August 26, 2014

The New Cleveland

Welcome to Cleveland, Johnny Manziel

Are the winds changing in Cleveland? The mood and spirits of this lakefront town are at an all time high because of the recent happening with the sports teams. The national media has all eyes on Cleveland, but this time they are watching the city because of the prospects of good news rather then the horrible events that have littered its past. The Browns, Cavaliers, and Indians are all producing exciting moments for the its sports fan. The wins have yet to be accumulated, but could Cleveland (finally) be entering an age of professional sports success?

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Scott Van Pelt and Charles Barkley defend Cleveland, slam Bill Simmons

13 - Scott Van PeltBill Simmons may be bulletproof in the eyes of various ESPN employees, but that didn’t stop a few high-profile ones from coming out and defending Cleveland in the wake of the 2014 NBA Lottery results. When it was revealed that the Cleveland Cavaliers—once again—have the first pick in the NBA Draft, Simmons quickly took to the airwaves to say that the league “needs new rules” and that he was done with “karma for Cleveland.” You know, as if the town has so much to hang their hat on in the way of championship banners.

Nevertheless, ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt and Ryan Russillo kicked off Wednesday afternoon’s radio show with some shots fired back in defense of the lakefront city.

Van Pelt: Cleveland got the pick—got the No. 1 pick. And I was just amazed at how mad everyone was. Like so many people were mad at Cleveland. Here’s [Bill] Simmons—and again, Simmons, you got a lot of nerve, Simmons, getting mad at Cleveland, like they’ve had such great luck in life.

[Simmons sound byte]

It’s funny, and I love—he’s got the sort of status where he can say and do anything, which is great. It must be fun to have a bulletproof shield, and he’s got it.

Russillo: Yeah, but that’s why he’s on the [NBA pregame] show. He represents the guys at home watching the lottery. he’s not some hardcore journalist or a former NBA guy worrying about his next job. It’s a perfect role.

Van Pelt: Yeah. Also, Grantland worked, and “30 for 30″ is good and he’s a giant earner for the company so he’s earned the right to be bulletproof. But it’s funny. I take issue with this—they weren’t rewarded. The ping pong balls, that’s what they got. Philly would have been rewarded for, as you said earlier, trotting out a garbage roster all year. Better not to reward that. Cleveland got lucky.

Now if you want to get mad about last year, who were they supposed to take? They didn’t pass on Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing to take [Anthony] Bennett. I’m not telling you Bennett’s good; he was lousy. Maybe Nerlens Noel is going to turn into a good player. I’ve seen people suggest they should have taken him. Alright, I don’t know that—

Russillo: But wait. People are only suggesting that because they didn’t see him play and watched all the other draft picks play.

Van Pelt: Exactly. The same reason everyone loves [Dante] Exum in this draft class is because he’s the one guy no one has seen. So if you want to be mad that they didn’t take the right guy in a draft class when there was no obvious guy, OK. The Mike Brown piece—I have no arguments for that. And if it’s all about saying, “Hey, we don’t think LeBron [James], in the future, would be psyched about this—let’s do everything we can to lure LeBron back,” then that’s a separate topic. But as it relates to just this, and Cleveland getting lucky, I just shrug and say, if any city deserves just a little bit of good fortune in their life, it’s Cleveland. Because they’ve had zero. Forever.

Later in their show, Van Pelt and Russillo had NBA legend and TNT analyst Charles Barkley on to discuss the NBA Finals and LeBron. As has been the case for much of the last four years, Barkley was on Cleveland’s side.

“I’ve always thought he was going to go back to Cleveland. Nobody dislikes LeBron. I think LeBron made a huge mistake with that ‘Decision’ crap. He’s come back and since admitted that. That’s the only thing people hold against LeBron. He’s a great player, a great person. I hope he goes back to Cleveland. Those fans in Miami are not real fans, those fans in Cleveland are real fans. I’ve always hoped he would go back to Cleveland. That would be a great way to finish his career.”

Simmons, though bulletproof, hasn’t tweeted since the night of the Lottery. The last piece he wrote for was about his “NBA Draft Lottery Karma Rankings,” where he had the Cavaliers ranked dead last.

Photo: Jon Cole/WFNY

Target: Acquired

David Griffin Julius Erving Mallory Edens NBA Lottery

Dr. J was not impressed. The 6-foot-6-inch Doctor of Dunk stood in the center of the dais with the most stoic of looks, arms crossed across his barrel chest. Representing a team that was among the worst in the league, Erving was flanked by an 18-year-old who was in the midst of becoming an Internet celebrity amongst male NBA fans, and her antithesis—a middle-aged, balding, bespectacled red head with a bow tie crammed into his chest pocket, a love for numbers and a knack for comic book references.

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Twitter reacts to the Cavs winning the lottery once again

For the third time in four seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA lottery. The most recent iteration comes with the team, who was actually trying to win, having a 1.7 percent chance at coming out with the No. 1 pick. Naturally, Twitter went insane.

Take a look.

HOLY CRAP: The Cavs land the first pick—again


The bow ties may not have been present but the luck did not run out. Having selected in the top four in each of the last three NBA Drafts, the Cleveland Cavaliers will, once again, have the first pick heading into the 2014 edition. Finishing the 2013-14 season with 33 wins, the Cavs had a 1.7 percent chance of landing the first-overall selection and somehow defied all the odds once again.

Antithetical to each of the last few NBA Drafts, the 2014 version is widely considered to be very deep throughout much of the first round. The Cavs were linked to several wing players such as Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Michigan’s Nik Stauskas, but will now have their shot at players like Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid, or Duke’s Jabari Parker. They are also believed to be in the mix to be one of several teams who could trade their first-round pick this season in attempt to land a more proven veteran who fits the mold of what general manager David Griffin—who represented the team in Secaucus, New Jersey—is looking for as he builds his team going forward.

Holy. Crap.

This Year’s NBA Lottery is Different for the Cavaliers


Well tell me if you have heard this before: The Cleveland Cavaliers are hoping for a good draw in NBA Draft Lottery. After another lackluster season, the Cavaliers have another chance at getting the number one pick in the June draft. They hold the ninth best odds of getting the top pick with a 1.7% chance. While getting the first pick this year is not quite as important as years past, the Cavs are wishing on their lucky star for a the ping-pong balls to bounce their way once again. [Read more...]

Dan and Nick Gilbert continue to defy the odds

Gilbert and Cavs win lotteryWhen Nick Gilbert came away with the fourth-overall pick in last year’s NBA lottery, he was disappointed. Just fifteen years old at the time, the son of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ majority owner felt that he had let down an entire fan base that so badly wanted to return to prominence. After all, it was this very dais that made him a nationally known name amongst NBA fans. The ‘beginners luck’ that had been such a gift one year earlier became a bit of a curse.

Fans of opposing teams, doing what they do, took shots at the teenager who suffers from neurofibromatosis, a nerve disorder that causes tumors to sprout on a whim. Kids at school, doing what they do, began to chop Gilbert down in what was his moment of vulnerability, telling him that he was “nothing special.” But it would be just one year later that the oldest son of the Cavaliers’ owner can not only proudly return to school, but can do so having officially christened with being his father’s good luck charm.

“It’s Nick Gilbert,” Dan Gilbert told WFNY via conference call on Tuesday night when asked about to what he attributes such odds-defying luck. “I’m going to have to start taking him to card games with me.”

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NBA Rumors: Cavaliers could deal first-overall pick

Just hours after winning the first-overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, rumors are circulating that have the Cleveland Cavaliers considering trade options which would include their lottery prize.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst points out that, while a top pick has not been dealt in 20 years, the stars are aligned for the Wine and Gold to pull the trigger in the event an offer presents itself.

“The Cavs are in a favorable position to make a deal,” writes Windhorst. “The team has more than $20 million in salary cap space, the No. 1 pick plus the No. 19, No. 31 and No. 33 picks, and a roster with young prospects that could be used in a deal.”

The 2013 NBA Draft, like several that came before it, is widely considered to be a weak draft in terms of star potential. Kentucky center Nerlens Noel (who is presently pegged to go to the Cavaliers in the event the team keeps the selection) is coming off of ACL surgery and is very raw offensively. There are several wing players who could go within the top five, and two of the better frontcourt players not named Noel—UNLV’s Anthony Bennett and Maryland’s Alex Len—are presently nursing injuries of their own.

Rumors have circulated that link the Cavaliers to deals with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trailblazers. Nothing concrete has been reported, however, outside of a report that the Blazers and Cavaliers had been discussing a trade that would send forward LaMarcus Aldridge to Cleveland.

“You want to look at all your options and make the best decision for your team,” Cavs general manager Chris Grant said following the lottery. “This is a valuable asset that we can add to the group, whether it’s in trade or keep it and add a player.”

[Related: Dear NBA Lottery, I think we should see other people]

NBA Lottery: Cleveland Cavaliers land first-overall pick in 2013 NBA Draft

The Cleveland Cavaliers will select first in the upcoming NBA Draft. The Cavaliers had a 15.6 percent chance of winning the top spot, and have now won the lottery for the second time in the last three years.

Before the lottery results were revealed, Cavs representative Nick Gilbert stated that this would be the team’s final visit to the lottery and that a playoff push was in the immediate future. Cleveland general manager Chris Grant is widely considered to be coveting an upgrade to either the small forward or center positions, but has gone on record to say that they are going to take the best player available (per their draft board) rather than reaching for need.

Kentucky center Nerlens Noel is forecasted to be the first player off of the board in many mock drafts. “It’s a great organization and I’m really looking forward to the possibility of playing in Cleveland,” said Noel following the lottery.

The 2013 NBA Draft will be held on June 27 in New York City.

[Related: Dear NBA Lottery, I think we should see other people]

Dear NBA Lottery, I think we should see other people

Cleveland Cavs NBA Lottery 2013The NBA Lottery is tonight and I could not care less. I will watch, don’t get me wrong. Following the festivities, I will leave with different emotions than those I had entering the evening. I will start monitoring workout schedules and making phone calls to obtain information that may shed some light on who the Cleveland Cavaliers may have an interest in. But in the end, I am tired of celebrating despair.

With the utmost respect to Sacramento1 and Charlotte and New Orleans and Phoenix and Detroit and Washington, you represent a crowd with whom I no longer want to be associated. The NBA, try as they might, have a way of making the annual lottery show an event. A half-hour show, the actual revelation of which team will have the top spot in the upcoming draft takes all of a minute.

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  1. Seven straight seasons in the lottery. Gross. []

While We’re Waiting… Browns’ Curious Calls, Cavs’ Departures, Bryce Stowell Emerges

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

Very strong arguments made in this recap of the Browns drafting so far: “Do you know what we found out today? The front office must be pretty content sticking with the likes of Greg Little, Joshua Cribbs, Mohamed Massaquoi, and Jordan Norwood at wide receiver for another year. … Position-wise, there is nothing wrong with taking a defensive tackle. Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin are the clear starters, but both of them, particularly Rubin, has been overworked in his young career.” [Chris Pokorny/Dawgs By Nature]

Looking back to Thursday night, at least some optimism still reigns: “Giving up three “precious” mid-to-late-round picks for Trent Richardson was easy math. The Browns need quality over quantity, particularly on offense. Getting the best running back in the draft, an impact guy who won’t even turn 21 until July, is more than worth a few picks who would likely serve as depth for their first year or two of service, should they pan out at all.” [Doug/Cleveland Sports Torture]

Byron Scott’s recent quote hesitation has a former WFNY weekend scribe thinking about what could be the future for two upcoming Cavs free agents: “It was that fourth “if” that had me standing there thinking that maybe it’s possible one of these two guys do come back next season afterall. Hopefully that’s Jamison then, I thought, in a reserve role off the bench where he provides a scoring punch and veteran leadership as a sixth or seventh man on a one-year $5 million deal. Because there’s now way he can be referring to the possibility of bringing Anthony Parker back next season with all those “if’s”, right?” [Brendan Bowers/Stepien Rules]

Some instant analysis on what it means for the Cavs in winning the coin tosses Friday: “This may not seem like a huge deal, but to me, it is. In my opinion (which could be changed as I watch more and more film as the draft approaches), there are six really good players in this draft. Those players are Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes, and Andre Drummond. After that, it gets a bit murky. By having a top-6 pick guaranteed, the Cavaliers can draft one of those players if their board is similar to mine.” [Conrad Kaczmarek/Fear The Sword]

One of my favorite basketball blogs makes a great point about ESPN’s role in stopping tanking: “However, television companies could take another route. They could refuse to put up with tanking. What if after a certain mark in the season (how about the All-Star break, we use it for everything) TV stations are allowed replace “bad games” and the team they replace doesn’t get paid?” [Dre/Wages of Wins]

Great to read more about this prospect re-emerging with the Tribe: “It is early, but it looks like Double-A Akron right-handed reliever Bryce Stowell is back to the dominating pitcher he was during the 2010 season. Stowell, 25, has been near-perfect and flat out dominating in the early going at Akron where in four appearances covering 7.0 innings he has yet to allow a run and has given up three hits, no walks, and has 15 strikeouts.” [Tony Lastoria/Indians Prospect Insider]

To end today, Kyle Dodson, an incoming freshman offensive tackle from Cleveland Heights, said the recent Sporting News report on Urban Meyer was filled with lies. This quote was particularly poignant: “‘No they did not. I do not know where they come up with these lies; they are probably making them up so they can attract readers for their publication.’” [Michael Chung/The Silver Bullet]

On the Cavs, Tanking and Lester Hudson

"Remember Lester, only make game TYING buzzer beaters"

With their the overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, the Cavs are officially out of the playoff race. This was expected. The Cavs are in the middle of their rebuild and are in full tank mode. [Read more...]

The Decision Redux: LeBron Took, But He Also Gave

I envisioned this post as being sentimental and nostalgic.

Seven years of excitement and hopes and passion, the towel waving and the series-based tee shirts, the chalk tosses while Kevin Rudolf permeates through Quicken Loans Arena. I wanted to discuss just how much LeBron James meant to the city of Cleveland and what good times he flushed down the drain one year ago today.

As Red Smith would “open a vein” and let it bleed on to the paper, I wanted to bang away at this keyboard until it recapped all seven years of amazing basketball while dismissing The Decision as an act of immense narcissism cloaked in a veil of humility at the expense of to the Boys and Girls club. To work in an arena such as professional sports – rife with shoe deals and naval gazing and athlete brands – and still be singled out as of the utmost arrogance is a pretty amazing accomplishment. But also an accomplishment is what James provided Cleveland when he took that direct flight from Greenwich to Miami.

James took wins. Lots of them. He took national interest, at least that of the positive variety. He took a mural that had graced a historical Cleveland building for years. He took away any face that would be attributed to the city’s basketball franchise, replaced with a mere jersey clad with the numerals one and zero. But  in his desire to team up with friends in South Beach, James also indirectly gave. [Read more...]

The Cavaliers are “In a Good Place”

Three days apart and in fairly different context, Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant and head coach Byron Scott discussed their respective optimism. 

Scott, when questioned about his post-mortem outlook on the Cavaliers job last Friday, used words like “interesting,” but also called the bulk of what he endured between the months of October and April “gratifying.”  Specifically, when asked if he regrets taking the position knowing what he knows now, he vehemently denied any uncertainty by saying that he was in a “feel-good place.”

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