April 20, 2014

Big changes coming to Cavs…Maybe

Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown, Chris Grant

So we know that Dan Gilbert is none too pleased. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ majority owner is reportedly fuming, having set his sights on the Eastern Conference Playoffs this season, only to fall just short in a year when countless teams around him missed the playoffs intentionally. Gilbert has a reputation for being short-sighted and reactionary, supported by recent firings and re-hirings. With the Cavs on the outside looking in, many assume that more of the same will be on the way, but FOX Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico says that while some changes are going to happen, no decisions have been made regarding the front office, head coach or roster.

How displeased is Cavs owner Dan Gilbert that his team missed the playoffs? Well, “enraged” was the word most used by sources to describe Gilbert’s overall feelings. “Inside the organization is like a time-bomb waiting to go off,” said one.

That doesn’t mean Gilbert will overreact and start firing everybody, sources cautioned. It does mean he is expected to strategically (and perhaps slowly) find the best fit for running the basketball side of things this summer.

That could mean keeping interim general manager David Griffin and giving him the job on a full-time basis. Sources said Gilbert has been impressed with the improved culture in the Cavs’ locker room since Griffin took over. However, Griffin landing the gig is still not considered a definite. One source close to the situation described the idea of keeping the current front office entirely intact as “shaky.”

Amico expands on the status of head coach Mike Brown, which is expected to be determined this summer. The team owes Brown four more years of a five-year, $20 million deal and is less than a year removed from a press conference where the head coach was the definitive man to lead the team for the second time. Apparently, Glbert is very unhappy with the fallout of the Luol Deng deal, especially with the growing belief that the award-winning small forward will be playing elsewhere next season.

And the priority? Make Dion Waiters Waiters and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving work as the long-term starting backcourt. Just who will be tasked with executing on this plan will apparently be the giant variable.

Vìva uncertainty!

(AP Photo/Jason Miller)

Cavs fans, brace yourself for the Joe Dumars rumors

The wheels are officially in motion. With news coming out that Joe Dumars will resign from his position as Detroit Pistons team president, it shouldn’t be too long before the long-time Detroit native starts to see his name turning up more frequently with regard to (fellow Detroiter) Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers are currently being run by David Griffin, who assumed the position of acting general manager following the firing of Chris Grant earlier this season. Not long thereafter, ESPN.com writer Brian Windhorst was a guest on Detroit Sports 105.1 with Matt Dery and mentioned that Dumars and Gilbert are neighbors and show a lot of “mutual respect” for one another. In what could serve as a bit of corroboration, HoopsHype tweeted that Dumars was “rumored to be in the mix” for the Cavs’ GM job, while also mentioning how awful he was in Detroit.

Dumars has spent 29 years with the Pistons franchise, as both a player and an executive, and has had a hand in every Detroit title. Conversely, Dumars drafted Darko Milicic in 2003, gave $90 million to Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon in 2009, and signed high-priced free agents Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings this past offseason, all leading to a 28-49 record in a dreadful Eastern Conference. This was once the guy who was going to land LeBron in 2010—he “had it all figured out.”

Things could be worse. After all, Windhorst also linked Cleveland to…Isiah Thomas.

(Photo: Clarence Tabb, Jr./Detroit News)

Windhorst: “LeBron and Kyrie have drifted apart”

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving

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)

Dan Gilbert asks for fans’ help in stopping “louts” who run on court

During Cleveland’s game against the Utah Jazz on Friday night, a fan ran on the court to give Kyrie Irving a hug and presumably a message. It isn’t the first time that a fan has rushed the court to give well wishes to a superstar.

Owner Dan Gilbert took to twitter Saturday night to congratulate his security team and ask fans to help them spot those that would try something similar in the future.

Kyrie Irving had his first triple-double in the win over Utah. The Cavaliers are in Memphis Saturday night to take on the Grizzlies.

[Related: Cavs vs Jazz, behind the boxscore]

Your Post-Trade Deadline Cleveland Cavaliers Viewing Guide

Wut

Because masochism isn’t for everyone

I hate winter.

Seriously.

I woke up today at 7:00 a.m., barely able to breath for the fifth straight day. I spent the next two minutes trying to vacate my nasal cavity of what I suspect was approximately a fetrick muckton of the crustiest boogers known to man. I then turned towards the window directly adjacent to my bathroom sink and peeped through the closed blinds to see that once again it had snowed overnight.

[Insert barely coherent mumbled obscenities here]

[Read more...]

Cavs could be targeting top agent Mark Bartelstein

bartelsteinAll options appear to be on the table for the Cavaliers as they seek a long-term general manager to replace Chris Grant, and the latest rumored name could be a surprise to many.

The Cavs are currently 20-33 at the All-Star Break and riding their first four-game winning streak in four years. Kyrie Irving will be making his first All-Star start and will attempt to defend his three-point shooting title.

On the rumor front, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported in the wee hours of Thursday night that the team could be targeting veteran multi-sport agent Mark Bartelstein. Here was the report:

Sources told ESPN.com this week that the Cavs have interest in trying to recruit Bartelstein into their management structure as other teams have done in recent years, most notably the Phoenix Suns’ hiring of Lon Babby and the Golden State Warriors’ hiring of Bob Myers.

The Cavs, though, are not expected to pursue significant changes to their basketball department until after the season. And it’s believed within the industry that they would have little hope convincing Bartelstein to leave Chicago-based Priority Sports, which he founded and which represents numerous NFL players in addition to his basketball clientele.

Of course, the Suns and Warriors are looking mighty good in 2013-14, so that could be pushing the Cavs to think creatively about hiring an long-time agent. Priority Sports got its first huge break in 1990 when, ironically, the Cavs handed Hot Rod Williams the NBA’s largest-ever contract at the time.

Among the NBA players Bartelstein currently represents are David Lee, Taj Gibson, Jose Calderon, Bradley Beal, Gordon Hayward, Tim Hardaway Jr. and former Cavalier Mo Williams. Current NFL clients include Arian Foster, AJ Hawk, Haloti Ngata, Sean Lee, Joe Staley, Tyson Alualu, Isaac Sopoaga and former Browns tackle Tony Pashos. In 2011, he took part in a panel at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston called “The Decision: How Players and Teams Will Choose in the Future.”

Interim Cavs GM David Griffin is hoping to secure the long-term role after twice rejecting previous openings, Stein said. He’ll have a gigantic opportunity to impress owner Dan Gilbert at the trade deadline, which is only six days away.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski writes about how the Cavs lost their way

Chris Grant Cavaliers RookiesLiterally 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

David Griffin: Next Man Up

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.

[Read more...]

Team-building exercises: The ultimate puzzle

cavs_nuggets13

Amen, CJ.

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.

[Read more...]

Scott Raab discusses Chris Grant’s firing – WFNY Podcast – 2014-02-07

WFNY Podcast LogoIt’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.

Check out this episode

New Cavs GM will have the tools in place to rebuild properly

Chris-Grant-4

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...]

Potential names arise to fill Cavs vacant GM spot

Dan GilbertThe 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.”

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Footnotes:

  1. Irony! []
  2. Connections! []

Dan Gilbert needs to abandon playoff goals for this season

Cavs Sign Scott

(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...]

Mike Brown needs to speak up

kyrie_brown

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...]

Things that annoy me about the Cavaliers right now

Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown, Chris Grant

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:

[Read more...]

Know your CBA: Kyrie Irving unlikely to leave Cleveland soon

kyrie edit

Kyrie Irving may indeed privately wish to set sail from the shores of Lake Erie for supposedly greener pastures, but before freaking out about it you should get to know why the CBA makes that extremely impractical and unlikely for him to do. [Read more...]

Two-way street: Cavs haven’t been happy with Kyrie either

DSC_0477As the words of Chad Ford and Kyrie Irving will be parsed and analyzed for the next six months, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst reports that while the player may have the leverage (as they usually do), the Cleveland Cavaliers have not exactly been thrilled with their All-Star point guard who may or may not have privately told people close to him that he’s unhappy with his current situation.

With that contract decision coming up, there is reason to believe that Irving may try to force changes. The rules favor the Cavs in keeping him, but he is in position to dictate some of the terms. That makes it hard to predict which way this will go.

This of course cuts both ways, the Cavs haven’t exactly been thrilled with everything they have seen from Irving in recent months. He has acted very much like a 21-year-old at times. And while he may not be thrilled with Brown, the Cavs coach has to have been taken aback by Irving going through periods of ball hogging and the absence of interest in giving defensive effort at times. That sort of play from your best player can undercut any team.

Irving, as fans may recall, was the focal point of a team meeting in which he was accused of playing “buddy ball” with power forward Tristan Thompson. Irving, who is well on his way to another 20-point season, has stayed relatively healthy this season, but has taken a substantial step backward during a time when most star players make their biggest leap forward. Heading into the 2013-14 season, NBA.com surveyed the league’s general managers and asked which player they would want to start a franchise with. Three players got votes: LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But despite his All-World, future Olympian talent, the Cavaliers sit with a record of 16-30 during a season where the playoffs were not only attainable, but all but demanded from the team’s majority owner Dan Gilbert.

Two seasons ago, Gilbert said that he would no longer play games and be held hostage by a player. “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 cannot risk going into a summer and having them leave,” Gilbert said.

For the next six months, as the team cannot offer Irving a contract until July 1, the rumors will undoubtedly swirl. Reports will be made, and the player will continue to refute in the loosest of terms. In a day in age were camaraderie and mutual goals are of the utmost importance, it appears that these two parties—the Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving—are locked into a tug of war.

(Image via Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Browns coaching search, Anthony Bennett and Super Bowl predictions with Dennis Manoloff – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-29

WFNY Podcast LogoIt’s always great to catch up with Dennis Manoloff (follow D-Man on Twitter) and it has been too long since I have done so. D-Man talked to me about a variety of topics today from the Browns hiring Mike Pettine, philisophically how he treats the Pilot Flying J case as a Browns story, and Anthony Bennett.

Does Anthony Bennett still belongs in the d-league after his breakout night?

What are the chances that Ubaldo Jimenez is back with the Tribe?

Will T.J. Ward or Alex Mack be back with the Browns?

How much blame should Mike Brown take for the Cavs’ woes?

What does D-Man think of the cold-weather Super Bowl?

What are his predictions for “The Big Game?”

Check out this episode

Cavs at the halfway point, everything sucks

kyrie_brown

When I’m shouting “move move move”, that’s code for “stand there”, got it?

I was really looking forward to this Cavalier season.  No more lottery visits for us, no sir. The Cavs were making a push towards the playoffs. They were taking the Next Step. I was excited to see Mike Brown take over a young team with (potentially) multiple offensive weapons. No longer would Brown be beholden to a superstar, he’d be able to work with multiple young first rounders and mold them into competent NBA players. This year was going to be different.

*sigh*

The Cavs, at 15-27, are not good. They lost by more 40 points to the 15-26 Sacramento Kings. They lost at home to a Bulls team missing roughly their 17 best players. They had not one, but two five second inbound violations against the Mavericks (with one coming on their final possession). And these are games after the Luol Deng trade.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are not a good basketball team.

[Read more...]

Cavs among worst values in NBA per Forbes

Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown, Chris GrantWhat is “value” in the NBA? Is it wins? Is it bang-for-the-buck? Is it rooted in absurd television deals? Well, Forbes announced its annual valuations of the National Basketball Association’s 30 teams, naming—surprise!— the usually hapless New York Knicks as the most valuable team worth $1.4 billion, up 27 percent over last season. The Cleveland Cavaliers are slotted 19th overall, coming in at $515 million, a 19 percent jump over last year’s valuation1.

Over the course of 2013, Forbes forecasts that the Cavaliers pulled in $145 million in revenue, good enough to be among the top 12 in the league. Their operating income, however, as categorized as their earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, slots in at $10.8 million—better than just eight other NBA franchises. Worse, the Cavaliers are ranked as one of the league’s worst teams for the money (29th overall), having average player expenses (salaries, benefits and bonuses) of $63 million and just 64 wins over the last three seasons with nothing in the way of playoff appearances.

So how’d the Knicks do it? A three-year, $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden certainly helps—it pushed the Knicks’ revenue to $287 million, net of revenue sharing. The Knicks’ average TV rating on the MSG Network experienced a 71 percent jump from the previous season, as they made the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000. The playoff run and arena renovation helped the Knicks generate operating income of $96 million–reportedly a record for an NBA franchise. For more evidence of the large-market television deals playing a role in a way that would make baseball fans blush, cable money pushed the Lakers’ revenue to a record $295 million, net of revenue sharing2. (The Lake Show’s revenue sharing bill is roughly twice the size of the tab for the Knicks, but the Knicks get a break due to their $1 billion investment in Madison Square Garden.) More proof that TV rules the roost: Even with revenue sharing and a $29.3 million luxury tax bill that comes with the territory of having the NBA’s highest payroll, the Lakers turned an operating profit of $66 million, second highest in the NBA, roughly six times that of the Cavaliers.

For those wondering, the Cavs do have the seventh-best television deal in the league, one which nets the team an average of $25 million per season, but one that is also up at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season—the very season All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has a $9.2 million qualifying offer with the team.

(AP Photo/Jason Miller)

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Footnotes:

  1. Per Forbes, the average NBA team is now worth $634 million, 25 percent more than a year ago. []
  2. The Lakers inked a 20-year deal with Time Warner Cable for the creation of two new RSNs — one in English and one in Spanish — worth $200 million annually beginning with the 2012-13 season. Last season the team received $122 million, more than 3.5 times more than what the team received from its share of revenue from the NBA’s national television rights partners ESPN/ABC and TNT. []