April 23, 2014

South-praw-blem? On the Indians’ early struggles against left-handed pitching

Jose Quintana mowing down the Tribe

An early story-line in the 2014 campaign has been the Indians struggles with left-handed starters. In the last six games alone, the Tribe has seen Eric Stults, Robbie Erlin, John Danks, Chris Sale, and Jose Quintana all of the southpaw persuasion. In Detroit, they’ll see Drew Smyly on Wednesday night. With a 12-man hitting arsenal, the Indians currently house five hitters that bat only from the left side, yet they have amassed an OPS of just .623 against lefties. The Tribe has struck out more often against lefties (40 vs. 38) despite having 71 fewer at-bats. Is this an overreaction of some early season hitting scuffles or the exposition of a larger problem? Let’s dig into the numbers a little bit.

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Buckeyes add transfer Anthony Lee for next season

The 2014-15 version of the Ohio State Buckeyes is going to look much different than the squads of the last two seasons. First, the starting backcourt of Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. has graduated. Then, junior LaQuinton Ross and sophomore Amedeo Della Valle both chose to pursue professional opportunities and leave Ohio State early (Della Valle for pro ball in Europe with Ross looking to be drafted in the NBA). Now, coupled with the incoming top five recruiting class headlined by D’Angelo Russell, Keita Bates-Diop, and Jae’Sean Tate, Thad Matta added transfer big man Anthony Lee today, per ESPN Insider Jeff Goodman.

Lee comes to Columbus via Temple, where the big man played three years as an Owl before completing his undergraduate degree. Last season, he averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds and just under a block while playing over 31 minutes per night. At 6’9″ and 230 pounds, Lee likely slots into the starting center role, displacing the incumbent Amir Williams, who has been an overwhelming disappointment after being a highly-touted recruit and McDonald’s All-American. Williams, fellow junior Trey McDonald, and Lee will all be gone at next season’s end, leaving a large opening in the OSU frontcourt for Thad Matta to recruit some new bodies. Thad’s already working on that with another traditional transfer prospect in Virginia Tech’s Trevor Thompson.

As someone who can step in immediately by NCAA rules that permit transfer to a graduate school program not offered at the current institution, Lee was highly sought. After saying he wanted to play in the Big Ten, ACC, or Big 12, he received interested from several schools, including Indiana, Iowa State, Lousiville, Notre Dame, and others.

Returning to the rotation next year will be juniors Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, Williams, and McDonald along with sophomore Marc Loving and redshirt freshman Kam Williams, who sat out last year due to mononucleosis that delayed the start of his year. Russell, Bates-Diop, and Tate rank 13th, 21st, and 27th respectively in the 2014 class. Russell is considered a five-star per ESPN as a 6’4″ shooting guard out of Louisville, KY. Bates-Diop is a 6’7″ small forward prospect from Illinois that will likely play some power forward in Matta’s system despite weighing just 190 pounds currently. Tate is a local recruit out of Pickerington and is a 6’5″ small forward. It’s possible (though unlikely in the beginning) that Ohio State could start four newcomers along with Scott at the point.

The Buckeyes will look to return to their period of sustained success that included a Final Four in 2012 and Sweet Sixteen appearances in four straight seasons prior to their first-round exit1 at the hands of the Cinderella Dayton Flyers.

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Footnotes:

  1. I refuse to call the games following the “First Four” the “second round”. []

Report: Indians sign Yan Gomes to long-term contract

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported this evening that the Indians have locked up their surprise young backstop Yan Gomes for the foreseeable future. The deal is a reported six years and worth $23 million. The deal includes two club options that could keep the Yanimal in a Cleveland uniform into his mid-thirties. This contract, per Jon Heyman, marks the largest given to a catcher pre-arbitration, breaking Carlos Santana’s record.

Gomes, 26, was arbitration eligible following the end of the 2015 season and would have been heading to the open market potentially following the 2018 season. This move effectively “buys out” his three arbitration years and his first year of free agency (plus an additional two years if the team so desires), a move that the Indians have used countless times in this era, including with Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, and Michael Brantley (which actually could buy out two of his free agency years if they pick up his $11 million club option).

After playing both corner infield slots, outfield, and catcher for Toronto, searching for a positional home, Toronto was willing to part with Gomes. He was acquired from the Blue Jays along with utility infielder Mike Aviles in exchange for middle reliever turned starter Esmil Rogers, Gomes hit .294/.345/.481 (.826 OPS) with 11 homers and 38 RBI in 88 games behind the plate as he became the Indians full-time catcher in the second half playoff stretch run. Aviles and Gomes formed one-half of the “Goon Squad” along with Ryan Raburn and Jason Giambi that gave the Indians one of the most versatile and talented benches in the bigs, helping them win at the margins and finish the season on a 10-game tear.

Ironically, it was Yan’s play that forced the Indians to move Carlos Santana to a primarily 1B/DH role late in the season to put the best lineup on the field both offensively and defensively. Gomes was an assassin behind the dish, throwing out a phenomenal 41% of base-runners (the league average last season was 26%). This year, with Carlos Santana committing himself to a position change to third base, the door is wide open for Gomes to be the everyday catcher with Santana the only other catcher on the Opening Day roster to spell him.

With talks with starting pitcher Justin Masterson over and the Tribe ace all but certainly heading to free agency, the Indians’ next goal is to sign All-Star Jason Kipnis to a similar (albeit more lucrative) team-friendly deal.

Related: Setting the lines on the 2014 Indians

Imperfect finish to an imperfect season: Bucks fall to Dayton

craftmissIt was the opener to the wall of games yesterday afternoon. In the in-state matchup that doesn’t happen very often, “little brother” Dayton had nothing to lose against the Buckeyes, and they played like it. The Ohio State Buckeyes showed their warts as they have all season long, and they went down just as they have in nearly every loss this season, looking like a team without a leading scorer. Former Buckeye Jordan Sibert and the Flyers provided the first upset of the tourney with a 60-59 stunner as Vee Sanford provided the game-winner with 3.8 seconds remaining, sandwiched between would-be game-winners from Buckeye heart and soul Aaron Craft. One unbelievable make and one heart-wrenching miss. The Buckeyes end the season 25-10, a far cry from many of the early season expectations. Now, they have to say goodbye to one of the most polarizing figures to don the scarlet and gray in the last half century.

The same things that plagued Ohio State all season long manifested again today: their lack of consistent play from the center position, the uneven shooting of their two leading scorers LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr., the lack of outside shooting from Shannon Scott, and turnovers. But, the things that kept giving you hope all season long that they could turn it around were on display too: a surprise performance from one of those inconsistent players (Sam Thompson), clutch and gritty play from Aaron Craft, and tenacious defense that racked up stop after stop after stop. [Read more...]

Buckeye Senior Day completes long strange regular season trip

craftdivesrdayBasing your analyses of the Big Ten basketball season on anything other than pure randomness has seemingly been a fruitless task. There’s no better example of this than the current campaign for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Let’s recap just a bit: Two losses to Penn State, the first two in Thad Matta’s tenure; wins at Iowa and Wisconsin, two of the biggest threats in the upcoming Big Ten conference tournament; losses at Lincoln, Minneapolis, and Bloomington. The Buckeyes won twice to open the conference slate and followed that with losses in five of six, followed by wins in six out of seven, then inexplicable losses at Penn State and Indiana. Fans of the scarlet and gray have surely been up and down the Columbus roundball roller coaster. Then, Sunday happened.

On Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr.’s Senior Day, a tall task stood in the way of a happy ending in the Michigan State Spartans. The two had squared off in a top-five showdown earlier in the season with Ohio State putting forth a miracle sprint to force overtime only to fall just short. This time, the Buckeyes used their vice-like defende to hold on for the win despite stalled offense and a parade of missed free throws in crunch time. The 69-67 Buckeye win kept the hopes of a Big Ten tourney first-round bye alive (these were ultimately dashed by the Huskers), but more importantly, it was a positive finish to a whirlwind year, sending out the seniors properly.

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#CavsRank: At No. 5, it’s Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Editor’s Note: Yes, we realize that Anderson Varejao, the ninth-ranked Cavalier of all time (per #CavsRank) was unveiled on Thursday. Today, however, we flip the script and give one man his just due on the eve of his monumental night.  Join WFNY, along with the rest of the #CavsRank participants, as we pay homage to the man in the middle, Big Z. Please take some time to check out the entries at Fear The Sword, Real Cavs Fans, Cavs: The Blog, and Stepien Rules.

zreturnOn Saturday night night, along with 20,561 other ticket-purchasing fans, I will be in attendance as my all-time favorite Cleveland Cavalier, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, has his No. 11 jersey raised to the Quicken Loans Arena rafters. It’s been a long road for the Lithuanian center, full of crushing defeats, obstacles overcome, and moments of glory. For reasons of longevity, skillset, leadership, and his sentimental place in the hearts of this city, retiring his number and in such short order should come as a shock to nobody that’s a Cavaliers fan. 

When Ilgauskas was drafted in 1996, I remember being at his friend’s house to watch the NBA Draft with my dad. It was an exciting time for the Cavs in having two first-round picks in what was a deep draft. They beefed up their frontcourt, adding a pair of centers in Vitaly Potapenko (aka “The Ukraine Train”) and Ilgauskas with the 12th and 20th picks, respectively1.  It’s strange to look back on those frozen snapshots in time and see the lanky 21-year-old Ilgauskas in the electric blue and orange Cavs hat. I remember watching Z in those early years and thinking that I had never seen anyone with his particular skillset as a 7-footer. Some of the younger Cavs fans may not remember that Z, prior to the extensive operations on his feet, was a more mobile rim-runner that still popped shots on the perimeter with frequency.

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Footnotes:

  1. This draft also included Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Derek Fisher, Stephon Marbury, Peja Stojakovic, and Jermaine O’Neal to name a few. []

Cavs vs. Jazz Behind The Boxscore: A single triple double!

kyrietripledoubleIf the Cavaliers have done one thing consistently this season, it’s give fans anxiety with their inability to handle any sort of success. They came out in this home matchup against the Utah Jazz incredibly flat on offense and slow on defense. Then, the Utah Jazz started missing and they never stopped for the rest of the game. In the process of pulling away from the Jazz late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, Kyrie Irving inched closer and closer to a triple double. He finally got it, marking the first Cavalier to do so since LeBron James in 2010. With the 99-79 win, the Cavaliers have won two straight as they prepare for a trip to Memphis tomorrow night while still incredibly short-handed. Here’s a look at some of the easy on the eyes stats from this big win.

48 – Irving was the star of this game, but the Cavalier frontline deserves equal credit. Those two elements combined to the tune of 48 points in the paint for the Cavs, completely dominating that category 48-22. Tyler Zeller continues to confidently cut to the basket and finish strong, and Spencer Hawes’s spacing has opened up more driving lanes for Kyrie (more on Hawes in a second). No one has confused the Cavaliers for being a team that consistently takes it strong into the paint, but that improved spacing is reducing the number of blocked shots (just six for Utah tonight) as the defense collapses. The 22 points allowed in the paint (on 11-of-25 shooting) is probably even more impressive with the Cavs closing off the paint and making the shots that did occur in there a higher degree of difficulty. Which leads quite well into…. [Read more...]

Cavs vs. Thunder Behind The Boxscore: HUH?!

kyriethunderOn the second night of a back-to-back against the best of the West following a tough loss to the Raptors, I gave the Cavaliers virtually no chance of competing tonight, let alone winning. But, they did exactly that, it was a star-studded effort for Kyrie Irving, who trumped the duo of Durant and Westbrook with plenty of help from the other four starters to pull off a fourth quarter stunner, capped by a 40-23 run in the fourth that turned a seven-point deficit into a 10-point lead on the way to a 114-104 victory in Oklahoma City.

There were so many highlights late in this one: Alonzo Gee’s steal and power thump on a breakaway, Kyrie’s out-of-state three point answer, Spencer Hawes’s pair of floating left-handed hooks through the lane, Tyler Zeller zipping through the lane on multiple dump-offs, and Tristan Thompson’s bounce pass feed on a backdoor to Kyrie that extended the lead from six to nine with under two minutes to play. But, the takeaway from this one is that the Cavaliers did not back down when Oklahoma City hit them in the mouth in the third quarter and looked to pull away. Let’s dig into some noteworthy numbers. [Read more...]

#CavsRank: No. 15 Andre Miller

andremillerA guy like Andre Miller can get lost in the shuffle. A four-year player out of mid-major-at-the-time Utah. Drafted 8th in a deep 1999 NBA Draft class that included the likes of Lamar Odom, Steve Francis, Baron Davis, Richard Hamilton, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, and Elton Brand. Drafted into an organization that has had some great point guards in its history such as Mark Price, Terrell Brandon, Kyrie Irving, Mo Williams, and yes, rookie LeBron James to name a few. Playing for the Cavs at one of the low points in franchise history following the mediocre Fratello era, Miller may always be remembered as the last good player that preceded a great player and era in Cleveland. However, as difficult as it was at the time, without Andre Miller being traded, there would’ve been no LeBron James, no Eastern Conference and pair of Central Division banners hanging in Quicken Loans Arena for the Cavaliers. [Read more...]

Cavs vs. Wizards Behind The Boxscore: Depleted backcourt rears its ugly head

BtBS Wizards

The warm and fuzzy feeling associated with the Cavaliers’ recent six-game win streak seems like a distant memory. After dropping a Friday night matchup in Toronto, the Cavaliers began a new losing streak tonight at the Q, dropping one to the Wizards 96-83. There were some good moments in the first half, including a sick throwdown by Anthony Bennett. However, the absences of Anderson Varejao, C.J. Miles, and above all, Dion Waiters are starting to take its toll.

2-for-18 – The Cavaliers were ice cold from outside the arc. Missing two of their best outside threats in Miles and Waiters, the wine and gold missed plenty of open looks, including a 0-for-7 combined for the small backcourt running mates of Kyrie (Jarrett Jack and Matthew Dellavedova). Delly is just 4-for-28 from three point range in the month of February after showing the capability to knockdown the open shot in the first half of the season. Jack meanwhile is shooting just 31% in the last 16 games, and while his insertion into the starting lineup has helped free up offensive movement a bit and increased his assist totals, his defense and shooting is just killing them. [Read more...]

Orioles sign Ubaldo Jimenez to 4-year contract

With pitchers and catchers already in camp for Spring Training, it was only a matter of time before Ubaldo Jimenez finally got a lucrative contract. The Baltimore Orioles gave him just that when they agreed to terms with the former Indian on a 4-year, $48 million contract, per Ken Rosenthal and MASNSports.com’s Roch Kubatko.

Several teams were reportedly interested in Jimenez, one of the last high-profile free agent starters on the market. There had been talk that the Toronto Blue Jays were in on him, and Baltimore had to give Ubaldo the fourth year to get the deal done. The Indians as a result will receive first-round draft pick compensation (the 30th pick) for the loss of Ubaldo Jimenez. The Orioles meanwhile will forfeit the 17th pick and corresponding pool money in this summer’s draft. There was some outside hope that the longer that Jimenez remained on the open market, the greater possibility he could return to Cleveland at a discount. However, news broke last week that the Indians had not spoken to Jimenez’s representation in “weeks” and ended realistic hopes of such an event.

Jimenez was one of the most polarizing figures on the Tribe since his July 2011 acquisition from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. He was a huge disappointment in 2011 and 2012, but his 2013 effort from May through the end of the season was one of the single most critical contributions to the Indians’ surprise playoff run. How huge were his contributions? Here’s an excerpt from my nomination of Ubaldo as WFNY Sportsman of the Year 2013.

He struck out more batters per nine innings than at any point in his career in 2013, and he greatly reduced his walk rate to within the same range as he was at when he was an All-Star and Cy Young contender in 2010. Cleveland went 21-11 in his 32 outings and 8-2 in his no-decisions, including one loss where Ubaldo left with the lead.

Jiménez allowed more than two earned runs in a start just ONCE after July 14th. In his six September starts, the Indians were 6-0, and Ubaldo earned four of those wins himself, allowing just 4 earned runs in 41 1/3 innings (0.87 ERA) while walking just 7 and striking out 51. In Game 162, needing a win to guarantee a wild card spot and not just a home play-in game or a wild card berth that could have potentially taken them on the road, Jiménez was brilliant. He kept the Twins’ bats silent for 6 2/3 innings, allowing a lone run on five hits while striking out 13 batters. Ubaldo Jiménez cemented October baseball being played in Cleveland, Ohio for the first time in six years.

With Jimenez officially out of the picture, the Indians head into the spring with Justin Masterson, Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, and Zach McAllister as four near-locks for the rotation. The fifth starter spot will be a competition between youngsters Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, and Trevor Bauer as well as non-roster invitees Shaun Marcum and Aaron Harang. A couple starter options do remain in free agency such as Chris Capuano, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana.

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

Cavalier Film Room: A window into the Anthony Bennett skill set

When we were last in the film room, we took a look at the Cavaliers over-helping on three-point shots and the resulting consequences. As always, if you have any ideas for film room topics, contact me at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com. This week, we’re going to look no further than Anthony Bennett’s performance against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night and how it showed a preview of what Bennett can become as a player. You can find my NBA Draft film room on Bennett here.

WFNY Cavaliers Film Room

By now, you’ve seen the stat line: 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 6-of-9 shooting in 30 minutes to lead the Cavaliers’ to their third straight win at the time, a 109-99 victory over the Kings at home. It was much more than Bennett’s first career double-double, however. In this game, we saw a decent chunk of the skills and potential that made the now-terminated Chris Grant choose him with the first overall pick. We’re seeing a slimmer, more confident Bennett, and we’re going to take a look at a few of those instances. [Read more...]

Team-building exercises: The ultimate puzzle

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Amen, CJ.

Assets are a great thing to have. Look no further than Ryan’s piece  to show that the Cavaliers have plenty of them. The pantry isn’t barren. There are a number of quality ingredients in this organization, but good ingredients alone don’t bake a delicious cake or fix a good cocktail. Asset accumulation and talent acquisition were a big part of Chris Grant’s job description. It was  the portion that he performed to a satisfactory or even above-average degree. However, it’s the team-building aspect of how all those assets— how all those ingredients are measured, at what stage they’re added, and how long they’re allowed to mix together before going into the fiery oven of expectations, or the ice-filled glass of criticism—where Chris Grant failed.

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Aaron Craft, the senior leader every team wants and only one has

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When one attempts to put into words the impact that Aaron Craft has on a basketball game, a team’s season, or a program in four short years, it proves to be an incredibly tough task. Running jokes about Craft’s tenure at Ohio State lasting the better part of a decade aside, he’s been the engine that keeps his team running, all the while saying the right things and excelling in the classroom. Ohio State basketball had seen some of its darkest days in Craft’s tenure with the team—and likely longer with losses in five out of seven January contests, including failures against bottom-dwellers Nebraska and Penn State.

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Cavalier Film Room: Too much help-side and three point consequences

When we last convened in the film room, I was breaking down the offensive rebounding of Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao, aka “The Windex Duo”. As always if you have any suggestions for film room topics, you can reach me at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNY Cavaliers Film Room

Today, we’re going to be talking about help-side defense and what happens when players help too much. Specifically, we’re going to take a look at several wide open three-point looks the Suns got on Sunday night and how these could have been much better contested with proper defensive floor balance. Let’s go ahead and dive into the evidence.

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Behind The Boxscore Cavs vs. Suns: Watch That Third Quarter Step, It’s a Doozy!

BtBS Suns

Wow. At halftime, I was expecting to talk about one of the more glowing wins of the season from both ends of the floor. The Cavaliers shot 55% from the field in that half. They were cutting without the basketball toward the basket, setting effective picks for one another, knocking down mid-range shots, and sharing the offensive workload as well as they have all season. Defensively, the Suns were settling for shots, and the Cavaliers were forcing turnovers and playing inspired as one unit. With a 18-point lead, the Cavaliers could do no wrong heading into the locker room at the half, and then came the third quarter. We should have known better. The Cavs lost it all and then some, and they got doubled up in the second half as they dropped their third game of the five-game homestand 99-90.

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Browns could consider Callahan, Loggains for OC opening; Cameron out

With the late hire of new Browns coach Mike Pettine, serious concern has been expressed by many about the ability for the Browns to hire quality, experienced coordinators so late in the offseason hiring process. There are still some names, however, out there with previous offensive coordinator experience, and the Browns are reportedly taking a look at a few of them.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer, the Browns were considering LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for their offensive coordinator vacancy. She adds that Dowell Loggains is also under consideration for the same position.

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Cameron, however, is reportedly staying put at LSU.

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Albert Breer of NFL Network adds that should Dallas add a new coach to their offensive playcalling situation, current offensive coordinator Bill Callahan could become available. Breer additionally says that Loggains could be in the mix for the Browns QB coach.

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Loggains, 33, was the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator for the past two seasons under Mike Munchak. He had been with the team since 2008 as a offensive quality control coach and quarterbacks coach prior to getting the OC job. He was dismissed when the team hired Ken Whisenhunt this month. In his two seasons as offensive coordinator, the Titans ranked 26th and 22nd in yardage and 23rd and 19th in points.

Callahan, 57, has the prior head coaching experience that many are seeking to pair with Pettine. In his first season, Callahan led the Raiders to the Super Bowl, falling to Jon Gruden’s Buccaneers. Many have pointed out that the team Callahan inherited was virtually built by Gruden himself. In his second season, the team went 4-12, and he was terminated. He also coached at the college level, leading Nebraska to a 27-22 record and a 1-1 bowl record in four seasons in Lincoln. Callahan has been the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in Dallas for the past two seasons, and he also was OC in Oakland for four seasons before taking the head gig.

As for defensive coordinator, it seems the Browns are in a waiting game still on Buffalo for the services of linebackers coach Jim O’Neil. O’Neil was with Pettine in New York as well as an assistant defensive backs coach for all four seasons he was there. If that doesn’t pan out and Buffalo blocks him from interviewing, they may look to Ravens inside linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale, who was defensive coordinator in Denver in 2010.

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Related: Mike Pettine’s arrival likely means an upgrade at inside linebacker

Kyrie Irving to start for Eastern Conference in All-Star Game

DSC_0560We knew it was likely coming, but it doesn’t make it any less rare for a Cleveland Cavalier. Kyrie Irving joins Shawn Kemp and LeBron James as the third Cavalier to start in a NBA All-Star game, earning the official nod this evening. Irving joins LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony in the Eastern Conference starting lineup. The West starters are Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love. The format was changed this year to eliminate the center position in voting, instead opting for two backcourt and three frontcourt players of any configuration.

Irving will make his second All-Star appearance after earning honors in his second year last season. In Houston, he made a weekend of it, dazzling on Team Shaq in the Rising Stars game while breaking Brandon Knight’s ankles, winning the three-point shootout on Saturday night, and then playing 25 minutes on Sunday night and scoring 15 points and handing out 4 assists. This year’s game will be on Sunday, February 16th in New Orleans.

This season, Irving is averaging 21.7 points and 6.1 assists on .430/.373/.833 shooting to go with a 20.0 PER and .525 true shooting percentage. However, his shooting numbers are down, his defense has remained sketchy as opposing point guards have lit him up, and the team is still three games out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture with a 15-27 record.

Related: Cavalier Film Room: The Windex Duo

(Image via Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Cavalier Film Room: The Windex Duo

Last time in the Cavalier film room, we talked about the potential of the Cavalier offense when they’re sharing the basketball. As always, if you have any recommendations for film room topics, please contact me at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNY Cavaliers Film Room

This week, we’re going to dive into the fevered comeback that fell just short against the Mavericks on Monday afternoon, looking exclusively at how the rebounding of Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao on the offensive glass made the comeback possible. We’ll also go back to another terrible Mike Brown X’s and O’s session in crunch time.

Let’s start early in the fourth quarter with Tristan Thompson wanting the ball more than the rest on the floor. Anderson Varejao gets a wide-open mid-range look that he’s been knocking down with such efficiency this season after there appears to be some confusion between Brandan Wright, Dirk Nowitzki, and Vince Carter on who is supposed to be covering him. [Read more...]

Reports: Pettine’s second interview complete, no offer yet

We’ve heard a lot of noise out there in the Twittersphere tonight from Cleveland, Buffalo, and league-wide sources about Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and the Cleveland Browns following his second interview with the team, which according to WKYC’s Jim Donovan lasted about five hours.  According to multiple sources, while it appears that things are progressing and we may be close to reaching a point of inevitability, there is no deal to speak of tonight.

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It appears that the team is going to continue with another interview tomorrow, presumably Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter or Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

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As for that inevitability part… pettinetweet6

Pettine is in his fifth year as a defensive coordinator, four of which were under Rex Ryan with the New York Jets. He also has experience as an outside linebackers coach in Baltimore prior to that. The 47-year-old is on the outspoken side and reportedly well-liked by players.  His Bills’ defense was ranked 4th best in Pro Football Focus’s advanced cumulative defensive statistics in 2013. His defenses have traditionally been top ten units with elite run stopping and pass coverage abilities with a slight weakness in pass rushing. Last year, however, the Bills had 57 sacks and three players with double digit sack totals, good for 2nd in the league.

After being turned away by Josh McDaniels, Todd Bowles, Ken Whisenhunt, Ben McAdoo, and Adam Gase, the pool of candidates as it currently stands includes Pettine, Quinn, Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, former Titans head coach Mike Munchak, Koetter, and possibly San Francisco defensive coordinator Jim Tomsula, who the team has reportedly done some background work on recently.

Related: Head Coaching Backgrounds and Early Returns