July 29, 2014

Chris Grant resisted front office push to trade for Thunder’s James Harden

James Harden, J.J. HicksonJames Harden seemed to be a fantasy trade target for many Cavaliers fans back when he was a lightning scoring guard off the Oklahoma City Thunder bench. Now, he’s a two-time All-Star for the Houston Rockets. And today, upon the firing of Cavs GM Chris Grant, we learn that such a deal actually could have occurred.

Grantland’s Zach Lowe, one of the best writers in the NBA, had a great final post on Grant’s tenure in Cleveland. You should go read the entirety of the post because it’s one of the best out anywhere on the topic. In running through the oft-criticized asset accumulation, Lowe then shared this tidbit:

A segment of the front office pushed Grant hard to make a run at James Harden before last season, using a combination of picks and any Cavalier other than Irving. Grant resisted, and he has generally been known around the league as a difficult sort to deal with. Executives on other teams lament that Grant overvalues his own players to the point of paralysis, and that could have prevented the Cavs from throwing their hat in the Harden ring.

Instead, on Oct. 28, 2012, just days before the 2012-13 season, Oklahoma City traded Harden to Houston. The final deal: Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick for Harden and three relatively obscure scrubs.

The 24-year-old Harden has now emerged as one of the NBA’s elite scorers for the Rockets, who later added center Dwight Howard this past offseason. In Oklahoma City, the 2009 No. 3 overall pick controlled the team’s offense off the bench. In 120 games for Houston, he has averaged over 25 points per game.

As seen above, Harden once laid down a thunderous dunk on Cleveland’s J.J. Hickson on Dec. 12, 2010. Now, it seems, the thought of his name could  haunt Cavaliers fans’ dreams for a long time to come.

Related James Harden articles at WFNY:
Could Dion Waiters fill the James Harden role? — Oct. 2012
The reality of the James Harden deal in Cleveland — Nov. 2012
Waiters’ move to reserve is long overdue, but in a good way — Jan. 2013
NBA Draft: On Dion Waiters, Ben McLemore and starting — June 2013

Photo: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Cavs vs Rockets Behind The Box Score: If the Cavs lose and no one notices, does it count?

Mike BrownHeading into this latest Cavs game, the season appeared to be as low as could be. After a week of drama and speculation, a New York Daily News report centered on Luol Deng comments painted the team as an absolute mess.

Over in Houston on Saturday night, the final result wasn’t that terrible after all, somewhat. Heck, the Rockets have won two-thirds of their games this season, so this could have been much, much worse. The final score read 106-92. It was a wee bit close for a few minutes midway through the third quarter, but that was about it. The Rockets are a much better team.

During a 33-12 rally by the Cavs that intersected halftime, they looked very solid, especially offensively. Small victories! But at half, only three Cleveland players even scored more than two points: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Luol Deng. Those were the three players with notable efforts, really. The Rockets are just too good, too talented and too efficient in their schemes. It wasn’t really that competitive. Yikes. [Read more...]

2013 NBA Draft, 2013 NBA trade scenarios and more with Kirk – WFNY Podcast – 2013-05-29

WFNY Podcast LogoKirk wrote a fantastic article exploring the trade market available to the Cavs and I wanted to go over it and push him further on it since it has been out there a few days. Of course we also talked about some other stuff like Dwight Howard.

  • Kirk’s NBA Draft Rumors article
  • Being an eighth seed and the pains of it
  • The finishing of one three year plan and starting another to compete for a title
  • Oklahoma City trading Harden one season too early to Houston
  • Should OKC have played one more year and taken a CLE deal?
  • Did people expect Harden to be as good as he’s been this season in Houston?
  • Demarcus Cousins and how scared we all are of him
  • Luol Deng and why he might or might not work
  • Joe Johnson contract hell
  • Deron Williams and the Brooklyn cap space situation
  • Dwight Howard and whether or not you can gamble with him
  • Would you take a chance on Dwight Howard with the Cavs? (hypothetically)
  • The Dream scenario and how Kevin Love is not a possibility
  • What if the Cavs do nothing?
  • How coachable are the Cavs’ young guys like Kyrie Irving, Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson?
  • Missing Delonte West and loving his game
  • Ben McLemore and Nerlens Noel and who they can become [Read more...]

The Diff: Kyrie Irving’s potential

Today marks the start of a new era: The Diff, where I’ll write lots and lots about sports stats. Kudos to friend and fantasy football semifinalist Marc Sugerman for coming up with the article name, a shoutout to the Q’s scoreboard. And thanks as always to Mike Brenkus for the design.

The Diff

For my first-ever edition of The Diff, I wanted to focus on some thoughts I had about Kyrie Irving over the last week or so. This all started after the Cavs’ impressive 99-83 victory over the Hawks a week ago today. I was at that game with my dad. But the following conversation took place the next day on Gchat with my brother Sam, who you all might recall from our combined offseason post back in June. Hope you enjoy. [Read more...]

Box Score: Rockets 112, Cavs 104

James Harden was just too much in the second half as the Cavaliers couldn’t take advantage of the home crowd in a 112-104 loss to Houston on Saturday night. Harden, who scored just 2 points on 0 FGs in the first half, finished with 29 points and 7 steals.

Kyrie Irving, who made several spectacular plays again tonight, scored 30 points and had 6 assists, but had 8 turnovers and was forced to be the only offensive weapon late in the game again. Tristan Thompson had another great game with 14 points (on 9 shots) and 16 rebounds (including 8 offensive), while Dion Waiters had 13 points, but was a -13 for the night as Houston’s bench dominated while on the court.

HOUSTON ROCKETS 20-14 (Won last 4)
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 8-27 (Lost last 1)
Team 1 2 3 4 Total
HOU 20 34 24 34 112
CLE 26 24 28 26 104

Houston

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
J. Lin G 38:13 7-13 3-5 3-5 +6 0 4 5 4 1 0 1 5 20
J. Harden G 37:56 6-17 3-9 14-15 +2 0 2 3 5 7 1 1 3 29
O. Asik C 21:18 1-3 0-0 2-4 -1 3 6 1 0 0 2 0 4 4
C. Parsons F 25:57 2-9 1-5 2-2 -7 1 5 3 3 0 0 1 0 7
M. Morris F 21:46 4-8 1-4 2-2 -5 2 5 3 1 1 0 0 0 11
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 37-79 12-34 26-36 12 43 23 17 11 4 3 23 112
Percentages .468 .353 .722 Team Rebounds: 13
C. Delfino 27:34 3-6 2-5 1-1 +17 0 3 2 2 1 0 0 2 9
P. Patterson 26:14 7-13 1-4 0-0 +13 1 6 2 1 0 1 0 3 15
G. Smith 26:12 5-5 0-0 1-5 +8 4 11 2 0 1 0 0 5 11
T. Douglas 14:50 2-5 1-2 1-2 +7 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 1 6
C. Aldrich DNP – Coach’s Decision
J. Anderson DNP – Coach’s Decision
T. Jones DNP – Inactive
S. Machado DNP – Coach’s Decision
D. Motiejunas DNP – Coach’s Decision
R. White DNP – Inactive

Cleveland

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
K. Irving G 41:08 10-24 3-8 7-8 -6 1 4 6 8 4 0 1 2 30
C.J. Miles G 25:52 4-14 1-6 0-0 0 1 3 1 0 1 0 0 4 9
T. Zeller C 37:04 4-9 0-0 4-4 0 1 5 5 0 3 1 0 3 12
T. Thompson F 37:07 5-11 0-0 4-6 -8 8 16 2 1 1 1 1 3 14
A. Gee F 31:30 6-12 2-4 4-4 -1 1 6 1 1 1 0 2 6 18
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 36-91 7-23 25-28 17 44 20 13 11 3 4 25 104
Percentages .396 .304 .893 Team Rebounds: 10
D. Waiters 28:50 4-13 1-5 4-4 -13 1 5 1 3 0 0 0 2 13
S. Livingston 16:40 0-3 0-0 0-0 -4 0 0 3 0 1 1 0 3 0
K. Jones 12:13 2-2 0-0 2-2 0 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 6
L. Walton 9:36 1-3 0-0 0-0 -8 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 2
O. Casspi DNP – Coach’s Decision
D. Gibson DNP – Inactive
J. Leuer DNP – Inactive
J. Pargo DNP – Coach’s Decision
S. Samuels DNP – Coach’s Decision
A. Varejao DNP – Inactive

The reality of the James Harden deal in Cleveland

“We want to win as much as the fans do. No matter how long it takes, and no matter what it takes, we’re just going to keep going until we get there.”  – Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert, October 30, 2012

At least one of the four Cleveland Cavaliers’ recent first-round draft selections will likely have to be traded. It won’t be for a while — preferably at least three years — and it will likely involve the Cavaliers receiving a concoction of hope and flexibility in return, but it will likely happen.

This reality came to a front just a few nights ago when the Oklahoma City Thunder were forced to part ways with shooting guard James Harden1, receiving a veteran, a rookie and future draft selections in return. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. He of the sixth-highest win share in all of the NBA last season, ahead of players like Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and teammate Russel Westbrook []

Could Dion Waiters fill the James Harden role?

Using a fourth-overall selection on Dion Waiters, the initial beliefs were that the Syracuse Slasher1 would immediately step in to the starting shooting guard slot and he, along with the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year in Kyrie Irving, would slice and dice, and pick and roll their way to the promised land. Confetti would fall, parades would be had and the Scream Team would look to expand their number of FTEs as, well, the demand for more scream would be the next commodity boom.

There is no question that Waiters will have to be a big component of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ attempt at rebuilding toward perennial contention. But should he be slotted in next to Irving when Ahamad Crump belts out the starting five each time the Wine and Gold take to the floor?

A lot has been made of the Oklahoma City Thunder2 and their building through the draft to become one of the league’s most successful teams. What is not typically used as a focal point is how the Thunder execute given the talent they have; specifically with their rotations and usage of one James Harden. Prior to his epic collapse in the NBA Finals, Harden, the Thunder’s sixth man, was one of the more coveted players to be discussed as a legitimate option for a Cleveland team in dire need of play-making wings.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. I just made that up and have no delusions of it ever sticking []
  2. As well as the San Antonio Spurs. []

While We’re Waiting… Damon Being Damon, Harden’s Struggles, and Sandusky, Ohio vs Sandusky, Jerry

“On a mid-May segment of the MLB Network chat showIntentional Talk, hosts Chris Rose and Kevin Millar attempted to stump outfielder Johnny Damon on past teammates. The duo asked the current Cleveland Indian and 18-year vet where, if at all, he had crossed paths with five other players. He batted 1.000, remembering not only the big-league clubs but also where they’d played together in the minors. “I pay attention to my teammates,” he said, laughing that big Johnny Damon laugh. “The tough thing would have been to ask me about my teammates I’m with now. This is the first time I’m actually with them.” Throughout the interview, he frequently glanced offscreen to smile and wave at Chicago White Sox players walking to batting practice. He knew every one of them as well. During the exchange, Damon and Millar only addressed each other as “pimp.” It was broish and stupid, but the subtext was clear: nothing had changed from when the pair were in the clubhouse together. For Damon, once someone’s a teammate, he’s always a teammate.” [Noah Davis/The Classical]

[Read more...]

NBA Playoffs Showing Cavaliers How Hard Building a Championship Team Really Is

Even with Kyrie Irving in place, the Cavaliers still have much work to do

With the NBA Finals drawing near, it’s only natural for fans of teams not currently playing basketball to look on from a distance, wondering what it must take to be one of the teams representing their conference in the Finals.

Make no mistake about it, the Cleveland Cavaliers are a very long way away from getting there. The first key component is in place. Kyrie Irving was everything the Cavaliers were hoping for, and more, in his rookie season, but when you consider the 4 Conference Finalists, it’s clear that much work needs to be done.

In the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder have Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden1 as part of their “Big 3”. The San Antonio Spurs featured Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.

The Eastern Conference Finals have their own clash of “Big 3s”. The Boston Celtics have the original Big 3 in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. Not to mention Rajon Rondo, who is currently better than any of the original Big 3. The Miami Heat have the most infamous Big 3 in the NBA with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. if you count Serge Ibaka in that group, they actually have a “Big 4” []