August 26, 2014

Sizing up Santana and Uniform Notes …While We’re Waiting

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I found this piece by Ben Lindberg to be interesting. Carlos Santana may be the subject that started the thought process, but I thought the concept was fun. We really can explain away anything that we couldn’t predict. Here’s the money paragraph-

“Maybe early-season Santana’s swing was off. Maybe his position switch really was messing with his mind. (He hasn’t played third since May 22, although that has more to do with defense and Lonnie Chisenhall’s bat than with Santana’s psyche.) Or maybe all he had to do was wait for better bounces. If you can tell which explanation best suits Santana, and if you can consistently do the same with other slumping or streaking players, you might have a front-office future.”

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I participated in a roundtable of sorts over at Red Right 88. Several good contributors. And me. [Red Right 88]

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I have no words really.

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Did anyone else notice that the Browns still have Ford as a sponsor for training camp, but no longer have the Ford logo on the practice jerseys?

Here are some more uniform tidbits for the week–

Wow. Thatsa big logo.

Last year, the NCAA made a rule change that numerals on a jersey must contrast the base color of the jersey. But there were no penalties for breaking the rule. There are now.

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From Pat McManamon’s camp notes-

“It took four days, but Tuesday marked the first time that Pettine was not asked about one of the quarterbacks in his post practice media gaggle. It’s amazing how despite the hype and hoopla over a player, eventually a training camp settles into a predictable pattern that has nothing to do with the hyped player.”

Come on Pat. You should know better. The reason nobody asked about the QB competition was because Mary Kay didn’t show up until after Pettine’s Q&A was over.

Things get heated… Training Camp Notes 07.29.14

Browns training camp

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought Monday’s practice lacked the competitive fire that we’ve been hearing about.

The dial on the intensity knob got turned up on Tuesday. There were bodies flying around. There were footballs thrown at heads. There was pushing and shoving. There was a skirmish that included at least 15-20 players.

The tone for the day was set by coach Pettine, who told the players that he didn’t want a flat practice with the off day coming on Wednesday. He wanted some enthusiasm. He wanted some fire. He got it.

The team was in full pads again on Tuesday, and worked heavy on the run game just like Monday. This time the ball was moving toward the sidelines more, and the defense was making sure that the ball carriers were stopped and were constantly swatting at the ball trying to force fumbles.

The offense took exception to the intensity with which they were punching at the ball.

Running back Ben Tate found himself wrapped in the arms of several defenders on one particular running play, and ended up firing the ball at Ahtyba Rubin’s head. Now Rubin doesn’t quite have the temper of Phil Taylor, but he certainly isn’t going to stand by and let a running back fire a ball at him. A scrum ensued. I think some of the players that were involved were kind of caught up because of their proximity. [Read more...]

Josh Gordon has hired Richard Sherman’s lawyer for appeal

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Josh Gordon’s appeal date with the NFL is set for Friday, August 1. The Pro Bowl receiver is facing a year-long suspension for violating the terms of the league’s drug policy again.

When he has his chance to defend himself in front of the NFL, he is taking the most ammunition he can find.

According to Adam Schefter, Josh Gordon has hired attorney Maurice Suh, who successfully argued on Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman’s behalf back in December of 2012. Sherman was facing a four-game suspension that would have kept him out of the playoffs. Suh’s defense centered around the collection process.

“The decision really relied most heavily on the collection problem, and it comes down to that the arbitrator believed Richard Sherman over the collector’s recounting of the facts,” said Suh after the Sherman case. “This is a case in which there were two different versions – the collector tried to refute what Richard had said about what had happened, and frankly, we didn’t feel the collector was believable and we tried to bring that up in cross examination.”

Gordon is appealing in order to get his suspension reduced in hopes of playing this year.

[Related: Balancing competition and aggression, training camp notes]

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Balancing competition and aggression… Training Camp Notes 07.28.14

Kirksey

Competition.

We’ve heard for months that the coaching staff and front office want to see competition for every position. Whether it is a high profile battle between Hoyer and Manziel, or a more subtle one between Kirksey and Robertson, this was going to be a camp marked by competition.

And it is. Sort of.

Last year, the tone set by coach Rob Chudzinski was a competitive one, but in a much different way. There were competitions between the offense and the defense. There were peanut butter sandwiches for dinner on the line. There was hooting and hollering. There were defensive backs jawing at receivers. It was louder. It was obvious.

This year the competition is more business-like. More internal. For the first day in pads, the team was pretty subdued. There weren’t many big pops or crashes. And that was by design. Coach Pettine stressed the importance of “being a good teammate” before practice. They don’t want to see anyone get hurt.

There is a difference between competition and aggression according to Pettine. While he wants the team to be characterized as tough, that doesn’t mean they beat up on each other. Other coaches have said they wanted a tough team. Will Pettine succeed where Shurmur and Chudzinski failed? [Read more...]

Josh Gordon may have checked himself into rehab

Gordon

Mike Garafolo reported Thursday night on FOX Sports One’s evening show America’s Pregame that Josh Gordon checked himself into rehab after his July 4th arrest in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Patient confidentiality being what it is, it may be difficult to confirm if Gordon did in fact complete the program unless it comes from Gordon himself.

Would a completed rehab program have any weight at all in the eyes of the NFL as far as reducing his impending suspension? Could the rehab program itself be the reason Gordon’s hearing hasn’t already happened?

[Related: Josh Gordon's hearing set for August 1st]

 

Justin Gilbert update: Browns rookie signs his deal

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How’s that for timing?

An hour after we headlined Gilbert was still unsigned as camp opened for rookies, Chris Mortensen reports that the Browns and Gilbert have come to terms on his deal-

The contract is a four year deal with a decent signing bonus, according to Sportrac-

Gilbert’s signing means that all the Browns rookies are signed, and should be in camp today. The exception could be Joel Bitonio, who was hurt in OTAs, but the extent of the injury isn’t known.

The Browns did claim OL Nick McDonald off waivers from the Chargers yesterday, but McDonald does have a broken wrist.

[Related: Five most intriguing players at training camp]

Browns rookies report to camp today, Justin Gilbert still unsigned

Justin Gilbert

Rookies, quarterbacks and injured veterans report to training camp today, but first round pick Justin Gilbert remains unsigned.

Gilbert is one of only two players from the 2014 NFL draft that remains unsigned. The other is first round pick Taylor Lewan, an offensive tackle taken 11th by the Tennessee Titans.

Since the league adopted the new collective bargaining agreement four years ago, rookie holdouts have largely become a thing of the past. The only reason that players hold out nowadays is over the infamous ‘offset language’ that teams want included in these rookie deals. The language allows teams to reduce the players guaranteed pay if released by the club that drafted the player.

In other words, the part of the contract that the players fight over is if they don’t cut it with the team that drafted them and try to sign elsewhere. Typically, players have accepted the language and gone to work when push comes to shove. In Gilbert’s case, the player selected in front of him, Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans seemingly got around the language. Gilbert is likely trying to do the same.

Nobody usually makes a big deal about these negotiations until the player starts missing camp practices, as the details can be resolved quickly and at the last minute.

Gilbert is now missing camp practices.

[Related: Browns film room- a look at Pierre Desir]

The mind of LeBron and lovable Lindor: While We’re Waiting…

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Some maneuvering took place on Tuesday night. The Cavaliers traded Carrick Felix (who wasn’t in the plans for the future if we are honest), a second round pick and cash to Utah for three non-guaranteed contracts. I am not a cap specialist. I don’t know how far off the Cavaliers are from having the right pieces to get this Love deal done. One thing I read that I was encouraged about was this from Adrian Wojnarowski:

“The Cavaliers have been offering future first-round picks for an experienced center, league sources said.”

Thank goodness. Look: I’m in the Kevin Love camp, but this team DESPERATELY needs to upgrade at the center spot. Free agency just isn’t going to produce it either.

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If you haven’t read the piece from Brian Windhorst on the mind of LeBron, you have to read it. Read the whole thing, but you may want to save it for when you have time. It’s a little long. Here’s a pretty interesting section, the first thing about that infamous Boston series that I’ve ever seen LeBron comment on.

“James — with two titles and counting, and four straight trips to the Finals — can admit today what he’s thinking in 2011: He’s thinking of everything. Everything good, and everything bad. In 2011, he isn’t just playing against the Mavs; he’s also battling the demons of a year earlier, when he failed in a series against the Boston Celtics as the pressure of the moment beat him down. It’s Game 5 of the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, and it is, to this point, perhaps the most incomprehensible game of James’ career. His performance is so lockjawed, so devoid of rhythm, the world crafts its own narrative, buying into unfounded and ridiculous rumors because they seem more plausible than his performance.

James, though, never fully deals with any of that. Instead, he changes teams. Changes cities. Changes coaches. Changes owners. Changes teammates. Changes uniforms. Changes climate. Wipe the slate clean, and maybe, for once, he can leave the past behind.

Instead, when it all happens again a year later, James’ recall turns against him, yet again, like an awful sequel to an awful original movie — everything happening out of James’ control, the awful computer in his head winning the inner monologue.

“There are a lot of things that go through my mind during a game,” James says. “Sometimes I cloud my mind too much. I get to thinking about the game too much instead of just playing.”

Again, if you haven’t read the whole piece, you need it to understand the context of this snippet.

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I don’t know how you could not like this Lindor kid.

“Every player thinks about how the big leagues will be,” Lindor said. “How will it be when you play in the big leagues? How cool will it be? How blessed will you be? All those things. I try to leave that for the offseason. Right now, I gotta focus on winning the game today and tomorrow I gotta focus on winning the game tomorrow and getting better and keep improving so that when I do get that call—God willing one day—the Indians feel I’m ready and I feel I’m ready for the next level.”

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Tweet of the night comes from the normally stone-faced Corey Kluber:

The guys were all making fun of Atchison hard on twitter last night.

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I’ll close this week with a couple board game bits.

-I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the largest board game convention in the US is called Gen Con, and it is in Indianapolis August 14-17. I will be making my first trip this year, even if just for a day.

-I finally got to play the cooperative game Pandemic recently. It was good, but I think that it had been hyped to the point where it couldn’t have stood up to the expectations. I will have to give it a few more plays. It was very, very similar to Forbidden Island, another cooperative game that we own and have gotten a lot of use out of. If you have never played a cooperative before, give either a try.

-One of the podcasts I listen to is the Dice Tower gaming podcast. They give out yearly awards for the games released that year. The 2013 awards were just announced. I haven’t played many on the list, but have my eye on Bang the dice game, The Duke, Caverna and Relic Runners.

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File this under ‘if you give a crap’. If you happen to live in Northwestern Ohio, I’m on 93.1 FM ESPN Lima every Tuesday at 5:25 with host Vince Koza. If you happen to live in Houston, Texas you can hear me today on NPR (!) talking Cleveland sports at 12:oo CT. If you don’t live in Houston, feel free to stream the show on line.

Cavaliers trade Carrick Felix, other assets to Utah for non-guaranteed contracts

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers-Press ConfereceYahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting Monday night that the Cavaliers have agreed to trade Carrick Felix, plus other assets to the Utah Jazz for three players with non-guaranteed contracts.

This trade would seem to indicate that a move for Kevin Love would be closer to completion. Stay tuned folks.

[Related: All you need to know about trading for Kevin Love]

Dion Waiters added to US Men’s Select Team

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Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters is one of 13 NBA players named to USA Basketball’s Men’s Select Team. The Select Team is essentially a practice squad for the Men’s National Team. Kyrie Irving was on the Men’s Select Team prior to the last Olympics.

“USA Basketball’s Select Teams are critical for getting some of the game’s brightest and most promising young players experience at the USA National Team level, and getting them into our pipeline,” said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball National Team managing director.

Both the National team and the Select Team will train in Las Vegas July 28-31, in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

In addition to Waiters, the Men’s Select Team is comprised of Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors), Trey Burke (Utah Jazz), Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), Tim Hardaway Jr. (New York Knicks), Tobias Harris (Orlando Magic), Doug McDermott (Chicago Bulls), Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic), Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets), Miles Plumlee (Phoenix Suns), Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics) and Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets)

Kyrie Irving is the lone Cavalier on the Men’s National Team this year. LeBron James will not be participating in the FIBA tournament.

[Related: Whitlock says Canadian players "don't want it as much"]

 

Mike Krzyzewski would trade Wiggins for Love “without hesitancy”

kevin love cavs

Coach K was on CBS Sports Radio and talked about the Cavaliers and trading for Kevin Love.

“I think there’s absolutely not one second of hesitancy,” Krzyzewski said on The John Feinstein Show. “I’d trade for Kevin Love. That’s not saying anything about any of the other (players involved in the deal). Love’s an All-Star.”

Krzyzewski mentioned the window of opportunity that the Cavaliers are looking at with the addition of LeBron James, which is something I alluded to last week when writing about the potential trade.

“You look at LeBron and you have the best player in the world,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s 29. I’m not saying he’s at the end of his career, but he’s in the second half of his career, let’s put it that way. And in the first half of his career, he was becoming a great player. He was a great talent becoming a great player. That takes time – just like if Wiggins or Bennett are going to be great, it’s not going to happen right now. They’re great talents. LeBron is a great player right now. You do not want to waste any year of a great player’s career.”

Coach K also talked a little about LeBron’s decision, plus coaching the US National Team.

In addition he mentioned how quickly he believes Kyrie Irving would develop surrounded by LeBron James and Kevin Love.

(H/T For the Win)

[Related: Cavaliers planning to sign Wiggins this week?]

Best selling jersey in the NFL comes from Cleveland

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Darren Rovell reports that Cleveland rookie Johnny Manziel’s jersey is the hottest selling piece of laundry since the draft.

Yep, Manziel beat out Super Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Richard Sherman and every other rookie.

Of course, he did have a few celebrity endorsements of the jersey.

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Video: Johnny Manziel and other rookies react to their Madden ratings

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We know that Johnny Manziel doesn’t lack confidence. He was a bit humbled by falling on draft night to 22nd. The good folks at EA Sports may have given him a second helping of humble pie.

Several rookies were filmed for their reaction to their Madden rating for the upcoming release of the franchise video game. As a rule, rookies are typically given low scores until their play on the field proves otherwise. The video does not tell us what Manziel’s rating will be, but given Johnny’s reaction, it isn’t in the 80′s or 90′s.

 

Video: LeBron James watching his son’s basketball team

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He may not be a typical dad in that he’s also the best basketball player in the world, but he is still a dad.

LeBron was in Lexington, Kentucky for the game. What I want to know is if that counts as a recruiting visit for John Calipari?

 

Painful reminders and redemption stories …While We’re Waiting

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Social media can be a brutal place for an athlete. There is no way I would have public accounts if I were a pro athlete, or at least I would never read my mentions or comments. Maybe I’d have my publicist scroll through them and give me some positive ones to read.

When an athlete makes a mistake on the field the criticism is one thing, but when he makes a mistake in life– well hell hath no fury like a fan scorned.

Donte Stallworth lives with what he did every day of his life. And he has people constantly reminding him of the mistake as well. I read something like this and it makes me feel good to know that Donte has moved on, but never forgotten. But more than that, he is trying to use his experience to educate the young men that come into the league.

You wish his message would sink in to a guy like Josh Gordon.

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver called LeBron’s decision to return to Cleveland a “great moment for the league” at a Board of Governor’s meeting.

“I was moved by his decision,” Silver said. “When I did read his first-person account on Sports Illustrated, I really was moved by it. It says a lot about who he is, who he has become over the last four years. His statement about Northeast Ohio, about hard work, [and] this being about something larger than basketball and the NBA.”

Silver is scoring a lot of points early on in his tenure. I’m not sure if this will win him a ton of points around the league, as he likely shouldn’t praise any player for leaving a team regardless of circumstances.

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He didn’t really mention you in the essay though David…

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Funny how that works.

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The Akron Zips have a new white helmet.

zips helmet

Thoughts? I kind of like it.

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Finally, I’ve been thinking about the Cavaliers’ home opener this coming season and what a zoo it will be. Which got me thinking about the pregame intros, and the awesome job the video team always does. I leave you today with my favorite Cavalier intro video.

 

Mike Miller to sign with Cavaliers per Chris Broussard

Mike Miller Memphis

ESPN’s Chris Broussard is reporting that the Cavaliers and free agent shooter Mike Miller have agreed to a deal.

As Broussard points out, Miller could have taken more money from Denver, but opted to play alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the deal is for two years and $5.5 million.

Miller will help spread the floor on offense, as he is a career 46% shooter from behind the three point line. He played all 82 games for Memphis last season and averaged 7.1 points per game.

[Related: What's next for the Cavs in free agency]

Warriors and Wolves re-open discussions on Kevin Love trade, reports AP

kevin love cavs

Jon Krawczynskiof the Associated Press reports that the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors have restarted trade talks concerning Kevin Love.

“Timberwolves president and coach Flip Saunders was seen talking to Warriors GM Bob Myers at the arena on Sunday as the two sides look to bridge the gaps that caused discussions to stall. The Warriors have been reluctant to include shooting guard Klay Thompson in any package, which has been considered a deal-breaker for the Timberwolves.

It remained unclear if the Warriors have changed their position on Thompson in the new talks.

The Timberwolves also have been talking to the Cavaliers, who so far have been unwilling to include Andrew Wiggins in any offer.”

There were reports that a third team (like Golden State) would be necessary to facilitate any deal not involving Andrew Wiggins, but it seems unlikely that the Warriors are talking with the Wolves about not getting Love.

Could Minnesota be trying to put a little pressure on the Cavaliers to soften their stance on including Wiggins? Certainly.

 [Related: Trade Wiggins for Love? Why I'd do it.]

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: Should the Cavs trade for Love?]

Trade Wiggins for Love? Why I’d do it.

“I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010.”

kevin-love

Barring a major injury to LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be back in the playoffs next season. They will be a contender, although a title — with the current roster– seems like a stretch. There is a lot of youth. There is a serious lack of playoff experience outside of James and Varejao. The team needs shooting, and after missing out on a couple of veteran centers, they have to find another big.

One solution to the biggest X’s and O’s problem facing the Cavaliers would be to acquire Minnesota All-Star Kevin Love.

The new big three of Kyrie, LeBron and Love would be formidable. The Cavaliers have reportedly been trying to get a third team involved in order to acquire Love without having to part with top pick Andrew Wiggins. Obviously that would be the ideal situation. James, Irving, Love, Wiggins, Varejao and whatever is left on the roster is a team that as Charles Barkley said would have the Eastern Conference wrapped up.

But what if Wiggins has to be included? [Read more...]

Mike Miller leaning towards joining the Cavaliers, but Mavs now in play

Mike Miller Memphis

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted Monday night that free agent sharp-shooter Mike Miller was leaning towards the Cavaliers over the Denver Nuggets.

However, on Tuesday morning Nick Borges (also of ESPN) reports (Insider required) that the Dallas Mavericks also have interest in Miller, and have $2.7 million in exceptions to work with.

The Cavaliers need outside shooting, and have been talking to both Miller and Ray Allen. Allen has been mulling over retirement.

[Related: Cavaliers looking good in summer league]

The LeBron James Sports Illustrated cover

LeBron told the world of his decision to join the Cavaliers through Sports Illustrated’s website. It only makes sense that the magazine would take advantage of the piece and the hype surrounding the decision to sell magazines.