April 24, 2014

Cavaliers vs. Lakers Behind The Boxscore: Deng, Dion, and Delly, but not much D

denglakersI blocked it out of my memory, but I was reminded that the Cavaliers lost to the Kings on Sunday night by 44 points. After that effort, a sight for sore eyes in the depleted Los Angeles Lakers showed up next on the schedule in this 5-game West Coast swing. But, it was anybody’s guess if the Cavaliers would have enough focus or defensive effort to captialize. Well, it was a split decision in that regard, because the offense was pretty spectacular for long stretches, but the defense was atrocious as the Lakers scored out of control in the second and fourth quarters. It was Luol Deng’s impact at both ends as well as a little #DWaitersZone cameo that pulled the Cavaliers through as they eeked out a 120-118 win in Staples Center to improve to 2-1 on the trip. Let’s hit some of the high points.

Offense: not the problem: The wine and gold hit their shots in this game, shooting 47% for the game and a scintillating 13-of-17 (77%!) from the three point arc. They handed out 27 assists (17 of those were in the first half), and they got at least 11 points from six different players. They got to the line 32 times, which is surprising on the road, and they made 25 of them. Five different guys had at least four trips to the charity stripe, and their lowest point total for a quarter came in the first with 28 points. Cleveland hit the offensive boards hard against a mostly-small Laker lineup with 16 of them (11 of those were from Andy and Tristan). [Read more...]

Cavs “seeking other options” in potential Andrew Bynum deal

DSC_0396It appears that the potential Andrew Bynum-to-Los Angeles deal that was reported this week is on life support. ESPN.com’s resident Cavaliers beat NBA writer reports that while the deal which would send Pau Gasol to Cleveland in exchange for the cap space which would be cleared by waiving center Andrew Bynum is no longer progressing and that Chris Grant and the Cavs are looking elsewhere.

The major issue, sources said, involves the Lakers’ desire to get an additional asset from the Cavs beyond Bynum’s team-friendly contract, which could save the Lakers more than $20 million in salary and luxury taxes. The Lakers are interested in also getting a young prospect or first-round draft pick as part of the deal. The Cavs have been reluctant to part with either.

It was reported earlier this week that the Lakers had coveted a first-round pick in the deal which could also included small forward Alonzo Gee. Talks between the Cavaliers and Lakers hit a bit of a speed bump over the New Year’s holiday as All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving had a scare when he suffered what looked to have been a threatening knee injury. The Cavaliers, potentially without Irving, did not want to add Gasol and his $19.3 million contract if playoff hopes had quickly transitioned from remote to no chance in hell.

There is obvious history with the two teams as they engaged in a similar deal in 2012 when they acquired Luke Walton and a first-round draft selection for the expiring contract of Ramon Sessions. Due to the new CBA, there is some pressure for the Lakers to get out of the luxury tax to help with future flexibility. As Windhorst stated, if the Lakers remain in the tax this season, going into the tax in either of the next two seasons would trigger a “repeater tax.” The Lakers are planning to be major free-agent players the next two summers, similar to the cap-space-hording Cavaliers. Alas, any deal consummated between the two teams would not only aid the Cavaliers’ playoff chances this season, but would also add a potential rival to the mix in what is shaping to be a fairly active 2014 free agency period.

The Cavs have until Jan. 7 to trade Bynum before his contract becomes fully guaranteed for the year.

[Related: WFNY Stats & Info: Notes on Pau Gasol’s decline]

(Image: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

WFNY Stats & Info: Notes on Pau Gasol’s decline

the-lakers-want-to-blow-up-their-roster-and-trade-pau-gasol-to-the-wizards-for-the-3-pickPau Gasol is the latest rumored trade candidate for the Cavaliers, according to Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne at ESPN.com. The 33-year-old is a three-time All-Star but his best days are clearly behind him as shown in advanced statistics.

Although he’s averaging 14.7 points and 9.4 rebounds in 30 minutes per game this season — fairly solid production on the surface — those numbers don’t tell the exact story about his last few seasons. Here are two specific stats that more accurately depict his changing game:

FG% on non-restricted area two-pointers
From 2008-09 to 11-12: 45.1% (2,321 shots; 59% of FGA)
From 2012-13 to 13-14: 38.1% (635 shots; 66% of FGA)

Offensive Rebounding%
From 2008-09 to 10-11: 10.5%
From 2011-12 to 13-14: 8.0%

This season, when he was playing, Gasol was shooting more than ever: his 16.4 FGA/36 is a career high and his 25.5% usage rate is his highest in seven years. On this very poor Lakers roster, he’s being called upon offensively quite a bit. But his offensive style has changed, perhaps as limited by his several foot injuries, and he’s shooting more often and less efficiently from mid-range.

It’s understandable that Gasol’s offensive rebounding percentage dropped when Dwight Howard was around in 2012-13. But a healthy Andrew Bynum also was there previously. And Gasol’s numbers dropped to a new career low (6.2%) this season as he’s playing further away from the basket. His defensive rebounding numbers have slightly improved to make up a difference in his total rebounding rates.

In each of the past two seasons, the 7-foot Spaniard has had an even 16.7 PER. He was never lower than 19.5 in PER in any other season of his career. That’s a very troubling fact when also addressed with his increased usage and similar overall rebounding. There’s possible reason to expect some improvement based on his known frustration this year in Los Angeles. Gasol also would likely provide a boost with his noted passing skills.

While Gasol might not be the same All-Star he was several years ago, he’s still a solid contributor. His shooting zone ratios slightly mirror those of Anderson Varejao, who has refined his game to become a very good mid-range shooter this year at 31 years old. He would likely take away minutes, however, from soon-to-be 24-year-old Tyler Zeller who has impressed of late.

In the end, the biggest benefit with a Gasol-Bynum swap with possibly other moving pieces could just be one last hope at contending for a playoff spot this year and maintaining financial flexibility with an expiring contract. Alone, the Pau Gasol of 2013 or even of 2014 won’t likely be enough to make this Cavs roster that much better.

[Related: Cavs at NBA’s one-third mark: How much patience is left?]

(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

Cavs could be sending Andrew Bynum back to LA for Pau Gasol

DSC_0475Could the Cavaliers be adding yet another power forward to the mix?

In one of his recent Below the Rim podcasts, there was a passing moment where the host, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst, and his guest, Grantland.com’s Chuck Klosterman, had tossed around a trade that was on the table between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers that would have sent All-Star power forward Pau Gasol to Cleveland and allow the Lakers to save a boat load of money in attempt to ultimately sign impending free agent Dwight Howard. It got little in the way of traction—likely for a few reasons—but it was one that raised a few eyebrows as the Cavaliers continue their disappointing play during the 2013-14 season.

Whatever happened to that deal, it appears that the lines of communication between Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant and the Lakers remains intact. Windhorst, with the help of ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne, reports that there is a deal in place, while not imminent, that would send Gasol to Cleveland, but for the expiring contract and wonky knees of the “excused” Andrew Bynum.

No deal is believed to be imminent, but both sides are mulling it over ahead of a Jan. 7 deadline when the second half of Bynum’s $12.25 million salary would be guaranteed. By trading Gasol in a package for Bynum and then waiving him, the injury-ravaged Lakers could save more than $20 million in salaries and luxury taxes, which could help them maintain financial flexibility heading into the next few summers. […]

The Lakers are reluctant to part with the four-time All-Star in any trade without receiving assets of some value in return, sources said.

The Lakers have been luxury-tax payers for six straight seasons. While the luxury-tax savings this season — and ability to avoid the repeater tax penalty that kicks in when a team is a taxpayer in four out of five years starting with the 2011-12 season — would undoubtedly help the Lakers’ long-term flexibility, the franchise’s history and organizational culture make that a difficult prospect to consider.

While adding another power forward would seem superfluous, Grant is under immense pressure to get this underachieving Cavaliers team into the post-season given their three-year drought. In addition to keeping his possibilities open with the Lakers, Grant has reportedly been in a wide range of discussions with the Chicago Bulls—a team also dealing with luxury tax issues—for All-Star small forward Luol Deng. Naturally, as with any deal of this nature, the devil is in the details. At least one other player (rumored to be small forward Alonzo Gee) and “assets” are said to be included. The Cavaliers have plenty of future first-round selections at their disposal, some fo which include multiple layers of protection.

Gasol, despite shooting a career-low 45 percent from the floor, would provide an offensive threat from the post, something the Cavaliers are sorely lacking. The 6-foot-9-inch Deng has battled Achilles injuries this season, playing in just 20 games, but is adding 20 points per night when healthy. Both players are impending free agents, so the Cavaliers would have to either be confident that a new contract could be agreed to or that they would be able to make a splash in the 2014 free agency season given the cap flexibility that has been accumulated since July, 2010.

(Image via Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Andrew Bynum, Cleveland Cavalier — WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2013: No. 9

If you thought that 2012 was one crazy year in the world of Cleveland Sports, 2013 proved that there is rarely a dull moment. There were good times and bad, hirings and firings, wins and losses, and appearances in postseasons and courtrooms. As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last five years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the 10 biggest sports stories to grace our local sports scene over the last 12 months. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from ten to one. Do enjoy.

photo (2)

Opening Day is a storied tradition in sports. More religiously observed in baseball, yet still vibrant in the other major sports, there’s something special and holy about each team having a blank canvas for the back-and-forth outcomes likely to follow during the coming season. Anything is possible. Chaos can occur. Miracles could happen. And even Andrew Bynum might play.

Bynum, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ major offseason splash of 2013, faced little expectations from fans for this current calendar year. After a disastrous year-plus that culminated in zero minutes of playing time for the Philadelphia 76ers, there could be no fan trust in his fading health going forward. If he showed up in uniform at all within the first month, that alone might be enough for fans. If he somehow was playing regular minutes by the All-Star Break, then that’d be just fine. [Read more...]

Video: Watch Shannon Brown’s attempt (and fall) in Latvian dunk contest

Former Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Shannon Brown was recently in Latvia where he participated in a dunk contest. Brown, formerly of the “Let Shannon Dunk” campaign back in 2010, decided to attempt a dunk over a few nearby fans. It is safe to say that the outcome, given the way Brown initially disappears off of the frame to get a running start, did not go as intitially planned. Opaaa!

[Related: Video: Watch Kyrie Irving turn a crossover into a left-handed dunk]

(Source: Ballislife)

Everything you need to know about new Cavs forward Earl Clark

Earl Clark CavsWhen Earl Clark was the the No. 14 pick in the 2009 draft, he probably never expected to be in this position four years later. But here he is now, a 25-year-old with the opportunity to provide depth and length to the young Cleveland Cavaliers.

Cavs general manager Chris Grant still has more work to do this offseason with over $15 million left in cap space and several other roster holes to fill. But Clark was a nice first free agency move after his most productive NBA season.

Looking back through Clark’s college and professional career, one can see how his athleticism and versatility have intrigued NBA executives. What remains to be seen is what he can contribute consistently on offense and where exactly he’ll play his minutes in 2013-14.

This article will serve as a primer on Earl Clark’s potential Cleveland impact through the eyes of varied articles from the past about this versatile forward. [Read more...]

NBA News: Cavaliers to sign free agent forward Earl Clark

After rampant speculation over the past few days, it appears the Cleveland Cavaliers have reached a deal with free agent forward Earl Clark.

Sean Deveny of Sporting News had the report first as a two-year, $9 million deal between Clark and the Cavs. TNT’s David Aldridge followed up in reporting that the second year is a team option; a much more flexible deal for the organization.

Clark, a 25-year-old who was the 14th pick in the 2009 draft out of Louisville, had a semi-breakout year this past season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Under the bright lights of the Staples Center, he averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while averaging 23.1 minutes in 59 contests (36 starts).

He nearly doubled his career regular season playing time from the previous three seasons1. Yet, he only posted a 12.4 PER last regular season and collected just 14 points in 82 playoff minutes.

The Cavs were first linked to Clark on the rumor mill earlier this week, as reported by Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico. A 6-foot-10 “stretch” 4, he was 35-for-104 (33.7%) from the three-point line this past season and mostly lived on the perimeter offensively. He can play both forward positions and was a hot target for several teams.

Partnered with Anthony Bennett, Clark gives GM Chris Grant another weapon on the perimeter to create some potentially intriguing mismatches with size and length. Clark rates as a solid defender, so should be a decent fit with the young and collegiately porous defensive abilities of the recent No. 1 pick.

Remaining offseason priorities for the Cavs still likely will be a backup big man, another wing (CJ Miles? Wayne Ellington return?) and depth at the point guard position. Clark fits as a solid rotation player with defensive skills and the ability to stretch the floor. But it’s hard to see him gathering too many minutes, with similarly sized Tristan Thompson and Bennett also key priorities for the team’s future.

The team still has plenty of cap space remaining. Just yesterday, Cleveland was linked with New York Knicks free agent forward Chris Copeland, but with the acquisition of Clark, it appears that rumor has probably met its day.

[Related: The NBA Draft may be complete, but Chris Grant’s job is just getting started]

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Footnotes:

  1. 1,406 minutes with Phoenix and Orlando from 2009-2012; he had 1,363 minutes last year []

Cavs “will likely kick the tires” on Andrew Bynum

This might be nothing more than due diligence, but Bob Finnan (by way of HOOPSWORLD) is reporting that the Cavaliers will explore the possibility of signing free agent center Andrew Bynum.

Bynum was an utter disaster for the Philadelphia 76ers as the 25-year-old didn’t suit up for the team one time in his lone season there. Seventy-sixers CEO Adam Aron’s quote says it all.

“We certainly thought he was going to play in August,” Aron said. “That’s why we made the trade. Even in early October, we thought he would play on opening night. Then there was a delay. Then there was [another] delay. Even when we announced that he was out indefinitely, inside the team we thought he would play in January or February. He himself, in February, said he would play in February. But here we are in March and the team is disappointed. Our fan base is disappointed. And that’s the story of the season.”

However, the Cavaliers need a center and have tons of cap space available to them. It is only natural that the team would explore every opportunity to get better. Every opportunity certainly includes a 25-year-old seven footer who averaged nearly 19 points and 12 rebounds per game in the 2011-12 season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

We’ll see how it plays out, but it is reasonable to assume that some serious money will be chasing Bynum this off-season especially as there will certainly be more than one team that wants Dwight Howard’s services and ultimately will miss out on the premier free agent center this off-season.

[Related:Cavs to have $19 million in cap space this summer]

2013 NBA Draft: Lakers receive 19th pick; will go to Cavs

While the Cleveland Cavaliers received initial good news with the Los Angeles Lakers officially making the playoffs Wednesday night (thus earning the right to swap with Miami’s No. 30 first-round pick), it was previously undetermined what pick that might be in the first round.

Per the NBA draft rules, playoff teams are sorted by regular season record alone. The Lakers, Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls were all tied at 45-37 at the end of the season, thus tying for the 18-20 picks in the first.

Finally then, the NBA hosted a tiebreaking coin flip today. Per the Cavs’ Fred McLeod on Twitter:

Overall, the Houston Rockets were awarded pick No. 18 and the Bulls will receive No. 20.

Thus, along with the Lakers’ No. 19 pick, the Cavaliers also are in formal possession of the No. 3 lottery slot1 and two other second-round picks: No. 31 (via Orlando) and No. 33 (CLE’s).

It’s potentially expected that the team might look into packaging multiple picks to move up in the draft, as they did in 2012. In order to acquire the rights to Tyler Zeller (No. 17 pick) from the Dallas Mavericks, the Cavaliers traded away picks No. 24 (Jared Cunningham), No. 33 (Bernard James) and No. 34 (Jae Crowder).

For folks with long enough memories as well, they might also remember that Cleveland was on the winning side of a couple other coin-flip tiebreakers in the 2012 draft as well. “What’s not to like,” eh?

[Related: Fair or not, it was time for the Cavaliers to move on]

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Footnotes:

  1. Here are the exact lottery odds for that slot: 15.6% of No. 1; 15.7% of No. 2; 15.6% of No. 3; 22.6% of No. 4; 26.5% of No. 5; 4.0% of No. 6. []

Lakers make NBA Playoffs; Cavaliers will be able to swap draft picks

With the Utah Jazz falling to the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis earlier this evening 86-70, the Los Angeles Lakers clinched a playoff berth. They went ahead and defeated the Houston Rockets following the Jazz loss anyway 99-95 in overtime, moving them up to the 7th seed to face the San Antonio Spurs rather than the Oklahoma City Thunder.

What this means for the Cavaliers is that they will be able to exercise their right to swap first-round draft picks with the Lakers in the 2013 draft, gained in the Ramon Sessions (and Christian Eyenga) trade last season that also gave the Cavaliers Luke Walton and a second first-round draft pick last season (24th overall) that helped them acquire Tyler Zeller (17th overall pick). With their extra first-round draft pick this season, acquired in the LeBron James trade, the wine and gold will be able to move up from a would-be 30th pick into a pick between 18th and 20th, depending on coin-flip tiebreakers that will be performed tomorrow.

Furthermore, with the Cavaliers’ loss, ending their season at 24-58, they have the third-best odds at winning the NBA Draft Lottery behind Orlando and Charlotte. Their odds at getting each of the top six picks is outlined below.

1st pick – 15.6%
2nd pick – 15.7%
3rd pick – 15.6%
4th pick – 22.6%
5th pick – 26.5%
6th pick – 4.0%

The Cavaliers also will have the 31st and 33rd picks in the second round of this year’s draft.

Related: A Big Summer For Kyrie, In More Ways Than One

WFNY Stats & Info: Mavericks closing in on Lakers in West

The NBA regular season concludes in just 20 days on Wednesday, April 17. Between now and then, boy, there’s going to be a whole lot of exciting back-and-forth action.

Most notably as it relates to the Cavs besides their own draft position, fans should be paying attention to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference playoff race. Back on March 8, I shared an update about how the Lakers were closing in on Utah. But now, there’s a new competitor: Dallas.

Fitted with some gnarly motivational playoff beards, the Mavericks are on a 10-4 tear in March while the rest of the hopeful playoff teams continue their relatively mediocre play.

After a busy Wednesday night in the Association, here’s the most recent look at how the bottom of the West playoff standings play out right now:

Rk Team W L Pct GB Left SRS JH Rt JH Rk JH Odds
6 GSW 41 32 0.562 +3.5 9 0.75 100.8 12 98.8%
7 HOU 39 32 0.549 +2.5 11 3.90 104.1 7 98.4%
8 LAL 37 35 0.514 10 1.14 100.8 13 54.5%
9 UTA 36 36 0.500 -1.0 10 -0.17 99.8 18 26.1%
10 DAL 35 36 0.493 -1.5 11 -0.09 100.5 15 19.2%
11 POR 33 38 0.465 -3.5 11 -1.36 100.1 16 3.0%

 

Now, with data through Tuesday’s games, here is a look at these teams’ remaining schedules:

Rk Team Left P/L H/R P: H/R L: H/R W Pct JH Avg SRS Avg
6 GSW 9 3/6 6/3 2/1 4/2 0.497 100.4 0.5
7 HOU 11 5/6 5/6 2/3 3/3 0.480 99.2 -0.8
8 LAL 10 6/4 6/4 4/2 2/2 0.539 101.4 1.3
9 UTA 10 5/5 6/4 3/2 3/2 0.527 101.4 1.1
10 DAL 11 6/5 6/5 4/2 2/3 0.506 100.2 0.2
11 POR 11 8/3 7/4 5/3 2/1 0.586 103.0 2.8

 

Key: JH stands for John Hollinger’s ratings, rankings and playoff odds at ESPN. SRS is a standardized ranking system built around an average of 0.0. P/L is playoffs and lottery teams, while H/R is home and road games.

Both Golden State and Houston appear to be playoff locks with only a few weeks left. Thus, after all the positioning thus far, it appears these next four teams are battling only for the No. 8 spot.

With Wednesday’s win, the Lakers actually jumped from about 42% playoff odds to over 54%. That’s also because every other team besides Utah (win) and Dallas (didn’t play) lost last night. But it shows how the Lakers’ progress had been stagnant over the last few weeks.

In terms of remaining schedules, Dallas and Utah are both at a slight advantage over the Lakers. The Jazz play the fewest remaining playoff teams (5), while the Mavericks have the easiest opponent winning percentage, Hollinger rating and SRS rating by a slight margin.

Portland’s blowout loss Wednesday against Brooklyn (they trailed 46-17 just 14 minutes into the game) probably ended its playoff hopes. The Trail Blazers also have a brutal schedule left — facing eight playoff teams in their 11 remaining games.

[Related: The Boots: NBA Draft Lottery, John Wall and winning streaks]

WFNY Stats & Info: Lakers’ chances of making playoffs

Over the last few days, I’ve seen several fans complaining on Twitter about why some fans are monitoring the Cavs’ draft position constantly. For me, it’s a fun task. I love draft talk. I even wrote a significant amount about the NBA Draft prospects last Saturday.

But here’s another idea: How about we just stick to following the Lakers instead? The Cavs are currently tied for 6th in the lottery standings. At the moment, only 3.5 games separate the 3rd and 11th teams. But most likely, the Cavs will situate themselves somewhere in the 5-8 range. Not a whole lot of room for drastic changes.

Then, there’s Los Angeles. The Lakers are now 14-6 in their last 20 games. They’ve finally roared back to .500 and the playoff picture, especially with their miraculous win Wednesday night over the Pelicans (nee Hornets).

As a friendly reminder, if the Lakers make the playoffs, the Cavaliers will swap their current possession of Miami’s first-round pick (28-30 range) with LA’s (15-16 range). This doesn’t happen if LA ends up in the lottery — Phoenix would then own their pick. So this would be a pretty big bonus for Cleveland if it occurs.

Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz, the new No. 8 team in the West and the most likely contender to slip out if LA slips in1, are struggling. They collapsed at the last minute against the Cavs on Wednesday night (double whammy of goodness) and are fading to the tune of 1-5 in their last 6 games.

So how do these two teams’ remaining schedules add up? Let’s take a look at some quick peripheral numbers:

Team Games H/R P/L P: H/R L: H/R
LAL 20 10/10 9/11 5/4 5/6
UTH 21 11/10 12/9 5/7 6/3

 

The above table breaks down in general the remaining games for these two teams. P/L shows Playoffs/Lottery, then there’s a Home/Road breakdown of those two splits as well. Obviously, the Lakers have more of their difficult games at home and the Jazz have more of their difficult games on the road. Here are some more advanced stats:

Team W Pct H/R Pct JH Avg SRS Avg
LAL 0.480 0.489 99.57 -0.509
UTH 0.537 0.532 100.88 1.240

 

The first column is standard Strength of Schedule: opponent winning percentage. Then, I had a simple H/R win percentage, where I just took the opponent team’s home or road record, depending on the location of the game. John Hollinger ranking average and SRS ranking average are then the final two numbers.

So quite clearly, the Lakers have the edge in terms of the slightly more favorable closing schedule. Will they pull it off and make up the final 1.5 games? Entering Thursday, Hollinger’s playoff odds had the Jazz at 57.2% odds to make the playoffs, the Lakers at 52.6%2, their highest in several weeks at least. So it’s practically a toss-up at this point.

It should be fun to watch. And for fans craving daily draft lottery news — this might be the more fruitful (and less polarizing) chase to follow in the final five weeks of the NBA season.

[Related: 2013 NBA Draft: Second tier fits for the Cavaliers]

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Footnotes:

  1. Playoff picture: LA is 1.5 games behind Utah and 2.0 games behind No. 7 Houston. But the Rockets are one of the most fun teams in the league, with one of its hottest offenses. They’re 11-7 in their last 18 games. So that’s why they’re being ignored and I’m picking on the Jazz. []
  2. Clearly, with simple math, that adds up to 109.8%, not 100%. That just reflects the slight uncertainty that exists with the playoff hopes of Houston and No. 6 Golden State. But more likely than not, it will be Utah and the Lakers down the stretch. []

Cool, calm and collected, Luke Walton leads Cavaliers’ crafty reserves

Luke Walton CavaliersThe court-side seat was vacant, waiting to be used. During the waning seconds of a hard-fought game on the road against the Chicago Bulls, Luke Walton deflected an in-bound pass into the corner where he and Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich would each fight to obtain the loose ball. Walton dove out of bounds, coralled the ball where he would swing it around his body and deflect it off of Hinrich’s leg, and promptly rotating his body clockwise where he would fall perfectly in to a chair placed between two Bulls fans. Walton quickly sprung up with his right arm stretched toward the Cavaliers’ basket, signaling posession. The baseline referree agreed. The Cavaliers bench errupted.

Kyrie Irving, who executed a similar play in a recent win over Boston, had an ear-to-ear smile. Anderson Varejao, who has made a living off of these hustle-based plays, drew a scowl and pumped his fist in Walton’s direction, excitedly approving of the sequence. Walton, after all, had just sealed a victory — one wherein his presence was integral well beyond the box score. It was not just the key assists to Dion Waiters or Wayne Ellington (both leading to no-doubt three-pointers) or the jumper that would put the Cavs up by five, it was the timing and flawless execution of such activities, the cerebral contributions that are often overlooked. Back-of-the-hand high-fives for all.

[Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Are the Sacramento Kings the new Browns?

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.

WWW_BulletinBoard_Browns1

This was an enjoyable back-and-forth from two “Cleveland-Raised-Basketball-Writer-in-Exile” on comparing the Kings-Browns situations: “First of all, the fact that the Kings are the only professional sports team in Sacramento makes this slightly different from the Cleveland situation. At the time of the Browns move, the Indians were coming off their first World Series appearance in 41 years a month prior to the announcement so as painful as the Browns move was, Cleveland fans at least had the Tribe to fall back on every April-October. Sacramento has…the San Francisco Giants, I guess? That’s akin to Cleveland fans cheering for Ohio State. As far as the relationship between the fans and owners go, it’s too bad that the SAT did away with the analogies section years ago because Art Modell:Cleveland as The Maloofs:Sacramento would be a perfect fit. Both fan bases are incredibly passionate, and my heart aches for the people of Sacramento who don’t deserve to be jerked around by these idiots.” [Eric Maroun and Amin Vafa/Hardwood Paroxysm]

A nice BDL article on the LeBron craziness, including a shoutout to our very own Scott: “If James were to opt out, it seems about as sure a bet as could exist in the NBA that a still-healthy, still-productive version of James — who will still be just 29 years old on Opening Day 2014 — would be coveted by any team with enough cap space to offer a full maximum-level contract. The Cavaliers are on target to be one of those chock-full-of-cap-space squads come the summer of 2014; at this point, the only guaranteed ’14-’15 money on the Cavs’ books is about $18 million earmarked for young building blocks Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller.” [Dan Devine/Ball Don't Lie]

Capturing 4 positives about the Cavs despite Sunday’s 20-point loss to the Lakers: “Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller. Cleveland Cavaliers fans should be repeating those four names over and over again — especially after losses like the 113-93 hammer job delivered Sunday by the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s because Irving, Thompson, Waiters and Zeller are the future. They’re the second- and first-year guys whom the Cavs are counting on heavily today — and likely will still be counting on in two years. Everyone else on the current roster? Well, it’s hard to say.” [Sam Amico/Fox Sports Ohio]

Are you worried about Dion’s shooting? An old WFNY scribe explains why he isn’t: “The 7-18 shooting display from Waiters, to be fair, was certainly not without it’s cringe-worthy moments. It also marked the 18th time in 31 games that Dion shot less than 40 percent from the field for the night. That level of consistent inefficiency is not good and obviously needs to improve next season. At this point in his NBA development, though, with the Cavaliers currently leading the league in losses, there is no reason Waiters should not take each and every one of the field goals he’s attempting. He might as well keep bombing away until they begin to fall more consistently. Use the entire 2012-13 regular season to find an NBA rhythm if he has to.” [Brendan Bowers/Stepien Rules]

This isn’t huge news, but still worth sharing about why one Browns GM candidate isn’t in the picture anymore: “In the days after the Browns fired G.M. Tom Heckert, word emerged that the Browns requested permission to interview Vikings assistant G.M. George Paton. But an interview never happened. There are two different versions in league circles as to what happened. One source says that Paton passed. Another source says that the Vikings declined permission.” [Mike Florio/Pro Football Talk]

Not necessarily an opinion piece, but it was fun to read through the usual run-of-themill reader comments on ESPN about the Browns hire of Rob Chudzinski: “The Cleveland Browns didn’t make the right move in going with Rob Chudzinski as their new head coach, according to last week’s SportsNation poll. Of the 68,062 votes, 62 percent didn’t approve of the hiring of Chudzsinki.” [Jamison Hensley/ESPN AFC North Blog]

Finally, ending with a look at pitching options for the Tribe: “The 2012 Cleveland Indians had a lot of faults, but none seemed as problematic as the starting rotation. It was statistically the worst in the American League, and one of the worst in all of baseball. The Indians spent the last month or two of the season cycling pitchers into the rotation from Triple-A – names like David Huff, Corey Kluber, and even Chris Seddon took a turn on the mound for the Tribe. Did the Indians do enough this offseason to shore up the rotation? If not, are there any viable options that remain as we are less than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting?” [Stephanie Liscio/It's Pronounced 'Lajaway']

Video: Cavs’ Alonzo Gee’s put-back dunk against the Lakers

If you did not stay up to see the Cavaliers take on the Los Angeles Lakers, we have you covered with the lone highlight. Cleveland Cavaliers high-flying forward Alonzo Gee provided Staples Center fans a put-back dunk against the hometown Lakers.  Gee finished with 14 points, four rebounds, and three steals, but the Cavaliers would fall to the Lakers by 20 points, 113-93, snapping Los Angeles’ six-game losing streak.

Kudos to the Lakers’ broadcast team for claiming that the dunk occurred because Gee was being guarded by cement-shoed point guard Steve Nash.

On the season, Gee has started all 39 games for the Cavaliers and has averaged 11.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals. Gee had a bit of a cult following last season around the time that the Slam Dunk Contest rolled around, but failed to get any recognition for his above-the-rim antics.

[Related: Cavaliers Film Room: The Recipe For Success]

Box Score: Pistons 104 Cavs 97

After holding a three point lead at half time, the Cavaliers fell behind shortly in the third quarter and could never quite catch up. Cleveland made a strong push in the fourth quarter, getting stop after stop on the defensive end, but continously came up empty on the offensive side of the ball.

The Cavs were led by another strong showing from Jeremy Pargo who finished with 24 points, and Anderson Varejao who recorded his 14th double-double in 15 games.

Tyler Zeller had maybe his strongest game as a Cavalier, scoring 13 points, and pulling down 5 offensive rebounds.

Detroit was led by second year point guard Brandon Knight who finished with a game high 29 points.

The Cavs are now 4-17 and get back into action on Tuesday when they host the Lakers.

Detroit

Team Statistics: Starters for Detroit Pistons
Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
B. Knight G 38:25 10-20 5-6 5-6 +13 2 7 5 1 1 1 2 3 30
K. Singler G 35:05 2-4 0-1 5-5 +1 2 2 1 2 1 0 0 4 9
G. Monroe C 29:05 2-8 0-0 7-9 -1 1 4 3 3 1 0 2 2 11
T. Prince F 34:23 5-11 0-0 4-4 +3 0 8 1 1 0 0 1 1 14
J. Maxiell F 30:00 4-7 0-0 2-4 +13 2 4 0 1 0 1 0 4 10
Team Statistics: Bench for Detroit Pistons
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 35-75 9-15 25-33   10 35 17 9 5 5 8 22 104
Percentages .467 .600 .758   Team Rebounds: 11
R. Stuckey 29:08 4-10 2-4 0-0 +11 0 2 6 0 1 1 2 1 10
A. Drummond 21:08 4-6 0-0 1-3 +10 1 3 0 0 1 1 0 4 9
C. Villanueva 15:47 2-5 2-4 0-0 -8 1 3 1 1 0 0 1 1 6
C. Maggette 6:59 2-4 0-0 1-2 -7 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 2 5
W. Bynum DNP – Coach’s Decision
A. Daye DNP – Coach’s Decision
K. English DNP – Coach’s Decision
J. Jerebko DNP – Coach’s Decision

Cleveland

Team Statistics: Starters for Cleveland Cavaliers
Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
D. Gibson G 32:56 2-11 2-9 0-0 -1 0 1 6 3 1 0 0 4 6
J. Pargo G 27:30 10-18 2-4 2-3 +3 0 2 4 1 0 1 2 3 24
A. Varejao C 36:14 7-13 0-0 2-3 -2 7 13 5 3 0 2 1 5 16
A. Gee F 38:05 4-12 1-6 3-3 -6 3 9 0 1 1 1 0 2 12
T. Thompson F 24:14 4-6 0-0 1-2 +7 4 5 0 0 1 1 0 3 9
Team Statistics: Bench for Cleveland Cavaliers
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 39-91 6-27 13-17   20 46 19 14 3 8 5 27 97
Percentages .429 .222 .765   Team Rebounds: 12
T. Zeller 28:54 6-11 0-1 1-2 -9 5 8 0 2 0 3 1 3 13
D. Sloan 20:30 1-6 0-1 0-0 -10 0 4 2 0 0 0 0 2 2
C.J. Miles 15:04 5-11 1-4 4-4 -6 1 2 1 3 0 0 0 3 15
O. Casspi 9:55 0-3 0-2 0-0 -1 0 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 0
K. Jones 6:38 0-0 0-0 0-0 -10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
S. Samuels DNP – Coach’s Decision
L. Walton DNP – Coach’s Decision

 

Arena:
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

[Related: Scott hopefull Waiters & Irving will return Tuesday vs. LAL]

Scott hopeful Waiters & Irving will return Tuesday vs. LAL

Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio tweeted that Cavaliers coach Byron Scott is hopefull both guards Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving will return to action Tuesday against the Lakers.

Waiters has been day to day with ankle injury, missing the Cavs last 3 games.

Irving has been out since November 21 and a Tuesday return would bring the Cavs star back almost two weeks ahead of schedule.

 

Magic: Mike Brown’s lack of in-game adjustments cost Cleveland championship

We have to go back to history with Mike. Mike didn’t get it done in Cleveland. If he can’t get the championship done in Cleveland, having the game’s best player (LeBron James), how are you going to come to Los Angeles and win it? It’s just too bad. I think he will get another job, but it just wasn’t the right fit for him here in Los Angeles. [...] Mike Brown has one big flaw in his coaching: he does not make adjustments in game. That’s what killed him in Cleveland, and that’s what killed him with the Lakers. If you go back to every series that the Cleveland Cavaliers lost, and every series that the Lakers lost, Mike Brown did not make adjustments within the game. That’s it. Let’s keep it real. If we’re going to be real, then let’s keep it real. That’s his biggest flaw. It’s not preparation. It’s not his defense, before the game and getting a game plan together. It’s within the game. That’s why.

– Legendary point guard Magic Johnson, as told to Sam Amick of the USA Today, in response to Mike Brown being fired by the Los Angeles Lakers five games in to the 2012-13 NBA season.

[Related: NBA Rookie Rankings: Fresh Meat]

The Boots: C.J. Miles, Andrew Bynum Trade, Backup Quarterbacks, Preseason Browns Injuries

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: Addition of C.J. Miles — Yes, I like the move, but don’t read too much into it. The 25-year-old Miles has career averages of 8.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 51.2% true shooting in his seven-year career with the Utah Jazz. The free agent signing strikes me as a low-risk, high-reward move that can only help the Cavaliers at their weakest position: small forward. [Read more...]