July 27, 2014

Report: Cavs could host Spurs on NBA’s Opening Night

Danny GreenThere has been plenty of discussion about when and where the Cavaliers will have some high-profile matchups on national television, something that’s been sorely lacking for the last four seasons. There’s no doubt that LeBron’s return to Miami will be one of those signature games, but that’s more likely to be on the Christmas Day slate. At some point, LeBron will face his nemesis in the Spurs, and that moment could come as soon as Opening Night in the NBA on TNT.

Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe is reporting that Spurs at Cavs could be on the slate.

“Rumor has it that the NBA’s season-opening game on TNT will be San Antonio at Cleveland, the first home game for LeBron James in his return to Cleveland and the first game for the defending NBA champion Spurs. The NBA schedule is expected to be released next month”

The NBA’s recent tradition has been the defending champion opening up on national television at home to receive their championship rings, often in a Conference Finals or NBA Finals rematch. I’d be just as pleased to see a high-profile Eastern Conference and division rival to start the season in either Indiana or Chicago. The first home game in Cleveland will be a truly special game and moment to be certain, regardless of who the team plays. The Cavaliers were 3-1 in Opening Night games during James’s time in Miami, but they lost their last three seasons openers with James (2 vs. Boston, 1 vs. Dallas).

Related: Mike Miller signing and some Dion Waiters thoughts

(Photo: Eric Gay/AP)

Mike Miller signing and some Dion Waiters thoughts

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Does this look like ‘bench’ material to you?

The Cleveland Cavaliers reached a deal with veteran sharpshooter Mike Miller, reportedly being ready to sign the 14-year veteran to a two year deal worth around $5.4 million, including a player option for the second year. Miller is a favorite of homeward-bound Cavalier LeBron James (yes, that was as fun to write as it probably is to read) and he, by all indications, chose the Cavaliers over more lucrative offers from the Denver Nuggets and possibly Houston and Dallas. According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, Miller had a longer-term, higher-paying offer of around three years for a total of $12 million from Denver. But he followed LeBron’s decision by wanting to play in Cleveland. For less money.1

Now it isn’t as if Mike Miller is hurting to feed his family, as Latrell Spreewell once proclaimed after being offered a $30 million extension from the Timberwolves that he felt was below his value. Miller, according to Hoopshype, has made just under $76 million in his 14-year NBA career. But due to his age, this could be Miller’s last shot at a long-term deal. You could be asking yourself, “Who is this guy and why is he writing about a deal that is yesterday’s news?” We’ll get to me later, but the answer to the latter half? Because he chose to come to Cleveland so he could play alongside the best player in the world and possibly compete for additional championships, that’s why. Why is this all significant? Because Miller wanted to come to Cleveland! No, he isn’t a game-changing player—although he will really help spread the floor with his dead-eye three-point shooting. Players want to play with LeBron and Miller’s signing demonstrated this. Hopefully this is just the first of many veterans that choose to come to Cleveland in order to win big and play with LeBron.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Yes, the deal in Cleveland doesn’t include a third year so the actual comparison to the Denver offer has to be looked at in the prism of Miller and his possible contract two years from now, because he will most likely be getting paid something after his two-year Cavalier deal. But by that time Miller will be 37 and it would be surprising if he could still get close to that $4 million that Denver would’ve still been paying him. So for arguments sake, let’s say Miller will be playing for the veteran minimum of about $1.5 million two years from now. That means he would’ve taken about $5 million less over three years to come to Cleveland. That is quite significant. []

NEOMG looking for LeBron James beat reporter

BronHome

As the Northeast Ohio Media Group looks to redefine their coverage of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the wake of long-time scribe Mary Schmitt Boyer’s retirement, the group that spearheads Cleveland.com and The Cleveland Plain Dealer are looking for a beat writer. But not a Cavaliers beat writer per se—a LeBron James beat writer.

James’ return to Cleveland has been the talk of the summer in the sports world. With standard, robotic, lede-quote-stats game recaps going the way of the rotary phone, NEOMG wants to make sure they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to covering one of the biggest stories in Cleveland. From the job description:

Bring your sports, news and investigative reporting experience to one of the most challenging reporting jobs in the country, covering the sports performance, business dealings and community leadership of basketball star LeBron James. You’ll cover all aspects of his roles in Northeast Ohio and nationally as he returns to the Cleveland Cavaliers, writing, creating videos, and posting across multiple platforms including all relevant types of social media. You’ll also participate in broadcasts where you discuss James, working closely with reporters assigned to cover the Cavaliers and the NBA.

Kudos to NEOMG for breaking the mold among newspaper-based outlets. The changes they have made to their Ohio State coverage has been noticeable. They’ve also started to break the mold a bit in their Tribe coverage. The intriguing aspect of this specific position, however, will be what sort of access, if any, is provided to said writer outside of the typical scrums and scheduled appearances. Here’s hoping it involves investigative, non-deadline, writerly items as opposed to the mere repackaging of others’ reports.

You know what they say: Prose over pose.1

 

 

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Footnotes:

  1. Actually, I’m not sure anyone’s ever said that. Ever. []

LeBron James, WWE Wrestling and Tribe playoffs with @SPORTSYELLING – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-24

WFNY Podcast LogoI like to have @SPORTSYELLING on the podcast and she’s gracious enough to make the time. Today we had another fun conversation about the following.

  • Being dragged into watching WWE wrestling with her husband
  • Dangerous tweets
  • The impact of the LeBron James signing on a hardcore Tribe fan
  • The Indians chances of making a run at the playoffs
  • Winning streaks and whether or not you can ever see them coming
  • Is there blame to go around for the Indians record so far and if so to whom?
  • The LeBron James kids book that Craig bought stinks

Check out this episode!

Cavs sign Andrew Wiggins, start 30-day “no trade” clock

Does this scream "passive" to you?

It’s finally happened. The Cleveland Cavaliers have announced the signing of their number one overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins.

[Also see: WFNY's Kevin Love Trade FAQ]

https://twitter.com/WojYahooNBA/status/492398283781054464

As Woj and Windy point out, the thing that we’ve been talking about for a long time now has happened. On the one hand, he can’t be traded for 30 days. On the other, now instead of carrying a value of $0 in a trade, he will potentially carry that $5.5 million number if he’s traded. While that helps from a salary matching standpoint, I’m sure there’s some impact on the “leverage” that might or might not exist between the Cavaliers and T-Wolves.

So have at it folks. Let’s hear another round of speculation and scenario building about the Kevin Love trade.

And… GO!

Anthony Bennett can breathe now

Anthony Bennett Box Out

Even as I used the word “bust” in talking about Anthony Bennett during his rookie year, I can be reasonable. I’m not a “no excuses” guy. Sometimes injuries and health are legitimate reasons why a player struggles. Bennett was coming off of a shoulder surgery while also battling asthma and sleep apnea. During the offseason, he had surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids. The resulting Bennett in summer league was much thinner, faster, and more athletic because his breathing was better.

“It acted up at times,” Bennett said. “There’d be times I was playing good, I wouldn’t really notice it. And then there’d be other times where it was real hard to breathe. But I just tried to push through it and do the best I can.”

What remains to be seen is if the Cavaliers will be the beneficiaries of the new and improved Bennett. Bennett’s name frequently comes up with Andrew Wiggins as a possible piece in a Kevin Love deal.

Because of the mitigating factors surrounding Anthony Bennett’s rookie year, it feels like the Cavaliers might be selling low if they trade Bennett before we get a chance to see him play this year. I guess Kevin Love is worth it, but for the first time since he’s been a Cavalier, Anthony Bennett makes me wonder at least just a little bit.

[Related: Bulls offer Gibson, McDermott and Mirotic for Love?]

Ray Allen leaning toward joining Cavs

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The Free Agency haul rolls on as Ray Allen is reportedly leaning toward signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This report is according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

Allen is expected to have MRIs on his legs to make sure they’re healthy, so nothing will be official until after Thursday. Mike Miller, another recent addition, has been recruiting Ray Allen to join him and LeBron James—both teammates of Allen in Miami—in Cleveland.

“With LeBron James, you are going to win 55 to 60 games regardless,” Miller said on ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd Show. “Now it’s about what you do in the playoffs. For us, even with the young talent that they have there, you’ve got to bring guys that have been there before, even if they are not giving you heavy minutes. Because those are the guys that understand the preparation, the adjustments, things like that can really bring those guys along. And then you build it from there.”

The 39-year-old Allen was fielding offers from the Cavs as well as the Houston Rockets in addition to contemplating retirement. He is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point makes with 2973, and over 19 years of professional play, Allen has shot 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.

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. []

Les Levine talks about LeBron James, Johnny Manziel and local sports media – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-22

WFNY Podcast LogoI haven’t had Les Levine on in a while, but it’s always great to catch up. Here are some of the topics we discussed.

  • Reporting in the modern world
  • Chris Broussard and needing to be right a minute ahead of the next guy
  • Les’ history of reporting things and “being wrong”
  • LeBron James coming home
  • Johnny Manziel’s partying lifestyle and social media
  • Not living dangerously
  • Joe Lull’s report on Dan Gilbert’s plane

Check out this episode!

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”

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?]

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.

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?

 

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]

LeBron James, Johnny Manziel, Cleveland and the concept of home – Casual Friday – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-18

It’s been a while since I chatted with Denny, but he had some time this evening so we did it up on the following.

  • LeBron James coming back to Cleveland impacting Denny
  • The vague, but unmistakable feelings of “home”
  • Cleveland and the generational preference for city living
  • athletics impact on cities
  • Raising a family in a city
  • Johnny Manziel and the negative obsession with his partying

Check out this episode!

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?]

LeBron James and the moral dilemma of free agency

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Obviously, most everyone in Cleveland is elated with the return of Lebron James. Equally obviously Heat fans are bummed and feel let down. LeBron didn’t have another “The Decision” and he didn’t have a pep rally to tally up expected championships in front of Cavs fans in The Q. Both of these things are massive improvements since 2010, but did LeBron James still cause some unnecessary injury to the Miami Heat? Are Heat fans justified in feeling upset at all with how LeBron handled his business this time? One half of Dan LeBatard’s show in Miami, Stugotz, does think so. He wrote an interesting perspective on it and I felt it was a worthwhile discussion for the WFNY crew. [Read more...]