Turmoil often leads to reaction. You can attempt to rectify your prior poor decisions with new ones, but oftentimes this is analogous to doubling down at a blackjack table in hopes of catching a hot hand. We often expect things to simply work out. Our decisions that were, at the time, supported by well-thought and careful analysis are supposed to bear fruit. But when they don’t… Well, that’s when some point fingers and others lose their jobs.
Because masochism isn’t for everyone
I hate winter.
I woke up today at 7:00 a.m., barely able to breath for the fifth straight day. I spent the next two minutes trying to vacate my nasal cavity of what I suspect was approximately a fetrick muckton of the crustiest boogers known to man. I then turned towards the window directly adjacent to my bathroom sink and peeped through the closed blinds to see that once again it had snowed overnight.
[Insert barely coherent mumbled obscenities here]
The Cavaliers are banged up and it’s showing. They’ve now accumulated three consecutive losses since the trade deadline and there’s still not set date for the return of CJ Miles, Dion Waiters, and Anderson Varejao. Every team the Cavaliers will face in March is either in the playoffs or sitting just barely outside them. These games are only going to get tougher for.
This particular loss to the Raptors at home Tuesday night hurt for a host of reasons. The Cavs came out shooting all sorts of blanks in the opening quarter and it looked as if the offensive woes from the last few games were going to doom the Cavs to a blowout defeat. They managed to minimize the damage of what looked like a poor second quarter and headed into half shockingly, to anyone watching, only down by six. An 11 point third quarter from Kyrie Irving pushed the Cavs back into the lead to start the fourth, but some questionable calls and sublime shot making from the Raptors proved to be too much for the shorthanded Wine and Gold as they fell 99-93. [Read more...]
A detailed look at Cleveland’s newest headband-wearing big man
The Nitty Gritty
The Cavaliers acquired 25-year old Spencer Hawes from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for a package of Earl Clark, Henry Sims, and two second-round picks in this year’s draft. Hawes is set to be a free agent at the end of the season and the rebuilding 76ers were in a position to either trade him at the deadline or lose him for nothing at season’s end. They obviously opted for the former. Earl Clark and Henry Sims can barely be registered as a loss for this Cavs team as neither was garnering consistent minutes within Mike Brown’s rotation. The second-round picks being sent out are the Cavaliers own second-rounder this year, along with the Grizzlies’ second-round pick that they acquired last season. They still own Orlando’s second-round pick this year which, due to the Magic’s awful season, is the most valuable of the bunch.
Literally minutes after the Cavaliers sealed a rare three-game winning streak on Tuesday night, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski decided to rain on Cleveland’s parade and release an article about what he’d dug on a seemingly dysfunctional Chris Grant regime.
Wojnarowski is the most well connected NBA writer out there and he tends to be the one to break most of the major news that hits The Association. It’s not often though that he decides to expound further on NBA events beyond dropping #WojBombs on Twitter. So when such a well informed writer decides to go more in-depth about your favorite franchise, it’s hard not to pay close attention.
Some of the most interesting claims he makes in the article are:
- Despite the league-wide acclaim for interim GM David Griffin, owner Dan Gilbert is going to search far and wide for a replacement this summer. That doesn’t mean Griffin is out of the running though.
- There was belief among the Cavs organization that Grant had not scouted Jonas Valancinunas well enough before the 2011 draft. Though most of the Cavs personnel department wanted Valanciunas, Grant used the fact that the player’s agent, Leon Rose, would not negotiate a buyout agreement with his European club before they knew where he would be drafted. Thus, that was his justification to select the player he wanted in Tristan Thompson.
- Grant passed on Andre Drummond in the 2012 draft over concerns that a Tristan Thompson-Andre Drummond frontcourt would not be offensively compatible.
- Kyrie Irving pushed hard to have his “close friend” Harrison Barnes drafted by the Cavs in 2012.
- Grant had been attempting to trade Dion Waiters before he was fired.
- Klay Thompson was discussed for the No. 4 pick in the 2011 draft by the Cavs, but Grant believed he could move back into the lottery and snag him later.
- The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft was between Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett.
- If Bennett had not been selected by the Cavs, then he would have fallen somewhere around the No. 10 spot in the lottery.
- Bennett loved making late-night pizza runs at UNLV which was a contributing factor to his weight problem.
I take qualms with some of the opinions expressed in the article such as Victor Oladipo being the “perfect two-way player to complement Kyrie” and that Anthony Bennett is a “colossal failure” considering no one in this draft class has colored themselves in glory. Plus, Bennett hasn’t been given a ton of opportunities. Nonetheless, the sourced information is fascinating and a must-read for any Cavs fan.
[Related: David Griffin: Next Man Up]
Photo: Joshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer
“Math is winning out on offense in the NBA.”
These were the words of Grantland’s Zach Lowe, the man whose writing represents basketball’s best combination of analytics with the league beat. But what does Lowe mean by that exactly? And where can we see information relevant for the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers, owners of the NBA’s worst defense since Luol Deng’s debut last month?
Looking into those questions requires background information on the rise of basketball analytics and a look into what we actually do know about defensive analytics in the game today. [Read more...]
It’s always great to have Scott Raab’s perspective when big things happen. We spent about an hour talking about all the different dynamics surrounding the Cavaliers and their decision to dismiss Chris Grant from the team.
As always, it was a discussion that went beyond what is normally covered in the rapid-fire sports talk settings we’re normally used to.
While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at email@example.com.
Blaming the Cavs for falling into the trap of the LeBron years: “This is the latest example of a franchise assuming that there is a template for the type of success enjoyed by the likes of the San Antonio Spurs translating to every other market. It takes stars, superstars usually, and just the right fit to launch an outfit from the lottery to the upper echelon of the league. The players come first, then the success. That’s the way it’s always been and always will be. Assuming that some set infrastructure is supposed to come first is where the Cavaliers went wrong.” [Sekou Smith/NBA.com] [Read more...]
From the first day Chris Grant took his office as the general manager of the Cavaliers, the buzz word on everybody’s lips was “assets.” As Investopedia describes it, “assets are bought to increase the value of a firm or benefit the firm’s operations.” At the time Grant took over general manager duties for the Cavaliers, the franchise had just lost the biggest asset they’d ever had (or anyone had ever had) in LeBron James. And since there was no other asset attainable on the market of the caliber of LeBron, Chris Grant went into asset collection mode. The notion was the more assets you gather, the more flexibility you have as a franchise. [Read more...]
(Update: Chris Grant has been relieved of his duties as Cavs GM)
With his Cleveland Cavaliers taking the floor, having lost their last five games, but playing host to a shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers team which had had recently been tag-teamed by Mother Nature and the Injury Bug, Chris Grant sauntered up a flight of temporary stairs and stepped foot into his baseline-side box. Roughly 25 square feet of plywood, builder-grade carpet and folding chairs, it’s a perch that resembles more of a holding unit at customs than one for an extremely well-paid NBA executive, but such is life. The box is elevated enough to provide a decent view of the floor from such close proximities, but also equidistant between the Cavaliers’ bench and the team’s locker room. The 6-foot-10-inch Grant was adorned in his uniform—a dark suit anchored by black loafers. Coffee was in hand. Glasses were off.
The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about the downfall for the Cavs in four terrible home losses. This week, I’m focusing on shooting data again.
Within the next 15 days, this Cleveland Cavaliers roster should undergo yet another significant shift. The past few weeks of speculation have made it perfectly clear that not everyone – front office and/or personnel-wise – will survive this season from hell. While there are storylines for days about what that means for the organization’s future, I wanted to focus – perhaps for one of the final actually meaningful times – on what we’re seeing out on the court from these Cavaliers of late. Today, I’ll be looking at the Cavs’ efficiency from a number of different areas, again highlighting the ShotScore statistic. [Read more...]
Following an embarrassing 124-95 defeat on November 13 at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves just nine games into the season, the Cavaliers sitting at a disappointing 3-6 against a fairly weak schedule, held their now-infamous players-only meeting.
The week that followed in Cavaliers talk revolved around whether or not Dion Waiters got into a physical altercation with another player and whether or not that player was Kyrie Irving. This speculation was completely unfounded. Mike Brown, when asked about the meeting, had this to say via Cleveland.com: [Read more...]
The season from hell hath unleashed its versatile fury all over the Cleveland fan base during the past week. From last Sunday’s Suns meltdown to Saturday’s array of hoops-related excitement, these truly are dark days in Cavs world.
There are many, many things that annoy me about this Cavs franchise and its current dysfunctional state. Let’s breeze through some of the items that come to mind:
While the spotlight of speculation continues to shine brightly on the Cleveland Cavaliers, small forward Luol Deng is the subject of a column in the New York Daily News that paints an even worse picture for the scene in Independence.
As Deng recently told one close friend, “the stuff going on in practice would never be tolerated by the coaching staff or the front office back in Chicago. It’s a mess.”
Deng was brought in to help clean it up when he arrived in a deal for Andrew Bynum on Jan. 7. But since then, he’s seen players get thrown out of practice, take off their uniform tops at halftime and threaten not to play, mouth off to Brown and generally act like spoiled brats.
There is no accountability, as Dion Waiters found out when he was kicked out of practice last week but still got his usual minutes against the Knicks. Brown isn’t getting much help from GM Chris Grant, who is expected to be fired at season’s end because of the losing and problems in the locker room. […]
Kyrie Irving is close to firing his agent, Jeff Wechsler, according to a league source. We hear part of the reason Irving is seeking a new rep is that he intends on leaving the Cavs, while Wechsler wants him to stay. As we reported at the start of the season, Irving wants to come back home to the New York area — he’s from West Orange, N.J. — and play for the Knicks. Lord knows they could use an All-Star talent at point guard, and Irving will be headed for his first starting assignment in an All-Star game in a couple of weeks.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Deng said, the wake of his trade from Chicago to Cleveland, that he was leaving one great organization for another. If these quotes are true, while not said directly to the author of the column, they show what may be going on behind the scenes. This is the first anyone has reported anything regarding players getting kicked out of practice.
Two notes worth pointing out: It was the New York Daily News that, earlier this year, attempted to discuss a path that ultimately ends with Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving ending up in a New York Knicks jersey. Also, these quotes provide a stark contrast to those which will hit Jason Lloyd’s Sunday-morning column.
“I don’t get the vibe that anyone has given up on Coach, I just think we’re not playing as a unit,” said Deng. “Cleveland is going to win. I really believe that. I’m not surprised they went to the Finals before. It’s going to happen again.”
“I needed this. It was more or less a wake-up call. I got away with so much my first two years. It wasn’t a breeze, but everything came easy. This is the first year where every single night it’s going to be a challenge. That’s one of the things I’m getting used to and I’ve accepted.”
“I just feel like what people fail to realize is I don’t have all the answers all the time. I’m still the third-youngest on this team. I’m a 21-year-old kid trying to figure this whole thing out. It’s a daily job and that’s probably why it’s been one of the toughest years for me. I’m learning every single day.”
– Two-time All-Star Kyrie Irving, as told to the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd on Friday night, following a week of individual drama and thorough Cleveland Cavaliers losses.
The tumultuous week practically began with last Sunday’s column from Lloyd, placing additional blame on Irving’s defense and leadership for the team’s season-long struggles. The Cavs later blew an 18-point halftime lead on Sunday night against Phoenix.
On Tuesday, the Cavs were blown out at home by New Orleans. On Thursday afternoon, ESPN’s Chad Ford dropped a quick blurb in his weekly chat that Irving was privately telling folks he wants out of Cleveland. The Cavs then lost by 31 to the Knicks on TNT later that night. Irving spoke with reporters after the game, saying “I’m happy to be in Cleveland,” but preceded that line with the fact he’s still on his rookie contract.
Prompting this latest article and as a response to Sunday’s column, Lloyd shared that Irving and him sat down after practice today. Lloyd remarked on Twitter that the conversation was good, with some comments on the record and off.
The 21-year-old point guard from Duke added to Lloyd: “this is the first year I was really challenged the entire year” and “it was a lot harder than I expected.” Head coach Mike Brown also shared some comments, saying he thinks Irving is improving despite the gigantic pressure.
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak
As it the case with many Chad Ford-related chats, one of the first questions out of the gate was surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers. This time, the focus was on head coach Mike Brown and general manager Chris Grant in the wake of the team’s underwhelming first half. Buried in the middle of his response, Ford, ESPN.com’s NBA Draft analyst, says that Kyrie Irving, the team’s two-time NBA All-Star, is privately telling people that he wants out of Cleveland.
Virtually every GM in the league believes that Grant will be gone this summer if things don’t get turned around this season. He doesn’t have much time. The thinking is that there’s no way Dan Gilbert is going to let him make another lottery pick if that’s the direction the Cavs end up heading. Grant’s goal (via his owner) is to get this team competitive and into the playoffs. The Deng move was supposed to help. But so far … nothing. Chemistry is a major issue there and some of that is on Mike Brown. But more of it is on the collection of players in Cleveland at the moment. Something has to happen quick. Kyrie Irving has been telling people privately he wants out. Cleveland can’t afford to lose him and LeBron. They know the urgency. I expect them to be major players at the deadline.
Irving is in the third year of a four-year contract and could sign an extension this off-season. He is due $7.1 million in 2014-15 and has a qualifying offer of $9.2 million for 2015-16. Despite being under contract for at least the next two seasons, the Cavaliers will offer Irving a maximum contract extension that could keep him here beyond 2016. In 2012, in the wake of the Miami Heat winning their first title after the departure of LeBron James, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert stated that one lesson he learned is not allowing his team to fall victim to unrestricted free agency. “The big lesson was if a player is not willing to extend, no matter who they are, no matter where they are playing, no matter what kind of season you had, you can not risk going into a summer and having them leave in unrestricted free agency and get nothing back for it,” said Gilbert.
This past October, one year following the proclamation regarding free agency, Gilbert said that he was of the belief that the team’s relationship with Irving was healthy. “It’s still a little bit early, but we feel good about Kyrie being here for his entire career,” Gilbert said.
In response to Gilbert’s sentiments, the 21-year-old point guard publically stated that he has a great relationship with the team’s owner. “It’s still too early to be talking about that stuff, especially a contract extension, and all that,” Irving said. “But we have a great relationship, me and Dan.”
It’s also worth pointing out that the Cavaliers play in Madison Square Garden on Thursday evening. Kyrie Irving is from New Jersey. These types of stories, as they did prior to 2010 with LeBron James, have an odd way of popping up every time the Cavs head to a large market.
(Image: Scott Sargent/WFNY)
Anthony Bennett has one big need. Minutes. Not just some minutes, but a double-stuffed crust, extra large helping of minutes. This past Tuesday night, the first-overall pick knocked down open jumpers and corralled in rebounds in route to a 15-and-8 night in what was a career-high 31 minutes. This was the first game all season where Cavs head coach Mike Brown left the harshly criticized and often booed Bennett on the floor for more than 20 minutes, a number that the last 10 first-overall picks have all at least averaged per night.
The last month has seen screams for Bennett to be sent down to Canton where he would presumably get regular minutes—a place where he could spread his wings, and where he could (hopefully) grow into at least a shell of the player general manager Chris Grant envisioned last June. However, as the Cavs are clearly not the playoff-caliber team1 everyone had hoped of, there is no need to send Bennett to Canton when he should be seeing plenty of action up in Cleveland.
- Regardless of whether they make it or not [↩]
Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant addressed local media on Wednesday afternoon following his team’s five-game home stand in which they went 1-4. The last two games provided increased attention after the Cavs blew a 20-point lead against the Phoenix Suns and were subsequently abused by the New Orleans Pelicans. Both games resulted in a chorus of boos from Cavalier fans.
“It’s frustrating,” said Grant. “It’s disappointing. The fans deserve better. the lack of effort is just not acceptable.”
The Cavs are currently 24th in the league in offensive efficiency (98.4) while slotting in 18th in defensive efficiency (104.1). They currently have the second-worst true shooting percentage in the NBA (50.4), bettering only the Milwaukee Bucks (50.0) and are on pace for roughly 30 wins.
Cavs head coach Mike Brown, who has drawn much in the way of fan criticism as of late, questioned the team’s mental toughness and in-game effort on multiple occasions. Grant added that he believes in Brown and both his offensive and defensive systems. The general manager said that the players currently on the roster need to be more consistent in their execution on both ends.
“The system fits the guys,” added Grant. “It’s about doing it consistently.”
The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about C.J. Miles’ oddly impressive plus-minus data. This week, I’m logging terrible recent runs against the Cavaliers.
This Cleveland Cavaliers season has not gone according to plan. That’s the understatement of the year. Heading into this five-game home stand, the team appeared to be turning a corner. With Luol Deng in tow, they were 4-2, including a very solid five-game road swing. But with just one win – against the NBA’s worst team – over the past nine days, the Cavs season has perhaps hit its crescendo. And these losses weren’t just any boring defeat; no, they went down in the most Cleveland way possible. [Read more...]