There was a time, not that long ago, when Mike Brown was being applauded for being one of the game’s bright young defensive minds. His coaching skills had been forged in the crucibles of playoff runs as an assistant in San Antonio and Indiana. His Cleveland teams won ugly but won, and he even managed to have three seasons with a top ten NBA offense in terms of efficiency. Without the summer of 2010 ransom note the Cavaliers had in hand, there is no way Mike Brown would have been dismissed that summer in his first term as head coach. He was quickly swooped up by one of the league’s premier franchise in the Lakers that needed a culture change and identified Brown’s ability to get results. Then, after a shortened stay in L.A., clearer heads had won out, we were led to believe, and the Cleveland front office, led by Dan Gilbert and former-assistant-GM-and-then-general-manager Chris Grant, had realized the error of their ways. The triumvirate would once again provide stability to a franchise that preached it from the top down.
From the Cavaliers drafting Anthony Bennett, to hiring Mike Brown, to firing Chris Grant to Matthew Dellevedova being the Cavs’ best rookie this year.
It was one for the ages.
Could the Cleveland Browns new uniforms be less Brown? A discussion in the Browns sub-Reddit sheds some light on what 2015 may bring in the way of the new look Browns.
The design that looks like it’s going to be chosen can best be described as a happy medium between Minnesota and Seattle.
Let’s start with the helmet. A flat matte finish in a color I can only describe as “candy orange” with a matching color facemask and sublimated striping enhances the look of the helmet without sacrificing it’s iconic image.
The Jersey is candy orange with silver accents and brown trim. A custom block font is meant to invoke a blue collar feel. The stripes are subliminated and higher up on the sleeve, kind of like large spaghetti straps.
There are three different pairs of pants, Orange, gray and Brown. There is no Brown jersey, but rather a gray with orange chrome accents and white with the same. The pants have the same sublimated striping as the helmet and jerseys.
While this can only be classified as rumors to this point (as the official uni is supposed to be kept “under tight security”), we know for certain that the Browns will be getting their new uniforms for next season and will be unveiling them before the 2015 NFL Draft. We also know that Nike is in charge these days and that matte helmets are all the rage. Jimmy Haslam said that he will not be altering the logoless lids, so this corroborates such. Where things get interesting are with the jerseys which are orange and…silver? If the brown jersey does in fact disappear, this would be a tectonic shift for Cleveland, but one that’s in line with the rest of the new-wave NFL uniforms. They’d also be in line with what the Tennessee Volunteers, Haslam’s collegiate ties, have unveiled for themselves. There’s plenty of smoke here…
Chris Grant, Sour Grapes? In what may be the strangest angle to come out of the Kyrie Irving “unhappy in Cleveland” story from late last week, FOX Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico pieces the puzzle together to tie things back to since-been-fired general manager Chris Grant. While he rightfully slams Bleacher Report for their nonsensical rumor surrounding Dion Waiters earlier this year, he pegs Grant as a potential source of some of these new negative stories.
I am being told by executives and insiders around the NBA that former Cavs GM Chris Grant has been spinning stories. Grant, of course, was fired in February. I’ve always really liked Grant personally, even if I didn’t care for the way he refused to make himself regularly available to local media. But one insider told me Grant “is considered a buffoon around the league: Dishonest, incapable and full of (beans).” It wasn’t the first time I heard something like that, and I still often get that vibe about Grant when talking with other GMs.
Grant now has a reputation as someone who is attempting to tell the world the Cavs will be one huge disaster without him. I have no clue if he’s talking directly to national writers — but he at least talks to people who talk to those writers (and, obviously, to me). I’m not saying Grant had an influence in Windhorst’s comments. I’m not even trying to imply that. Brian is certainly dialed-in and intelligent enough to form his own opinion on things. But beware of other yarns involving the Cavs. The one thing I learned long ago in this business is that, sometimes, sources have agendas. The key is to pay attention to what takes place on the floor and in the locker room, and don’t get too caught up in the “he said, she said” stuff.
Kudos to Amico for going Inside Baseball on this one. As someone who has been pen-and-pad deep in the Cavaliers locker room this season, reading something like this—something that doesn’t look like a robotic lede-quote-supporting stats game recap that often comes out of the local beat—is refreshing. Beat reporters have the tireless job of following the daily minutiae and can fall into the trap of regurgitating the same quotes we all hear in the post-game airing. Whether Grant is spinning stories or not, Amico is reporting things that aren’t reformatted from a press release.
Drake is essentially a teenage boy without guidance. I like Drake, the musician. I think Nothing Was the Same was one of the better albums of 2013, especially when it comes to hip-hop. I think this Michael Paterniti profile from last summer was insightful. But Drake the person? Man…
If you hadn’t heard, Drake was spotted celebrating with the Kentucky Wildcats following their win over the Wisconsin Badgers this past Saturday night. Drake is Canadian. He’s never lived in Kentucky. Yet, when asked about his Kentucky fandom, he said he has “always” been a believer in the big blue. Thankfully, the kind folks at SBNation called Aubry Drake out on his bullish—, linking him to the Miami Heat, Johnny Manziel, Manchester United and countless other front-running gobs of nonsense. You know how LeBron James was a fan of the Yankees, Bulls and Cowboys? Well, he may have met his match. I was fortunate enough to witness Drake’s All-Star weekend antics live and in person. He’s the kid at the local library in a Steelers jersey. Never be that kid.
And just because: More Drake.
Brian Windhorst has no shortage of interesting things to say about the Cavaliers. He has so much to say that I had trouble even figuring out just one thing to put here. There’s talk of dinner meetings with Isiah Thomas that has the potential to make Cavs fans hurl. There’s talk about whether it’s worth it to extend Tristan Thompson. Most notably there’s lots and lots of disappointed talk about an “immature” Kyrie Irving. Most notably though, the former Cavs beat writer says that if the Cavs have any designs on LeBron James spending any part of his remaining career in Cleveland that future won’t include Kyrie Irving.
I’m just giving you my feel right now and my feel is that (Kyrie’s) not crazy about [signing the full max extension] unless he gets everything checked off across the board.
And the other thing is: if the Cavs ever dream of having LeBron, it’s not going to be with Kyrie there. LeBron and Kyrie have drifted apart in the last few years, even to the point that if the Cavs wanted to get LeBron they would maybe trade Kyrie for someone who would fit better with LeBron. And I’m not making that up. That line of thinking was not originated by me. That’s just the truth.
And here I think most Cavaliers fans who have ever spent even small moments thinking about the possibility of LeBron returning assumed that it would take a running mate like Kyrie Irving to make the situation more attractive. Granted any dreams of LeBron returning seemed a lot more feasible (even remotely) before the Cavaliers had such a disappointing season this year.
It just gets further and further down a road where it seems like the pain and suffering of Cavaliers over the past few years was all for nothing. Yes, there seems to be some talent on this team, but if that talent doesn’t translate to team success, isn’t it just wasted talent?
Even worse than wasted talent is the by-product for Cavs fans. That’s a whole lot of wasted time.
(Photo: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
Where numbers and charts collide with the “eyes and ears” of NBA decision making
The Luol Deng era in Cleveland will last longer than the Andrew Bynum era ever did, but that’s not saying much. Bynum was traded to Chicago for Deng and subsequently cut. The stories started to come out about the end of Bynum’s time in Cleveland shortly thereafter. Bynum had been suspended by the team and told to stay away after he started undermining the coaching staff. Now that Bynum is looking for yet another fresh start, this time in Indianapolis, he admitted some of the things he did to earn his suspension and exit.
Also, Bynum raged against the shoot-first guards. During a practice, Bynum said that he launched a shot from midcourt, clearly out of the rhythm of the offensive play. Another day during a scrimmage, he did not like a call from assistant coach Phil Handy and mocked him as “a horrible referee.”
“Those are the two things I did,” Bynum says. “I did them on purpose because it was over there for me.”
Of course, Bynum couldn’t possibly take the blame without blaming the “shoot-first” guards. And of course Andrew Bynum just wants “a championship.”
Andrew Bynum wants a championship? Am I supposed to be impressed by that? Does that make me think that Andrew Bynum is somehow operating under an understandable missive that allows him to petulantly push his way out of Cleveland?
Bynum wants a championship? Get in line.
And speaking of getting in line, Bynum better try it soon. He’s running out of places to have colorful articles written about a misunderstood player featuring artistic photos in a new jersey with a basketball on his shoulder.
I wonder if Bynum felt even the tiniest bit fraudulent while posing for this photo with the Indianapolis Star.
For Cleveland, it doesn’t really matter that much. Bynum wasn’t a part of whatever solution the Cavs were looking for. The Cavs got at least part of a season of Luol Deng out of the experiment, so all’s just as well without Andrew Bynum on the team today.
Still, the Bynum career arc is a crazy one that just happened to have a brief intersection with the city of Cleveland. We’ll see if it turns out to be longer than the flowery column that another city has spent time writing about the weak-kneed seven-footer.
Literally minutes after the Cavaliers sealed a rare three-game winning streak on Tuesday night, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski decided to rain on Cleveland’s parade and release an article about what he’d dug on a seemingly dysfunctional Chris Grant regime.
Wojnarowski is the most well connected NBA writer out there and he tends to be the one to break most of the major news that hits The Association. It’s not often though that he decides to expound further on NBA events beyond dropping #WojBombs on Twitter. So when such a well informed writer decides to go more in-depth about your favorite franchise, it’s hard not to pay close attention.
Some of the most interesting claims he makes in the article are:
- Despite the league-wide acclaim for interim GM David Griffin, owner Dan Gilbert is going to search far and wide for a replacement this summer. That doesn’t mean Griffin is out of the running though.
- There was belief among the Cavs organization that Grant had not scouted Jonas Valancinunas well enough before the 2011 draft. Though most of the Cavs personnel department wanted Valanciunas, Grant used the fact that the player’s agent, Leon Rose, would not negotiate a buyout agreement with his European club before they knew where he would be drafted. Thus, that was his justification to select the player he wanted in Tristan Thompson.
- Grant passed on Andre Drummond in the 2012 draft over concerns that a Tristan Thompson-Andre Drummond frontcourt would not be offensively compatible.
- Kyrie Irving pushed hard to have his “close friend” Harrison Barnes drafted by the Cavs in 2012.
- Grant had been attempting to trade Dion Waiters before he was fired.
- Klay Thompson was discussed for the No. 4 pick in the 2011 draft by the Cavs, but Grant believed he could move back into the lottery and snag him later.
- The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft was between Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett.
- If Bennett had not been selected by the Cavs, then he would have fallen somewhere around the No. 10 spot in the lottery.
- Bennett loved making late-night pizza runs at UNLV which was a contributing factor to his weight problem.
I take qualms with some of the opinions expressed in the article such as Victor Oladipo being the “perfect two-way player to complement Kyrie” and that Anthony Bennett is a “colossal failure” considering no one in this draft class has colored themselves in glory. Plus, Bennett hasn’t been given a ton of opportunities. Nonetheless, the sourced information is fascinating and a must-read for any Cavs fan.
[Related: David Griffin: Next Man Up]
Photo: Joshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer
When the original announcement hit Twitter, that David Griffin was to inherit the reins of my favorite sports franchise from Chris Grant, I surprisingly thought very little of it. I, like most Cavs fans, had heard very few mentions of him previously and my first inclination was that he’d just be keeping the General Manager position warm for whomever Dan Gilbert selected to steer the ship full time in the summer. The firing of Grant itself seemed like an impulsive maneuver from a fed up owner who’d just witnessed perhaps his team’s most embarrassing loss of the year. I imagine Gilbert had to hold someone accountable for the mess and Grant was the most convenient victim for this disastrous season as his contract is not nearly as long as Mike Brown’s and he’s been directing the team much longer.
As such, Griffin never felt to me like he was part of the long term plan when originally installed. He would simply fill the vacancy temporarily, nothing more. After some digging though, I’m not quite sure.
“Math is winning out on offense in the NBA.”
These were the words of Grantland’s Zach Lowe, the man whose writing represents basketball’s best combination of analytics with the league beat. But what does Lowe mean by that exactly? And where can we see information relevant for the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers, owners of the NBA’s worst defense since Luol Deng’s debut last month?
Looking into those questions requires background information on the rise of basketball analytics and a look into what we actually do know about defensive analytics in the game today. [Read more...]
Assets are a great thing to have. Look no further than Ryan’s piece to show that the Cavaliers have plenty of them. The pantry isn’t barren. There are a number of quality ingredients in this organization, but good ingredients alone don’t bake a delicious cake or fix a good cocktail. Asset accumulation and talent acquisition were a big part of Chris Grant’s job description. It was the portion that he performed to a satisfactory or even above-average degree. However, it’s the team-building aspect of how all those assets— how all those ingredients are measured, at what stage they’re added, and how long they’re allowed to mix together before going into the fiery oven of expectations, or the ice-filled glass of criticism—where Chris Grant failed.
It’s always great to have Scott Raab’s perspective when big things happen. We spent about an hour talking about all the different dynamics surrounding the Cavaliers and their decision to dismiss Chris Grant from the team.
As always, it was a discussion that went beyond what is normally covered in the rapid-fire sports talk settings we’re normally used to.
While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at email@example.com.
Blaming the Cavs for falling into the trap of the LeBron years: “This is the latest example of a franchise assuming that there is a template for the type of success enjoyed by the likes of the San Antonio Spurs translating to every other market. It takes stars, superstars usually, and just the right fit to launch an outfit from the lottery to the upper echelon of the league. The players come first, then the success. That’s the way it’s always been and always will be. Assuming that some set infrastructure is supposed to come first is where the Cavaliers went wrong.” [Sekou Smith/NBA.com] [Read more...]
James Harden seemed to be a fantasy trade target for many Cavaliers fans back when he was a lightning scoring guard off the Oklahoma City Thunder bench. Now, he’s a two-time All-Star for the Houston Rockets. And today, upon the firing of Cavs GM Chris Grant, we learn that such a deal actually could have occurred.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe, one of the best writers in the NBA, had a great final post on Grant’s tenure in Cleveland. You should go read the entirety of the post because it’s one of the best out anywhere on the topic. In running through the oft-criticized asset accumulation, Lowe then shared this tidbit:
A segment of the front office pushed Grant hard to make a run at James Harden before last season, using a combination of picks and any Cavalier other than Irving. Grant resisted, and he has generally been known around the league as a difficult sort to deal with. Executives on other teams lament that Grant overvalues his own players to the point of paralysis, and that could have prevented the Cavs from throwing their hat in the Harden ring.
Instead, on Oct. 28, 2012, just days before the 2012-13 season, Oklahoma City traded Harden to Houston. The final deal: Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick for Harden and three relatively obscure scrubs.
The 24-year-old Harden has now emerged as one of the NBA’s elite scorers for the Rockets, who later added center Dwight Howard this past offseason. In Oklahoma City, the 2009 No. 3 overall pick controlled the team’s offense off the bench. In 120 games for Houston, he has averaged over 25 points per game.
As seen above, Harden once laid down a thunderous dunk on Cleveland’s J.J. Hickson on Dec. 12, 2010. Now, it seems, the thought of his name could haunt Cavaliers fans’ dreams for a long time to come.
Related James Harden articles at WFNY:
Could Dion Waiters fill the James Harden role? — Oct. 2012
The reality of the James Harden deal in Cleveland — Nov. 2012
Waiters’ move to reserve is long overdue, but in a good way — Jan. 2013
NBA Draft: On Dion Waiters, Ben McLemore and starting — June 2013
Photo: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
From the first day Chris Grant took his office as the general manager of the Cavaliers, the buzz word on everybody’s lips was “assets.” As Investopedia describes it, “assets are bought to increase the value of a firm or benefit the firm’s operations.” At the time Grant took over general manager duties for the Cavaliers, the franchise had just lost the biggest asset they’d ever had (or anyone had ever had) in LeBron James. And since there was no other asset attainable on the market of the caliber of LeBron, Chris Grant went into asset collection mode. The notion was the more assets you gather, the more flexibility you have as a franchise. [Read more...]
The ink on the press release has barely dried, but the names of potential replacements for the position recently created in the wake of Chris Grant’s firing in Cleveland is starting to fill up. CBS Sports’ Ken Berger’s recently filed column includes current “acting” general manager David Griffin, but several other individuals with considerable accolades throughout the league could also garner a look.
In addition to big-name staples like former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers1 head coach Phil Jackson and former Memphis GM Chris Wallace, Berger lists former Knicks GM Glen Grunwald (credited with last yaer’s 54-win season), and former New Orleans GM Jeff Bower. Berger adds that the Cavs already have done some background checking on a current member of the Knicks’ front office, director of pro personnel Mark Hughes.
Of all of the names that may or may not raise a few eyebrows, the most intriguing may be Michael Winger, the No. 3 executive in the Oklahoma City front office. Per Berger, Winger is a “rising star” who has been groomed by Thunder GM Sam Presti, whose long-term approach to sustainable success in a small market should be (and arguably has been, despite the lack of wins) the blueprint for a team like Cleveland. Prior to joining the Thunder, Winger spent five seasons (2005-06 through 2009-10) in the front office with the Cavs. Winger’s role in Cleveland was extensive, and included instituting organizational processes and working closely with Cavaliers’ management and ownership on all team matters. He joined the Cavaliers in July of 2005 after spending two years working for renowned sports agent and attorney, Ron Shapiro in Baltimore, Maryland.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio2, Winger is a graduate of Miami University (OH) and a licensed attorney.
“I can assure everyone who supports and cares about the Cleveland Cavaliers that we will continue to turn over every stone and explore every possible opportunity for improvement to shift the momentum of our franchise in the right direction,” said team majority owner Dan Gilbert following Grant’s firing. “There is no one in our entire organization who is satisfied with our performance, and to say that we are disappointed is an understatement. We all know the great potential of our young talent, seasoned veterans, as well as our recent all-star addition. We believe a change in leadership was necessary to establish the best possible culture and environment for our entire team to flourish.”
(Editor’s note: This was written prior to the Cavaliers firing of Chris Grant.)
I’m convinced that a major part of the reason that the Cleveland Cavaliers are playing the way they are is because they’ve been tanking for so long. Only Alonzo Gee and Anderson Varejao are left from the first awful season post-LeBron, but that ethic is alive and well. The Cavaliers have won 19, 21, and 24 games in the past three seasons. They are on target to win 26 or 27 this season based on their 0.327 win rate right now. (Progress!) Despite Dan Gilbert’s desire to “flip the switch” after this year’s draft lottery, his top-down message didn’t arrive in the locker room as the Cavaliers continue to embarrass themselves and their fans. I never thought I’d say it this season, but it’s time to stop pretending this team is worthy of betting on. I hope Dan Gilbert makes that painful choice soon.
Even scarier than Dan Gilbert’s message potentially being lost on its way to the roster, maybe it did get there, but this is just the level of team that Chris Grant has built. [Read more...]
(Update: Chris Grant has been relieved of his duties as Cavs GM)
With his Cleveland Cavaliers taking the floor, having lost their last five games, but playing host to a shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers team which had had recently been tag-teamed by Mother Nature and the Injury Bug, Chris Grant sauntered up a flight of temporary stairs and stepped foot into his baseline-side box. Roughly 25 square feet of plywood, builder-grade carpet and folding chairs, it’s a perch that resembles more of a holding unit at customs than one for an extremely well-paid NBA executive, but such is life. The box is elevated enough to provide a decent view of the floor from such close proximities, but also equidistant between the Cavaliers’ bench and the team’s locker room. The 6-foot-10-inch Grant was adorned in his uniform—a dark suit anchored by black loafers. Coffee was in hand. Glasses were off.
Following an embarrassing 124-95 defeat on November 13 at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves just nine games into the season, the Cavaliers sitting at a disappointing 3-6 against a fairly weak schedule, held their now-infamous players-only meeting.
The week that followed in Cavaliers talk revolved around whether or not Dion Waiters got into a physical altercation with another player and whether or not that player was Kyrie Irving. This speculation was completely unfounded. Mike Brown, when asked about the meeting, had this to say via Cleveland.com: [Read more...]
The season from hell hath unleashed its versatile fury all over the Cleveland fan base during the past week. From last Sunday’s Suns meltdown to Saturday’s array of hoops-related excitement, these truly are dark days in Cavs world.
There are many, many things that annoy me about this Cavs franchise and its current dysfunctional state. Let’s breeze through some of the items that come to mind:
As it the case with many Chad Ford-related chats, one of the first questions out of the gate was surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers. This time, the focus was on head coach Mike Brown and general manager Chris Grant in the wake of the team’s underwhelming first half. Buried in the middle of his response, Ford, ESPN.com’s NBA Draft analyst, says that Kyrie Irving, the team’s two-time NBA All-Star, is privately telling people that he wants out of Cleveland.
Virtually every GM in the league believes that Grant will be gone this summer if things don’t get turned around this season. He doesn’t have much time. The thinking is that there’s no way Dan Gilbert is going to let him make another lottery pick if that’s the direction the Cavs end up heading. Grant’s goal (via his owner) is to get this team competitive and into the playoffs. The Deng move was supposed to help. But so far … nothing. Chemistry is a major issue there and some of that is on Mike Brown. But more of it is on the collection of players in Cleveland at the moment. Something has to happen quick. Kyrie Irving has been telling people privately he wants out. Cleveland can’t afford to lose him and LeBron. They know the urgency. I expect them to be major players at the deadline.
Irving is in the third year of a four-year contract and could sign an extension this off-season. He is due $7.1 million in 2014-15 and has a qualifying offer of $9.2 million for 2015-16. Despite being under contract for at least the next two seasons, the Cavaliers will offer Irving a maximum contract extension that could keep him here beyond 2016. In 2012, in the wake of the Miami Heat winning their first title after the departure of LeBron James, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert stated that one lesson he learned is not allowing his team to fall victim to unrestricted free agency. “The big lesson was if a player is not willing to extend, no matter who they are, no matter where they are playing, no matter what kind of season you had, you can not risk going into a summer and having them leave in unrestricted free agency and get nothing back for it,” said Gilbert.
This past October, one year following the proclamation regarding free agency, Gilbert said that he was of the belief that the team’s relationship with Irving was healthy. “It’s still a little bit early, but we feel good about Kyrie being here for his entire career,” Gilbert said.
In response to Gilbert’s sentiments, the 21-year-old point guard publically stated that he has a great relationship with the team’s owner. “It’s still too early to be talking about that stuff, especially a contract extension, and all that,” Irving said. “But we have a great relationship, me and Dan.”
It’s also worth pointing out that the Cavaliers play in Madison Square Garden on Thursday evening. Kyrie Irving is from New Jersey. These types of stories, as they did prior to 2010 with LeBron James, have an odd way of popping up every time the Cavs head to a large market.
(Image: Scott Sargent/WFNY)