August 15, 2014

The NBA’s marketing machine is fantastic … While We’re Waiting

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“When’s the schedule coming out?” This was a text I received every few days since LeBron’s return to the Cavaliers. For weeks and weeks, many have been on edge. No official announcement came at first – the NBA had been said to want to delay the release to closer to mid-August.

Finally, there was news. The schedule was set to be released at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13 on NBA TV. The NBA’s marketing was brilliant. They had kept the free agency circuit on edge just enough to then kickstart an entirely new news cycle with the schedule reactions on their own network. [Read more...]

Charlotte joins Cleveland in running to host 2017 or 2018 NBA All-Star Game

quicken loans arenaEarlier this week, the Charlotte Hornets threw their hat in the ring for the right to host an upcoming NBA All-Star Game. A joint statement was released by the team and the recently founded non-profit Charlotte Sports Foundation.

Charlotte, which did not have a franchise from 2002-04, last hosted the All-Star Game back in 1991. Of course, if you may have forgotten, the other contender for the 2017 or 2018 game appears to be the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Not many other legitimate competitors are on the horizon. Portland had been a contender, but infrastructure issues derailed their 2017 bid. Orlando, which hosted the 2012 game, hopes to remain a future contender as well. There haven’t been too many other reports of interested host cities.

The upcoming schedule includes New York City in 2015 and Toronto in 2016. This season’s game will be played at Madison Square Garden, with Saturday festivities to be played at the Barclays Center. The Toronto announcement was made with much fanfare and lots and lots of Drake.

Previously, the Cavs had announced their intention to host a future game in spring 2012 and then submitted an official bid in spring 2013. The announcement about Toronto was made last September, but early reports are that the 2017 decision won’t come until later this winter or next spring.

Of course, the 2016 Republican National Convention will take place in Cleveland sometime that summer. Thus, necessary and centrally located infrastructure will likely already be in place for the city by the time of possibly hosting the NBA’s mid-season extravaganza.

Cleveland last hosted the NBA All-Star Game back in 1997, the year of the league’s 50th anniversary celebration. The Indians also hosted the MLB All-Star Game that summer and advanced to the World Series.

[Related from WFNY’s Scott Sargent at the 2014 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans:
On Crescent City, Community and Creation]

Simmons: Kevin Love is Underrated

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As we tend to do when shiny new toys show up wearing our favorite team’s colors (especially at the cost of other players), many are heading straight to the discussion surrounding value and what fans can expect on a going forward basis. In sports, it’s considerably more nuanced than adding a 2 to a 2 and expecting 4—there’s fit, chemistry, career arcs and all of those pesky human-based elements that we tend to forget when pouring through box scores.

While Clevelanders attempt to wrap their hands around the fact that last year’s All-Star game MVP is suddenly the Cavaliers’ third-best player, Grantland’s Bill Simmons digs deep in to Kevin Love, the Wine and Gold’s alleged newest player, and what he brings in the way of all of the aforementioned. And of course, as we banter about whether or not the three-time All-Star is top-12 or top-5, Simmons gives his opinion on just what Cleveland should expect to see for at least the next season from a player who has put up monster numbers but has yet to get a taste of the postseason. Spoiler alert: It’s all good.

Has Love become this generation’s Jerry Lucas, a gifted power forward who chases his own numbers without making anyone else better? Did he become a not-as-gifted, more depressing version of Barkley in Philly, a statistical marvel who wasted a piece of his prime carrying subpar teammates? Could he become a better version of Bosh, someone who submitted big numbers on bad teams before recalibrating his game to fit in with a champion? Is he doing something wrong? Or has he been wronged? Or both? [...]

When the collective personality of an NBA team is off, you can see it. There isn’t a more naked sport, especially if you’re seeing these games live. We watch the players interact on the court and in the huddles. We study their body language. We come to know their every expression. It’s like going out to a marathon dinner with another couple — you just know them better after the check comes. And anyone who watched the 2014 Timberwolves regularly, or fairly regularly, knew something was amiss. Love has always been a lead-by-example star, not a galvanizing, get-on-my-back guy. [...]

You can pick apart Kevin Love’s first six seasons in a variety of ways … just as long as you admit that he was the league’s secret League Pass MVP last year, as well as someone who needs to be seen in person to be believed. For one thing, he’s a freak rebounder — as gifted as Rodman and Moses at their respective peaks, blessed with magically soft hands and a psychic ability to read where caroms are headed. He’s just inventive enough on the low post that you probably need to send a second guy at him, and he’s good enough from 24 feet that you can never leave him alone. He’s a flat-out weapon and an underrated heat check guy. And whenever he grabs a rebound and flicks a 60-foot outlet in one motion, it’s genuinely breathtaking to watch. [...]

I see Cleveland playing Love as a small-ball 5 much like Coach K did.

I see David Blatt pushing them to run and run and run some more.

I see Love’s extraordinary outlet passes being celebrated around the globe.

I see him becoming a legitimate threat to be a 22-15-5 guy and maybe even average 16 boards a game (which hasn’t happened since Rodman).

I see my favorite Cavs lineup being their small-ball group with LeBron, Love, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and a spread-the-floor shooter … and not-so-coincidentally, looking very ’93 Suns-ish.

I see Love thriving on the pick-and-pop with LeBron or Kyrie to frighteningly efficient degrees.

I see anyone who said this week that (a) Cleveland gave up too much, and/or (b) Love isn’t as good as people think, feeling stupid.

Rather than blockquoting all 5,000 words, we highly recommend that you give it a look for yourself. Say what you want about Simmons—the guy knows his hoops.

Don’t forget that the Cavaliers, just last season, were a Kevin Love buzzer-beater away from losing a game they had been winning by more than 20 points with just minutes left, a night where Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic (two well-compensated teammates) combined to go 3-for-19 from the floor. Simmons hammers home the point that Love is exponentially better than LeBron’s former Big 3 power forward in Chris Bosh, ratchets in some very captivating comparisons to a young Charles Barkley, and simultaneously makes me wish I can remember the details of seeing any of those early-90s players in person. He also calls Cleveland the “league’s newest signature team.”

The fact that Kevin Love, a guy coming off of a 26 and 12 season, may very well be underrated—well, that’s all an added bonus.

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Video: What will the Cavs offense look like with Kyrie, Love and LeBron?

Cavs Offense Video

As if the addition of head coach David Blatt wasn’t enough, the 2014-15 Cleveland Cavaliers will (by all accounts) feature substantial upgrades and small forward and power forward as well. So how will all of this work? Coach Nick from BBALLBREAKDOWN takes a look at the Cavs’ summer league (coached by Blatt) in addition to some of the rookie NBA head coach’s former teams as to how he can best utilize three of the league’s top 30 players.

LeBron at the four? Kevin Love as a shifty, pick-and-pop five? Wide open corner threes? Do enjoy.

ESPN suspends Dan Le Batard for LeBron billboards

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What started out as a fun, attention-grabbing prank has apparently gotten Miami’s Dan Le Batard into some hot water. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that Le Batard, host of a nationally aired radio show and ESPN’s Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable, has been suspended from the air for two days. The four-letter network is reportedly none too pleased with the long-time columnist spearheading the “You’re Welcome, LeBron” billboards that have been popping up around Akron, Ohio in advance of LeBron James’ “Homecoming” which is planned for Friday.

Per Jackson:

An ESPN statement says Le Batard’s recent stunt does not reflect ESPN’s standards and brand Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance.

As The Big Lead points out, Part of LeBatard’s rise at ESPN over the last few years is precisely because of bits like this—more intelligent and clever than a trolling hot take—so the suspension comes as a bit of a surprise considering all of the other items (countless ones, in fact) the company could hand pick out the grab bag of could-be punishable offenses.

Le Batard is scheduled to return to television and his (very entertaining) radio show on Monday. No word on if he plans to make use of his free time by heading north for the weekend.

Could Kevin Love actually improve with the Cavs?

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Carrying a fledgling team in the Western Conference can be a tough task. Kevin Love, for all of his incredible box scores and proclamations of being the best power forward in the NBA, has yet to yield a playoff appearance. Since being drafted in 2008, Love’s game has not only allowed for year-over-year improvement, but it’s also provided fans of the game with one of the more eye-opening evolutions—from back-to-the-basket rebounder to floor-stretching three-point shooter—over the past few years. But how will this translate to Cleveland, where the wealth will undoubtedly have to be shared?

Grantland.com’s Kirk Goldsberry digs deep into Love’s tendencies within his latest blog entry, discussing the pros and cons of a power forward who tends to drift beyond the arc.

There are reasons why more power forwards don’t shoot nearly as many 3-point shots as Love does. First of all, most can’t hit them. Love deserves credit for developing deep range at such a young age. Even older 4s, like David West and LaMarcus Aldridge — both wonderful jump shooters — have yet to add 3s to their arsenals. Many teams prefer to keep their bigs inside the arc to help set screens and grab rebounds, the idea being that every time a big spots up beyond the arc means one less play in which he’s a factor inside of it, especially on the glass. After all, power forwards are the primary rebounding vultures in the NBA ecosystem — it’s generally their role, whether it’s on offense or defense, to clean up the corpses of failed field goals down by the rim.

The fact that Love is one of the best rebounders in the game only compounds this issue. He’s not just “technically a power forward” like Channing Frye. This guy is way more Barkley than Bargnani. He’s a true interior force, and every time he shoots one of those 3s, one of the league’s top rebounders becomes a rebounding spectator.

Every Kevin Love 3-point attempt introduces a sneaky hidden fee, and when you evaluate his 3-point value using only his shooting percentages, you don’t even see it.

All in, this sounds like Love has grown into a player who has become less efficient. As his box score and per-year averages have climbed, could Kevin Love actually have regressed in terms of economy? In a way, yes. But also, it appears that this transition has largely stemmed from the Timberwolves having to count on him in every facet of the game. Ricky Rubio and Corey Brewer—his starting point guard and small forward, respectively—are not exactly the beacons of offensive prowess. Coming over to Cleveland, thing will change—considerably.

Love’s 3-point shot is impressive, but it’s also fair to ask whether the addition of a mostly average (at this point) long-range game to his shooting repertoire is a smart addition for his team’s overall offensive portfolio. It’s also important to note that on a Minnesota team lacking strong perimeter shooting from its guards and wings, Love naturally assumed a greater perimeter role than he might alongside different teammates, guys like Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Mike Miller. [...]

Alongside James, open shots are easier to come by, there are fewer double teams, and there are more fast-break points. Lastly, and perhaps most relevant to his perimeter habits, a move to Cleveland will also put him alongside Miller, Irving, and Waiters. Relative to Ricky Rubio and Corey Brewer, these guys are all sensational jump shooters, and would likely represent the best 3-point shooting corps that Love has ever played with.

With Love’s move to Ohio, it’s hard to imagine anything but upticks in efficiency and downticks in his perimeter shooting.

The Cavs, as Goldsberry iterated, have added outside shooting to compliment the offensive threats already on the roster. Spacing the floor will be integral for Cleveland’s overall suceess, but it’s It’s scary to think that a guy who averaged 12.5 rebounds per game a season ago could actually see improvement in this category due to less reliance on his seven three-point attempts per night.

Cavs to aquire Love, sign to five-year contract extension

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That sound you hear is the most recent detonation of a Woj Bomb. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports a confirmation of sorts, stating the Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired All-Star power forward Kevin Love in a deal that includes No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins. As if that wasn’t enough, Cleveland is making the deal with Minnesota with a firm agreement Love will opt out of his contract in 2015 and re-sign with the Cavaliers on a five-year, $120 million-plus contract extension.

The deal, as has been reported elsewhere, has been in place for some time, but cannot be finalized until August 23 when Wiggins’ 30-day trade window closes. Joining Wiggins will be last year’s No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and a protected first-round draft pick for 2015 (reportedly the one acquired from Miami in the LeBron James trade in 2010).

The three-time NBA All-Star averaged 26 points and 12.5 rebounds for the Timberwolves last season. For his career, he’s averaged 19 points and 12.2 rebounds. Per Wojnarowski, Love, 25, will join superstar LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to create the most devastating trio in the NBA and will instantly make the Cavaliers frontrunners to win the NBA championship.

Soak it in, Cavs fans. It’s going to be a fun ride.

[Related: Watch highlights of soon-to-be Cavalier Kevin Love]

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

 

The LeBron-trolling ad appears to have found a home

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Remember that Miami-based advertisement that was turned down by The Plain Dealer? It appears to have finally found a home. Courtesy of Twitter user JeremyinAkron, we have a billboard that is allegedly housed on west-bound Tallmadge avenue near Route 8 in Akron, Ohio.

Miami’s Dan Le Batard was reportedly behind the original idea, and based on his Twitter feed, this one as well. LeBron James’ “Homecoming” is set for this Friday in Akron, so this Comic Sans-laced stealth move was well-timed on his part. Per the Miami Herald, this is the first of what will be several billboards to be placed around the city. There are rumors of an additional tier of the ad-assault that remains top secret, perhaps to be revealed on Friday.

“I’m just getting started,” tweeted Le Batard, who is no stranger to otherwise outlandish acts that grab the attention of the media.

LeBron James’ recruiting gets tangible

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For weeks, Cleveland has heard about the recruiting efforts made by LeBron James, a guy who, just last week, met his new head coach for the first time since agreeing to terms with the Cavaliers on July 11. For weeks, James has reportedly been a part of the discussions surrounding Kevin Love joining him in his quest to bring a championship to the lakefront, if only on a player-to-player basis. For weeks, names like Mike Miller and James Jones were bantered about, cagey veterans who would fill the role of winners who just so happen to efficiently force a piece of inflated leather to splash through a nylon net hoisted 10 feet into the air.

With the Cavaliers officially signing Miller and Jones, and promptly introducing them to the city’s media contingent on Wednesday morning, all of those talks immediately became real. James, who was criticized for his inability to get players to come to Cleveland during his first act in the town, has taken his off-court game to the next level. Jet-setting around the world, stopping in places like Rio De Janero, Brazil and various cities in China, the four-time MVP has found time to reach out to friends, those who not only helped him win during his time in Miami, but those whom he feels can take marry their winning résumés with their infallible work ethic as the Cavaliers transition from NBA Lottery fixtures to the game’s marquee attraction.

[Read more...]

Tristan Thompson featured in Grantland’s look at NBA big men

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Is it possible that Tristan Thompson’s best asset is being represented by LeBron James’ childhood friend Rich Paul? Consensus around the league (as iterated by Brian Windhorst in his latest appearance with Bill Simmons) is that Thompson, the Cavs’ starting power forward for the last three seasons, is in line for quite a pay day despite not showing flashes of being much more than a 10-point, 10-rebound player.

In his latest feature for Grantland.com, NBA writer Zach Lowe discusses Thompson as the archetype of players NBA front offices are moving away from—guys who don’t protect the rim defensively and cannot consistently hit mid-range jump shots or corner three-pointers.

The price of shooting at all positions has gone up. And one player type has become less and less desired, to the point it may already be a market inefficiency: the power forward who can’t shoot 3s and can’t protect the rim or provide real fill-in minutes at center.

There are good reasons behind the price drop. Protecting the rim is a necessity for any team with championship ambitions. If one big man can’t manage, the other has to carry the load, and real rim protectors tend to be large humans who hang near the rim on offense. That means any big man who can’t protect the rim defensively had better be able to get the hell out of the way on offense, working as a long-distance threat around the pick-and-rolls that dominate the NBA.

Lowe states that players like Thompson (and Denver’s Kenneth Faried) have a fit deemed “unclear.” Cavs general manager David Griffin has long discussed “fit” as a code-word way of describing an offense that incorporates ball movement and spacing of the floor. Thompson has thrived as a rim runner at times, and cold very well get plenty of open looks at the rim as double- and triple-teams find their way toward James and point guard Kyrie Irving, but this skill set (converting due to being open) is one that the Cavaliers will have to give thought to come contract time.

Add in that Thompson could very well be the back-up power forward behind Kevin Love, and things get that much more interesting.

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Sources: Chauncey Billups visits with Cavs

Boston Celtics v Detroit Pistons

Could Chauncey Billups be the next veteran to join the Cleveland Cavaliers? Multiple sources tell WFNY that Billups, a five-time NBA All-Star, spent Tuesday in Cleveland with Cavs head assistant coach Tyronn Lue, ultimately finishing up his trip with a Warehouse District dinner meeting alongside Lue, Cavs general manager David Griffin, head coach David Blatt. This, of course, comes one day after the Cavs contingent met with free agent small forward Shawn Marion.

The nature of any discussions with the Cavs are unclear, but it is believed that Billups, who will be 38 years old by the time the 2014-15 season tips off, is interested in eventually moving into a coaching or executive role once he officially retires. Retiring is the operative word, however, as the 2004 NBA Finals MVP was believed to be in search of another contract as recent as early July, working out in Las Vegas and reportedly looking good despite his age and recent run of injuries.

Billups signed a two-year, $5 million deal to rejoin the Pistons last summer, but played in just 19 games (averaging 3.8 points per game), undergoing surgery to reapair the meniscus in his right knee this past February. He has not played in more than 22 games since his 2010-11 season with the New York Knicks and on June 30, the Pistons announced that they would not be picking up Billups’ team option, making him an unrestricted free agent.

“You don’t want to end the way that my last couple of seasons ended,” Billups told 9News.com this past June. “But I’m back from that now. Just getting older.”

Recently announcing the signings of veteran swingmen Mike Miller and James Jones, the Cavs now have 16 players on their roster, so any addition in a player capacity would likely be delayed. Cleveland is believed to soon be on the receiving end of a trade that would net them Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star power forward Kevin Love, with multiple players being sent to Minnesota. The Cavs were interested in adding Billups to the fold as recent as last season.

Billups’ name was also loosely discussed in Cleveland this past summer as the team was in search of a head coach following the firing of Mike Brown. He was reportedly pursued by Flip Saunders and the Timberwolves to serve as an assistant coach. Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert has reportedly long been a fan of Billups—those Detroit connections run deep—but belief amongst NBA executives is that the long-time Pistons point guard, who was one of the league’s most outspoken players during the 2011 NBA lockout, has desires to one day be in a league front office, following in the footsteps of friend and idol Joe Dumars.

(Photo by Dan Lippitt/NBAE via Getty Images)

Free Agent forward Shawn Marion visits with Cavs

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Could the Cavaliers be adding even more veteran athleticism? Free agent small forward Shawn Marion was in Cleveland on Monday afternoon, taking in a visit with Cavaliers GM David Griffin and head coach David Blatt.

Per ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, Marion is the latest target for LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, according to sources with knowledge of the team’s plans. Griffin has a strong relationship with Marion from their Phoenix days together and Cleveland, years that featured Marion as one of the league’s best when it came to total statistical output.

Per Stein, the 36-year-old Marion is a “natural target” for the Indiana Pacers in the wake of the devastating leg injury suffered by Paul George this past weekend, but the Cavaliers—thanks to the presence of James—have the upper hand over Indiana or anyone else recruiting the veteran small forward, showing that depth (despite potentially dealing several players in the near future) should be of little concern.

In 2013-14, Marion averaged 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. The Cavs, largely anticipated to be on the receiving end of a Kevin Love deal, can offer Marion nothing but the league minimum.

(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

Kyrie Irving speaks candidly about anonymous sources and “media fatigue”

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The subject of boundless speculation and criticism that often bordered on unfair, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving opened up during an interview with Las Vegas media to discuss pressure, the last few years of life in Cleveland, and what it’s like to be in the crosshairs of daily journalism while playing for a struggling organization.

“So many false articles and so many people that have inside sources that don’t even know what’s going on inside my circle,” Irving said of the reports. “[They] said I didn’t want to be in Cleveland, it was all a bunch of BS. Now that I’m actually in Cleveland for the long term, it’s a great monkey off my back, a great relief. I was going to sign it regardless. I knew it the whole time. That’s what some media people do. They want to make a story. I’m just happy that it’s all over. I signed my contract and I’m in Cleveland for five years.”

Irving, through little fault of his own, immediately be came the face of the Cavaliers following the departure of LeBron James—the city and fans looking for a player to cling to in order to help fill that void left by the fleeing hometown hero. The team tried very hard to keep any hagiography from occurring, but as each draft and free agency period went by, yielding little in the way of star-caliber players, all of the focus was continually placed on the now-22-year-old two-time All-Star whose team was perennially among the worst in the league.

“Dealing with the daily grind of being ‘that guy’ every single day [was hard],” Irving said. “I wanted [the responsibility], but it gets a lot harder, especially as you get older and become the ‘marquee guy’. It’s something you have to go through.

Through much of the 2013-14 season, Irving was the focal point of sourced reports that painted him as a player with one foot out of the door. Continually, Irving found himself on the defensive, having nothing to use but his words. This was until he signed a five-year extension that will potentially keep him in Cleveland through 2020.

Irving, entering his fourth season, admitted that he struggled with becoming a “leader”—a role he was thrust into due to his skill set, marketability and talent level—and appears to be more than willing to take a back seat to LeBron James when it comes to reestablishing himself in the role that was his prior to July 2010. His defense will still be scrutinized. His body language should improve with each win. If anything, the fact that the contract status (and reports of unhappiness and inner circles) should be well behind him and the fans, allowing for all focus to turn to the floor—finally.

Cavaliers to reportedly play in Miami on Christmas Day

LeBron James will reportedly return to Miami for a nationally televised game on Christmas Day.

The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported the rumor late on Tuesday evening, citing a personal familiar with the situation. The schedule is expected to be released in the next week or two.

The Cavaliers-Heat game is set to take place “barring an unexpected change of heart by the NBA.” The game, much-desired by ABC, would likely take place at 2:30 or 5 p.m.

We’ve seen murmurs already of the Cavs reportedly playing the San Antonio Spurs on Opening Night. Certainly, the Cavaliers will receive dozens of national TV games this year — probably as many in one season as they’ve had in the previous four since LeBron’s departure.

Are you as a Cavs fan upset by the road game on Christmas Day? LeBron returning to Miami obviously is a bit more of a storyline than Cavs-Heat in Cleveland. There will be plenty other of hyped games at The Q this season, anyway.

Dion Waiters: I want to start, but…

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As the Cleveland Cavaliers continue talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves about acquiring disgruntled power forward Kevin Love, one of the players who could potentially be dealt is reiterating that he wants his role to be as a starter. In an interview with CSNSW’s Chris Haynes, Waiters stated that not only does he want to be among the Cavaliers’ starting five, he thinks he should be despite the team using their recent No. 1 pick on a shooting guard in Andrew Wiggins.

Dion Waiters is enormously confident in his abilities to produce on the basketball court. It’s one of the main reasons why he’s one of the best young scorers in this league. [...]

On Monday, following Day 1 of TEAM USA training camp, when CSNNW.com followed up on the matter, Waiters didn’t back down from his stance to be inserted into the starting lineup come next season.

“I want to start and I believe that I should at the two,” Waiters told CSNNW.com.

Despite what many may make it appear to be, Waiters is not drawing his line in the sand by any means. He isn’t demanding a starting role, he’s just extremely confident in his abilities (he averaged over 18 points per game last season as a starter) and feels that he’s the best man for the job. The third-year guard also says that he has dropped 10-12 pounds since the last game of the season thanks to a new diet he’s dedicated to. The results, per Haynes, are a lighter, more athletic 6-foot-4-inch swingman. It should also be noted that his comments have the backing from head coach David Blatt who wants his players to have the confidence Waiters is showing.

High knees, ya’all.

Dion Waiters Dance

Waiters also addressed his recent use of Twitter wherein the two-guard has been interacting with fans almost on a nightly basis. ” I’ve always been a guy that gives it right to you,” he said. “I’ve never been a guy that plays that political stuff. I was brought up that way. I’m straightforward. I give my honest opinion. I’m not going to sit here and hide.”

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

LeBron James was Born to Run

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I’ve said it multiple times before on my podcast, but I’ll say it again: I’ve always wanted to see LeBron James play on a team full of young or entering their prime highly athletic players. James has been a part of some great offenses, mainly due to his talent. His final two years as a Cavalier, the team ranked near the top of offensive efficiency and hit threes at a higher percentage than the rest of the league save for the Nash-led Suns. The problem being is that they played at one of the league’s slowest pace and the entire offense was built around Lebron James pick n’ roll in the half court while spacing the floor with shooters. This offense carried over to Miami, though they mixed it up a little as James began to initiate offense from the post where he almost unguardable one on one, something that Cavaliers fans had been screaming for him to do throughout his last two seasons in Cleveland. Still, LeBron teams have always spaced themselves well in the half court and played relatively slow compared to the rest of the NBA. His teams have almost always been in the bottom third of pace and, excluding his rookie season, none of his teams were even at or above the league average.

[Read more...]

Kevin Love may not opt in, Cavs may not care

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While many continue to debate the merits of players involved in a deal for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, the great unknown continues to be how long Love would call Cleveland home. There are rumors that he’s demanding a trade to Cleveland and wants to play alongside LeBron James; Cleveland would be the only place he would commit to in the way of a long-term deal, starting with an opt-in for 2015-16. But The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto says not so fast:

Love is guaranteed $15.7 million this season, with a player option for $16.7 million in 2015-16. I wrote a column insisting the Cavs should demand Love pick up his option before making a deal. Talking to some NBA executives, that could be a problem. One executive explained how the best move for Love may be to come to the Cavs on the current deal — no changes. He becomes a free agent in 2015, then signs a five-year deal for the maximum (could be more than $100 million) to stay here. …

If Love picks up his option for 2015-16 this summer, the most that a team can immediately add is a two-year extension. I’m hearing Love will not pick up his option… I’m hearing the Cavs realize they may have to accept Love’s current deal and gamble on him enjoying playing in Cleveland and with James. Then they will try to sign him for a maximum deal in 2015. So don’t be shocked if a deal is made with his contract situation staying the same.

There has been plenty of Twitter angst surrounding this aspect of the deal. On one side is a group saying that you can’t gamble with a No. 1 pick in Andrew Wiggins if you’re only going to get one year out of Kevin Love. On the other side are those saying that Cleveland team’s have gone decades without swinging for the fences and have wound up empty-handed. The Collective Bargaining Agreement certainly only muddies the waters even more.

Do the Cavs trust Love? Does Love love Cleveland? Stay tuned. We’re about to find out, one way or the other.

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Mike Miller signing and some Dion Waiters thoughts

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Does this look like ‘bench’ material to you?

The Cleveland Cavaliers reached a deal with veteran sharpshooter Mike Miller, reportedly being ready to sign the 14-year veteran to a two year deal worth around $5.4 million, including a player option for the second year. Miller is a favorite of homeward-bound Cavalier LeBron James (yes, that was as fun to write as it probably is to read) and he, by all indications, chose the Cavaliers over more lucrative offers from the Denver Nuggets and possibly Houston and Dallas. According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, Miller had a longer-term, higher-paying offer of around three years for a total of $12 million from Denver. But he followed LeBron’s decision by wanting to play in Cleveland. For less money.1

Now it isn’t as if Mike Miller is hurting to feed his family, as Latrell Spreewell once proclaimed after being offered a $30 million extension from the Timberwolves that he felt was below his value. Miller, according to Hoopshype, has made just under $76 million in his 14-year NBA career. But due to his age, this could be Miller’s last shot at a long-term deal. You could be asking yourself, “Who is this guy and why is he writing about a deal that is yesterday’s news?” We’ll get to me later, but the answer to the latter half? Because he chose to come to Cleveland so he could play alongside the best player in the world and possibly compete for additional championships, that’s why. Why is this all significant? Because Miller wanted to come to Cleveland! No, he isn’t a game-changing player—although he will really help spread the floor with his dead-eye three-point shooting. Players want to play with LeBron and Miller’s signing demonstrated this. Hopefully this is just the first of many veterans that choose to come to Cleveland in order to win big and play with LeBron.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Yes, the deal in Cleveland doesn’t include a third year so the actual comparison to the Denver offer has to be looked at in the prism of Miller and his possible contract two years from now, because he will most likely be getting paid something after his two-year Cavalier deal. But by that time Miller will be 37 and it would be surprising if he could still get close to that $4 million that Denver would’ve still been paying him. So for arguments sake, let’s say Miller will be playing for the veteran minimum of about $1.5 million two years from now. That means he would’ve taken about $5 million less over three years to come to Cleveland. That is quite significant. []

Ray Allen leaning toward joining Cavs

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The Free Agency haul rolls on as Ray Allen is reportedly leaning toward signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This report is according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

Allen is expected to have MRIs on his legs to make sure they’re healthy, so nothing will be official until after Thursday. Mike Miller, another recent addition, has been recruiting Ray Allen to join him and LeBron James—both teammates of Allen in Miami—in Cleveland.

“With LeBron James, you are going to win 55 to 60 games regardless,” Miller said on ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd Show. “Now it’s about what you do in the playoffs. For us, even with the young talent that they have there, you’ve got to bring guys that have been there before, even if they are not giving you heavy minutes. Because those are the guys that understand the preparation, the adjustments, things like that can really bring those guys along. And then you build it from there.”

The 39-year-old Allen was fielding offers from the Cavs as well as the Houston Rockets in addition to contemplating retirement. He is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point makes with 2973, and over 19 years of professional play, Allen has shot 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.

Cavs “firmly in lead” to acquire Kevin Love

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Andrew Wiggins is one step closer to being an official member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Whether or not he ultimately reaches that destination remains to be seen.

The Golden State Warriors were long considered to be the Cavs’ lone rival in obtaining Love as they refuse to include swingman Klay Thompson in discussions given Love’s potential to leave after one season. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst report that the Chicago Bulls—one of the choice destinations for Love—have also entered into the fray1, but the Cavs remain “firmly in the lead” in a deal that would center around Wiggins. The Cavs are reportedly increasingly optimistic that they are progressing toward a trade framework that the Minnesota Timberwolves will accept in exchange for Love to pair him with his Team USA teammate LeBron James.

The Associated Press has confirmed an earlier report from Windhorst that states the Cavs’ No. 1 overall pick will sign his rookie contract with the team. Wiggins has been the topic of trade talks since being selected this past summer, the 6-foot-8-inch shooting guard being the top target of the Minnesota Timberwolves as they look to deal power forward Kevin Love before he reaches free agency. Last week, the AP cited two people familiar with the discussions in saying that the Cavs were still not willing to include Wiggins in a deal despite previous reports to the contrary.

Once the deal (said to be worth roughly $5.5 million in 2014) is inked, the Cavs would be prohibited from dealing the rookie for 30 days. Prior to being signed, Wiggins’ value in a trade was zero. If the Cavaliers do decide to part ways with the highly touted swingman, they would be $5.5 million closer to the required $12.56 million needed to acquire Love. Other players rumored to be involved include Dion Waiters ($4.06 million) and last year’s No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett ($5.56 million).

[Related: Mike Krzyzewski would trade Wiggins for Love “without hesitancy”]

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Footnotes:

  1. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler appear to be their starting point. []