July 25, 2014

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]

Cavs “firmly in lead” to acquire Kevin Love

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Andrew Wiggins is one step closer to being an official member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Whether or not he ultimately reaches that destination remains to be seen.

The Golden State Warriors were long considered to be the Cavs’ lone rival in obtaining Love as they refuse to include swingman Klay Thompson in discussions given Love’s potential to leave after one season. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst report that the Chicago Bulls—one of the choice destinations for Love—have also entered into the fray1, but the Cavs remain “firmly in the lead” in a deal that would center around Wiggins. The Cavs are reportedly increasingly optimistic that they are progressing toward a trade framework that the Minnesota Timberwolves will accept in exchange for Love to pair him with his Team USA teammate LeBron James.

The Associated Press has confirmed an earlier report from Windhorst that states the Cavs’ No. 1 overall pick will sign his rookie contract with the team. Wiggins has been the topic of trade talks since being selected this past summer, the 6-foot-8-inch shooting guard being the top target of the Minnesota Timberwolves as they look to deal power forward Kevin Love before he reaches free agency. Last week, the AP cited two people familiar with the discussions in saying that the Cavs were still not willing to include Wiggins in a deal despite previous reports to the contrary.

Once the deal (said to be worth roughly $5.5 million in 2014) is inked, the Cavs would be prohibited from dealing the rookie for 30 days. Prior to being signed, Wiggins’ value in a trade was zero. If the Cavaliers do decide to part ways with the highly touted swingman, they would be $5.5 million closer to the required $12.56 million needed to acquire Love. Other players rumored to be involved include Dion Waiters ($4.06 million) and last year’s No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett ($5.56 million).

[Related: Mike Krzyzewski would trade Wiggins for Love “without hesitancy”]

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Footnotes:

  1. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler appear to be their starting point. []

Jason Kipnis still bothered by oblique

 

Jason Kipnis

Jason Kipnis was named the American League Player of the week on Monday, but readily admitted that he has not felt the same since straining his oblique muscle back in April.

“I wouldn’t use the word progress, I’d use the word adjustment,” said Kipnis. “As far as the oblique goes, it’s going to be there all year. It’s not going to go away until the offseason. What I can do is find a swing that works for me. I thought we may have found something coming out of Detroit. It was a step in the right direction and we’re going to keep making adjustments day to day and pitch to pitch and see how it goes.”

Kipnis missed about a month after straining his right oblique muscle in late April and he’s still trying to make adjustments to his swing in order to get comfortable. He went 5-for-15 (.333) with two homers and six RBI during a big four-game series against the Tigers, but it appears that a return to last season’s All-Star form at any point in 2014 may be a pipe dream.

On the season, Kipnis is hitting .258 (.706 OPS) with five home runs, 14 doubles and just 30 runs batted in. His isolated power is down almost 60 points year over year, trending at a career-low mark of .110, and his batted ball distance on homers and flies has dropped 20 feet from last year to this one—both numbers unlikely to be aided by his ailing oblique.

“It’s just one of those things that’s going to be there,” Kipnis said.

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 Pettine: Josh Gordon is a Cleveland Brown

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In a recent interview with The Akron Beacon-Journal, Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine reiterated that the team has no plans to cut maligned wide receiver Josh Gordon in the wake of his troubled off-season.

“We’re firm,” said Pettine. “We want to find that middle ground. Josh is a Cleveland Brown. We want to do what’s best for him. We have a player that potentially needs help. Whether it’s him or whether it’s anybody else that wears the uniform, if we can help, we’ll help. We want to make our decisions always, what’s best for the player, and you try to marry it with what’s best for the team. So that’s why I don’t think that cutting him, while it may have worked for some other people, I don’t know if that’s necessarily the best option here. It might be the worst option for both — for us and for him. We’re going to wait and see what happens and then act accordingly.”

Pettine would not get into details regarding how the team can, or will, help Gordon as the league is allegedly sensitive to substance abuse issues. Coincidentally, it’s the league that has yet to determine whether or not Gordon—who reportedly violated the league’s policy earlier this offseason—will miss any games for the 2014 season.

Coming off of a Pro Bowl season wherein Gordon led the league in receiving (despite missing two games), the 23-year-old was expected to be the top target for quarterback Brian Hoyer or newly drafted Johnny Manziel this coming year. The Browns added veterans Nate Burleson, Andrew Hawkins and Miles Austin to help bolster an already top-heavy unit. If Gordon misses any time, or even a full season, Pettine iterated that the team will not be able to replace such a talent, but will instead have to draw up creative schemes that will help hide their considerably weak receiving corps.

“You don’t replace him,” said Pettine. “I think you have to get creative. It’s got to be a committee approach, and I think you also have to get creative in how you run your offense whether it’s an extra tight end — that’s where adding Jim Dray and having a veteran like Gary Barnidge helps — [allowing] you to maybe move Jordan [Cameron] around a little bit and play with groupings that maybe involve less wide receivers. You don’t become as wide receiver dependent… I think we have more options there than maybe people think.”

The team believes they will hear word on Gordon’s future within the next 10 days.  The two years remaining on his contract will be tolled if he is indeed suspended. The Browns, theoretically, could have an elite talent at salaries of $825,000 in 2015 and $1.06 million in 2016. Training Camp is set to begin on Saturday, July 26.

 

 

Jason Whitlock says Canadian players “don’t want it as much” as other players

Olbermann and Whitlock

Last night on Keith Olbermann’s show, Jason Whitlock was discussing his recent podcast with LeBron James’ partner Maverick Carter. He and Olbermann got to talking about – what else – Andrew Wiggins and Kevin Love. That’s when Jason Whitlock made some pretty wide sweeping generalizations while vaguely applying it to “smart basketball people,” while also specifically not attaching it to “LeBron’s people.”

“Andrew Wiggins is from Canada. And Canadian athletes among NBA players and NBA people perhaps don’t want it as much as even some of the Europeans and certainly the American players. I think they’re going all out for Kevin Love. I think that’s what LeBron James wants. I think that’s what they believe in. I think they will move Andrew Wiggins at all costs.”

Now, I’m not offended per se because I find the statement to be pretty ludicrous. A wide-sweeping generalization that the characteristic that defines Andrew Wiggins is his nationality and that that subsequently defines his fire and competitiveness is ridiculous. Jason Whitlock should know better and while Keith Olbermann challenged him and made a joke about Whitlock’s generalization, I’m a bit surprised he didn’t challenge him even more. I’m sure Olbermann was taken a bit by surprise though.

See the clip below.

Whitlock also follows it up with some talk about Maverick Carter’s client Johnny Manziel. Keith Olbermann circles back on the Canadian thing kind of mocking Whitlock and giving him a chance to get out of it. Of course Whitlock says he hopes he doesn’t get in trouble and then doubles down on the Canadian generalization.

Is there a difference between lucky and good? While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday WFNY!

I have to be honest, for sports fans like myself, the period from MLB post-All Star break to the start of the NFL season can be a bit of a drag. It’s not that I dislike watching the Indians. In fact, I have them on right now as I am writing this (yes, I write these on Monday nights, not Tuesday mornings). But in terms of really exciting events in sports, there just isn’t much.

NBA free agency has mostly wound down. Sometimes there are still some big trades, but August is typically the time most team executives take their vacations. NFL training camp is starting, and that’s fun, but it’s not always the most exciting thing in the world. English Premier League soccer doesn’t start until August 16th. These next couple weeks can be somewhat slow on the hard hitting headlines outside the annual Browns QB Competition.

I say all of this not to be a downer, but more to serve as a pre-emptive explanation/apology for today’s WWW being a little shorter than what I normally do and a little more outside the Cleveland Sports box. I just don’t have a ton of Cleveland Sports related things to talk about at the moment.

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What does it mean to be a “well run” NBA team?

I’ve been thinking about this a little bit lately. I’ve seen some talk about how lucky the Cavs are to have LeBron back and how it’s unfair that the Cavs are rewarded for their incompetence. I can’t sit here and say those people are wrong. I said last week that nobody in the Cavs organization deserves credit for LeBron’s return. Heck, we all know that if LeBron was from Omaha, there’s no way he’d be on the Cavaliers right now.

Scheiner and MoreyBut there can be a fine line between perception and reality within the confines of being a well run team. The Spurs are often credited as being the best run franchise in sports. Very few people would disagree with that. But the Spurs haven’t had to deal with losing Tim Duncan yet. The Detroit Red Wings were considered the best run NHL franchise just a few years ago. But after Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement, the Red Wings have struggled to regain their status as an elite franchise. Now some are question both GM Ken Holland and head coach Mike Babcock. Being a well run franchise is so much easier when you have that superstar anchor.

But perhaps the most fascinating case study falls with Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently after reading Matt Moore’s take on the Cavs’ “petulance” being rewarded with LeBron. In particular, Moore writes:

The big winners of the 2014 NBA offseason are the Cleveland Cavaliers and the big losers are the Houston Rockets. Except Houston has been run well, and Cleveland has been a disaster. Go figure.[…]

Meanwhile, on the other side, here’s Daryl Morey. He turned Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and picks into James Harden. He cleared space for Dwight Howard and successfully pitched him after years of building a competitive team while also accumulating assets. He found takers for Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, contracts he signed because at the time, they were major talent upgrades. He offered Chris Bosh the chance to compete for a title now, in a role preventing him from having to bang down low and would maximize his talents in a tech-savvy organization with no state income tax.

Instead, he got Trevor Ariza.

The NBA’s not fair. And you can ask Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Greg Oden … or former Bucks owner Herb Kohl, who tried to build a winner the right way during his tenure. But the events of the past four days reveal more than just that simple imbalance. It reveals a legitimate flaw in the NBA’s design.

These are points that most people across the NBA would probably agree with. But not everyone is buying into this line of thinking, especially when it comes to Morey. Last week in a post on Medium.com, T.D. Williams wrote a scathing rebuke of Morey’s reputation among those in the media.

Whereas Moore listed the great moves Morey has made, Williams looks at it a little differently:

A close examination of Morey’s signings and trades raises as much skepticism as reason for praise: when the Rockets were forward-heavy and in need of a point guard, he traded Kyle Lowry and let Goran Dragic leave, only to replace them with an overpaid Jeremy Lin — a player the Rockets had on their roster the season before, at league minimum salary, before they waived him. He traded Nicolas Batum — a do-it-all small forward who might be an even better piece on a title contender than Parsons — for Joey Dorsey and a draft pick that became Sam Young. He overpaid the offensively limited Omer Asik, then gave max money to Dwight Howard, whose presence made Asik redundant. He wasted a mid-first-round draft pick on Royce White, a red-flagged prospect who provided Houston more headaches off the court than minutes on it. He has boasted about advanced strategy while employing a coach who is known more as a player favorite than a tactician. Houston’s supposedly revolutionary offense of driving and shooting 3s has often looked disorganized and short-sighted down the stretch in playoff games.

So which one is right? They probably both are. To paraphrase Pat Riley, “this stuff is hard”. Building a team requires a lot of things, some of which is scouting talent, but a lot of which is luck. Daryl Morey is hardly faultless as a GM. And yes, I would argue he is pretty severely overrated as a front office executive. He makes a lot of moves that look great on paper, but his big picture plan is never really in focus. He cycles through player acquisitions at an insane rate, endlessly searching for that magical fit that will work. However, most teams would absolutely be thrilled to have Morey working for them.

As for the Cavaliers and their plan, well, up to this point the post-Decision plan hasn’t been working at all, and there are plenty of fingers to be pointed and plenty of deserving recipients of said pointing. However, if I have a point of contention with the likes of Matt Moore and Bill Simmons who have questioned a system that they feel rewards teams who are run poorly, it’s that I think the system is actually kind of doing what it is supposed to.

Basketball is a funny sport where teams like the 76ers and Celtics who try to lose and succeed at it are perceived as doing things right while teams like the Cavaliers and Bucks who have tried to win and failed are perceived as the ones benefitting from a flawed system. The NBA Draft Lottery was designed to be a safety net for teams that fail. The whole purpose of using a lottery instead of a pure record-based draft order is to prevent teams from tanking. The fact that the Cavaliers won the lottery from the ninth position this time or from the eighth spot with the Clippers pick in 2011 should be a sign that the system is working. Now, it’s bizarre that the same team keeps winning, but there’s nothing strange about teams jumping up to win the lottery. That’s how it is supposed to work.

Again, none of this is to say the Cavaliers have done things right. Their plan was not to finish outside the playoffs and then jump up to the number one slot. They got insanely lucky. And they are lucky that LeBron James is from Akron, Ohio. And they are lucky that LeBron is willing to stop chasing rings to instead try to bring that elusive title back to Cleveland. This isn’t a defense of the Cavaliers last few seasons, but rather, a defense of the system and a closer look at what makes a team a well run team. Morey’s reputation has been largely untouchable, but what separates him from RC Buford in San Antonio? Is it all structural and organizational, or is some of it luck that the Spurs have had Tim Duncan, a once in a lifetime kind of player and person? What happens to the Spurs when he eventually retires? Will the Spurs continue to be the class of the NBA, or, like the Red Wings in the NHL, will they become a franchise that flounders through continuous seasons of mediocrity and early playoff exits? Only time will tell.

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Kyrie Irving’s adjustment

I said on Twitter last week that in some ways, I kind of feel sorry for Kyrie Irving. Sure, he just signed a massive long term contract extension and now he gets to play with LeBron James and thus, for the first time in his NBA career, not be the sole point of focus for opposing defenses. So maybe feeling sorry for him is a bit strong.

kyrie editHowever, after everything he went through last season, all the insane levels of criticism, the doubting of his desire to be in Cleveland, the constant string of article after article questioning his commitment to the franchise and his commitment to winning, the fact is that Kyrie took all of about five seconds to agree to an extension with the Cavaliers. And he did so well before the LeBron rumors had really heated up. He answered at least that aspect of his critics’ questions about his commitment to Cleveland.

Sure, some will say “of course he signed right away….nobody else was going to offer him that kind of money”. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t criticize a guy all season and say there’s no way he’s going to stay in Cleveland, but then turn around when he does sign and say “well of course he did”. For many, maybe even most, Kyrie staying in Cleveland was not a certainty. So on a certain level, Kyrie deserves some credit for doing what so many thought he wouldn’t do.

And for a day or two, he did get the credit and recognition he deserved for it. But then the LeBron avalanche started and suddenly Kyrie’s commitment was an afterthought. No longer is Kyrie answering questions about himself, but instead it seems like every question he is asked is about LeBron. So where I feel sorry for Kyrie a bit is in my fear that fans are overlooking how important it was for Kyrie to buy in.

But now come the questions about Kyrie adjusting, and those are certainly fair. For the last couple years, despite being just 20-21 years old, Kyrie has been asked to be a leader on this team. Everything has been about building around Kyrie. The Cavaliers were his team, and when he signed his extension, we assumed it would be his team for the future. All of that changed when LeBron decided to return.

Now, this will immediately become LeBron’s team again and Kyrie will have to adjust to not being “the guy”. In late game situations with the game on the line, the ball will start in LeBron’s hands, not Kyrie’s. If Kyrie embraces this adjustment, though, it can be a huge thing for him. LeBron’s presence can finally give Kyrie a veteran mentor who can show him how to lead, and how to win, and how to deal with being the focal point of a team. LeBron’s presence could be and should be positively liberating for Kyrie.

And eventually, as LeBron gets older and starts to slow down, the team can transition into Kyrie’s hands when he’s more ready for it. Similar to how the Spurs slowly morphed from purely being Tim Duncan’s team into Tony Parker’s team. The same kind of mentorship program can exist in Cleveland. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see how Kyrie accepts his changing role on the team.

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Dare we talk about prison on a sports site?

Ok, I’m going to go way off topic here. When we initiated the change in format to WWW with Scott, Rick, Craig, Jacob, and myself each taking a designated day of the week, I wrote that one of my goals for this change was to allow all of our personalities and interests to carry through. Some of that will extend beyond sports. Obviously sports will always be the main topic of WWW, but sometimes we like to show some of the other sides of our personalities and the things that interest us. So, with that being said, why not try talking about something quite different here?

By now you guys who read WWW every day know that I am an enormous fan of John Oliver’s work on HBO’s phenomenal “Last Week Tonight”. This week, his main segment touched on America’s broken prison system:

This was a pretty coincidental topic, because another one of my favorite forms of entertainment is listening to NPR podcasts and, in particular, one of my favorite shows “This American Life”. In Act Two of this week’s show, “Mind Your Business”, they talked about the recent scandal involving Los Angeles County’s abuse of inmates. So, with two of my favorite shows talking about incarceration this week, I thought I would share these links and encourage everyone to watch/listen.

I’m far from qualified to offer up any kind of solution, but it’s clear to see we have an issue in America. Our prisons are becoming increasingly overpopulated, creating an increasing burden on tax payers. And while some feel the solution is the privatization of jail services, these cost cutting businesses open the door for severe human rights issues. The treatment of prisoners is pretty alarming in some situations, particularly with what happened in Los Angeles County. And while I know some people feel that we shouldn’t care what happens to people in prison, that they deserve whatever happens to them there, I struggle with that line of thinking when these kind of studies exist.

At the end of the day, like I said previously, I recognize that I don’t have the answers. Yet I feel like turning our backs on issues because they don’t personally affect us isn’t the best way to find answers. There are so many bleak stories on the news and we are trending toward apathy. I’d love to exist in a world where issues like this, and the environment, and energy, and equality would transcend politics. I get disheartened when conversations boil down to liberals and conservatives rehashing tired party lines. I’d just like us to at least be able to agree on what the problems in America are. It’s hard to figure out answers when we can’t even agree what the issues are.

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Anyway, that’s it from me this week. Hope you all enjoy the rest of your week, and I’ll be back next Tuesday where we might have some actual Browns stuff to talk about! Cheers!

Mike Krzyzewski would trade Wiggins for Love “without hesitancy”

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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?]

Indians Twitter account gets defensive of ownership’s cheap reputation

The Cleveland Indians ownership has taken a lot of bullets over the years for being “cheap.” While that’s a relative term in a game that is notoriously unbalanced in terms of payrolls, if nothing else, it’s fair to call it a facile and slightly lazy dig at this point. I’m not saying you can’t make the argument that the Dolans are cheap, but it would take far more than 140 characters on Twitter to make that case.

All that said, it only took 140 characters for the Indians’ official Twitter account to fight back a rather trollish tweet directed at Indians ownership.

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And there at the bottom of the screenshot you can see the follow-up response to the guy who was so swiftly repudiated.

Maybe you’ll think twice the next time you tweet straight at the @Indians account with a smart-alec comment.

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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Indians interested in reliever Joaquin Benoit

San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres

While David Price’s name continues to be bantered about, the Cleveland Indians join the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates as teams interested in San Diegot Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman iterates that while the Indians haven’t established themselves as ‘buyers’ heading into the deadline, they could be leaning that way.

Benoit is owed $8 million next year (which would make him the fifth-highest paid Indian) plus $8 million or a $1.5 million buyout in 2016. His 2016 option will vest if he finishes at least 55 games in 2015. Benoit has a 2.04 ERA and 0.86 WHIP with 10.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 39 2/3 innings with San Diego this year.

The Tigers could certainly use the help. While the Tribe’s bullpen is a strength—and they could certainly use help in other areas—they could do themselves a favor by making sure their main competitors in the AL Central don’t fortify their only weakness. It would certainly be one expensive move either way.

(Photo by Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

Kyle Shanahan, Miracle Worker? While We’re Waiting…

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It’s Monday, Monday, gotta get down on Monday….

I’m trying to not get excited. Last year at this time, we were discussing the merits of Norv Turner’s offense and how it was going to be night-and-day compared to that of Pat Shurmur. Gone was the West Coast; here was the vertical game that included the tight end to a larger degree. And while Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon were undoubtedly superb, the Browns’ offense was excruciating to watch—save for the few moments we got to see Brian Hoyer. This, however, is all a long way of leading into Terry Pluto’s latest that discusses the merits of the team’s new offensive coordinator, the 34-year-old Kyle Shanahan.

The pieces all appear to be in place. The strong running game. The mobile quarterbacks. The offensive line. Will it bear fruit? I want to get excited. I want to see Ben Tate rack up 1,000 yards. I want to watch Terrence West truck over would-be tacklers. I want to slice and dice defenses with the zone read. But will these happen?

It has to at least be better than last season. Right?

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Speaking of the Browns, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece from Tom Reed on linebacker Craig Robertson. By all accounts, Robertson came into last season as a Secret Weapon and left it as one of the worst starting inside linebackers in the game. He was the subject of a Training Camp piece here at WFNY. His defensive coordinator went on to call him the Ace in the Hole. He then went on to get abused in the passing game, putting up marks that were ranked dead last by Pro Football Focus.

But kudos to Robertson for not only knowing how awful his season was, but being willing to discuss it and the challenges that exist ahead with the team adding Christian Kirksey.

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If you haven’s read enough debates surrounding Kevin Love and Andrew Wiggins, here’s a recent 5-on-5 from the folks over at ESPN.com which discusses that very matter!

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Heave those Hot Takes, here’s this week’s edition of #ActualSportswriting:

Awakening the Giant” by Seth Wickersham (ESPN The Magazine): “You remember the picture. Y.A. Tittle is on his knees in the end zone after throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Swollen hands on his thigh pads, eyes fixed on the grass, he is helmetless and bleeding from the head, one dark stream snaking down his face, another curling near his ear. His shoulder pads make him seem hunched over, resigned, broken down. The black-and-white photo was taken in 1964, the final year of Tittle’s career. It hangs in a silver frame at his home in Atherton, California, not with the prominence befitting one of the most iconic pictures in sports history but lost among many mementos from a Hall of Fame career.”

Pitchman: How Tom Emansky changed the sport of baseball—and then disappeared” by Erik Malinowski (FOX Sports): “Tens of thousands of times over a decade, people watching any number of sports on TV could usually expect to see one name pop up during a given commercial break: Emanski. A sweetheart deal kept the commercials on the air and the orders rolling in, thereby ensuring that an entire generation of ballplayers grew up with Tom Emanski as the coach they never met.”

…Dan Jenkins deserves some barbecue” by Sally Jenkins (Washington Post): The British Open is better in Texas because you can watch it with barbecue. This is how my father has consoled himself while missing his first golf major championship in 45 years. It seems his doctor felt the bracing air of northwest England might not be good for him, but the medical community said nothing about smokehouse ribs. The fact that Dan Jenkins, 84, stayed home from the British constitutes not just a concession, but some kind of historical event, because the last time he was absent from a major the club heads were made of persimmon, and not every Tour wife was a blonde.”

I got gored in Pamplona. But I will run with the bulls again.” by Bill Hillman (Washington Post): “It was raining off and on that morning. The cobblestones were extra slick. First-time runners were everywhere, and the crowd was roaring. I saw the long willow canes of the pastores, the official herdsmen of the run, poking out above tourists’ heads. Suddenly, a suelto, a lone bull, appeared ahead of me. When a bull has separated from the pack, he loses his herding instinct and sees all runners as predators. That’s exactly what this one did — throwing his horns at the dozens of scattering runners.”

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A quick note about that Dan Jenkins story. First, I may have been the only sportswriting fan alive who didn’t put two and two together to realize that Sally Jenkins was the daughter of Dan. Talk about bloodlines. Second, think about this for a minute: Dan Jenkins covered every single major golf championship for 45 years. He’s unquestionably the best when it comes to covering the game of golf, but regardless of sport—forty-five years is one hell of a run to have not missed a single major event. No wonder he’s already in the Hall of Fame despite still practicing his craft.

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These wouldn’t qualify as #ActualSportsWriting, but I wanted to share a couple other links. The first comes in the way of the New York Times where a long-time pickpocket details his life. Stories like these always captivate me. Who would’ve guessed that, amidst all of the technological progress out there, that it would be pickpockets who are being left in the cold? The second link comes from BusinessWeek, and it’s about everyone’s favorite club-thumping shill: Pitbull. BusinessWeek features are terrific on their own. This one, however, detailing  guy who wants a meeting with BitCoin only to later ask “I still want to know, what exactly is Bitcoin?” is next level. And who knew he had ties to Uncle Luke? Anyway…These are both well worth your time.

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And just because: You nasty, Trevor.

Cavaliers planning to sign Wiggins next week?

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are close to signing first-round pick Andrew Wiggins, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. This is a complete turnaround from all the talk about Wiggins being in trade discussions for Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love. Once a rookie signs, the team cannot trade him until 30 days after he signs the contract. Windhorst reports that the Cavs are waiting to sign Wiggins in order to have more flexibility in their cap space. Most believed the Cavs were waiting to sign Wiggins because they were looking to trade him for Love. This report will shut the door on the Wiggins for Love trade talk for at least 30 days.

Windhorst says the team is still deciding on what to do with their remaining $1.4 million of cap space. The Cavs are considering long-term contracts for second-round picks Joe Harris and Dwight Powell as well as the possibility of bringing in Ray Allen. Windhorst says that once the Cavs use up the remaining cap space, they will use the $2.7 million “room” exception to sign Mike Miller. This report clearly shows the Cavs are focused on keeping Wiggins for at least the near future. It is a completely different tune from the one heard last week that they were willing to trade Wiggins.

(Photo by: AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

LeBron asks fans if he should wear No. 23 or 6?

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LeBron James took to Instagram to ask his fans what number he should wear in his return to Cleveland.

6 or 23?......

James famously retired the No. 23 after the 2009-10 season, stating that it should be retired across the NBA in honor of Michael Jordan. He then, in his move to Miami, chose No. 6. (Bill Russell, interestingly, wore No. 6 while amassing his 11 championship rings.)

There are a slew of photoshops out there with James in a Cavs jersey with the No. 6, but many fans think that should be left in South Beach. What say you?

Conflicting reports surrounding Wiggins, Love

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Welcome to last week! While it’s not the constant refreshing of LeBron James dot com, the news surrounding a potential acquisition of Minnesota power forward Kevin Love is reaching new levels. In response to Thursdays reports that had the Cavaliers being willing to include No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins in a deal for the All-Star, multiple reports are now being filed in the contrary.

The latest from Withers is noteworthy as the veteran AP scribe tends to only report concrete, multiple-sourced information, refuses to report on things coming from player representatives and has had direct lines of contact with team owner Dan Gilbert.

In an interview 850AM/WKNR, Withers told Tony Rizzo’s “The Really Big Show” that there have been multiple discussions between both teams, but Wiggins has not been mentioned as being available. (Withers also hinted that it may have been the Timberwolves who leaked this news in attempt to get Golden State to increase their offer.) Discussions are wildly different than negotiations and that could obviously change. For now, however, it appears that the teams are in a staring contest.

Wiggins, despite swirling rumors, tallied 21 points (3-5 FG, 15-20 FT), five rebounds and a block in Thursday night’s loss to the Houston Rockets in the Las Vegas Summer League

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

Andrew Wiggins, Kevin Love, Snowpiercer, and Sunday Ticket… While We’re Waiting

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The last time I wrote a WWW it was the night before LeBron made his decision at noon. It became completely dated by lunch time. Wonder what I can write about this week to make it dated again…

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We’ve officially exhausted the Wiggins for Love trade debate, but it rages on. I’m always looking for agreement across the board between we fans. We’re supposed to be on the same team, so I figured I would just attempt to summarize our position.

1. It would be much more preferable to keep Andrew Wiggins while also acquiring Kevin Love. That way the Cavaliers would have Kyrie Irving on a max deal, Kevin Love on some kind of max deal, LeBron on a year-to-year max deal and a rookie contract under control for five years with Wiggins. That’s the goal. Everything else can be traded.

2. If you need (like really need) to trade Wiggins for Kevin Love, then you do it because you have the best player on the planet and you wouldn’t want to waste any years waiting for players around him. It would be so very Cleveland to wait and then have LeBron start to fade as a player by the time some lesser players are ready.

3. But really if you can do it without trading Wiggins… (go back to #1.)

So that’s our position. Got it? Cool. See how easy that was?

But how about this chase-down?

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And seriously let’s just forget about Andrew Wiggins. He’s got an unfair advantage because he’s tall. I’d much rather watch highlights of a 5’7″ Japanese player named Yuki Togashi playing for Dallas and bombing threes.

I could do without bad jokes about “toga parties” but that’s alright.

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Big news for you out of towners and cord cutters. NFL Sunday Ticket might soon be available to you without a DirecTV subscription.

This changes the whole world for me. I really do like DirecTV and my service, but it’s undeniably expensive compared to bundling cable TV and Internet. Sports is the last hurdle to jump over in order to really stop paying for the hundreds of channels that I really never watch. I’m thinking really really hard about this now.

Sunday Ticket

Last but not least, I recommend everyone rent Snowpiercer. I really liked the movie starring Captain America. It’s available in theaters and on demand in your house. It has a similar tone to Pacific Rim, has some really amazing action sequences and is actually pretty suspenseful and fun. It’s a little weird, I’m not going to lie, but I really liked it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

LeBron has talked to Kevin Love about playing in Cleveland

The murmurs continue: LeBron James has reportedly talked to Kevin Love about the possibility of playing together with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears reported the news on Thursday evening.

Love is enthusiastic about the idea of teaming with James on the Cleveland Cavaliers, sources said. James’ decision to sign only a two-year contract that affords him the option of again becoming a free agent at the end of next season has not tempered Love’s interest in joining James on the roster.

The report stated that a deal is still not imminent, but again cited sources on the topic of the Cavs’ willingness to include Andrew Wiggins. An interesting new caveat: A third team would indeed be likely for the deal to make plausible sense. Otherwise, the Cavs would likely be depleting their roster too much.

Golden State remains reluctant to include Klay Thompson in a potential trade for Love. Such a deal with the Warriors — including forward David Lee — would perhaps be a bit more logical. But with LeBron’s persistence, anything can change in a hurry.

We’ll keep you posted on anything new. Although a deal might not happen by the weekend, there’s certain to be continued buzz and updates.

Cavs now willing to deal Andrew Wiggins?

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So about all that ‘untouchable’ talk… It has taken a little over one week for the Cleveland Cavaliers to loosen their grip on No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins if in fact it were to net them Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love. Bob Finnan of The Morning Journal reports, citing a league source, that the Cavs are now willing to trade the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Up until this point, it was assumed the Cavs wanted to hang onto Wiggins, largely because of comments made by Coach David Blatt in Las Vegas. Finnan’s source, however, said that the recently signed LeBron James wants the 6-10, 250-pound Love on the Cavaliers’ roster. James’ pull has also netted the Cavs swingmen Mike Miller and James Jones, two former teammates of James during his time with the Miami Heat. (Miller recently told ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd that he’s attempting to lure fellow shooting guard and former teammate Ray Allen to Cleveland as well.)

Finnan reports that the latest offer could include Wiggins, last years’ No. 1 pick in power forward Anthony Bennett and an additional first-round pick. Center Brendan Haywood, who was acquired on draft night, might be included in the deal to make it work contractually. USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt corroborates Finnan’s report regarding Wiggins being available.

This deal, if transacted, would be the exact opposite of what Grantland’s Bill Simmons recently coined “Don’t Do The Wrong Thing Every Time Anymore” movement.

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

Wolves’ owner wants to keep Kevin Love

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As Cavalier fans debate the merits of a trade that could bring All-Star power forward Kevin Love to Cleveland, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is doing all he can to make the disgruntled Olympian feel wanted by the team that is bordering on becoming an afterthought.

“My preference is that Kevin will come to (training) camp — and I’m sure he will — and play with the team,” Taylor said in an interview with NBATV.

When asked about dealing Love in a trade that did not involve the Cavs’ No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins, Taylor stated that the team was going to look at everything that makes sense that would make our team better, “but we are not going to move a superb player like that without getting equal or more value back.”

Since drafting the 6-foot-10-inch Love with the fifth pick in 2008, the Timberwolves have yet to make the playoffs, finishing with 40 wins in 2013-14. Love, who has iterated that he wants to win, is matched by Taylor who believes Minnesota is right on the cusp of doing so.

“I think our team is just on the border,” Taylor said. “We lost too many close games last year, and having Kevin Love there as, right now, the heart of our team … I would like to have Kevin back and play under Flip (Saunders) and see how the coaches will utilize him with the other players.”

Taylor can offer Love a new contract worth $26 million more than any other team can offer, but if he is not dealt by the 2014-15 trade deadline, it is expected that Love will test free agency. The Cavs maintain that they will not discuss trade packages that involve Wiggins who has averaged 14 points per game (37.8 percent shooting) for the team during their Summer League play.

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

Indians playoff odds, Craiglist, stats and Byron Scott… While We’re Waiting

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Holding out hope: The Cleveland Indians are 47-47 at the All-Star Break. There are only 68 games left to play in the regular season. In order to make the playoffs again, the Indians will likely have to go on a torrid second-half run yet again Last year, you might recall how I often updated the team’s playoff odds from three different outlets. Today, as we begin the second half, I’ll take a look at where those odds stand: [Read more...]