July 24, 2014

Cavaliers take first two in Las Vegas Summer League

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The Cavaliers summer league team played two games over the weekend in Las Vegas. On Friday night, they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 70-68 in a one-versus-two matchup of the 2014 NBA Draft. Yesterday, they topped the Spurs by a 82-70 count. There was plenty to be pleased with for wine and gold fans. For years, the summer league has given us a window into what to expect from key contributors, and this season is no different. In addition to No. 1 overall picks Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, there are multiple other players that will either be on the roster or have a very real chance at making it somewhere if not in Cleveland. Here are some of my thoughts from the weekend that was.

Slim Good-Bennett: Let’s start with Anthony Bennett, who looks like a completely different player. He’s no longer playing timid, and he’s lost a noticeable amount of weight. The first thing to mention is that he’s been attacking the glass with authority. In the two games over the weekend, Bennett hauled in 21 rebounds (17 defensive), including eight in rapid succession to start off the game against San Antonio. We saw Bennett run and fill the lanes for fastbreaking thunderous dunks. Probably the most promising development overall, however, is his better form and comfort on the perimeter. Last season, just about every shot he took from long range looked rushed and panicked. In his home away from home in Las Vegas, he’s used the dribble to crossover a couple of defenders and either open space for a long jumper or a driving lane to shoot or dump off to a teammate. AB has also rediscovered his ability to draw fouls and get to the line (4-of-7 in two games, but several non-shooting fouls called while posting up). In all, Bennett shot 11-of-24 (2-for-8 from three) for 28 points to go with 21 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and just three turnovers in 62 minutes. Bennett still has a way to go with consistent defensive burn1, offensive shot selection, and conditioning, but I’m expecting him to be a key contributor this coming season. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Oddly enough, Bennett picked up eight fouls against Milwaukee and zero against San Antonio in roughly the same playing time. []

LeBron James agrees to two-year deal in anticipation of max increase

Brian Windhorst of ESPNBronHome came out with the contract details for returning forward LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers this afternoon. James will sign just a two-year contract for $42.1 million with the option of opting out next summer.

The structure of this deal allows James to capitalize on the expected jump of the salary cap in the summer of 2016.

“Depending on how the new television contracts are put together, the salary cap is projected to leap to as high as $80 million in 2016. There is also uncertainty with the current collective bargaining agreement starting in 2017, another reason James wanted to keep his long-term options open when it comes to the structure of his contract.”

For those who are a little anxious about the length of this deal, I’ll say that it would be quite shocking after the beautiful words conveyed in James’s announcement for him to turn around and leave at any time in the near future. Just for reassurance, Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal had this to say.

Windhorst added in the article that he is “fully committed to the Cavs long term”. With an incredibly young roster that has a long way to go before being a finished product, it would be beyond a head-scratcher for this to be anything but Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, agent Rich Paul, and James being on the exact same page when it comes to maximizing LeBron’s income potential and the Cavaliers’ chances for success.

Related: A monarchy restored, but the subjects never left

 

A monarchy restored, but the subjects never left

LeBron's back

I spent nearly four years holding onto a lot of hard feelings when it came to LeBron James. A lot of us did.

The first year could only be described as raw and open wound hatred. The second year, culminating with LeBron’s first championship, was acceptance. What Cleveland had been resisting had happened, and even though it was incredibly painful, it allowed the wound to start to clot and scar.

In year three, it was more apathy than anything. Watching James and the Spurs go toe-to-toe, I at least started to watch for the spirit of a good series of playoff basketball once again. One or two rings, it didn’t matter as much. Then, the fourth and final year in Miami, one could feel the tide start to turn. Some people, a good portion of people, no longer wanted to actively boo James at all. The Heat started to look human in the regular season, and there was the thought that maybe, just maybe, if things didn’t end in a three-peat, James would look to move on to somewhere else. [Read more...]

Bourn to DL, Tyler Holt called up

Bourn Hit 4/23/2014The Indians won in impressive fashion last night 7-3 over the Kansas City Royals, but it came at a cost. Michael Bourn left the game in the eighth inning after scoring and having his hamstring apparently tighten up on him. Sure enough, we heard the news today that Bourn will be headed to the disabled list for the second time this season.

To take his spot on the active roster, the Indians have called up outfielder Tyler Holt from Columbus. Holt, a 25-year-old 10th round selection by the Indians in the 2010 draft, has split this season between Akron and Columbus, batting .300 with a .805 OPS, 2 homers, 26 RBI, and has 21 steals in 24 attempts. Holt is an above average defender, capable of playing all three positions, and has played center exclusively in Columbus for the past month or so.

Bourn has had an up and down season, batting .267 (.695 OPS) on the campaign, hitting 3 homers, driving in 21, and stealing successfully on 7 of 10 attempts. His on-base percentage is right at the league average, but his strikeout (22.3%) and walk (6.5%) ratios leave much to be desired as they are even worse than his career marks of 20.7% and 8.4%.

In his absence, Michael Brantley will primarily patrol center field, as he is in today’s lineup. Left field will be a rotation of Mike Aviles (starting today), Ryan Raburn, and Brantley when Holt starts.

As TD pointed out a short while ago, the trip to the DL could be less games than regularly anticipated. With the All-Star break upcoming, Bourn could come off the DL on July 21st and miss just 12 games.

(Photo: Chuck Crow/Plain Dealer)

Related: The Indians’ Mr. Clutch, Pat Tabler : Reliving Yesteryear

Woj: Cavs shopping pick and Jarrett Jack to clear cap space

DSC_0432We talked a little bit about the Cavaliers’ cap space last night when it was announced that Spencer Hawes was headed to the Clippers. Today, Yahoo’s news-breaking juggernaut Adrian Wojnarowski indicates that the Cavaliers and Rockets are working out deals to generate space to offer a full-max to LeBron James.

Jack signed a 4-year, $25.2 million with the Cavaliers last offseason, which was highly regarded as a huge get for the Cavaliers to provide a veteran backcourt influence for backcourt mates Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Instead, Jack disappointed and struggled for stretches of the team’s disappointing campaign, averaging 9.5 points on 41% shooting (below his career averages of 10.9 and 44%, respectively). The final year of Jack’s three remaining years is a team option. So, a team is committing to two years of the 30-year-old Jack at a total cost of $12.6 million. Jack is much easier to move than Jeremy Lin, who is owed nearly $15 million this season.

To help grease the wheels, the Cavaliers have extra draft picks (though not as many as a few months ago, Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes!). In addition to all of their own first and second round picks, they own Miami and Memphis’s 2015 first round picks. Miami’s is Top-10 protected the next two years and unprotected in 2017. Memphis’s has much heavier stipulations, but starts at 1-5 and 15-30 protected in ’15 and ’16, top five protected in ’17 and ’18, and unprotected in ’19. The Bulls own the rights to swap their first round pick with Cleveland’s this year if it is outside of the lottery as well.

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Related: On LeBron’s potential return to the Cavs

Clippers agree to terms with Spencer Hawes

HawesThunderThe second of three Cavalier free agents that the team is not expected to re-sign agreed to terms yesterday. After C.J. Miles agreed to terms with the Indiana Pacers on a four-year deal, former Cavaliers center Spencer Hawes signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. The deal will pay Hawes $23 million dollars over four years, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and backed up by several other sources. Hawes had been pursued by several Western Conference teams, including Portland and Phoenix, in addition to the Clippers and Cavs.

Hawes will be a bench player for the Clip Show behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. That will make him instantly one of the best bench big threats in the association. With the Cavaliers over 27 games last season, Hawes shot a scorching 45% from three point range, averaging 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds. While the Cavaliers finished with just 33 wins and fell short of the playoffs, Hawes provided an offensive spark that some believed new head coach David Blatt and general manager David Griffin would be in favor of retaining. The late season push that included trading for Hawes cost the Cavaliers two second-round picks in the 2014 NBA draft (#39 and #52 overall), Earl Clark, and Henry Sims.

The Cavaliers may still be able to get something from the Clippers as part of a sign and trade for Hawes, though by some accounts, this seems unlikely.

Some of the assets the Clippers currently hold that could come back in a sign and trade are guards Jamal Crawford and Reggie Bullock as well as forward Jared Dudley. Bullock, a 6’7″ rookie out of North Carolina, played sparingly for the playoff-bound Clippers, scoring 2.7 points and shooting 30.1% from three in 43 games. Crawford, a 6’6″ 13-year veteran, won the Sixth Man of the Year this past season, scoring 18.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists while shooting 42% overall and 36% from three in 31 minutes per night. Dudley, a 6’7″ six-year journeyman, struggled mightily last season as he saw his scoring and shooting dip well below three productive years in Phoenix. Dudley is a career 8.7 point per game scorer that has a near-40% clip from beyond the arc. Dudley doesn’t have a good handle, but he is a strong defender.

The Cavaliers currently have about $11.2 million dollars in cap space when you relieve them of the cap holds of Hawes, Miles, and Deng, who will likely be renounced soon. However, that number grows when you consider the non-guaranteed deals of Scotty Hopson, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Harris, Dwight Powell, and Anderson Varejao’s partially guaranteed deal, which amount to another potential $9 million in space. The team also has several tradeable contracts, including those of Jarrett Jack, Tristan Thompson, and Dion Waiters, which could free up more room.

With Varejao and Tyler Zeller currently under contract at center position (as well as Brendan Haywood’s contract), the Cavaliers won’t be left out in the cold. However, they were expected to make a play for an offensive-minded center in the free agency period. With Marcin Gortat re-signing with Washington and Hawes now LA-bound, the market is shrinking, and Suns big Channing Frye looks to be one of the last on the open market. There has also been talk of interest in Detroit restricted free agent Greg Monroe.

But, as everyone not living under a rock is aware, the Cavaliers and the entire NBA are waiting to hear what LeBron James will do before proceeding in other directions.

Related: For Cavs, the time to spend is now

(Photo: Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

For Cavs, the time to spend is now

david griffin

The Cavaliers have already had one heck of an offseason. They drafted Andrew Wiggins with the first pick and signed Kyrie Irving to a max extension. Those two moves alone have set them up to be relevant for hopefully the next 5-6 years. But, what about another big splash this offseason? Twenty-four hours ago when I started thinking about writing this, the Heat’s Big Three looked to be a little more unified. Nevertheless,what the Cavaliers cannot have happen, regardless of the James situation, is fail to capitalize on the tremendous amount of cap space that they’ve allotted themselves. [Read more...]

Trade Down For What?! Embiid, Exum, and Extra Assets Are Too Risky

photo1 It’s that blaring sound in your head, the noise that just won’t go away. Everywhere you go, every swipe of your thumb down your Twitter app of choice, it’s there, brandishing an intensely uncomfortable cacophony. You don’t know why it’s popular, but you know you want it dismissed as an afterthought as soon as possible. No, I’m not talking about DJ Snake and Lil’ Jon’s chart-topper. I’m talking about the growing chorus that the Cavs should—or will—trade out of the top selection on Thursday night in order to acquire more assets.

The Cavaliers by all accounts are considering a trade from one of many suitors that would move them down between picks three and six in the draft. Doing that would be a move steeped in Chris Grant’s philosophy, and it scares me as we enter the highly-active phase of the NBA offseason in one of the most important in recent Cleveland basketball history. [Read more...]

Cavalier NBA Draft Film Room: Andrew Wiggins

wigginsdunk

In my second of three NBA Draft options for the Cavaliers with the top pick, I take a look at Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins. Last week, I analyzed film for Duke forward Jabari Parker, who impressed me immensely with his diverse offensive package. Next week, stay tuned for a breakdown of Kansas center Joel Embiid.

Wiggins is an incredibly talented player with plenty of still untapped potential to grow into a perennial All-Star type. When you see him glide around on the basketball court, one can see his ability to effect the game both offensively and defensively, inside and outside, at the line and on the glass. But, is taking him with the top pick a compromise for an all-around player rather than taking a potential game-changing defender (Embiid) or a scoreboard-shattering offensive scorer (Parker)? Does Wiggins’ game potentially gel more with the Kyrie-Dion backcourt? Does position play a role into the selection? We’ll talk about all this and more. [Read more...]

Cavaliers to interview Mark Price for head coaching position

markpricecoachAfter a whirlwind day for Cavaliers fans from all the John Calipari talk, Dan Gilbert and David Griffin won some brownie points with a large portion of the fan base. Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer is reporting that the Cavaliers will interview former Cavalier point guard Mark Price for the head coaching position tomorrow.

Price is a legend in Cleveland for his time as a Cavalier from 1986-1995. In that time, he was selected to four All-Star games and was a part of seven different trips to the playoffs (47 games) in what is still considered by some to be the best era in franchise history. In franchise lore, he ranks 5th all-time in scoring, 2nd in free throw percentage, 1st in assists, 2nd in steals, 1st in three pointers made, and 6th in games played.

The Georgia Tech product has been coaching since retiring in 1998 at various ranks, but he began working in the NBA in 2007 and has since held assistant coaching positions with the Nuggets, Hawks, Warriors, Magic, and Bobcats (now Hornets). His roles prior to this past year were primarily of the shooting coach and player development variety, but he was a full-fledged assistant for Steve Clifford’s Charlotte staff this season.

Our friend Jack (@WayneEmbrysKids) had a passionate write-up on the case for hiring Price as the team’s head coach several weeks ago, and it’s certainly worth a read if you missed it the first time.

Is Mark Price my top candidate? Absolutely not, but he is well deserving of an interview for the opportunity to prove himself and win over Gilbert and Griffin. It’s a lot to ask of Price to come into a situation where he’s so universally beloved and fill a new role. It’s especially difficult given the volatility of the NBA head coaching ranks, especially here in Cleveland, where we give five-year contracts to coaches and then dismiss them after one year.

It’s been reported that the Cavaliers have interviewed former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, former journeyman head coach Alvin Gentry, Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, former Bulls and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, and Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin. They also reportedly have some level of interest in Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt. They’ve been reportedly spurned by a quartet of college coaches in Calipari, Tom Izzo, Kevin Ollie, and Billy Donovan.

Related: Cavalier NBA Draft Film Room: Jabari Parker

(Photo: Charlotte Hornets/NBA)

 

Cavalier NBA Draft Film Room: Jabari Parker

jabarifilmroomshotIn the first of a trio of film room breakdowns, I begin my analysis of the most likely selections for the Cavaliers’ top pick on June 26.

Leading off, we will dive into some analysis of Duke forward Jabari Parker. Parker is often hailed as the most offensive-ready talent over Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. However, concerns over his defensive ability, shot selection, and lack of a true position on the floor raise some concerns. We’ll take a look at all this and more.

What people are saying:

NBADraft.net:

“Parker is already a good physical specimen for either forward position, and has just about all of the size he’ll need to be an NBA wing at nearly 6’9 240 … Plays strong, and has more than adequate length … Very fluid with good athleticism, showing exceptional body control and pretty good speed and leaping ability … More explosive than he appears at 1st glance … Lived up to his lofty expectations after a highly touted HS career … Already has a great arsenal of moves in his repertoire on offense … Has an NBA ready step back jumper and is tough for most matchups to pressure as a ball-handler … Is a threat to slash in either direction … Is able to shoot or drive effectively from the triple threat … Puts the ball on the floor, can score with his feet set, and shows good confidence as a scorer … Mid-range game is pretty polished … Great 1st step, and when operating facing the basket this is where the Carmelo Anthony comparisons are most evident … ”
” Defense is the area of his game that has drawn the greatest amount of criticism. Does not exhibit the same level of intensity and effort on that end, and how much of that was due to playing center or staying out of foul trouble is open to debate … Given his size, there are some concerns about him being in between the SF and PF positions at the next level … Also, will need to find a weight that will allow him to maximize his athleticism …”

[Read more...]

Report: Cavs interested in David Blatt, Gentry in for second interview

blattWe heard that there was at least one candidate for the Cavaliers head coaching position that was not being discussed. Well, he may be the one being discussed after today. Several reports, including one from The Plain Dealer’s Mary Schmitt Boyer, indicate that the Cavaliers may be looking overseas for their next head coach.

An NBA source said Blatt is one of a number of coaches the Cavs have spoken to, but that no interview has been scheduled. At least part of the reason is that Blatt’s team is still playing in Israel. He was in the United States this week because his father died in Phoenix. He also has spoken to Golden State and Minnesota about assistant coaching positions. It’s possible Minnesota coach Flip Saunders is looking at Blatt as his eventual successor.

Blatt, 55, is one of the most respected European coaches around the continent. After playing college ball at Princeton and a long playing career overseas, he has coached in Israel, Italy, and Russia. His Maccabi Tel Aviv team won the Euroleague this past season and is still currently playing. He coached the Russians to a bronze medal in the 2012 Summer Games. I have my concerns about the adjustment that will be required to transition from European basketball to the NBA, but to be fair, it’s not much different than the drastic difference between the college and pro games in the States.

Also, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, the Cavaliers will bring in Alvin Gentry for a second interview on Monday to meet with team owner Dan Gilbert. Gentry is currently an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers, and he interviewed for the Utah Jazz job that was given to Missouri coach Quin Snyder this afternoon. While he has plenty of head coaching experience, it’s entirely unimpressive. In parts of 12 seasons as a head coach, Gentry has just one great year, the 54-win Suns squad of 2009-10 that made the Western Conference Finals. Gentry, however, has made the playoffs just once outside of that season in four stops (Miami ’94-95, Detroit ’97-00, Clippers ’00-03, Phoenix ’08-13) with an overall record of 335-370 and a 12-9 record in the playoffs. Gentry has 8 losing seasons out of 12 and has not won more than 40 games in any season but the 2009-10 campaign. The 59-year-old Alvin Gentry would be a nightmarish recycled hire in this writer’s humble opinion. If we’re going for an older retread candidate, George Karl and Lionel Hollins are infinitely better options.

The Cavaliers have reportedly interviewed five candidates officially. They are former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, former Bulls and Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro, and Gentry.

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

(Photo: Petras Malukas/Getty Images)

Indians activate Santana, send down Aguilar

Carlos SantanaThe Indians welcomed Carlos Santana back to the active roster this evening following a stay on the 7-day concussion disabled list. Santana was catching when he was struck with a foul ball on Memorial Day against the White Sox that sidelined him. He returns to the lineup batting eighth as the designated hitter with Mike Aviles at third base, Lonnie Chisenhall at first base, and Yan Gomes catching.

Meanwhile, first baseman Jesus Aguilar goes back to Columbus to get everyday at-bats. Jesus was 3-for-16 (.188) in 8 games with 2 RBI while getting first base at-bats against left-handed pitching. Lonnie Chisenhall’s ability to man first base over the past week sealed Jesus’s fate for the time being.

The other noteworthy item here, of course, is that with George Kottaras staying on the roster rather than Aguilar, it’s implied that the Indians will be trying to shelve Santana’s catching gear for at least the short term. Yan Gomes’s bat is needed in the lineup daily, so it’s only a once per week situation plus insurance, but it’s enough of a concern to keep #TheSummerOfGeorge on the 25-man roster.

Santana is having the worst season of his career, hitting .159/.327/.301 with 6 homers and 17 RBI in 50 games (26 at third, 11 catching, 10 DH, 5 at first). His versatility is an asset only if his bat wakes up. Plate discipline only goes so far, and the Indians could really use Carlos to get the lineup running on all cylinders.

Related: Unsolicited Observations: A very much alive Tribe, Grady revisited, Kluber on the cheap, and long innings in relief

(Photo: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

Report: Josh Gordon gets speeding ticket, passenger cited with marijuana

PhotoJosh Gordon just can’t keep his name out of the spotlight for negative reasons. This time, Gordon was cited for speeding in Strongsville over Memorial Day weekend. Meanwhile, his passenger was cited for possession of marijuana, according to WKYC.

“According to the citation, Gordon’s 2014 grey Mercedes-Benz SUV was clocked going 74 miles an hour in a 60-mile-per-hour zone north of state route 82 on Interstate 71 North at 9:43 p.m. on Sunday, May 25.

Gordon is summoned to appear in court on Wednesday, June 4 to dispute the citation.

“We are gathering information regarding the situation,” Browns general manager Ray Farmer said in a statement released by the team. “We will not have any further comment until the appropriate time.””

While we await the NFL’s ruling on Gordon’s reported failed drug test, according to ESPN, this is about the last thing you want to hear. You would think when you’re potentially facing a year-long ban from football that you’d try to keep a low-profile. You would also think that you might want to start changing the company you keep if they do something for recreational purposes that your employer does not permit when you clearly don’t have the discipline to deal with that. But that’s the problem. Josh Gordon doesn’t think. The third-year wideout has all the talent in the world and can’t comply with the NFL’s rules, regardless of your opinion on the validity of punishment for marijuana use in the NFL.

In a silo, this wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it’s just part of a large pattern of reckless driving, drug use, and simply not following the rules that shows why the Browns aren’t counting on him for squat in 2014. There’s a lot to be excited about with the Browns, and Gordon’s wet blanket act is getting really old.

The Browns have signed Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson, and Earl Bennett along with releasing Greg Little, Davone Bess, and Josh Cooper to completely revamp their receiving corps. My hope is that Gordon will take whatever punishment the league hands him as a wake-up call and comeback fully determined to turn his act around, similar to what Joe Haden has done. Gordon’s costing himself millions upon millions of dollars because of his inability to follow the rules and increasingly pissing off a fan base that is begging to worship the Pro Bowl receiver.

Related: Strange clouds loom over Josh Gordon’s ongoing situation

Top pick trade talk, Film Room prelude, and more head coach candidates

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“This is insane.”

Ben Cox said it best, sitting next to me at Barrio in Lakewood on that Tuesday night last week, a mountain of tacos and a couple of mason jars of brew between us. I still don’t think it’s sunk in that the Cavaliers, after being fortunate enough to pluck the one elite player out of the 2011 draft, only to be subjected to some of the worst NBA drafts in recent memory, have finally landed atop another where they have the ability to draft a game-changing, potential All-Star player. Factor in Kyrie Irving’s upcoming max offer (we think?), the ongoing head coach search with the list of names growing (more on that in a bit), and David Griffin’s chips on the table in the form of extra draft picks, team-friendly contracts, cap space, and young players, and we’ve still got way more questions than answers right now.

[Read more...]

Who’s Next? Breaking down the Cavaliers’ head coach candidates

brown nuggets

Earlier this week, I shared my thoughts on Mike Brown’s termination after just one season. While I understood the statement the franchise was making after all of the declared playoff expectations pre-season, I couldn’t help but feeling that Mike Brown was a scapegoat for a lot of other problems with this front office and the roster as currently constructed. However, that’s in the past now, and what the Cavaliers need to do, in my opinion, is go through an incredibly exhaustive search of the college ranks as well as top assistants throughout the league and former head coaches. In that search, they must determine who can install a system that players can buy into and aligns properly with the front office’s vision for the roster.

Here’s a rundown of where I’m at with some of the discussed candidates.

[Read more...]

Rumor: Tristan Thompson on the block this summer

David Griffin has not shied away from the fact that his roster is due for some significant retooling this offseason. One player that could be traded due to a lack of fit moving forward is fourth-year power forward Tristan Thompson. Joe Kotoch of Probasketballdraft.com reports that this is a very real possibility. His veteran post mentor going along with him could also happen.

The Cavaliers have a logjam in the post with Thompson, Varejao, Zeller, and Anthony Bennett all needing playing time. It’s also possible that the team could resign center Spencer Hawes. This frontcourt as currently constructed lacks size, shot-blocking presence, and defensive prowess. While Varejao is the team’s best low-post defender, he continues to struggle when guarding the more physical centers in the league. The Cavaliers likely need to get some more offensive skill and shot-blocking down low if they hope to become a more well-rounded team.

Thompson averaged 11.7 points and 9.2 rebounds this season in 31.6 minutes per contest while completing his second straight 82-game season. His only real improvement came at the foul line where he improved 61% to 69%. Aside from that, Thompson plateaued offensively as he adjusted to switching shooting hands in the offseason. It raised concerns about his long-term potential as a starter. It may be the case that Thompson’s ceiling is an energy first big off the bench. Thompson can be extended this offseason, but his current contract pays him $5.4 million this season with a qualifying offer of $7.2 million next season.  Varejao has struggled to stay healthy the past several years, but he has produced when on the floor. The 31-year-old Brazilian averaged 8.4 points and 9.7 rebounds on 49.5% shooting in 27.7 minutes in 65 games this season. He enters the final year of his contract set to earn $9.8 million, though there is a $4 million buyout on his deal that could serve as instant savings for a cap-strapped team.

Kotoch also added that the Cavaliers could be in on the Kevin Love sweepstakes in Minnesota as he is just one year from free agency. Any package the Cavaliers could put together would likely include both Thompson and Varejao along with draft picks and other assets. The Cavaliers currently have the 9th best odds heading into Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery and are most likely to end up with the 9th pick in a deeper draft than the past few years.

While Kotoch seems convinced the Cavaliers have enough ammunition, I’m not so sure. If a trade would take Waiters as well, it really strips down basically everything on this team not named “Kyrie Irving”. If the Cavs could pull off such a deal while holding onto their talented backcourt, it would be a huge success.

Related: History Repeating: Mike Brown takes the fall… again

Report: Lionel Hollins in running for Cleveland job, Karl remains interested

We’ve heard a lot of names tossed around as potential replacements for Mike Brown as we inch closer to the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night and the NBA Draft next month. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) reports some interesting bits of information regarding the Cavaliers’ opening alongside his Timberwolves updates. Among them, Zgoda says that Lionel Hollins was interviewed by Minnesota three weeks ago but it has not progressed any furthered. He mentions that Hollins is in the running for the Cleveland job.

Hollins was the Memphis head coach for three different stints, two on an interim basis in 1999-00 and 2004-05. When he was handed the full-time job in mid-season 2009, he started a very successful run of playoff appearances. After a 13-26 finish in 2009 and a 40-42 campaign the following year where the team missed the playoffs, Hollins helped his team become just the fourth eighth seed to upset a top seed in the first run, as the 2011 Grizzlies beat the Spurs in six games, advancing to the semis where they battled the Thunder tooth and nail for seven games before losing the series. In 2012, Memphis won 41 games in the lockout-shortened 66 game regular season, but they lost in the first round in a seven-game series with the Clippers. Last season, the Grizzlies won a franchise-record 56 games, got their revenge on the Clippers with a first round series victory in six, knocked off another top seed in Oklahoma City in five, and then were swept by the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Hollins was let go following last season.

Zgoda had this to say about two of the more popular college options for head coaching vacancies:

“Izzo was offered the same five-year, $35 million offer to coach and run the Pistons that Van Gundy eventually accepted last week. Izzo also declined when Cleveland fired Mike Brown and called for the second time in four years. Hoiberg, too, appears content to remain in college coaching, at least for now.”

It’s not hard to believe that Izzo declined the Cavaliers’ pursuit for a second time if he wasn’t going to accept the lucrative deal to run the Pistons and stay in the State of Michigan. Given the volatility of NBA head coaching ranks, Izzo has it far too good to consider the jump now. Hoiberg, however, is at a program in Iowa State that is respected but far from a perennial contender. He stands to move up somewhere in a big way, whether that’s at a more highly regarded college program or in the NBA.

George Karl’s name also refuses to go away, and Zgoda says he remains interested in Cleveland or Washington (should Randy Wittman be fired). Karl coached the Cavaliers from 1984-1986 with a 61-68 record and a first round playoff exit in 1985. He went on to win over 1,000 games at stops in Golden State, Seattle, Milwaukee, and Denver, reaching the Conference Finals in 1993 (Seattle), 2001 (Milwaukee), and 2009 (Denver) along with a Finals trip in 1996 in Seattle.

There are currently five head coaching spots open in Cleveland, New York, Minnesota, Los Angeles (Lakers), and Utah. Stan Van Gundy (Detroit) and Steve Kerr (Golden State) have already been hired this offseason.

Related: As head coaches come and go, how much longer will Cavs fans wait?

Francona drops Swisher, Santana in batting order

With the Indians’ offense in a massive funk for most of the season, the time for a change is now in manager Terry Francona’s eyes. Some would argue it’s long overdue. In today’s batting order, Francona has dropped Nick Swisher from second to sixth and Carlos Santana from fourth to seventh against right-hander Jesse Chavez as the A’s go for the sweep.

In today’s game, Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn will take the spots vacated by Swisher and Santana, respectively. Swisher is battling to stay above the Mendoza line, hitting .203/.303/.323 (.625 OPS) with 3 homers and 16 RBI while leading the team in plate appearances. Santana is second in plate appearances, batting an appalling .156/.319/.293 (.611 OPS) with 5 homers and 13 RBI.

Francona has a reputation for sticking with his veteran and star players until it’s painfully obvious that a change is needed. One such example was last season, when Asdrubal Cabrera spent most of his abysmal season last year rotating between the second, third, and fourth spots in the order. Finally, in mid-August, Asdrubal was dropped to sixth in the order and remained there for the rest of the stretch run. With the Indians at 19-24, the assessment appears to have been the team couldn’t wait any longer for their cornerstones to turn it around in the top of the order.

Longterm, however, it’s a little head-scratching to see Lonnie Chisenhall, he of the .353 batting average, batting behind these two today and eighth in the order against a right-hander. Some managers pride their lineup on consistency, however, and if Chisenhall isn’t deemed worthy of consistent at-bats against left-handed pitching, you’re committing to two entirely different hearts of the order. With Cabrera and Yan Gomes taking the day off today, it will be interesting to see where those two non-lefties slot in. With Jason Kipnis close to begining his rehab and potentially returning soon, that adds another element to the equation. If this is going to be a semi-permanent arrangement, I’d propose Bourn-Aviles-Brantley-Murphy-Cabrera-Chisenhall-Swisher-Santana-Gomes with Kipnis taking Aviles’s slot once he returns. The one complicating factor, of course, is that one benefit to having Swisher and Santana that high in the order as switch hitters was splitting up the left-handers.

Related: Unsolicited Observations: Cleaning up Santana’s swoon, Jesus is here, Bourn problems, and more

Indians recall T.J. House, option C.C. Lee

The not-so-dynamic duo of Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister really did a number on the Indians bullpen over the last two nights. In fact, the pen saw so much work that the Tribe made a move to replenish their NINE man bullpen. C.C. Lee is out, and Clipper starter T.J. House is in.

Lee has been with the club since April 9th when he took the spot vacated by Vinnie Pestano, who carried over his velocity woes from late last season. In that time, Lee has served largely as the mop-up man and first righty out of the bullpen. In 13 games (11 1/3 innings), he’s allowed 6 earned runs and 11 hits to go with 3 walks and 11 strikeouts. Lee had thrown three of the last four days, including 27 pitches in last night’s game as he put in 1 1/3 innings of work during the Indians’ 11-1 loss. It’s possible that Lee will return at some point, but he looked like he could still use some time at Columbus.

As for House, the left-handed starter is 1-2 with a 2.40 ERA in 7 starts (41 1/3 innings pitched). He has walked 11 and struck out 34, allowing 35 hits. He is 24 years old and is likely here primarily for insurance against a short start from Josh Tomlin tonight or Justin Masterson tomorrow.

The Indians will be making additional roster moves in the coming days as Trevor Bauer is due to face Detroit on Tuesday and Jason Giambi could return on that same day as well from the 15-day DL. Prime candidates to go down at that point would be Jesus Aguilar or Jose Ramirez and House or Kyle Crockett.

Related: Unsolicited observations: Cleaning up Santana’s swoon, Jesus is here, Bourn problems, and more