July 28, 2014

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!

Details of Kyrie Irving’s contract extension emerge

Kyrie Irving

Lost in all of the news surrounding LeBron James’ return to Cleveland was official word that the team inked All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to his contract extension. While the deal is set to conceivably keep Irving in Wine and Gold through 2020, the former No. 1 pick can opt out after his fourth season.

Here are the details per Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

The terms of Cleveland star point guard Kyrie Irving’s five-year, $90 million contract will include an early termination option for the 2019-20 season and a 15 percent trade kicker. […] Irving’s deal includes the “Derrick Rose” provision, which allows Irving to gather 30 percent of the Cavaliers’ salary-cap space instead of 25 percent.

Blake Griffin and Paul George are the only other designated player to receive the ability to opt out after their fourth season of the extension. To get his player option, George had to drop his Rose-rule-raised salary from 30 percent to 27 percent. Griffin, though, got his full 30 percent along with an early termination option, meaning that Irving’s contract has exactly one peer—and it just so happens to belong to one of the most explosive players in the league. 

The full value of Irving’s extension will not be known until the 2015-16 salary cap is set next July. If the cap rises by the same amount it did this past year, the baseline would be roughly $90.7 million. Having been voted into the All-Star game last season, Irving would trigger the Derrick Rose rule – raising his contract to $108.8 million based on the the same projected cap – only by winning MVP or being voted as an All-Star starter this coming season.

Between Irving, James and (potentially) other free agents, Dan Gilbert’s checkbook will be getting plenty of burn over the next four years.

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

A monarchy restored, but the subjects never left

LeBron's back

I spent nearly four years holding onto a lot of hard feelings when it came to LeBron James. A lot of us did.

The first year could only be described as raw and open wound hatred. The second year, culminating with LeBron’s first championship, was acceptance. What Cleveland had been resisting had happened, and even though it was incredibly painful, it allowed the wound to start to clot and scar.

In year three, it was more apathy than anything. Watching James and the Spurs go toe-to-toe, I at least started to watch for the spirit of a good series of playoff basketball once again. One or two rings, it didn’t matter as much. Then, the fourth and final year in Miami, one could feel the tide start to turn. Some people, a good portion of people, no longer wanted to actively boo James at all. The Heat started to look human in the regular season, and there was the thought that maybe, just maybe, if things didn’t end in a three-peat, James would look to move on to somewhere else. [Read more...]

With LeBron James, Cavs franchise value could eclipse billion-dollar mark

Dan GilbertThere’s no doubt the Cleveland Cavaliers instantly became a more valuable franchise yesterday. The only question would be how much more valuable LeBron James makes the team.

According to an article by Bloomberg News’ Scott Soshnick, we could be talking about a billion-dollar franchise. Soshnick spoke with a few experts in the field, including Peter Schwartz, a venture capitalist, and Chad Estis, a former chief marketing officer for the Cavs. They both were incredibly optimistic of how the team perhaps doubled in value.

“Certainly the brand itself, as well as the revenue that the team is able to generate, is much stronger with him — to the point of a billion-dollar franchise,” Schwartz said.

Forbes estimated the team’s value to be $515 million back in January. Forbes’ Patrick Rishe expected the James return to add at least $100-150 million more. He noted that the team’s estimated value dropped by 26% back in 2010.

But Forbes — already an inconsistent estimator of team values, albeit one of the only public data sources — likely underestimates James’ massive impact in concert with the rapidly increasing values of NBA franchises. The Los Angeles Clippers sold for $2 billion recently to Steve Ballmer. The Sacramento Kings, a struggling organization that nearly moved from town, sold for $534 million last May to Vivek Ranadive.

NBA franchises are insanely valuable commodities because only 30 of them exist in the world, with so few ever coming close to the open market. Lest we forget, Dan Gilbert purchased the Cavaliers from Gordon Gund for an astounding $375 million in March 2005. After James’ departure, the team’s estimated value actually dipped under that mark. Now? Gilbert has to be one happy camper, banking in “The Return” with a glory period of skyrocketing values.

And if you didn’t see the news yesterday, the Cavs reportedly sold out of their entire allotted season ticket distribution for 2014-15 already. More than half of those 12,000 tickets were sold yesterday alone, according to reports from the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd and ESPN’s Darren Rovell. The rest of capacity for the Quicken Loans Arena, including partial season tickets, individual games and group sales, will be sold at a later time.

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

He Selected Us

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As little as one month ago, the Cavaliers, as a representation of Cleveland, were a mess. They missed the playoffs. They were without a head coach and a general manager, and didn’t know if their two-time All-Star point guard would be re-signing for the long run. Their No. 1 pick a season ago, was frequently listed in any discussion surrounding The Worst. Radio call-in shows were debating the draft prospects of Doug McDermott. They then won the 2014 NBA Lottery, only to have their target succumb to a foot injury in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft. They hired a head coach who has nary a day of NBA coaching experience and promoted their assistant general manager—a move similar to what they did leading up to the free agency period of 2010. Dan Gilbert, the man largely credited with being the biggest roadblock to any type of reunion, was not only still in charge, but was wielding a hammer that would make Thor blush. Their odds, a highly discussed numerical probability of  said reunion as derived by record, roster and random hot takes, was said to have decreased mightily. But none of that mattered.

[Read more...]

Dan Gilbert talks about making peace with LeBron

lebronjamescom

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.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the free agency free-for-all

The following is a guest post by Adam Redling. Adam is a writer and editor born and raised in Cleveland. He has written about the Cavs and Browns for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and Tencentbeers.com, and believes that Johnny Manziel is innocent until proven guilty.

LeBron

The Cavaliers have become adept at turning in-season failures into offseason optimism over the last four years thanks to Dan Gilbert’s virtual monopoly on top-five picks.

So it’s not surprising that the selection of Andrew Wiggins June 26 stirred up all the familiar front-office talk about fresh starts and brighter futures that comes standard after the draft.

“[We’re] really, really excited about what we were able to do with the first pick,” GM David Griffin said on draft night.

“This is a night where the Cavaliers got appreciably better — the kind of night that you really look forward to in our business when you can go home and know things are going to get a lot brighter from here.”

The optimism is understandable. When you get the No. 1 pick in one of the most loaded drafts ever, who also happens to have the size and athleticism of a NBA 2K14 video game creation, there should be hope. [Read more...]

LeBron, Zydrunas, and Dan Gilbert’s plane dominate Cavs Twitter plus Johnny Manziel… again

I don’t even know quite how to say all this because it’s so weird, strange, fun and (sports) scary. The LeBron James to Cleveland rumor mill absolutely exploded on Twitter today.

Let me take you through it all.

Joe Lull started it off saying Dan Gilbert was heading to Florida.

Dan Gilbert refuted that saying he was in his back yard.

People started tracking a Dan Gilbert private aircraft that in fact did make it to Florida. With pictures!

Anthony Lima reported (and others confirmed) that Zydrunas Ilgauskas was on that plane.

Tom Withers said that the plane didn’t land at the airport it was supposed to land at and that some limos were at an airport with no plane.

Sam Amico started dropping big tweets.

Finally, everyone’s “favorite” insider at ESPN, Chris Broussard, adjusted his LeBron James leaderboard.

Oh, and in a non-Cavs bit of news, another Johnny Manziel picture showed up.

It was either the most fun day on Twitter or the worst depending on your perspective. I made the decision to just enjoy it regardless and we’ll see how it plays out. If you missed the day on Twitter, that ought to catch you up.

On Kyrie and Commitment

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Kyrie Irving walked the walk. After what seemed like an eternity of rumor and innuendo surrounding his disdain for Cleveland and the drain-circling direction of the Cavaliers, all of which were verbally rebuffed by the point guard, Irving took minutes—not days, or weeks, or even months—to provide the handshake that will keep him draped in wine and gold through 2020. For months, Irving was the subject of boundless speculation. For months, fans demanded a sign that he was, to borrow a phrase, “all in” on Cleveland. He could say whatever he liked—it was what he did that mattered.

Well, at the first chance he was given, Irving put his money where is mouth was. And so did the Cavs—$90 million worth.

[Read more...]

Cavs agree on five-year max contract extension with Kyrie Irving

Terrific news within two hours of free agency: The Cavaliers have agreed to a five-year max contract extension with star point guard Kyrie Irving. The deal is reportedly worth $90 million.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the agreement, then Cavs owner Dan Gilbert followed up with a celebratory tweet of his own.

Reports on Monday suggested that, as expected, the Cavs would meet with Irving in New Jersey and offer him the max extension. The new contract will take place for the start of the 2015-16 season, not this upcoming one.

Celebrate for now, folks. It’s nice to now that Kyrie Irving will be in Cleveland for a long, long time to come. A max deal could potentially change in value if Kyrie is an All-Star Starter again this coming season … but details are for another day.

Cleveland Twitter welcomes Andrew Wiggins

Wiggins 22

Say what you want about Andrew Wiggins and his question marks—the other athletes (and various owner types) in the city of Cleveland appear to be fully on board with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ selection of the Kansas product with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Any surprise that Manziel’s was the most re-tweeted? Wiggins will embark upon Cleveland on Friday afternoon and give his introductory press conference, likely the first of many addresses given as the newest member of the Wine and Gold.

Cavaliers give Tyronn Lue lots of cash to join staff

The Cavaliers pulled a Cleveland Browns when they hired Tyronn Lue to be on their coaching staff. The Browns (in)famously hired Ray Horton to be their defensive coordinator on Rob Chudzinski’s staff after previously interviewing both for the head coaching vacancy. Now Yahoo is reporting that the Cavaliers made Lue the highest paid assistant coach in NBA history.

To leave Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers to join coach David Blatt’s staff with the Cavaliers, Lue agreed to a four-year, $6.5 million deal, sources said. The contract’s final two years will pay Lue $1.75 million and $2 million, league sources said. The fourth year of the deal is a team option, sources said.

Dan Gilbert’s financial commitment used to mean so much, didn’t it? I mean I guess it’s still impressive, but it hasn’t led to wins just yet, so for now it’s another verse that sounds a ton like the first.

Tyronn Lue has been working most recently with Doc Rivers who has had a magical coaching touch – you know – as the roster of players underneath him got better and better. At one point in 2005 and 2006 Rivers was thought to be a dead man walking as a coach before the Celtics landed Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to play with Paul Pierce.

How many wins is an assistant worth in the NBA nowadays?

Breaking? Rumors of foot injury for Joel Embiid

Embiid

Joel Embiid has potentially suffered a setback to any hopes of being the number one selection in next Thursday’s NBA Draft as ESPN has reported he’s “suffered a foot injury.”  The report is vague as to the specifics of the injury; not even going as far as to name which foot has been injured, but it doesn’t bode well for Embiid who was the consensus top prospect on when looking solely at talent, but whose injury history prior to this recent news was already a reason to make anyone a little skittish when deciding on whether or not to select the Cameroonian native.

ESPN is relying on two different sources for this one, one being former Milwaukee Bucks forward Luca Mbah A Moute who also is Embiid’s mentor and the other is unnamed.

Luc Mbah a Moute, who is overseas, was not certain as to the extent of the injury. It also is unclear as to which foot was injured.

“I just heard he got hurt,” Mbah a Moute said.

“He may have broken it,” one source told ESPN.

Shortly following the ESPN story, NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted the following:

Update 3:15 p.m. EST: Wojnarowski reports that Embiid has suffered a stress fracture in his right foot. He will have surgery on Friday, will not participate in any additional workouts and will not attend the NBA Draft in New York.

David Blatt to meet with Cavaliers Wednesday

Blatt-a-tat-tat

Are you a fan of the pass-happy Euro style of play that just sliced and diced the All-Star-laden Miami Heat? You’ll want to pay attention to this Wednesday when the Cleveland Cavaliers host potential head coach David Blatt. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Blatt, who resigned as coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv last week to pursue his dream of coaching in the NBA, will interview with the Cavs as the team looks to fill their current vacancy before the June 26 NBA Draft.

He already has interviewed with Cleveland general manager David Griffin over the phone and joins Los Angeles Clippers’ assistant coaches Alvin Gentry and Tyronn Lue in the late stages of a search that initially focused on big-named collegiate coaches such as John Calipari, Billy Donovan and Kevin Ollie. Unless the Cavaliers move quickly to hire Blatt upon meeting him, Wojnarowksi reports that there’s a strong belief within the Golden State Warriors (as well as those close to Blatt) that he’ll accept a job as Steve Kerr’s top assistant.

After leading Russia to the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, Blatt guided a Maccabi team bereft of big-name stars on a run to the Euroleague title last month, headlined by victories over CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid in the semifinals and finals. He is known as an offensive innovator who thrives in transition and moves the basketball at a jaw-dropping frequency. While Blatt certainly has his question marks—he lacks the big name and there will be obvious concerns over his transition and ability to coach well-paid NBA players—there have been a number of teams looking to bring him over, he has been looking for the right spot. Whether or not that spot is a head coaching job with the Cavaliers remains to be seen.

Photo: Associated Press

Are Dan Gilbert and David Griffin on the same page?

Gilbert and Cavs win lottery

Is the Cavalier coaching search being hindered by the team’s owner? There have already been talks about Dan Gilbert’s impact on the NBA Draft, but making matters (potentially) worse is his impact on the search for a new head coach. On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com basketball scribe Brian Windhorst took to the airwaves of WKNR 850/ESPNCleveland and painted a picture that will do very little for the confidence of Cavalier fans.

In their head coaching search, the former Cavaliers beat writer depicted two separate coaching searches going on—one led by a splash-needy majority owner in Gilbert and his checkbook, ultimately turning up very little; the other led by team general manager David Griffin and a more realistic approach, leading to interviews of individuals like Alvin Gentry and Tyronn Lue among others.

Gilbert was reportedly behind the courting of University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who left millions on the table to stay in the NCAA. Gilbert has also been linked to big-name collegiate coaches like Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Florida’s Billy Donovan. Windhorst, however, stated that David Griffin’s process has netted different results. He’s looking at individuals who are interested in being the head coach of this team rather than attempting to sell them on the potential benefits. He also appears to have his sites set on a former colleague, but the road block to anything being finalized could be the man who is set to hold his own interviews later this week.

“From the start, David Griffin’s pick has been Alvin Gentry,” Windhorst said. “I think that will be a hard sell to Dan Gilbert.”

Gilbert, by all accounts, will be holding interviews with Gentry and Lue later this week. Windhorst also added that Mark Price, despite his interview and fan fare, will not be named head coach of this Cavaliers team, but could potentially be considered for an assistant spot. Wrapping things up, the former PD writer said that more important than the coaching search is the selection at the June 26 NBA Draft. “I cannot emphasize enough about the importance of this draft for the Cavs—I don’t care who the coach is.”

Introduced to the media as the general manager of the Cavaliers, Griffin stated that the front office and ownership group would search for the next Cavs head coach as a collective, led by him. ““I will not be making any decision alone. But I will be leading this process,” Griffin said. “This is not about being first, this is about being right.”

 

Chad Ford finally puts Joel Embiid at No. 1

Embiid

It only took a few weeks, but ESPN.com’s Chad Ford finally succumbed to the mythical lore known as Joel Hans (Hans!) Embiid. In typical Fordian manner, the long-time NBA Draft expert hedged his bets, but the Kansas University big man presently has his named penciled in next to Cleveland Cavaliers in his latest Mock Draft.

Wiggins, Parker and Embiid all are in the mix here. On lottery night, a Cavs source told me that they had Parker ranked highest on their board all year because of his ability to come in and make an immediate impact and believe Embiid has the most upside of anyone in the draft and fits a long-term need for them. However, the source felt that Wiggins in the end would be the compromise pick — someone who has both elite upside as well as a player who can play (especially defensively) impactful minutes right out of the gate.

That said, if Embiid is cleared by the Cavs’ doctors, and if general manager David Griffin can convince owner Dan Gilbert to be patient and wait on Embiid, I think he gets the nod here. But those are still two big ifs. While Embiid certainly looked healthy enough during a workout in Santa Monica, Calif., a few weeks ago, until the Cavs’ doctors green light him, we just don’t know. And Gilbert is anxious for the Cavs to be a playoff team. Drafting the guy who’s likely to have the least impact next season is going to be a tough sell. At the end of the day I think the Cavs would prefer to trade the pick, but unless they are getting someone like Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge in return, I don’t think they pull the trigger.

Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears refers to Embiid as a “franchise superstar.” Vegas has the Embiid as the odds-on favorite (slightly over Wiggins). DraftExpress, the ever-excellent resource for all things June 26, is also on board.

It’s a bit scary that the lone roadblock could be in the form of the team’s owner, but it appears that the lack of consensus that plagued this draft as little as a week ago is starting to move toward the 7-foot-tall 20-year-old from Yaounde, Cameroon.

LeBron talk a blight on the fans and the franchise

James Jersey DecisionI can’t believe I even have to say this at this point, but Cleveland really needs to stop talking about LeBron James.

Stop hanging onto every little scrap that gets pushed out in the media that reinforces there is some sort of miniscule chance he comes back to Cleveland in the next two or three years because he’s not. Stop analyzing every move the Cavaliers make under the lens of whether it increases or decreases the chance he returns.

I love LeBron the player. He’s 80% of the reason I write about basketball and watching him suit up in the Wine and Gold was probably the most fun I’ve ever had being a sports fan, but it is over. Sometimes I like to blame the media for fueling non-stories like this, but a decent chunk of the fan base can’t let it go either. As our own Ben Cox loves to say, in twenty years we’ll be reading stories of “Is LeBron going to buy the Cavaliers?” As much as I think he means it as a joke, I honestly would not be surprised if these stories actually surface down the road.

“But Joe, if there’s even a small chance that the best player on the planet could come back to your team you just have to pursue it. You just have to, man”

I’ve heard the above statement in one way or another way too often when debating the merits of even entertaining the potential of LeBron returning. The problem is that it assumes there is no downside to this never-ending narrative when in actuality it might have been one of the root problems with the Cavaliers organization over the past few seasons. Most evidence points towards Chris Grant gambling heavily on convincing LeBron to reverse “The Decision”. [Read more...]

Dan Gilbert to meet with Alvin Gentry, Tyronn Lue

Tyronn Lue coaching

The retread versus the wild card: Who ya got?

In what appears to be the next step in obtaining a head coach, the Cleveland Cavaliers will reportedly meet with both Alvin Gentry and Tyronn Lue for the second-round of discussions. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, in the wake of his axis-tilting John Calipari report, states that both Gentry (the veteran) and Lue (the rookie) will get the chance to speak with Dan Gilbert, the team’s majority owner who, to this point, has remained largely in the shadows throughout the course of the offseason.

Cleveland fired head coach Mike Brown just one season into his second coaching stint with the team, after the Cavs failed to make the playoffs with a 33-49 record. Both Gentry and Lue reportedly impressed the Cavs front office during their initial meetings. In his report surrounding Kyrie Irving, Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto speculated that the team—in hopes of a playoff run—would lean toward hiring a veteran head coach, seemingly giving Gentry the edge. Still, many throughout the league continue to speak highly of Lue and his status within what has been a very successful Clippers team over the last several seasons.

Wojnarowski also reports that the team has remained in contact with Florida’s Billy Donovan, but many believe he will not make the jump to the NBA.

THE CAVS WON THE 2014 NBA DRAFT LOTTERY – WFNY Podcast – 2014-05-20

WFNY Podcast LogoThe Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2014 NBA Draft lottery!

So, at the last minute I fired up the old podcast and Andrew and I discussed the Cavs’ ridiculously good fortune.

What should they do?

Kevin Love?

LeBron James?

Does this change the thoughts on the Cavs coaching search?

Also, just for fun, we discussed the new album “Boys” by Herzog. Cleveland band on a Cleveland night. Such a great night!

Check out this episode!

Brian Spaeth discusses Mike Brown and Seth Rogen’s Neighbors – WFNY Podcast – 2015-05-15

The summer movie podcast is in full swing now. Brian (follow @brianspaeth) and I saw Neighbors starring Zac Efron and Seth Rogen. While there wasn’t a heck of a lot to say about it, we both kind of liked it.

We also talked about the Cavaliers removing Mike Brown and how little there really was to say about that either. Somehow we managed to fill up 30+ minutes just the same.

And don’t miss it. Brian sang a podcast intro for the WFNY podcast that was simply divine.

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Check out this episode!