August 1, 2014

Forever His, Forever Ours

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One man, one letter, one hell of a human being

Everyone has a story. If you are a fan of Cleveland Sports, be it in passion or in passing, odds are that you have a story with Zydrunas Ilgauskas serving as the central character. If you frequented Cleveland’s warehouse district during the early aughts, chances are you saw a late-20s Ilgauskas alone at a nightclub, leaning against a varnished wooden bar that barely hit him at the waste. More often than not, he would be wearing a cap of some sort; Kangols were huge back in the day. On the rare occasion, he would be puffing on a cigar the size of a human arm, losing himself in the fog. Many have had the fortune of crossing paths with Zydrunas or his family over the last several years as they lived out the second phase of the big man’s career. There are some individuals who shared the same day care or schooling system with the Ilgauskas family. There are others who have shared a flight with Big Z as he and his never-ending legs were crammed in a standard seat on a Southwest Airlines-branded Boeing 737.

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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...]

Cavs stink and have no way to get better plus The Wolf of Wall Street – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-07

WFNY Podcast LogoThis turned out to be a wholly depressing podcast where Ben talked down the idea of bringing in Pau Gasol because there’s just no means to an end with what the Cavaliers have put together. At least that’s how it felt on January 6th, 2014.

  • Ragging on Josh Flagner to start the podcast
  • Is Andrew Bynum indicative of a larger NBA problem?
  • Player movement and trying to control it
  • Separating union conversations from pro sports financial conversations
  • Ben doesn’t even want Pau Gasol
  • What does Pau give the Cavaliers?
  • How quickly will Pau Gasol be able to integrate into the team?
  • If the Cavs were playing young, then the Cavaliers should compete for the playoffs
  • Should Anthony Bennett play more?
  • So now that the Cavs are a mess, what do you do?
  • Bringing in Pau Gasol feels like chasing a bad poker pot
  • The only player the Cavs could trade that would make another team act stupidly is Kyrie Irving
  • The Wolf of Wall Street and what Ben didn’t like about it

Check out this episode

The Boots: Talkin’ Cleveland Cavs Season Preview

As I’ve been doing for years, The Boots are my way to assign Boot Up or Boot Downs to various items in the sports world. As a reminder, I got the nickname “Boot” from my older brothers when I was young, and thus, I continue to use this segment as my personal sports writing payback.

Boot Up: Optimism for the Future – The Cavaliers are going to be a much-improved team in 2012-13. I do not doubt that at all. While I tend to be a bit of a pessimist with this squad, and I explain that more below, I wanted to share my optimism first. Here are five things that have me really excited to watch this team play real games soon:

1. Kyrie Irving: Now he’s a household name. One of the 30 best players in the NBA, undoubtedly. He’s a budding star and hasn’t even played a full college basketball season or full 82-game NBA season yet. This should be tremendous fun to see him on the court this year and knocking down shots against Eastern Conference foes. Now it actually starts to matter. [Read more...]

The Mindset List 2016: Cleveland Sports Edition

This morning when I got to my computer, I saw a link from one of my favorite Cleveland area bloggers/tweeters @ClevelandChick. She tweeted out the annual “Mindset List” put out by Beloit college that gives the perspective of today’s average matriculating college freshman. It points out that a college freshman who will graduate in 2016 would share their freshman year with someone like Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning should they choose to go to college. They also point out that this generation of kids might know who Kurt Cobain is, but they never shared its living air with him. If that wasn’t depressing enough, imagine if you knew Robert DeNiro as Greg Focker’s father in-law instead of from The Godfather or even Cape Fear. Of course, that led me to want to tie it into Cleveland sports. So here’s are a few from the WFNY crew. [Read more...]

Danny Ferry Wasting No Time Shaking Up Atlanta

As GM of the Cavaliers, Danny Ferry had a luxury box seat to a playoff beat-down of the Atlanta Hawks. It was 2009, and the Cavaliers wiped the Hawks off the floor four games to none. In that series the Cavaliers beat Atlanta by an average score of 96-78. Needless to say, the Hawks weren’t very impressive.

In the Joe Johnson era, the Hawks had an 18-28 record in the playoffs. They never made it to the Conference Finals. That didn’t stop the Hawks from giving Johnson a max deal in 2010. A contract that would pay Johnson a staggering $19.75 million for the upcoming season, $21.4 in ’13-’14, $23.1 in ’14-’15 and $24.9 in ’15-’16. This is not a knock on Joe Johnson. I like Johnson. But he is not a superstar caliber player that you build a championship team around.

Enter Danny Ferry.

Ferry took over the Hawks GM position last week, and has wasted no time in deciding that the only way to turn the Hawks into a championship contender is to completely start over. Ferry, as we know in Cleveland is no stranger to making trades. He is quite adept at getting rid of bad contracts as well. (Of course, some of those bad contracts were ones that he made.) [Read more...]

Report: Danny Ferry to Hire Cavs’ Wes Wilcox

His office chair is barely warm, but newly hired Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry is making moves. Following his trade of Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, Ferry has reportedly set his sites on Cleveland Cavaliers director of player personnel Wes Wilcox.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports that Wilcox, having been with the Cavaliers for nine seasons, would be hired by Ferry has his assistant general manager. Before joining the Cavs in 2003, Wilcox served as the video coordinator for the New Orleans Hornets. He was Cleveland’s advance scout for four seasons and then served as the team’s college and pro personnel scout for three seasons. He was named director of player personnel in 2010 and was named as the general manager of the team’s D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge in 2011.

If hired as Ferry assistant general manager, Wilcox would be on a similar Ferry-based path to that of Lance Blanks, who is presently general manager in Phoenix, as well as Christ Grant.

[Related: Who Should the Cavs Target in Free Agency?]

Report: Former GM Danny Ferry accepts deal with Atlanta Hawks

According to several reports, the Atlanta Hawks have come to terms with former Cavalier player and General Manager Danny Ferry to be the team’s GM.

Ferry was reportedly in negotiations for the open Sixers job, but the two sides couldn’t come to terms. The Hawks signed Ferry to a six year contract, with details undisclosed as of yet.

Ferry resigned from his position as Cavaliers’ GM in the summer of 2010, presumably because he had a difference in opinion on retaining Mike Brown.

[Related: Dan Gilbert discusses the departure of Danny Ferry]

Cavaliers Facing a New Future in the Wake of a Rewritten History

Sometimes it seems like the NBA is covered like a drama series more so than a sports league. Perhaps because basketball is the sport that bares its soul most openly, it only makes sense that reading coverage of the sport is like reading a series of narratives and human interest stories.

But the thing that can sometimes be frustrating about the sport is the degree to which said narratives change over time. Hindsight is the king of all sports, where memories are built on the foundation of what happened in retrospect as opposed to what actually happened in those precise moments. Nowhere is this more true than in the NBA, where the past is rewritten quicker than ever. [Read more...]

Cavaliers Discussion Points

The Cavaliers enter tonight’s game at Madison Square Garden with a record of 15-60.  At this point last season, they had a record of 60-16.  The Miami Heat enter their game tonight across the river in New Jersey with a record of 53-23, unable to match the Cavaliers win total from last season.  Cavs fans are familiar with the dangers of using regular season results to project postseason results.

Kenny Roda asked LeBron, in postgame media access on Tuesday, what he thought about the situation of Miami having no chance to match the regular season success he had with the Cavaliers.  LeBron shrugged it off and hit the talking points of regular season records not necessarily translating to the postseason, citing failures last season against Boston – he didn’t really care about the comparison of last year’s Cavs and this year’s Heat.  And he’s right, he shouldn’t really care.

But yesterday, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! reported that Pat Riley had worked out Eddy Curry and had plans for further workouts with an objective of signing the Chicago fatman. [Read more...]

This is the Best Thing for the Cavs

First of all, my condolences to all the season ticket holders out there.  I don’t take your financial sacrifices lightly.  The veritable jobbing that you are taking this season at the Q is everybody and nobody’s fault.  The NBA and Dan Gilbert know what they are doing when they make season ticket holders buy their tickets so far in advance.  As consumers, you know the risks too.  The NBA, Dan Gilbert and you the consumer all have some culpability here.  Just the same, as a fan, my sympathies lie first and foremost with you season ticket holders.  That being said, the point of this is to say that what is happening now is for the best.

We have all seen some drastic descents in sports history, but this LeBron-induced descent is something extraordinary.  It isn’t all LeBron’s fault either.  This Cavs team could, and should be better than they are.  LeBron didn’t cause all these injuries.  He certainly didn’t knock Anderson Varejao out for the rest of the season.  In the end though, this is probably one of the most fortunate, unintentional tank-jobs in the history of the NBA. [Read more...]

Cavs Fans, It’s Not Our Fault

It is all over now Cavs fans.  We have had our chance to say all the things that we were feeling since we were trounced upon so many months ago.  Despite the whole thing being put in a fishbowl as if Cleveland fans would provide the blood and gore of a grotesque cock fight, we came out looking very good.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently.  As fans, we did all we could to waste all those thousands (millions?) of dollars spent sending all those media members to Cleveland for a single night.  They sent enough people to write a thousand books about this single night and we barely even gave them the hint of a thesis.  Take pride in that.   Now it is time to move on.  Not because others so rudely and crudely told us to, but because we want to and are now ready to.  Just don’t blame yourself for the destination.

Sure, in the end, it would be easy to go back and second-guess everything we ever did that helped create an ego-maniac bigger than all the endorsement contracts in sports combined.  But it was a no-win proposition.  By building it up to these proportions we take the criticism that we “created the monster” and only now get mad when it turns on us.  If we hadn’t “created the monster” then we would have been criticized for not caring enough.  And the bottom line is that we were always accused of not being deserving of nice things as it was.  Behind curtain number one, two and three were the same piles of excrement, just wrapped in slightly different packaging.  Which one do you choose? [Read more...]

Ilgauskas on Return: “I Don’t Know What to Expect”

While the vast majority of fans and media outlets are focusing on LeBron James’ pending return to Cleveland, Zydrunas Ilgauskas will be wearing another jersey in Quicken Loans Arena for the first time in his 14-year career.

And while most fans have a bit of closure with regard to Ilgauskas leaving Cleveland via free agency, the veteran big man is still unsure what is in store.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know what to expect,” Ilgauskas told the Associated Press. “It’s my first time as a visitor. I’m not going to separate myself from the team. I’m part of the Heat now, so these are my guys and obviously we are going to get a harsh, harsh reception as a team.”

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WFNY Exclusive: Andy Baskin Talks Post-LeBron Media Coverage

When I wrote the earlier article about the quietness in reporting on LeBron’s ending with the Cavaliers, I decided to reach out to Andy Baskin because I liked his article about how the media had been fooled or missed all the warning signs of what LeBron truly was.  I asked him for a bit of a post-script on what his current thoughts were considering his original post.  If all these reporters had such an epiphany after the words “South Beach” were uttered, why hadn’t they finished the story now?

Andy read my email with some questions in it and really went above and beyond the call of duty in answering.  Here is what I heard back.

(First on the orignal reporting of the story…)

I can tell you in 20 plus years in both TV and radio, LeBron’s story was the most exhausting story I have ever worked on. The pressure to keep turning stuff, not just day to day, but minute to minute because of the internet was exhausting.  Pressure was on all of us to turn any information as fast as we could. This story showed the power of the internet and social media, like none other. [Read more...]

NBA News: New Contracts for Chris Grant and Danny Ferry

Though he has only been on the job for all of three months, Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant is the alleged recipient of a five-year contract.  Reported by The Plain Dealer, the deal is technically only an extension of two seasons with a raise in compensation from his original three-year contract which was signed after Grant passed up becoming general manager of the Atlanta Hawks.

Grant refused to comment on the report, but the new general manger has been at the forefront of every other aspect of the team since the resignation of Danny Ferry in early June.  Trial by fire, Grant hired a new head coach in Byron Scott, failed to acquired draft choices that had been traded away by past regimes, and endured the most-discussed free agency period in the history of the NBA that conceivably left the team in turmoil.  [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Cavs Front Office, Missing Franky G and the Site of the Big Ten Championship

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com

“Despite the fallout over the past month, the Cavaliers’ front office must have done at least a few things right over the past five years. Because teams keep hiring their executives away.

The latest was Cavs assistant general manager Lance Blanks, who was hired as the Phoenix Suns’ general manager on Thursday. Blanks, who arrived with former GM Danny Ferry from the San Antonio Spurs in 2005, is the second executive to be hired away in the past week.  Team legal counsel and salary-cap specialist Mike Winger was hired by the Oklahoma City Thunder for a higher-level management position last week.” [Brian Windhorst]

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LeBron James the Recruiter Targets Jawad Williams

Over the last two weeks, LeBron James has turned into an epic Voltron of Urban Myer, John Calipari and Korn Ferry International when it comes to recruiting players to join him in Miami.  Not long after locking up veterans Mike Miller and Zyrdunas Ilgauskas, James has reportedly set his sights on a younger player in Cleveland’s Jawad Williams.

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An Alternate LeBron James Universe

The Cavaliers organization is currently in an awful position. Strangled by the most famous 25-year-old in the world, the Cleveland Cavs already have had one of the worst post-seasons in franchise history. Highlighted by a tragically early playoff exit and the departure of the team’s general manager and head coach, basketball has not been fun a fun topic in the NBA’s Ohio home for the past few months.

In the meantime, there is no telling what could happen next for the Cavs team before the start of the 2010-2011 regular season. An entirely new starting lineup could potentially take the court on opening night compared to last year, and there is nobody else to point the blame for this entire predicament than LeBron James.

In order to truly see how this organization has changed for the worst in the past 12 months, it is best to imagine an alternate series of events. One where James picked up his team option for the soon-to-be upcoming season, enabling the franchise to breathe a little easier and re-load on the fly while never ever looking back.

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While We’re Waiting…Relationship LeBron, Big Ten Divisions, Good GMs Disrespected

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com

Hopefully only growing pains: “No question damage has been and will continue to be done as his free agency plays out.  Some say that they’ll never look at LeBron the same way after all of this; that LeBron’s relationship with Cavs fans is forever changed.  Some even say they’ll be glad to see him go.  But I’m still thinking about growing pains here.   Sure, we’ll never look at LeBron the same way after all of this, just like a parents can never look at their 7-year old, then 14-year old, then 21-year old as the same perfect angel (s)he was when (s)he was a toddler.  Things we know:  Good judgment comes from experience.  Experience comes from bad judgment.  And every relationship has its ups and downs.  No question the honeymoon is over between Cleveland and LeBron.  Definitely call this a “down” period in the relationship.” [Pete/Cleveland Frowns]

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Mathematical Proof of Tom Izzo’s NBA Success

As the free agency rumor season continues, the Cavaliers coaching rumor season is also relatedly running full force.  After Danny Ferry’s resignation it appears that Dan Gilbert might just be intent on hiring a college coach, namely Tom Izzo.  Now a lot of people are especially wary of college coaches making the jump from the college ranks to the NBA.  The thinking being, how do you take a process that includes recruiting like crazy to guarantee some sort of success and then just rely on your X’s and O’s expertise to get the job done?  All the while, you have to make it happen with players who are no longer working for free, but make much much (much) more money than you do.  All practical theories aside, I set out to prove once and for all with mathematics why Tom Izzo will definitely be a success in the NBA.  The Shannon Brown Principle does this perfectly.

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