August 1, 2014

Dion Waiters: I want to start, but…

dion_winner

As the Cleveland Cavaliers continue talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves about acquiring disgruntled power forward Kevin Love, one of the players who could potentially be dealt is reiterating that he wants his role to be as a starter. In an interview with CSNSW’s Chris Haynes, Waiters stated that not only does he want to be among the Cavaliers’ starting five, he thinks he should be despite the team using their recent No. 1 pick on a shooting guard in Andrew Wiggins.

Dion Waiters is enormously confident in his abilities to produce on the basketball court. It’s one of the main reasons why he’s one of the best young scorers in this league. [...]

On Monday, following Day 1 of TEAM USA training camp, when CSNNW.com followed up on the matter, Waiters didn’t back down from his stance to be inserted into the starting lineup come next season.

“I want to start and I believe that I should at the two,” Waiters told CSNNW.com.

Despite what many may make it appear to be, Waiters is not drawing his line in the sand by any means. He isn’t demanding a starting role, he’s just extremely confident in his abilities (he averaged over 18 points per game last season as a starter) and feels that he’s the best man for the job. The third-year guard also says that he has dropped 10-12 pounds since the last game of the season thanks to a new diet he’s dedicated to. The results, per Haynes, are a lighter, more athletic 6-foot-4-inch swingman. It should also be noted that his comments have the backing from head coach David Blatt who wants his players to have the confidence Waiters is showing.

High knees, ya’all.

Dion Waiters Dance

Waiters also addressed his recent use of Twitter wherein the two-guard has been interacting with fans almost on a nightly basis. ” I’ve always been a guy that gives it right to you,” he said. “I’ve never been a guy that plays that political stuff. I was brought up that way. I’m straightforward. I give my honest opinion. I’m not going to sit here and hide.”

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

LeBron James, Johnny Manziel, boring Tribe and more with Chad Zumock – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-28

WFNY Podcast LogoChad Zumock joins the podcast for the first time. Here’s what we talked about.

  • Chad talks about his relationship working with Jim Florentine
  • We talk about LeBron James coming home and Chad reporting sports
  • Johnny Football vs. Brian Hoyer
  • Cleveland Browns training camp and zip lines
  • The boringness of the Cleveland Indians
  • Is baseball boring in general now?
  • The steroid era
  • The Jim Thome Statue

And much much more.

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Has Andrew Wiggins actually been included in a Cavs offer for Kevin Love?

 

flip saunders

Someday we’ll find out these things for sure, but the sources and details are flying and as is often the case, there’s disagreement or at least confusion. Most everyone who thinks about this potential trade at all assumes that Minnesota talks about Andrew Wiggins and that the Cavs likely do as well. The wording on the reports doesn’t necessarily put them at odds, but it’s confounding to try and figure out what’s actually happening.

Take this report (most recently updated July 23rd at 2:03 PM) from Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

Cleveland’s offer, sources said, would be headlined by No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013′s No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a future first-round pick, with one source close to the process insisting Tuesday that the Cavs are destined to acquire Love. At least one more player might have to added to the package to satisfy NBA trade rules.

And then Sam Amico’s tweet from this afternoon at about 5:00 PM indicates that despite talk, the Cavaliers haven’t actually offered Andrew Wiggins in any trade proposal.

It’s enough to make you want to rip your hair out. So the Cavs and Wolves are talking about deals for Kevin Love. Invariably Andrew Wiggins’ name comes up to the point that he is “headlining” the Cavs’ offer, and yet when it comes to actually discussing potential proposals, the Cavaliers aren’t actually offering Wiggins in any of them?

So the conversation’s like this?

Minny: “Yeah, so if we can get the expiring deals right? Then maybe find one player other than Andrew Wiggins that we want to keep… and then also Andrew Wiggins… that’s what we’re thinking.”

Cleveland: “So we need to get expiring deals and one player other than Andrew Wiggins that you want to keep….” (trails off)

Minny: “And Andrew Wiggins.”

Cleveland: “I hear what you’re saying. Hmmm. Yeah. Talk to you later!”

Have the Cavs really technically not offered Andrew Wiggins in any scenario? Does any of this have anything to do with the timing of finally signing Wiggins today? I guess we’ll find out for sure in the next 30 days, but even with the Browns starting training camp this weekend, I don’t think that’s just going to fly by without a lot of turbulence in the rumor mill.

Not looking forward to that.

Anthony Lima talks about LeBron, Johnny Manziel and local sports media – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-23

WFNY Podcast LogoAnthony Lima joined Craig to talk about local sports media, LeBron James, Johnny Manziel.

Anthony Lima and what it was like to break the LeBron news live on the air.

The Plane, Zydrunas and more on the reporting of the story

The risks of being wrong and getting punished

Opie and Anthony and losing your job for what you say on twitter

The pitfalls of a public life on twitter

Check out this episode!

LeBron James sends cupcakes to neighbors to apologize for pre-Decision commotion

SByCODx

Pastry and LeBron James links live on for another day. In the wake of The Decision 2.0, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and his family have apparently decided to apologize to his neighbors in the most fitting way possible: designer cupcakes.

Recall, in the week leading up to James’ letter that stated he was returning to Cleveland, a local cupcake shop out of Canton, Ohio was one of the first to have “insider” information, posting LeBron’s impending return to their Facebook page. Not long thereafter, Bath, Ohio police were stationed outside of James’ residence, leading to an evening-long commotion on his street as TV crews and cars had parked on both sides of the street.

According to a resident who claims to live on James’ street, a package of cupcakes from the LeBron James Family Foundation was delivered to his home Tuesday afternoon with a message inscribed:

We know that things have been hectic in the neighborhood these past few weeks and we are sorry for the chaos.

We are so thankful to live in this community and we are so blessed to have understanding neighbors like you.

FOX Sports Ohio spoke with the individual who stated that the package was hand-delivered by the company, though they had no face-to-face interaction with James. Needless to say, this is a gesture that would have been nearly unfathomable during James’ first run with the Cavaliers. Also needless to say: They look delicious.

(Via Reddit)

What’s it like to play for new Cavs’ coach David Blatt?

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David Blatt is still largely an unknown commodity to NBA fans, but in the past week the mainstream media can’t seem to get enough of this mystery man. The story that everyone seems to know regarding the Framingham, Massachusetts native is one of success in stops all across club basketball in Europe, in addition to a 2007 EuroBasket title with the Russian National Team, and a Bronze medal with the Russians at the 2012 Olympics in London.

The word around Blatt is that he is an offensive savant, rooted in the ideals he learned as a player/English major at Princeton, and then fostered during his playing and coaching careers in Europe. But outside of his ability for offensive innovation, what makes Blatt tick is still a mystery.

[Read more...]

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.]

The Heat fans are mad, express it via t-shirt

Here in Cleveland we know all about expressing ourselves on t-shirts. We have a few very good designers including our personal favorites at GV Art. So, it’s not totally shocking that some of Miami’s talents would be used to make statements against LeBron James’ departure from the city. This one in particular came to my attention via @WayneEmbrysKids on Twitter.

I don’t know about polishing any crowns, but if a ring happens to show up in Cleveland at any point in the near future…

 

Heat Fans are Mad

 

Originally via @Novaburn on Twitter.

David Blatt didn’t know LeBron was coming until it was official

628x471-2Zach Lowe has a really great interview with David Blatt over at Grantland. It’s well worth your time to read the whole thing, but I was pretty surprised to hear just how little Blatt knew about the LeBron James situation before it became official in Lee Jenkins’ post at SI’s website.

For one thing, Blatt tells Lowe that they didn’t even use LeBron’s name when discussing him internally, instead referring to him as “the guy.” I guess if treating LeBron James like Beetlejuice resulted in him coming then it was a good strategy.

The most interesting part of the interview to me was when Blatt was talking about his coaching style.

There are two schools of thought in coaching, and neither one is more right than the other. There are coaches that have their system, and they are gonna use that regardless of what the team makeup is. And there are coaches that are adaptive, and take their roster, and play according to their skill set.

I’m more from the adaptive school, with a few principles that are consistent throughout my career. But we have to see what the team looks like before I can tell you exactly how we’re gonna play.

This is good to hear. Across all sports, I’ve grown to despise “system” guys that aren’t adaptable. Whether we’re talking about the NBA or even former Browns honchos like Mike Holmgren with their “West Coast Offense,” I’m sick to death of talking about systems. Even if the Cavaliers run some form of the “Princeton” offense, I hope they don’t actually call it that. Call it “The Offense.” Just please keep the memories of Byron Scott’s statuesque arms-folded sideline stance out of my brain.

When pressed for details about how Blatt would run his version of the system, he answered in a way that got me really psyched. It really gave me insight as to why a super-positive, philosophical guy like David Griffin would want to hire him. Blatt said, “I got hired to find solutions. You know what I mean? I’ve been finding solutions my whole life. We’ll figure it out.”

That’d be so much more refreshing than leaving fans to wonder where the next fatal flaw in the roster might be. It’s nice to know that the new head coach of the Cavaliers will attempt to be at least as adaptable as Cavs fans have had to be over the last two coaches.

Erik Spolestra speaks on LeBron’s return to Cleveland

BronHome

[LeBron] seemed at peace with the decision. We don’t have any regrets. He shouldn’t have any regrets. It was a historic four-year run. This league does teach you that it’s inevitable that there’s constant change and you always have to continue to embrace change, adapt with change. This is a big, monumental change that we didn’t necessarily anticipate but you have to respect it because when you’re a free agent in this league you have the right to make a decision that’s best for you and your family. When he made that decision that was best for his family, where his heart is, all you can do from our side is respond with respect and love.

— Miami Heat coach Erik Spolestra in an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, speaking for the first time since LeBron James decided to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers via free agency. In his essay that was posted on SI.com, James attempted to squash any talk of a rift between him and the coach, saying “I’m doing this essay because I want an opportunity to explain myself uninterrupted. I don’t want anyone thinking: He and Erik Spoelstra didn’t get along. … He and [Heat president Pat Riley] didn’t get along. … The Heat couldn’t put the right team together. That’s absolutely not true.”

LeBron did attempt to recruit players to Cleveland prior to The Decision

LeBron James Carmelo Anthony Amare Stoudemire Dwyane Wade

So, remember all of that “LeBron didn’t try to recruit” talk that swirled shortly after July 8, 2010? Turns out that may have been rooted entirely in inaccuracies.

In a story from Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne (who is quietly becoming one of the best NBA reporters in the world), James attempted to recruit Ray Allen, Chris Bosh, Trevor Ariza and Dwyane Wade as potential members of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Sure, they wanted to play with him. Who wouldn’t? But not in Cleveland. James was the one with a connection to the place, not them. If he wanted to win, he would have to sever those ties and go somewhere where other stars would join him.

The entire story is a must-read and features former Cavs guard Damon Jones who remains close to James, as well as current Cavs center Anderson Varejao. Every sentence is reported. You see just how important relationships are to the four-time MVP.

The waters continue to clear up. Some of it may already under the bridge, meaning little outside of the loose ends that get tied tight. Much of it, however, exists ahead.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images For Nike

 

Scott Raab discusses the return of LeBron James – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-14

WFNY Podcast LogoYou knew it was going to happen and I really couldn’t wait to do this podcast. Scott Raab joined me this morning to discuss the return of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

We discussed the letter that LeBron wrote with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. We also discussed the sourcing frenzy that led up to the LeBron article coming out. Scott talked about what it’s been like for his son to welcome back LeBron James and also a little bit about what he’d like to see in terms of coverage of LeBron James from the region’s biggest paper, the Plain Dealer.

Check out this episode!

How the CBA incentivizes LeBron to opt out next summer

lebron james cavsWhen news emerged of LeBron James’ contract details, most of Northeast Ohio was likely surprised and caught off guard. “He just committed to a long-term future in Cleveland, why only two years? Why an opt-out?” The clear-cut answer lies within the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, signed back in 2011.

LeBron is dead-on with his Cavaliers contract. If he truly wants to maximize his earnings – and as the best player in the league, he certainly deserves to – then he absolutely set up the right deal and his management team did a great job. Let’s start with the basics, all found via the fantastic Larry Coon CBA FAQ website.

Cleveland signed LeBron to the maximum possible salary for two years with a one-year opt out. They signed him as a free agent to their available cap space from the Miami Heat, meaning they signed him without owning his Bird rights. This is important when it comes to future raises.

Max deals signed without Bird rights carry only 4.5% annual raises from the first year’s salary. When signed with Bird rights, the annual raise is much higher at 7.5% (and contracts can include a fifth year, hence why players turn down money when signing away from their team). However, as a free agent, LeBron would guarantee himself at least a 105% increase on his previous year’s salary. Huh? Check out the math below.

lebron opt out info

By opting out, LeBron guarantees a minimum 5% raise, not the set 4.5% raise for max deals signed without Bird rights. The added 0.5% of his salary guarantees him of at least $100K more for the 2015-16 season. But that’s not the only reason why this is advantageous for LeBron. He’s thinking bigger.

The NBA salary cap actually increased by 7.5% this summer to approximately $63.065 million for the 2014-15 season. If the cap increases by more than just 5% for next year, LeBron would be advised to re-work his deal in summer 2015 and make more money with a new maximum contract based on that year’s cap number.

It is expected that the cap number will increase to at least $67 million next season and perhaps skyrocket even further. With the NBA’s new TV deal taking place for the 2016-17 season, the cap could go over $80 million in summer 2016. If the year-over-year cap increase is larger than 7.5% (LeBron’s annual raise with a new max with Bird rights), then again LeBron would be advised to re-work another deal.

So yes, it makes a ton of sense for LeBron James to go year-to-year for now1. It’s not necessarily an indictment on the Cavaliers by any means. It does mean that the circus of LeBron’s future will continue to be a topic and the Cavs will spend more money on his salary than if he had signed for the long term. But this is a pretty clear business decision.

William Perlman/The Star-Ledger

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Footnotes:

  1. It’s possible the cap’s growth will stall somewhat after summer 2016 and thus, LeBron might finally sign a long-term deal. []

Video: Skylar Grey re-writes “Coming Home” for Cleveland, LeBron

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By now, you’ve heard multiple airings of Skylar Grey’s hook on Diddy’s “Coming Home.” What you may not have seen is her acoustic version that she posted hours after LeBron James announced that he was coming back to Cleveland. Take a listen:

Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know that Cleveland awaits; they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home.

Dan Gilbert talks about making peace with LeBron

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The one rumor that scared all Cleveland fans to death this morning was that LeBron wasn’t over Dan Gilbert’s infamous letter. Chris Broussard and ESPN were talking about it and it felt so very real and scary that everything could still be hanging in the balance. As it turned out, that problem had already been squashed. Thanks to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, we now know how that went down.

“We had five great years together and one terrible night,” Gilbert told James, and so started the process of reconciliation on Sunday night in Miami. “I told him how sorry I was, expressed regret for how that night went and how I let all the emotion and passion for situation carry me away. I told him I wish had never done it, that I wish I could take it back.”

He goes on to say that LeBron wished he could have taken back “The Decision” as well.

It’s a new day for a couple of guys who never seemed overly comfortable wearing the black hat. LeBron, especially, seemed very uncomfortable in his first year away from Cleveland being public enemy number one around the league.

That’s one thing that really emerges from today. LeBron James made amends for his mistakes. Dan Gilbert apparently has too. Even if the Miami faithful are upset today, which is totally understandable, I’m sure in time they’ll grow to appreciate the two rings that LeBron James helped enable them to celebrate over his four seasons.

It appears that will take a minute.

LeBron James returns home! – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-11

WFNY Podcast LogoA description for the podcast….

This is so unnecessary. Andrew and I talked about the return of LeBron James. We talked about what it means to us personally and what our reactions were to how it all went down.

From the beginning rumblings all the way to the letter transcribed by Sports Illustrated.

Check out this episode!

LeBron James strings everyone along – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-10

WFNY Podcast LogoAndrew and Craig talk about the fact that LeBron didn’t make a choice. I write that he strings everyone along, but Andrew defends his process.

When will he make a choice?

Which source will you trust?

The practical realities of Cavs vs. Heat

Pat Riley vs. Dan Gilbert

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Matt Moore hopes the Cavs win a championship – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-09

WFNY Podcast LogoI’ve followed Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm and CBS for years on Twitter. I’m sure I’ve argued with him a time or two, but I’ve always valued his opinion and writing. I’m really happy he agreed to come on the WFNY podcast in the midst of a very busy NBA off-season.

We talked about Twitter, his process, and his goals as a web publisher. We talked about LeBron James, NBA player culture growing up, and a whole host of other topics.

Very good iinsight into what makes @HPBasketball tick.

Check out this episode!

The return of LeBron James plus Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-07

WFNY Podcast LogoAs I said in the podcast, I have a new album coming out this week. My band name is The Company Line and the album is called “Losing My Voice.” It’s available right now for pre-order on Amazon. It’s supposed to be on iTunes and Spotify as well. Please search it out. Please listen to it. Please tell a friend. Please enjoy it.

Here’s the story behind the album.

Here’s a track from it.

Now on to the Podcast.

It was a wild weekend on Twitter with all the sports news. TD and I ran it down.

  • LeBron James coming back to Cleveland?
  • Dan Gilbert’s plane!
  • The practical issues surrounding the Miami Heat rebuilding
  • LeBron facing Pat Riley and what that might be like
  • New song from Craig’s band The Company Line
  • Josh Gordon getting pulled over for speeding and DWI
  • Johnny Manziel rolling up dollar bills. Is it a story?
  • Michael Brantley makes the all-star team
  • The Indians should trade Asdrubal Cabrera and Justin Masterson

 

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World Cup 2014, Mac vs. PC, NBA Free Agency, LeBron – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-03

WFNY Podcast LogoMac vs. PC
World Cup 2014
USMNT and Klinsmann’s goals for the future
Landon Donovan’s comments about Klinsmann’s strategy
NEOMG posts Cavs beat job on Craigslist
NBA Free Agency Miami Heat
LeBron, Wade, Bosh opt out
Cavs Free Agency
Kyrie Signing the max extension immediately
Tyronn Lue leaving Doc Rivers for David Blatt and the Cavs
The pressure on Pat Riley
What would LeBron returning to Cleveland mean?
Listen to The Antlers

Check out this episode!