted front office push to trade for Thunder’s James Harden

James Harden, J.J. HicksonJames Harden seemed to be a fantasy trade target for many Cavaliers fans back when he was a lightning scoring guard off the Oklahoma City Thunder bench. Now, he’s a two-time All-Star for the Houston Rockets. And today, upon the firing of Cavs GM Chris Grant, we learn that such a deal actually could have occurred.

Grantland’s Zach Lowe, one of the best writers in the NBA, had a great final post on Grant’s tenure in Cleveland. You should go read the entirety of the post because it’s one of the best out anywhere on the topic. In running through the oft-criticized asset accumulation, Lowe then shared this tidbit:

A segment of the front office pushed Grant hard to make a run at James Harden before last season, using a combination of picks and any Cavalier other than Irving. Grant resisted, and he has generally been known around the league as a difficult sort to deal with. Executives on other teams lament that Grant overvalues his own players to the point of paralysis, and that could have prevented the Cavs from throwing their hat in the Harden ring.

Instead, on Oct. 28, 2012, just days before the 2012-13 season, Oklahoma City traded Harden to Houston. The final deal: Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick for Harden and three relatively obscure scrubs.

The 24-year-old Harden has now emerged as one of the NBA’s elite scorers for the Rockets, who later added center Dwight Howard this past offseason. In Oklahoma City, the 2009 No. 3 overall pick controlled the team’s offense off the bench. In 120 games for Houston, he has averaged over 25 points per game.

As seen above, Harden once laid down a thunderous dunk on Cleveland’s J.J. Hickson on Dec. 12, 2010. Now, it seems, the thought of his name could  haunt Cavaliers fans’ dreams for a long time to come.

Related James Harden articles at WFNY:
Could Dion Waiters fill the James Harden role? — Oct. 2012
The reality of the James Harden deal in Cleveland — Nov. 2012
Waiters’ move to reserve is long overdue, but in a good way — Jan. 2013
NBA Draft: On Dion Waiters, Ben McLemore and starting — June 2013

Photo: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Indians continue stockpiling hitters, add former Cubs slugger Bryan LaHair

bryan lahair cubsThe Cleveland Indians signed first baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair to a minor league deal with a spring training invite, the team announced on Wednesday afternoon.

LaHair, 31, is most well known for his torrential start to the 2012 season with the Chicago Cubs. A long-time minor leaguer and 2011 Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP, he earned the team’s starting first baseman job almost by default. Top prospect Anthony Rizzo was simply waiting in the wings in the minors.

Through May, LaHair batted .308/.396/.582 with 10 doubles, 10 homers and 22 RBI in only 45 games and 169 plate appearances. His success was one of the best stories in baseball. That run helped him become an 2012 National League All-Star.

But right on cue, he started cooling off considerably in June, batting only .222/.284/.351 in his final 211 plate appearances for the year. Rizzo became a regular starter by July 2012 and later was given a seven-year deal in May 2013. He’s Chicago’s brightest offensive star.

Without a job following the 2012 season, LaHair was purchased by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japan Pacific League. He struggled overseas, batting .230/.306/.428 in 111 games. The team granted him his release just two weeks ago on Jan. 22, 2014.

For his career, the left-handed hitter owns a .297/.368/.528 line in 653 Triple-A games and a .260/.334/.430 line in 195 MLB games. He also has assorted experience at both corner outfield positions.

Expectations likely should be low for LaHair, as he wasn’t very good after his hot two months in 2012 and then produced sub-par numbers over in Japan. Again, it’s simply another low-risk deal for the Indians, who continue to stockpile veterans for their spring training roster.

Previous position player signings include Elliot Johnson, Jeff Francoeur, Nyjer Morgan, Matt Treanor, Luke Carlin and David Adams. Cleveland has a glaring need for a backup catcher and is trying out alternative options at third base, but no other glaring holes. Certainly, if any of these players catch fire in Arizona, however, they could force their way onto the 25-man roster at some point.

[Related: Carlos Santana moving to third base, Chris Antonetti looking for free agents: Thursday Tribe Notes]

Photo: ZUMAPRESS.com

The Diff: Revisiting ShotScore and how the Cavs are terrible

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about the downfall for the Cavs in four terrible home losses. This week, I’m focusing on shooting data again.

The Diff

Within the next 15 days, this Cleveland Cavaliers roster should undergo yet another significant shift. The past few weeks of speculation have made it perfectly clear that not everyone – front office and/or personnel-wise – will survive this season from hell. While there are storylines for days about what that means for the organization’s future, I wanted to focus – perhaps for one of the final actually meaningful times – on what we’re seeing out on the court from these Cavaliers of late. Today, I’ll be looking at the Cavs’ efficiency from a number of different areas, again highlighting the ShotScore statistic. [Read more...]

Things that annoy me about the Cavaliers right now

Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown, Chris Grant

The season from hell hath unleashed its versatile fury all over the Cleveland fan base during the past week. From last Sunday’s Suns meltdown to Saturday’s array of hoops-related excitement, these truly are dark days in Cavs world.

There are many, many things that annoy me about this Cavs franchise and its current dysfunctional state. Let’s breeze through some of the items that come to mind:

[Read more...]

Cavs vs Rockets Behind The Box Score: If the Cavs lose and no one notices, does it count?

Mike BrownHeading into this latest Cavs game, the season appeared to be as low as could be. After a week of drama and speculation, a New York Daily News report centered on Luol Deng comments painted the team as an absolute mess.

Over in Houston on Saturday night, the final result wasn’t that terrible after all, somewhat. Heck, the Rockets have won two-thirds of their games this season, so this could have been much, much worse. The final score read 106-92. It was a wee bit close for a few minutes midway through the third quarter, but that was about it. The Rockets are a much better team.

During a 33-12 rally by the Cavs that intersected halftime, they looked very solid, especially offensively. Small victories! But at half, only three Cleveland players even scored more than two points: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Luol Deng. Those were the three players with notable efforts, really. The Rockets are just too good, too talented and too efficient in their schemes. It wasn’t really that competitive. Yikes. [Read more...]

Browns to reportedly hire Baltimore’s Andy Moeller as new offensive line coach

Andy MoellerMike Pettine continues to add to his Cleveland Browns coaching staff and reportedly will poach a former colleague from an AFC North rival to lead his offensive line.

Andy Moeller, Baltimore’s assistant offensive line coach, will take the offensive line job with the Browns, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. Of course, Pettine worked in Baltimore from 2002-2008, overlapping with Moeller in that final season.

The 49-year-old Moeller started with the Ravens as an assistant in 2008. He then was the team’s offensive line coach from 2011-12. This season, he was replaced and brought back down to assistant with the addition of long-time Philadelphia Eagles coach Juan Castillo to the Ravens staff.

Moeller’s name made some national news back in 2011 when he was suspended for the team’s first two games because of multiple alcohol-related incidents.

Previously, before his Baltimore days, he worked in college football and accumulated seven years at Michigan, six years at Missouri and six years at Army. The background is certainly extensive.

In Cleveland, he’ll replace George Warhop, who bolted along with two former Browns colleagues to the warmer pastures of Tampa Bay. Warhop had been in Cleveland since 2009. He was well regarded for helping with the development of Pro Bowl linemen Joe Thomas and Alex Mack.

The Browns still are without a confirmed offensive coordinator. Former Tennessee coordinator Dowell Loggains has signed on as at least the quarterbacks coach. There have been few updates of late on Kyle Shanahan potentially coming on board as well.

[Related: All-Pro Josh Gordon: ‘You cannot replace Norv Turner’]

Photo: Associated Press

Indiana Pacers planning to sign former Cavs center Andrew Bynum

DSC_0475The Indiana Pacers are planning on signing former Cleveland Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on Friday night.

Windhorst, the former Plain Dealer star beat writer, later added that the Indianapolis Star was first to report of the Pacers meeting today with Bynum. There is no deal in place yet but talks are serious.

Bynum, 26, was traded to the Chicago Bulls back on Jan. 7 along with a handful of future draft picks for small forward Luol Deng. The Bulls promptly released him and he later cleared waivers.

The two-time All-Star last played for the Cavs on Dec. 26. He was reportedly in Cleveland earlier on Friday, as shared by The Plain Dealer’s Mary Schmitt Boyer. At the time, he was boarding a flight for Indianapolis, was still looking for any NBA work and was not following the Cavaliers drama of the past week.

Although the Bynum signing resulted in Deng, his play for the Cavaliers this season left much to be desired. He shot just 41.9% from the field. The Cavs offense had an abysmal 93.9 offensive rating with him on the court in his 480 minutes.

The Pacers are led by All-Stars Roy Hibbert and Paul George. Ian Mahinmi backs up the center Hibbert and averages 16 minutes per game. Considering Bynum played at a sub-average level in Cleveland, it would be surprising to see him make any substantial difference this season. But crazier things have certainly happened. After all, not many people expected him to play as early as he did this season.

[Related: Know your CBA: Kyrie Irving unlikely to leave Cleveland soon]

Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY

All-Pro Josh Gordon: ‘You cannot replace Norv Turner’

Gordon

“You cannot replace Norv Turner. That’s a legendary Hall of Fame coach. If it’s the same offense, heck, we’d be lucky to have it. Anything else, West Coast, I’ve run it before with [Pat] Shurmur. Maybe more exotic, but I doubt it. We should be OK, I think.”

“We’re a little slow right now, offensively, that’s for sure. We’re definitely trying to get something going because we have no offensive coordinator. I’m not sure what direction they’re trying to go. I’m waiting to see.”

– Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon said on Friday, as per several media sources including The Plain Dealer and ESPN Cleveland. The Browns star was busy during Super Bowl week media madness. He was everywhere on Friday, from ESPN’s FirstTake to NFL Network to additional other interviews with the media.

The 22-year-old’s comments on Turner were perhaps the most intriguing of the day. He said Turner “definitely was upset” by the moves. Gordon said last year’s coaching arrangement was “an all-star staff” and that Rob Chudzinski’s tenure “really wasn’t a fair opportunity, I think. But business is business.”

Now, Turner has landed as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator. The Browns have officially hired Dowell Loggains as their QB coach or possibly offensive coordinator, depending on the possible hiring of Kyle Shanahan.

Other noteworthy Gordon quotes from his varied media appearances:

On the QB draft prospects: “I think I would be all right with anybody we get. We got some great guys right now that we are going to have returning, but the young guys, Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, those guys are great actually. I’m a fan of Derek Carr down at Fresno State. There is a bunch of talent out there, so anybody really.”

On Johnny Manziel: “For the media market and a city like Cleveland, which is real small, I think it would be huge to have him.”

On Brian Hoyer’s candidacy for starter: “Man, that’s above my head, but Brian’s a great guy, great quarterback.”

[Pro Bowl Highlights: Josh Gordon pulls in a touchdown, gets upended by TJ Ward]

Photo: Candice Vicek/WFNY

Kyrie Irving sits down with Jason Lloyd, calls Cavs season a ‘wake-up call’

“I needed this. It was more or less a wake-up call. I got away with so much my first two years. It wasn’t a breeze, but everything came easy. This is the first year where every single night it’s going to be a challenge. That’s one of the things I’m getting used to and I’ve accepted.”

“I just feel like what people fail to realize is I don’t have all the answers all the time. I’m still the third-youngest on this team. I’m a 21-year-old kid trying to figure this whole thing out. It’s a daily job and that’s probably why it’s been one of the toughest years for me. I’m learning every single day.”

Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday– Two-time All-Star Kyrie Irving, as told to the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd on Friday night, following a week of individual drama and thorough Cleveland Cavaliers losses.

The tumultuous week practically began with last Sunday’s column from Lloyd, placing additional blame on Irving’s defense and leadership for the team’s season-long struggles. The Cavs later blew an 18-point halftime lead on Sunday night against Phoenix.

On Tuesday, the Cavs were blown out at home by New Orleans. On Thursday afternoon, ESPN’s Chad Ford dropped a quick blurb in his weekly chat that Irving was privately telling folks he wants out of Cleveland. The Cavs then lost by 31 to the Knicks on TNT later that night. Irving spoke with reporters after the game, saying “I’m happy to be in Cleveland,” but preceded that line with the fact he’s still on his rookie contract.

Prompting this latest article and as a response to Sunday’s column, Lloyd shared that Irving and him sat down after practice today. Lloyd remarked on Twitter that the conversation was good, with some comments on the record and off.

The 21-year-old point guard from Duke added to Lloyd: “this is the first year I was really challenged the entire year” and “it was a lot harder than I expected.” Head coach Mike Brown also shared some comments, saying he thinks Irving is improving despite the gigantic pressure.

[Related: Know your CBA: Kyrie Irving unlikely to leave Cleveland soon]

Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak