April 16, 2014

Solutions for NBA tanking and Jim Thome wants to play: While We’re Waiting

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By now, you’ve seen the first two renditions of our new version of While We’re Waiting. Andrew got us started on Tuesday. Rick followed up on Wednesday. Now, with my usual bent toward sports analytics and media topics, here’s my first stab at this new format. Hope you enjoy and chime in with your thoughts in the comments.

The 76ers are awful. Like, really, really awful. Is it an “embarrassment”? What needs fixed? Last week, it seemed like the ESPN properties all seemed to gang up on the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving’s free agency status. Yesterday, they all appeared to team up to discuss “tanking” and the currently horrendous Philadelphia 76ers. Last weekend, former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy called the 76ers’ current scheme an “embarrassment” to the league. [Read more...]

A user’s guide to the Luol Deng trade draft picks

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The Luol Deng trade was over six weeks ago. Yet it seems to still be a major point of confusion for many in the national media. With today’s trade deadline fast approaching, I felt it would be prudent to review the assets exchanged in that Jan. 7 deal.

[Update: Cavs have traded two second-rounders to Philadelphia for center Spencer Hawes. They're reportedly also shopping Tyler Zeller. We'll keep you updated.]

Both teams involved in the deal have been playing better over the past six weeks. Chicago is a very surprising 14-7 since dealing their beloved small forward, moving closer and closer to a safe spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Cavs have now win six straight, their longest stretch in four years, and are 10-10 since Deng’s debut.

For help in reviewing the trade, let’s go back to the official Cavs press release that was sent out around 12:50 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Here we go: [Read more...]

Team-building exercises: The ultimate puzzle

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Amen, CJ.

Assets are a great thing to have. Look no further than Ryan’s piece  to show that the Cavaliers have plenty of them. The pantry isn’t barren. There are a number of quality ingredients in this organization, but good ingredients alone don’t bake a delicious cake or fix a good cocktail. Asset accumulation and talent acquisition were a big part of Chris Grant’s job description. It was  the portion that he performed to a satisfactory or even above-average degree. However, it’s the team-building aspect of how all those assets— how all those ingredients are measured, at what stage they’re added, and how long they’re allowed to mix together before going into the fiery oven of expectations, or the ice-filled glass of criticism—where Chris Grant failed.

[Read more...]

NBA Rumor: Cavs wanted Klay Thompson in 2011

PhotoChris Grant and the Cavaliers were reportedly close to adding a third lottery pick in 2011 in shooting guard Klay Thompson. From Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal, Grant had multiple deals in place but all of them would fall through for a variety of reasons.

Klay Thompson scored 16 points and shot just 5-for-16 Sunday, but how good would he look in a Cavs jersey? It nearly happened on draft night in 2011. One NBA source told me recently the Cavs were trying frantically to add a third top 10 pick in that 2011 draft. Byron Scott told me months later it was the night he really came to believe Chris Grant knew what he was doing and was the right man for the job, watching him work the phones trying to get a third pick.

The Cavs selected Kyrie Irving first overall and Tristan Thompson fourth. Grant wanted one more pick and one of his targets was Klay Thompson. The Cavs talked to the Sacramento Kings about a deal involving J.J. Hickson for the No. 7 pick, but the Kings ultimately dealt the pick in a different deal and the Cavs sent Hickson to the Kings after the draft for Omri Casspi and a future pick. Then the Cavs had a deal in place with the Utah Jazz for the No. 12 pick, but the Warriors snatched Thompson at No. 11. The Jazz ultimately backed out of the deal with the Cavs and selected shooting guard Alec Burks.

A 6-foot-7-inch shooter, Klay Thompson is the quintessential shooting guard for Mike Brown’s preferred offense. The Washington State product has improved year-over-year in the scoring department since entering the league, and is presently averaging just under 20 points per night for the Golden State Warriors.

As a consolation prize, the Cavaliers would ultimately sign (and release) undrafted rookie Mychel Thompson, the older brother of Klay.

[Related: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Andrew Bynum has potential, lacks commitment]

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

DSC_0462After three straight miserable seasons, a 10-18 start is not what fans nor the front office expected for the Cleveland Cavaliers this year.

It’s been a myriad of issues plaguing the team, most in the form of inconsistency. For two weeks, they looked like a legitimate playoff team, winning five of six before narrow losses to two of the NBA’s juggernauts. Since then, it’s been back to the basics, especially after Thursday’s heartbreaking home loss.

The good news is that the Cavs remain just 1.5 games out of the Eastern Conference’s terrible playoff picture. All things considered, this first-third of the season could have been much, much worse. Let’s review the ups and downs so far in the style of The Boots.

Boot Up: No major injuries – This is certainly a good thing and something that shouldn’t be taken for granted with this roster. Last season, Kyrie Irving missed 23 games, Dion Waiters missed 22 and Anderson Varejao was out for 57. Only three Cavaliers totaled more than 66 games. This year, 11 players have appeared in at least 21 games already. Nothing has happened significantly to the Cavs core yet. [Read more...]

Cavaliers Win Lottery, Select Anthony Bennett – WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2013: No. 6

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 ten 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.

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Since the moment that LeBron James packed his bags for South Beach, the NBA Draft lottery has been the Cavaliers’ proverbial ticket out, a glimmer of hope amid a barrage of lopsided losses and blown leads as part of the #TankStrong three-year movement under fired Coach Byron Scott. For every minute logged by Luke Walton, Jeremy Pargo, and Omri Casspi, for every game missed by Anderson Varejao or Kyrie Irving, there was a wishing star that it would lead to a brighter tomorrow. Finishing at 24-58, the wine and gold had the third best odds at gaining the top pick, behind both the Charlotte Bobcats and Orlando Magic. When their numbers were drawn, celebration ensued, but it was immediately replaced by uncertainty at who the pick would be come June. When the commissioner stepped to the podium on June 27, he read a name that surprised most Cavaliers fans and scribes worldwide, forward Anthony Bennett out of UNLV. [Read more...]

Whither Anthony Bennett

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers-Press ConferenceThere’s pressing and there’s being overwhelmed in every conceivable fashion, the outside world moving by you at warp speed, untouchable yet suffocating. Four games in to his NBA career and it can reasonably be said that Anthony Bennett, the first-overall selection in the most recent edition of the NBA Draft, is trending toward the second segment of frustrated individuals. Four games in to his NBA career and Bennett, an athletic power forward who appeared primed to fill in the gaps as needed, has yet to convert a field goal, now possessing an 0-for-15 mark. What appeared to be confident shots which merely did not fall through the orange cylinder during the team’s Opening Night win over the Brooklyn Nets have turned into desperate attempts to simply turn that goose egg into a “1.” [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Anderson Varejao the key for Cavs

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com

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Opposing scouts analyze NBA teams. Here’s one take on the Cavs: “Anderson Varejao is the Cavs’ second-most-important player. He plays unselfishly at both ends of the floor. He is an improved shooter, not a great shooter, but he can move the ball. He’s an unbelievable pick-and-roll defender, and he makes up for other people’s mistakes because he’s in the right place. He’s one of those guys you don’t like to play against, but you like to have him on your team.” [SI.com] [Read more...]

Cavs plan to bring Anthony Bennett along slowly

The good part about it is we have guys and we don’t have to rely on him as most teams would a No. 1 pick, so we can bring him along slowly. We’ll let him move and grow as quickly as he does, and not put any pressure on him to get there sooner rather than later. It’s a luxury of being around the group of guys we have here. They’ll be able to carry him until he can get to a point where he’s ready.

— Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown on the No. 1 overall pick for this season, forward Anthony Bennett. Bennett, coming back from a shoulder injury that kept him out for most of the summer, went just 2-for-12 in his NBA preaseason debut, but also pulled down 10 rebounds. The team plans to deploy Bennett off of the bench with Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao also seeing time at the power forward spot. “It was my first game back since March or April, so I was just trying to get back into the groove,” said Bennett.

[Related: The Diff: Three intriguing stat-lines to watch for the Cavaliers]

(Source: Jodie Valade, Cleveland.com)

Oladipo: “I really didn’t want to go to Cleveland”

Victor Oladipo, Bill Simmons’ top choice in the 2013 NBA Draft, apparently wasn’t one for calling Cleveland home. In a quote that was pulled from a Orlando Magic ticket-holder event, the rookie shooting guard who was one of several players potentially slotted for the No. 1 overall pick owned by the Cavaliers, said that he “really didn’t want to go to Cleveland.”

The quote was then tweeted out by the Orlando Magic’s official Twitter account and instantly drew the ire of Cleveland fans. Oladipo wasted no time issuing an apology to Cleveland fans who took his statement as a moment of disrespect.

While the statement obviously reflects on Cleveland, a city that has had it’s fair share of players speaking poorly of it’s economy, weather and/or lack of nightlife, it is easy to see how a rookie player would want to endear himself to the team that did make the investment in him on draft day. David Steele, the Magic’s television play-by-play announcer, referred to Oladipo’s comment as ”harmless banter.”

[Related: NBA News: Cleveland Cavaliers sign PG Matthew Dellavedova]

Bill Simmons: Cavs offseason was “mystifying, confusingly entertaining”

In the second half of his two-part recap of the NBA off-season, Grantland.com’s Bill Simmons calls the Cleveland Cavaliers’ summer the most “confusingly entertaining” offseason plan in the league. From the NBA Draft to their free agency plans, Simmons enters the 2013-14 season wondering what, exactly, the Cavaliers have in store.

One of the movie’s most confusingly entertaining scenes (Jack and the Duke pretending to be FBI agents and fleecing Red out of his $20 bills)5 goes to our most confusingly entertaining offseason plan: basically, everything the Cavs just did. They went into this summer with buttloads of cap space, the no. 1 overall pick and three more draft picks (no. 19, no. 31 and no. 33) … and somehow ended up with a second power forward who doubled as the most shocking no. 1 overall pick since Kwame Brown (Anthony Bennett); a slightly overpaid third guard (Jarrett Jack); someone with a good chance to be Yaroslav Korolev 2.0 (Sergey Karasev); the immortal Earl Clark; and The Artist Formerly Known As Bynum. Yikes. Although I guess I should thank them for making me audibly gasp on live television with that Bennett pick — I feel like I’m a part of history! My high-pitched gasp will live on and on and on!

What should they have done? I’m confining my Wannabe GM rants to the footnotes. Just know that, one month ago, I would have picked their roster over any other lottery team’s roster. Not anymore.

In the footnotes, Simmons sticks to his draft-night guns and says the Cavaliers should have selected Indiana’s Victor Oladipo with the first-overall pick while trading the 19th pick to Houston for Thomas Robinson. He would not have signed Jarrett Jack (who is essentially the consensus top pick-up for the Cavaliers this off-season), preferring to use the second-round picks on an off-guard. He also mentioned a route that would completely bust all future salary cap space that included signing forward Paul Millsap (who would also be a “second power forward”) and trading for either Robin Lopez, Pau Gasol or Nikola Pekovic.Simmons added that Andrew Bynum, Cleveland’s ultimate acquisition, “lingered on the market for weeks like a foreclosed house.”

[Related: Is Dion Waiters primed to make the leap?]

Don’t let the accent fool you: Sergey Karasev is ready to play

“I’m no dumb guy. I understand the game.” — Sergey Karasev, July 23, 2013

Sergey KarasevHe may never provide the best sound bite. He may never win a Defensive Player of the Year award. And he may never win a Crossfit competition, kettle bells and vertical push-ups be damned. But what Sergey Karasev lacks in off-court charisma and brute strength, he more than makes up for in intelligence, his ability to put the a leather ball through the cylinder hoisted 10 feet in the air, and his willingness to improve elsewhere.

Karasev1 was introduced to Cleveland on Tuesday afternoon, treating those in attendance to his still-improving English, stories of his home life and the goals he has in place for his next chapter as an swingman in the National Basketball Association. Looking every bit of 19 years old—with fauxhawked hair, a nervous smile, and slouched posture; a kid finally enjoying his summer vacation—Karasev, with his new No. 10 jersey placed on his lap, was quick to acknowledge that his game is predicated on the offensive side of the floor. Despite his perceived shortcomings, he also believes that the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team which selected him with the 19th-overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, have the right man in place to help him grow as a player.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Pronounced ke-RAH-sev, regardless of how various media members have pronounced his name while discussing him. []

Video: Live stream of Cavaliers’ Sergey Karasev press conference

Having spent the last several weeks playing with the Russian national team, Sergey Karasev visits Cleveland for the first time since being selected 19th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. His introductory press conference, alongside Cavs VP of basketball operations David Griffin, is set to tip off at 11 a.m EST. We will carry the live stream here at WFNY1. Do enjoy.

   More from Cavs.com

Sergey Summer Update | Video Highlights | 1-on-1 with Karasev

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Footnotes:

  1. Who loves you? []

NBA News: Cavs to introduce Sergey Karasev early next week

Sergey Karasev, a Russian scorer picked by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 19 pick in last month’s draft, will be signed shortly and formally introduced to the Cleveland media early next week.

WFNY’s Scott Sargent was the first Cleveland news member with the report on Twitter today, although it appears other Russian basketball writers had reported the news earlier in the week (link).

Karasev, 19, has been playing for the Russia team in the World University Games in Kazan, Russia. He was named as the tournament’s best player following his team’s 81-74 championship victory over Australia. A Cavs press update shared the impressive efficiency of Karasev’s eight-game performance: 19.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 24.9 minutes per game.

The Cavaliers’ other two recent draft picks, UNLV forward Anthony Bennett (No. 1) and Arizona State wing Carrick Felix (No. 33), were introduced to the Cleveland media on June 28. However, only Felix has been playing for Cleveland’s Las Vegas Summer League team as Bennett continues his rehab from May shoulder surgery.

There had been some Internet murmurs earlier this week that perhaps Karasev wasn’t going to be joining the Cavaliers this upcoming season, instead continuing to play over in his native country. This news about his impending signing with the team and introduction to the media likely squashes those rumors, as the 6-foot-8, 200-lb. guard/forward was highly regarded entering the draft process. His performance at April’s Nike Hoop Summit in Portland led many draft observers to call him the most NBA-ready international player in the class.

[Related: 2013 NBA Draft: Cavaliers select Sergey Karasev with the 19th-overall pick]

While We’re Waiting… New Nike Buckeyes uniforms?

“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.

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These might be the uniforms we see at the Horshoe this season: “Columbus-based Ohio State retailer The Buckeye Room posted this photo of a “New twill Nike Limited” Ohio State home football jersey featuring quarterback Braxton Miller’s No. 5. The jersey, which features seven embroidered Buckeye Leafs on the collar – one for each of the school’s seven national championships (or Heisman Trophies) – will set you back $120.” [Eleven Warriors] [Read more...]

Sunday Six Pack: Reasons to love Sergey Karasev

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Because yesterday’s Saturday Six Pack: Reasons to love Anthony Bennett went down so smooth it’s time to enjoy a Sunday serving, this time Russki style.

Six reasons to love new Cavaliers’ swingman Sergey Karasev brought to you buy the guy who was excited about Omri Casspi, Sasha Pavlovic, and Jiří Welsch.

[Read more...]

While We’re Waiting…More on Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev, and Michael Brantley’s contract

“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.

WFNYBanner www“We should have known the Cavs would pull something like this. They did it with Tristan Thompson two years ago and again with Dion Waiters last year. They also did it earlier this offseason when they rehired Mike Brown for some reason. I’m not saying this can’t work, and there are mitigating circumstances (bad drafts in 2011 and 2013), but with a bona fide superstar to build around (Kyrie Irving), the Cavs and GM Chris Grant have used three top-five picks on guys who may never make an All-Star team. Maybe Bennett will live up to whatever hype convinced the Cavs to do this, but he’s undersized, currently 18 pounds overweight, and will probably be a liability on D for his entire career.

As Brill once told Robert Clayton Dean … Chris Grant, you’re either incredibly smart, or incredibly stupid.” [Sharp/Grantland] [Read more...]

NBA News: Cavs’ Marreese Speights opts out of contract and will become free agent

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports is reporting the Cavs’ Marreese Speights has opted out of the last year of his contract and will test free agency.

Speights,  due to make $4.5 million in 2013-14, sparked a much needed resurgence from the Cavaliers’ bench when he was acquired along with Wayne Ellington from Memphis back in January. In each of his first seven games as a Cavalier, Speights scored in double figures, including two double digit rebound games. He provided a much needed offensive option for Cleveland down in the paint, something Zeller and Thompson had been struggling to do consistently.

Consistency also became Speights’ biggest issue. Speights would mentally check out for whole halves and even games at a time, constraining the talented big man to long stretches on the bench for Byron Scott. For as well as Speights started his career as a Cavalier he ended it equally as bad. While Speights was in double figures in each of his first seven games, he failed to hit that mark in any of his final seven games in the Wine and Gold.

Nonetheless Speights has shown he can play at a high level for extended stints and he should garner some interest on the free agent market. The $4.5 million he was set to make in the final year of his contract with the Cavs is most likely less than he’ll get on the open market.

Also, with the Cavs using the first pick in the draft on power forward Anthony Bennett, Speights would have a hard time finding minutes in a rotation that is set to feature Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Andy Varejao, and Tyler Zeller.

The Cavs still have a team option to decide on with CJ Miles and are expected to re-sign Wayne Ellington to a $3 million qualifying offer. With the departures of Speights and Miles, and the resigning of Ellington the Cavaliers would have just under $26 million in cap space this summer.

Free agency begins Monday, July 1.

[Related: The NBA draft may be complete but Chris Grant's job is just getting started]

 [Related: Saturday Six Pack: Reasons to love Anthony Bennett]

NBA Rumors: Cavs final draft board consisted of Bennett, Len, McLemore

Reports on draft day  indicated that the Cavaliers were down to deciding between taking Alex Len and Nerlens Noel with the first pick, but now that the smoke has cleared it appears the Cavs’ choice was in fact between Len, Ben McLemore, and Anthony Bennett.

According to Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer, Noel was not one of  the final players Chirs Grant and his staff came close to taking with the first overall selection of last Thursday’s draft.

“I’ve heard the Cavs’ final three choices at No. 1 were Ben McLemore, Len and Bennett.” said Pluto in his Friday column.

Chris Grant had been notorious in the previous years for keeping his hand close to the vest leading up the draft, selecting Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters much to the surprise of everyone in the media, and this year proved no different with the selection of Bennett.

All the reports that the Cavs were desperate for a center in the draft have gone by the wayside as the team came away from Thursday still with Tyler Zeller and Andy Varejao as the only options on the roster at the position.

With the Cavs choosing between McLemore, Len, and Bennett it’s apparent the team was looking to draft the best player available as opposed to drafting based off of need.

[Related: Saturday Six Pack: Reasons to love Anthony Bennett]

 

Saturday Six Pack: Reasons to love Anthony Bennett

For this Saturday’s six pack we take a look at the Cavs’ number one pick Anthony Bennett. The reaction around town and around the country to Bennett’s selection has been widely mixed, but there is plenty about the 19 year old Canadian to get excited about. Crack open your Molson, Labatt, or Moosehead and lets dive into the reasons why we should love Anthony Bennett.

Anthony Bennet

1. He scores.

The game of basketball is in fact all about putting the ball in the cylinder. If you can’t score the ball then that extremely limits your potential as a player. One of the reasons I was so harsh on Anthony Davis last year was his extremely limited offensive game. You can find rebounders and guys to protect the rim at any stage of the draft (Serge Ibaka was nabbed at 24 by OKC in 2008 while Larry Sanders was selected 15th overall by Milwaukee in 2010) but to me a top pick has to be able to score.

Bennett has the potential to give teams nightmares in pick and rolls with Kyrie and Dion. He has an NBA build that will allow him to bull his way into the lane for easy buckets off the roll as well as the ability to stretch the defense on pick and pops with his outside jumper. The deadlier Bennett can be from the outside, the more room for Irving and Waiters to slice their way into the lane. [Read more...]