August 1, 2014

Cavs agree on five-year max contract extension with Kyrie Irving

Terrific news within two hours of free agency: The Cavaliers have agreed to a five-year max contract extension with star point guard Kyrie Irving. The deal is reportedly worth $90 million.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the agreement, then Cavs owner Dan Gilbert followed up with a celebratory tweet of his own.

Reports on Monday suggested that, as expected, the Cavs would meet with Irving in New Jersey and offer him the max extension. The new contract will take place for the start of the 2015-16 season, not this upcoming one.

Celebrate for now, folks. It’s nice to now that Kyrie Irving will be in Cleveland for a long, long time to come. A max deal could potentially change in value if Kyrie is an All-Star Starter again this coming season … but details are for another day.

Cavs show early free agency interest in Trevor Ariza, Spencer Hawes

 David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

NBA free agency officially began at midnight Tuesday. Within the first hour, flurries of rumors hit the Twittersphere. Although no key news has surfaced yet, the Cavaliers have been linked to a few understandable targets.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Cavs are among those showing “significant interest” in Wizards forward Trevor Ariza. Washington’s brass will be meeting with the 29-year-old Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Ariza just finished up a five-year $33.5 million deal he signed way back in 2009 with the Houston Rockets. The Cavs were one of his suitors back then, right after he had finished up a few nice seasons off the bench for the Lakers. Ariza is one of the top available wings this offseason after averaging 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 40.7% three-point shooting.

ESPN’s Marc Stein said the Cavs remain interested in retaining big man Spencer Hawes, who has a host of bidders. The Blazers, Clippers, Rockets and Mavericks were mentioned in Stein’s tweet. Portland could be an intriguing fit as Hawes is from Seattle.

Hawes, who only is 26, just finished a two-year $13 million contract. He averaged 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in his 27 games with Cleveland last season after the midseason trade from Philadelphia. A prolific long-distance threat, he shot an incredible 41.6% on 308 threes last year after shooting 31.5% on only 359 attempts in his first six NBA seasons.

We’ll keep you posted on further rumors and developments. Luol Deng, as expected, is a hot target for many other teams besides the Cavaliers.

No, it’s not that difficult for the Cavs to have max contract space

david griffin

There appears to be quite a deal of confusion about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ salary cap situation. Let’s try to clear the air with some math, shall we?

Just last week, GM David Griffin said the team could clear space for a max contract “just by waving our hand and making it happen.” Seems simple enough, no?

And then today, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst grouped the Cavs with the Rockets and Bulls that would “need to execute significant shuffling and perhaps even offload star players to clear [the maximum] $22.2 million.” Well that’s a bit of a different picture. [Read more...]

New Mexico center Alex Kirk to play on Cavs’ Summer League team

Alex KirkAlex Kirk, a 7-foot center out of New Mexico, will play for the Cavs team in the Las Vegas Summer League next month.

Basketball Insider’s Alex Kennedy reported the news earlier on Friday. The junior center averaged 13.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks for the Lobos this past season.

Kirk was ranked No. 87 in the draft class by ESPN Insider’s Chad Ford. In his scouting report, Ford mentioned how Kirk is “strong and deceptively athletic,” but had back issues in college.

Draft Express ranked him as the No. 89 prospect. They noted how his 13.6% body fat was second-worst at the draft combine, but he has a “massive” 7’3.5″ wingspan. You can view their video interview with Kirk below.

The Cavs desperately need more size and defense, so Kirk is a logical fit for a tryout. Last season, undrafted point guard Matthew Dellavedova made the team after playing in Las Vegas, so there is certainly a precedent for some of these players actually making a difference long term.

Last week, it was announced that David Blatt will indeed coach the Cavs’ team in Las Vegas. The squad, likely with Andrew Wiggins, Joe Harris, Anthony Bennett and others, is sure to be one of the most exciting in the league. They begin play on July 11 against the Milwaukee Bucks in a showdown between the top picks in the NBA Draft.

(AP Photo/David Kohl)

On Andrew Wiggins’ ‘fast-twitch’ abilities: There’s an app for that

krossover

When the national TV cameras shifted over to Cavs general manager David Griffin last night, he used a phrase that sparked my analytical curiosity. The particular phrase is highlighted below in his comments:

“We really believe, at this point, for Andrew [Wiggins], his defense is a skill set. He does it with the fast-twitch muscle fiber in his body. That’s unusual. I had the opportunity to work with Shawn Marion at one point. He’s an incredibly quick player off the floor and quick laterally and guarded multiple positions. That was something that really spoke to me about Andrew, and I know it spoke to our coaching staff as well, and all of our scouts felt he had the most upside.” [Read more...]

Jabari Parker slight favorite over Wiggins to win Rookie of the Year

2014 nba draft class

Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker was listed by Bovada as the slight favorite to win the 2014-15 Rookie of the Year over No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins.

Here are the 2014-15 Bovada odds, per SportsInsights.com:
Jabari Parker, Bucks +500
Andrew Wiggins, Cavaliers, +550
Nerlens Noel, Sixers, +900
Julius Randle, Lakers, +900
Doug McDermott, Bulls, +1,000
Elfrid Payton, Magic, +1,000
Dante Exum, Jazz, +1,000
Nik Stauskas, Kings, +1,200
Shabazz Napier, Heat, +1,200

It’s not a huge surprise to see Parker atop the leaderboard. He was billed as the more “NBA-ready” prospect with a better current offensive repertoire. He can easily become Milwaukee’s lead scorer, albeit in a crowded frontcourt with John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova and the troubled Larry Sanders.

In Cleveland, Wiggins won’t ever have to be the lead offensive option. Kyrie Irving is the team’s star, a former Rookie of the Year himself and has averaged 20.7 points per game for his career so far. Dion Waiters also has averaged 15.3 points per game in his two seasons. Wiggins will be able to grow naturally as a third or fourth option offensively and shine with his defense and athleticism.

If one recalls, Anthony Bennett was listed as sixth in the 2013-14 odds. Michael Carter-Williams, initially listed as fifth, overtook post-draft favorites Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo (eventual runner-up) to win the award.

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Cavs receive straight A’s in 2014 NBA Draft grades

andrew wiggins_draftWith the selections of Andrew Wiggins and Joe Harris last night, the Cavaliers are receiving rave reviews from around the national media … really. It’s a rare phenomenon for the Cleveland basketball team after three straight years of head-scratching drafts.

Listed below are snippets and grades from six different basketball writers. We’ll post others as we see them throughout the day:

Adi Joseph, USA Today Sports, Grade: A-

“This was solid draft redemption after the head-scratcher of last year, No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett. The Cavaliers took the right players who made sense for their slots and the team. Wiggins has tremendous upside and could blossom alongside a point guard like Kyrie Irving. Harris is the shooter that Cleveland needed. Anyone criticizing these picks needs to realize that, while messing up the top pick was a little harder this year, it still was possible. Both Wiggins and Harris could be impact players next year. Now, about getting that LeBron James guy …”

Nathan Giese, Hoops Habit, Grade: A

“Wiggins is one of the better defenders in the draft. He’ll be relied upon to use his UPSIDE to his advantage. One qualm I have about this pick is that Wiggins needs to develop into the player he can become. The question is, can he succeed with a Cavaliers locker room that has had a history of bad blood? He’s very athletic and has the makings of a great player. It’s just a matter of if he can become that player he’s capable of or not.”

Chad Ford, ESPN Insider, Grade: A

“The Cavs, in my opinion, did the right thing here. They could’ve taken Jabari Parker and justified it by saying they needed a player who could help them now. Instead they took the player with the most upside and showed a willingness to let him develop into the best player in the draft. I think Wiggins is a better fit for the team anyway. He brings defense, he can play the 2 or 3, and he won’t need the ball in his hands to make an impact on the team. Wiggins has as much or more talent than Kyrie Irving and, in time, will be the guy they build around. Harris is a shooter and is tough as nails. Though he’s not a great defender, he brings great effort. Overall, the Cavs improved their team this year and finally got a second long-term franchise building block next to Kyrie Irving. It was a good night, Cavs fans.”

Adam Fromal, Bleacher Report, Grade: A-

“The uber-athletic small forward from Kansas saw his stock fluctuate throughout his one collegiate season, but he finished exactly where he started—in the top spot. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been leaving that small forward spot open for quite some time, all in the hopes that LeBron James might eventually come back to the team that originally drafted him, but it’s now filled by Andrew Wiggins and his interesting wardrobe choice.”

Matt Moore, CBS Sports, Grade: A+

“The best overall prospect and they don´t need him with the ball early with Irving and Waiters. The future is now.”

Jeff Eisenberg and Marc Spears, Yahoo Sports, Grade: A

“He didn’t rack up absurd scoring numbers like Kevin Durant or propel his team to a national title like Carmelo Anthony, but the one-and-done star still flashed enough upside to merit being a top pick. Wiggins showcased an ability to defend multiple positions, an explosive secondary jump around the rim and a knack for finishing with aplomb in transition. The top criticism of Wiggins: he wasn’t assertive enough to take advantage of his physical gifts. In Kansas’ stunning NCAA tournament loss to Stanford, he scored just four points and attempted only six shots, inexplicably floating around the perimeter.” There’s no doubt Wiggins has a tendency to coast, but he still has the ability to make an instant impact and get better in years to come.”

Kelly Dwyer, Yahoo Sports, Grade: A+

“Once again, the Cleveland Cavaliers entered draft night with the top pick in the draft, and for the second straight season there was some question as to who the squad would glom onto. New GM David Griffin chose Wiggins in this scenario, and it’s not hard to understand why – his mixture of offensive potential and at times dominant defense could turn him into a franchise player if everything develops as promised. Concerns about previous whiffs in the first round or Kyrie Irving’s permanence are for another day – Wiggins is a stud and a deserved top overall pick.”

Tyler Lashbrook, SB Nation, Upside: A+; Fit:A+; Immediate Impact: B+

“The Cavaliers surprised everyone last year when they took Anthony Bennett first overall, but didn’t pull any fast ones this year, picking Andrew Wiggins with the top selection. Wiggins’ upside is through the roof and he happens to fit nice with Cleveland’s young roster. He will immediately fill Cleveland’s gaping hole at small forward to compliment Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.”

Brad Rowland, FanSided, Grade: A+

“I loved everything about the way that Cleveland emerged from this draft. First, Andrew Wiggins was the top overall selection, and in the wake of the Joel Embiid injury, he was easily the best long-term prospect for the Cavs. In addition, Wiggins is the best perimeter defender on Cleveland’s roster from the moment he touches down in Ohio, and that makes him a better immediate fit than Jabari Parker would have been. It’s a win-win.”

(Photo: Brad Penner. USA TODAY Sports)

An analytics reader’s guide to the 2014 NBA Draft

embiid-parker-wiggins

For years and years to come, the performances of Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins will be irrevocably intertwined because of the draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the driver’s seat to select their favorite of those youngsters and secure their NBA rights for at least five years. It’s not an easy decision. [Read more...]

Cavs rumors, Indians All-Stars and #CavsTwitter draft party … While We’re Waiting

WWW_CavsClock_Brown1Silly season:  Both Grantland’s Andrew Sharp and Bleacher Report’s Michael Pina wrote about the chaos of Cavs rumors yesterday. It has officially become a national circus. Thankfully, it’s all over today. That’s because the draft is Thursday. Remember that, kids. [Read more...]

Watch: Top prospect Francisco Lindor’s 6th home run for Akron RubberDucks

Francisco Lindor is the Indians top prospect and a top-15 prospect in all of baseball. He was advertised as a All-Star with the glove with a solid power-lacking bat.

Somebody say power? Well, the 20-year-old hit his sixth home run yesterday in 71 games in Double-A this season. Here’s the video from MiLB.com:

Lindor’s batting line is now .281/.360/.403. Despite the uptick in homers, he only has nine doubles and his slugging percentage is a slight decline from his .407 mark in High-A last season.

Minor League Ball’s John Sickels raved about Lindor’s 35:51 walk:strikeout ratio in his prospect note report earlier today. Lindor also has led the RubberDucks to the top fielding percentage in the 12-team Eastern League.

On Tuesday, he was named as the only Indians participant in the 2014 Futures Game. The Puerto Rico native will be playing for the World Team on Sunday, July 13, at Minnesota’s Target Field.

[Related: On Asdrubal Cabrera, Francisco Lindor and wanting good things too soon]

Cavs have some interest in Orlando’s package of two lottery picks, Arron Afflalo

arron afflaloThe draft is Thursday. The draft is just over 48 hours away. That means we’re approaching the nadir of silly season draft rumors.

Today’s latest speculation: The Cavs have some interest in a package from the Orlando Magic for the No. 1 overall selection. Orlando’s offering: No. 4, No. 12 and 28-year-old Arron Afflalo, who just had a very nice season.

ESPN’s Chad Ford and Jeff Goodman reported on Tuesday afternoon the Cavs remain “torn” between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Thus, the team’s front office continues to contemplate some trade offers.

The report stated the Cavs “aren’t enamored” by offers from Philadelphia (No. 3 overall and Thaddeus Young) nor from Utah (No. 5 overall and Derrick Favors). Utah had been rumored yesterday to perhaps be sweetening that pot, perhaps with wing Alec Burks, guard Trey Burke and/or other draft picks.

With the No. 4 and No. 12 selections, the Cavs would be able to fill multiple needs and gamble at lower-risk spaces. They could select Joel Embiid, who might remain the team’s top target. They could go after a shooter such as Nik Stauskas or Doug McDermott with a later pick, something we had been expecting had the Cavs remained at No. 9 in the lottery. They could pull off any number of surprises.

Afflalo, the former Detroit Piston and Denver Nugget, averaged a career-high 18.2 points in 73 games this year for the lowly Magic. His shooting was very impressive, as he shot 42.7% from distance and his mid-range game was comparable to some of the best from this year’s free agent class. He will make $7.75 million in 2014-15, followed by a $7.9 million player option for 2015-16.


Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tyronn Lue accepts offer to be Cavs associate head coach

tyronn lueTyonn Lue, the runner-up in the Cavs head coach sweepstakes, has accepted the team’s offer to become its new associate head coach.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the surprising news on Monday afternoon. Lue, 37, served as an assistant for the Los Angeles Clippers for the last five seasons.

“First, I wouldn’t be in the position to make this career move and advancement without the deep support, mentorship and friendship that I have received and enjoyed from Doc Rivers. I want to thank Doc for helping prepare me so well for this next step and challenge,” said Lue. “Cleveland is a great opportunity. I am looking forward to joining Coach Blatt, David Griffin and the entire Cavaliers organization at a very exciting and promising time for the franchise. Through numerous discussions with David and Griff, I felt Cleveland is a great situation for me. I believe my background will help me play a key part in helping achieve the vision that the leadership of this franchise has for its team. I can’t wait to get to work with Coach Blatt and our players.”

According to Wojnarowski, David Blatt and Lue have been in contact frequently, and Cavs GM David Griffin pushed for the hiring of both coaches. The offer for Lue is expected to be a “financially strong assistant coaching package.”

Certainly, this is a positive and shocking move. Blatt is 55 years old, but has no NBA coaching experience. Lue is an up-and-coming coaching prospect who was in hot demand this offseason. He played in the league for 11 seasons as well, mostly as a backup point guard. That point guard experience sure could come in handy with coaching Kyrie Irving.

“Over the past several weeks, it became clear that Ty could play a key role in our team’s future success,” said Griffin. “Ty fits our culture and vision for the franchise. His successful experience as both a player and coach is going to help us tremendously. Tyronn Lue joining Coach Blatt’s staff is more than exciting to all of us here in Cleveland. The leadership and knowledge of Ty is going to be critically important as we move into a new era of competitive Cavaliers basketball.”

The only hope is that this doesn’t lead to a too-crowded atmosphere on the Cavs bench. Last season, the team’s seven assistants were said to be the most in the league and a distraction among many in the infamous #seasonofhuh.

Photo: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

On LeBron talk and the state of journalism … While We’re Waiting

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“The idiots are bad, but the smart people who take them seriously might be even more unbearable. … With the people who think LeBron isn’t a real winner, has no heart, will never be MJ, whatever … Why should anyone care what they think? It’s like discussing Obama’s legacy with people who still think he was born in Kenya.” – Grantland’s Andrew Sharp
[Read more...]

On the pride of Cleveland sports fandom … While We’re Waiting

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Yesterday was another one of those angsty days for Cleveland Sports Twitter. Amid the rumors of Cavs coaching options, Dan Gilbert’s potential continued middling and the unknown nature of the No. 1 overall pick, some of my friends and close contacts were getting pretty depressed about their Cavs fandom. Perhaps it was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it got me thinking. [Read more...]

NBA Free Agency: Analyzing stats of top available wings for the Cavs

free agent wings pictures_finalThe Cleveland Cavaliers are one of many teams staring into a deep collection of potentially available wing players this offseason.

For the last four seasons, the Cavs have struggled to find consistent perimeter play at all from the shooting guard and small forward positions. Nothing is more emblematic of the team’s struggles than the fact that Alonzo Gee, journeyman, is second in minutes played with 6,361 since the 2010-11 season.

Luol Deng provided some stability over the final three months of last season, but he somewhat underwhelmed and early indications seem to be that he’s unlikely to return to Cleveland. That leaves the Cavs with a lot of options … and a gigantic amount of uncertainty.

While addressing the fact that, yes, the team has the No. 1 overall pick and some weird, still-hovering outside chance of recruiting back LeBron James, this post will focus on the qualities and strengths of this year’s free agent wing talent. The top players come from different systems, are at different points of their career development and would bring different skills to the table. What are their strengths and weaknesses? [Read more...]

Johnny good and bad, Indians lineup in 2017 and top tweets from the rain delay … While We’re Waiting

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NFL News and Notes

“I haven’t seen a Browns player come in as a rookie and be so adept — so ridiculously flawless — in front of the media and a crowd as Johnny Manziel.” – ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi.

Johnny Manziel threw three interceptions at OTAs … and it was such a big deal, that Sports Illustrated dot com wrote about the local media writing about how big a deal it was! [Read more...]

Indians 3, Red Sox 2: Tribe climbs out of last place with Masterson’s great start

Asdrubal Cabrera, David OrtizTeam Streak Midwest outdueled Team Streak East on Monday night in Cleveland.

The Indians won their fourth straight in a fast-paced 3-2 game against the Boston Red Sox, and in process, climbed out of the cellar of the AL Central. The loss snapped Boston’s seven-game winning streak.

Justin Masterson recaptured his 2013 form with seven shutout innings, battling the Boston lineup after a laborious start to the game. The three Cleveland runs all came early against red-hot starter John Lackey and proved to be barely enough, despite an eighth-inning scare.

Overall, this was another one of those fun wins that should remind fans of last year. This series is an intriguing test to see if the Indians might be for real … and if they can perhaps climb back to .500. [Read more...]

Indians defense, Johnny goes to Vegas and Embiid as the best? … While We’re Waiting

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Why is the Indians defense so bad? Credit to my former Akron Aeros buddy Brendan Bittner for pointing this out to me: The Indians defense since 2010 is the worst in UZR … by a lot. The Indians rank 30th with a -192.1 mark in the past 4.5 seasons. Next-worst is Houston at -140.4. [Read more...]

Hey Nate Silver, you ignored Kyrie Irving’s age

Kyrie Irving

As expected, FiveThirtyEight czar Nate Silver was hot at the scene of another topical NBA story with a long, data-heavy feature last week at his relaunched site. This time around, the story was about Kyrie Irving’s future in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform and whether the team should offer him a max contract this summer. While Silver’s article was valuable in theory, it misfired badly with its token data.

[Read more...]

Cavs have contacted Billy Donovan about coaching vacancy

donovan joakimThere haven’t been enough Cavs head coach rumors over the last few days, ya know. That’s why our good friend Brian Windhorst is back with the scoop du jour: The Cavaliers have reportedly contacted Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan.

That’s the report per Windhorst’s sources. Donovan admitted that some NBA teams have called him about their vacancies, but he didn’t specify any of them.

“I have spoken to a couple NBA teams, and that’s all I’m going to say,” Donovan said in the ESPN.com, article. “It’s always flattering, but at the same time, I’ve always said that I’m very happy here and like it here.”

As many will recall, Donovan flirted with the NBA in 2007 when he briefly held the coaching job with the Orlando Magic. Within six days however, he had changed his mind and returned to the college game.

His 18-year Florida career his highlighted by the back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007. More recently, his Gators have made the Elite Eight in four consecutive seasons. They lost in the Final Four this year to red-hot UCONN, the eventual champions.

Windhorst’s article also mentions that the Cavs have “tested the interest” of Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg. The Cavs “made inquiries” about UCONN’s Kevin Ollie as well, but he recently signed an extended $2.8 million annual deal to stay at the school.

Donovan undoubtedly has been one of the college game’s most successful coaches for the last decade, but his name isn’t the sexiest nor does he have such a great history with the NBA. It’s not a surprise, perhaps, to always see his name pop up with any opening. But it does appear the Cavs are doing a bit more research this time around compared to the 2013 “search.”

Photo: Jeff Roberson / AP