August 26, 2014

Report: Former Bucks Coach Larry Drew to Join David Blatt’s Staff

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With all the excitement over LeBron James’ return to Cleveland, along with all the talk of the impending Kevin Love trade, one of the overlooked stories surrounding the Cavaliers is the makeup of new coach David Blatt’s staff. Tyronn Lue was hired to be Blatt’s Associate Head Coach, but other than rumors of mutual interest in Larry Drew, no word has come down on the rest of the staff.

On Wednesday afternoon, however, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweeted that the Cavaliers have indeed hired Larry Drew to be on David Blatt’s staff:

Drew was rather infamously and shamefully replaced as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks as part of the fallout of Jason Kidd’s failed power play in New Jersey, which landed Kidd in Milwaukee and left Drew unemployed. Drew is regarded as a coach who designs playstyle to the talent of his roster, as opposed to forcing his roster to play his preferred style. This mentality should be a good fit with David Blatt who also coaches with this adaptive style.

As for the rest of the staff, Bernie Bickerstaff, Jim Boylan, Igor Kokoskov, and Bret Brielmaier are all still listed on the Cavs’ official website. No further information regarding their future has been reported as of this time.

[Related: Charlotte joins Cleveland in running to host 2017 or 2018 NBA All-Star Game]

Kyrie’s staying, Klinsmann’s “American-ness”, and The Leftovers, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday, WFNY! And Happy July!

Sometimes July can be a bit of a dull sports month for me. I’m not exactly the world’s biggest baseball fan, so sometimes the month can be a bit of a drag for me. But not this July. The World Cup has been the most exciting World Cup in my memory, and it lasts through July 13th. Then we have the NBA’s Summer League. The Cavaliers will once again participate in the Vegas edition of Summer League. It runs from July 11th through the 21st. In fact, the Cavaliers play the Bucks on the first day of Summer League, which means we’ll get to see the first Andrew Wiggins vs Jabari Parker matchup. Finally, the Browns start Training Camp on July 25th, just four days after Summer League wraps up. Not to mention NBA free agency will be ongoing all month.

So there will be no shortage of things to occupy my sports interest this July.

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Kyrie is one loyal Cavalier!

Well, he’s a rich one, anyway. I had pre-written a segment last night about Kyrie for this morning’s WWW. When I woke up and saw the news that he had already agreed to sign, I was naturally ecstatic, but it also meant I had to completely scratch my Kyrie section and write a new one from the start. And you know what? I am perfectly fine with that.

I happened to still be up at midnight for the official start of free agency, and I decided to be smart ass and tweet:

I figured there was a very good chance that this would drag out a bit as both sides worked out some details. Boy was I wrong. Just a couple hours later came the tweets from Dan Gilbert, Adrian Wojnarowski, and my favorite one of them all, this tweet from Kyrie Irving:

Look, far be it from me to try to put a damper on anyone’s jubilation. Nobody is a bigger Kyrie fan than I am, and today is one of the happiest mornings I’ve had as a Cavs fan for a very long time. A 22 year old two-time All Star PG just decided to sign the longest contract possible to stay in Cleveland. The cynics will say “of course he did, it’s just about the money and now that he has the contract done he can try to force a trade out of Cleveland”. I’m cynical about a lot of things, but Kyrie Irving is not one of them. Despite all the external speculation about his relationships with coaches and teammates and his burning desire to get out of Cleveland, the fact is he has always said the right things and, outside his one big mistake on Fan Night a couple years ago, he has done the right things and represented the Cavaliers in a way that we should all be proud of.

There’s a good portion of the fan base that has never warmed up to Kyrie and has chosen to blame him for most of the Cavs problems. Maybe they’re right. Maybe it is mostly his fault. I can’t say anyone is right or wrong, it is only my opinion that the Cavs problems have been much more with the players, front office, and ownership issues than with the one really good basketball player this team has actually had.

I feel like some fans have kept Kyrie at a distance in part because of latent feelings of mistrust and heartbreak over LeBron leaving. It takes time to let someone back in after getting burned like that on national TV. But I hope now that Kyrie has shown he means it when he has always said he wanted to be here long term, some of those fans will start to loosen up and just enjoy Kyrie Irving for what he is rather than judge him for who he is not.

We don’t always get good days being Cleveland sports fans. But today is one of those good days!

And now back to my debbie downer stuff that was written before Kyrie agreed to sign…

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Will the Cavaliers be free agency players this summer?

I want to say yes. I really do. The Cavaliers have plenty of cap space as is, and they can more or less create as much cap space as they need. They have an exciting young core in Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson (I guess). They have an intriguing new coach. They have incredible facilities and an owner who is more than happy to spend. And they have a pretty great fan base, too (if only that was a bigger factor….or even a factor at all). So why shouldn’t they be a free agency player?

The problem is, right now, it’s hard to find any information on any players being linked to the Cavaliers. I searched the web all over for rumors of any player having any interest in Cleveland whatsoever1. I found nothing.

That’s the hardest part of being a Cavaliers fan sometimes. It’s fun to fantasize about big free agency moves the team can make, but the reality is, free agents just aren’t interested in Cleveland unless the team is willing to overpay them to a degree that other teams won’t match. It’s just a brutal and harsh truth to swallow.

On Yahoo! Sports’s list of the Top Ten NBA Free Agents, not a single one is linked to Cleveland. NJ.com made a list of the Top 25 Free Agents and listed the top three most likely destinations for each of them. The only ones that had Cleveland in the list of three potential destinations are Lance Stephenson and Andray Blatche. ESPN.com did a roundtable discussion of the top free agents, and Cleveland wasn’t mentioned once anywhere. Lance Stephenson was mentioned as one of the most likely to be overpaid, so maybe Cleveland is inherently implied there. Finally, USA Today released their list of Five Teams to Watch When Free Agency Starts. No mention of Cleveland.

We’ll see what happens. I’m sure the Cavaliers will sign someone, but it just might be more of an Earl Clark type signing than a Chandler Parsons type deal. I hope I’m wrong. I hope David Griffin can succeed where Chris Grant failed and really bring in some exciting free agent targets. But history is not on Cleveland’s side.

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But at least the Cavs have Andrew Wiggins!

Last week I had WWW duties on Tuesday before the draft, so I still didn’t know who the Cavaliers were going to take. And while I was heartbroken over Joel Embiid’s injury, I had decided that I just wanted the Cavaliers to do the safe, smart, and relatively boring thing and take Andrew Wiggins. So I was ecstatic when they did just that.

When I say it was the boring move, I mean comparatively. In recent years the Cavs’ drafts have been an adventure. It was so enjoyable to have a nice, calm, relaxing evening knowing the Cavaliers had the player who was the consensus #1 pick for most of the previous year.

I don’t know how good Wiggins will be. Projecting potential is tricky. But I saw a photoshopped image of Wiggins next to 18 year old LeBron. I was struck by how similar their body types were. Not to say Wiggins will be even close to LeBron, but the photo got me thinking, what would have happened to LeBron’s draft stock had he been forced to go to college and then played in a system that maybe wasn’t exactly a perfect fit for him? Would playing in the slow constraints of 35 second shot clocks and deliberate offenses have hurt his stock at all like it did Wiggins? Perhaps.

I mean, there’s no reason to think LeBron wouldn’t have destroyed college players. He’s the best player in the world. But even thinking back to LeBron’s rookie year, as exciting as he was and as bright as you could see his future was, he wasn’t anything close to the dominant player he is today. These things can take time. So I hope fans can be somewhat patient with Wiggins as well. If Wiggins can grow into his body even to a degree half of what LeBron did it will only help his game. Wiggins may never be the physical presence LeBron is, and it’s silly that I keep mentioning their names together. It’s completely unfair to Wiggins. I just wanted to point out that Wiggins is an incredibly exciting prospect and the Cavaliers organization is unbelievably lucky to have won the lottery and have him. Now it’s up to the team to both be patient with him and also develop his skills and put him in the best position to succeed.

Anyway, check out Scott’s incredible Wiggins profile from yesterday. No matter what happens in free agency, this is a time to be excited about the Cavs and to allow ourselves to have a little hope.

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USMNT will win in whatever way is necessary

Today is a big day for another reason. The US team will face Belgium in the first knockout round of the World Cup today at 4:00 pm ET. I’m more nervous and excited for this game than I was for the Ghana game four years ago at this same point in the tournament. I feel like last World Cup the US felt a little lucky to have advanced thanks to Landon Donovan’s incredible late goal. This year, I feel like the team is more on a mission, making a statement by advancing out of the Group of Death.

I really want the team to capitalize on this opportunity to show the world that US soccer is on the rise and that Jürgen Klinsmann is changing the very perception and definition of what “US Soccer” stands for. I’ve made no secret of my personal admiration for Klinsmann and what he is trying to accomplish for the sport inside this country. But he is leaving behind a trail of scorned doubters along the way.

I’ve seen some criticism lately of Klinsmann’s philosophy of going out and recruiting multinationals to play for the US. It’s this idea that Klinsmann’s German heritage is an affront to what being a “real” American is all about. But this was a country founded on principles of inclusion. This country has been and continues to be far from perfect in that goal, but the American Dream stands for something real.

I suppose in a perfect world it would be nice if the USMNT only featured “true blue” Americans. I guess. But where would this team be without those multinationals? It was John Brooks who put in the winner against Ghana. It was Jermaine Jones whose incredible strike turned the tide against Portugal. Fabian Johnson has been one of the most consistent players for the US in the World Cup, flying down the sides and keeping possession for the US in attacks. When Jozy Altidore went down against Ghana, it was Aron Johannsson who stepped in and did the best he could. All of these players have one thing in common….they are all American citizens. They may not live in the US, English may not be their first language, they may not “look like us”. But they all have at least one American parent and they all are citizens of this country.

Klinsmann is dreaming big. People may not have liked his comments about it not being realistic to think the US can win the World Cup, but I think they missed the point he was trying to make. He’s trying to grow something special in the US Soccer establishment, and he’s not just trying to win this World Cup. He’s looking even bigger picture than that. And his first step was to raise the talent level of the entire team by looking at all Americans, not just those who are “real” Americans.

By bringing in some multinational Americans to elevate the play of the USMNT, Klinsmann is banking on elevating the national awareness of the sport as well. The US team has now made it to the knockout round in consecutive World Cups for the first time ever. That’s a huge achievement. But they can’t stop there. It’s time to start making some consistent noise in the knockout rounds as well. So today is a huge day for the team and the sport in general in this country. But even if they lose, I don’t think it’s the end. I think it’s only the beginning for future opportunities for this team. Those who only tangentially follow the sport may not care for all of Klinsmann’s antics, but I get what he’s doing and I’m really happy he’s in charge of US Soccer. I just hope he can follow through on his vision, and a big part of that starts today against Belgium.

This piece is a little old, but I loved what Aaron Gordon wrote for Sports on Earth on the topic of Klinsmann and his perceived “American-ness”:

American soccer differentiated itself from the European game only because it had to. Italy could have played an attacking style at any point, but it chose not to until recently. In the 1950s, Brazil adopted an individualistic, talent-driven style, because they had five of the best forwards in the world on the same team. England typically has deployed a rough defensive style, relying on long balls, because it fit their talent pool. Likewise, American soccer has relied on physical prowess and lots of running, because that’s what you do when you don’t have the instincts and skills to be in the right place at the right time. The team developed its identity not to align with American ideals, but because it was not very good at soccer.

But we are getting better, and as a result we are evolving. Largely due to an influx of continental players, the U.S. team has options now and is reaching beyond its previous identity, the way a toddler goes from a crawl to a walk. It’s a natural progression of a growing, improving entity, and here again, it has very little to do with a national identity.

We are not that different from Europe, but we are very different from what we imagine ourselves to be. The German journalist Josef Joffe once said that America is “less a country [than a] canvas, a continent-size Rorschach blot, on which to project their own preoccupations.” His observation holds true for American soccer. We can look at the same manager and come to two diametrically opposed conclusions as to whether he is a representation of American ideals, because America is whatever you want it to be.

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The Leftovers

Time to wrap up WWW with this week’s pop culture segment.

I don’t know if Lost is my absolute favorite drama of all time. But it’s Top Three for sure, right up there with Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. I was on board with Lost from day one through the finale. I loved every second of it (with the exception of some of the middle parts of Season Three before the writers had set an end date for the show). As a result of my love of the show, I’ve been anticipating the new HBO drama The Leftovers for quite some time.

The Leftovers is based on the book by Tom Perrotta, and the show is being run by former Lost show runner Damon Lindleof. The show debuted last Sunday and….well…I don’t know how to feel about what I saw. Keeping this spoiler free, the premise of the show is that suddenly 2% of the world’s population just disappears in an instant. And nobody knows why. Was it the rapture? Was it something scientific? Was it something supernatural or alien? Nobody knows. And the show doesn’t really care, either.

You see, the show starts three years after the disappearances. Rather than focusing on the mystery of what happened, where those people are, and whether or not they’ll ever return, the show instead deals with those still living and how their lives have changed in dealing with the unexpected losses. The world of The Leftovers is dramatically different from the real world, but those still there try to masquerade their world as normal. To varying degrees and using dramatically different methods, everyone is just trying to cope.

And that’s where my issue with the show’s debut was. This was hands down the most wholly depressing pilot I have ever seen. I thought The Walking Dead was bleak, but that show has nothing on the soul-sucking emptiness of hope, happiness, and fulfillment we see in The Leftovers. There are no signs of redemption, no indicators that life is going to get better. In fact, there are clues that things are only going to get worse.

The show was directed by Peter Berg (of Friday Night Lights fame) and Lindleof and Perrotta are working together on the show’s script and direction. So there’s no reason this show shouldn’t be a success with those three guys leading the project. But I don’t know. I just don’t know if I can take a whole season of this show’s emptiness. I want to like this show, I really do. So I’m going to give it the whole season to win me over. But at some point I hope there is something to cling to. Some kind of chance for redemption for these characters. Otherwise, watching these zombie-like shells of human beings just wallowing their way through abject misery just might be a little too much even for me.

But I’d love to hear from you guys. If you watched the premiere, what did you think? Are you excited for more, or are feeling the same apprehension that I am? Let me know in the comments.

That’s it for me this week. I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July, and I’ll see you guys here next Tuesday!

I believe that we will win! Go USA!

 

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Footnotes:

  1. with the exception of a certain someone who I do not believe will really consider coming back []

According to AP report, the Cavaliers have traded Alonzo Gee

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On Thursday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers decided not to draft Joel Embiid, the center prospect with the fractured foot. However, that doesn’t mean the Cavaliers weren’t still in the market for acquiring other centers with fractured feet.

According to the AP, the Cavaliers traded much maligned Alonzo Gee to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Dwight Powell (who was taken with the 45th pick in Thursday night’s draft) and center Brendan Haywood. Powell was a first-team All-Pac 12 power forward for Stanford last season who possessed excellent athleticism and will try to bring a face up game to the Cavaliers. Haywood missed all of last season with a stress fracture in his foot.

As for Alonzo Gee, this ends his roller coaster time with the Cavaliers. Initially brought on as an undrafted free agent in 2010, Gee won over the team and many fans with his hustle, effort, and defensive ability. Gee carved out a role for himself on the team, playing 24 minutes per game his first season with the Cavs. But as expectations for Gee grew in Cleveland, his performance began to decline into a bit of an inconsistent period of frustration. After averaging over 30 minutes a night the previous season, Gee saw his minutes dwindle to around 15 per game under Mike Brown this past season.

Gee finishes his 4-year period in Cleveland averaging 8.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game.

[Related: Cavs draft sharp-shooting Joe Harris with No. 33 pick]

Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY

WFNY Roundtable: The Kipnis Contract

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The Cleveland Indians announced that they have signed All-Star 2nd Baseman Jason Kipnis to a 6-year $52.5 million contract extension. While on the surface it looks like a good deal for the Indians, Jacob had some questions about it, which led to the inevitable WFNY Roundtable. Enjoy!

[Read more...]

WFNY Roundtable – Reactions to the end of Banner and Lombardi

WFNY_roundtableNever a dull day in the life of covering Cleveland sports. With the news of Banner and Lombardi’s era coming to an abrupt end, we naturally had to have a quick roundtable discussion at WFNY to give our impressions and reactions to the news. Check out the conversation below: [Read more...]

Report: Browns select Mike Pettine as coach, working on contract today

According to Bleacher Report Browns columnist and local sports personality Will Burge, the Cleveland Browns have selected Buffalo Bills’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to be the new head coach of the Browns. Burge began a sequence of Tweets early Thursday morning with all the details:

 

 

 

Pettine, who was a linebackers coach for the Ravens before serving terms as defensive coordinator for the Jets and Bills, is 47 years old and this would be his first head coaching gig. While little may be known about Pettine among many Browns fans, Pettine seems to be well thought of in New York and Buffalo as well as by coaches and analysts throughout the NFL. The question remains, of course, whether he will be able to succeed where Rob Chudzinski failed and last longer than 11 months on the job.

MLB Rumors: Indians possible destination for Joaquin Benoit and Shawn Marcum

As MLB’s Winter Meetings wind down, the Indians have been mentioned as possible landing spots for two free agent pitchers. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Cleveland is one of five teams likely to land reliever Joaquin Benoit, whose closer role in Detroit will likely be subsumed by Joe Nathan in 2014.

Meanwhile, Jasyon Stark of ESPN notes that the Indians are one of three teams showing particular interest in starter Shawn Marcum.

Marcum is coming off a rather severe injury that significantly limited his performance in 2013 with the New York Mets, but could represent the sort of “bounce back” rotation role that Scott Kazmir personified last season.

More if/when/as this develops.

[Related: Francona on Masterson: “He’s not going anywhere”]

NFL News: Cleveland Browns Audition Three Running Backs

After the Cleveland Browns traded Trent Richardson following Game 2 of the season, they added Willis McGahee to take his place. The results of that pickup have been less than overwhelming, as McGahee has rushed for 262 yards on 100 carries with 1 TD. With the aging McGahee being the only thing standing between the Browns being without a featured back, it would make sense that the team would be keeping an eye on the free agent pool for potential help. Especially as the Browns suddenly find themselves in contention once more.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, the Browns are doing just that:

None of the 3 RBs were signed, but obviously the Browns are continuing to keep their options open at RB.

The Browns travel to Cincinnati this Sunday to face the Bengals with a chance to draw even in the loss column.

[Related: Redemption Song: Davone Bess’ bounce-back]

Cleveland Browns News: Quentin Groves Out For Season

Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski announced Monday that outside linebacker Quentin Groves needs to have surgery on his injured ankle and will be placed on Injured Reserve, thus ending his 2013 season.

Groves came to Cleveland from Arizona along with Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton. A natural leader and someone with experience in Horton’s system, Groves was looked to as someone that could help the Browns’ linebackers with the transition from 4-3 to 3-4. Groves initially injured his ankle in week 2 and the injury has slowed his productivity all year and kept him off the field for much of it.

Groves will end the year with 4 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble in the limited action he was able to see on the field.

[Related: Cleveland Browns Film Room: Blitzing the Ravens]

NFL News: Browns LB Sheard doubtful for Week 4, could miss several weeks

In week 3 against the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns DE-turned-LB Jabaal Sheard was having yet another strong game before having to leave with a leg injury. Now his sprained knee may not only keep him out of week 4′s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, but it could also see him missing a couple weeks.

From the AP’s Tom Withers:

With Sheard likely missing the Bengals game, Browns rookie LB Barkevious Mingo could make his first NFL start. Sheard has 13 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble on the season. Mingo comes in with 6 tackles and 2 sacks.

Withers also reported that QB Brandon Weeden, LB Quentin Groves, and DL Billy Winn are all out for Week 4 as well.

[Related: Joe Thomas sets the bar for offensive line with 100th consecutive start]

NBA News: Cleveland Cavaliers sign PG Matthew Dellavedova

According to Jason Lloyd, the Cleveland Cavaliers have signed undrafted free agent PG Matthew Dellavedova to a two year contract. The deal is worth $1.3 million, although only a small portion of it is guaranteed for this season.

This deal doesn’t guarantee the former St Mary’s PG a spot on the roster, as the Cavaliers can buy out the guaranteed portion of his contract. But it does probably at least give him a leg up on the competition and give him a better shot than usual. Dellavedova was one of the more intriguing players on the Cavaliers’ Summer League team and is now looking to make the Cavs roster as a 3rd PG.

Training Camp for the Cavaliers will open in October.

[Related: Behold: Tristan Thompson 2.0]

NBA Draft News: Russian Sergey Karasev not holding workouts for NBA teams

Yesterday ESPN’s Chad Ford released his NBA Mock Draft 4.0. In it, he had the Cleveland Cavaliers drafting Nerlens Noel with the #1 overall pick. For the Cavaliers’ 2nd first-round pick at #19 overall, he had the Cavaliers looking to Russia for their pick, in the form of the 19 year old international sensation Sergey Karasev, writing:

If the Cavs grab Noel at No. 1, look for them to add a small forward or shooter with their second first-round pick. Karasev is interesting. His performance in Vegas on Friday wasn’t stellar thanks to some jet lag, but scouts are very high on him at the moment.

He has the size to play both wing positions, is a terrific shooter, has a high basketball IQ, and at 19, already has significant professional experience averaging 18.4 PPG in the Russian League. A few scouts compare him to smaller version of Toni Kukoc. Karasev could go as high at No. 9 to the Wolves but would be a great get here by the Cavs.

While a lot of teams are rumored to have serious interest in Karasev, the expectation was that he would be making the rounds and holding private workouts with many of the interested teams. However, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowksi is now reporting that Karasev is going back to Russia and will not return for workouts with any team prior to the draft:

Sergey Karasev has returned to Moscow until the NBA draft in late June, fueling speculation among front-office executives that a team has given the Russian teen star a strong first-round guarantee, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Karasev’s representatives, Andy Miller and Justin Zanik, began to inform teams on Tuesday that Karasev, a sharp-shooting 6-foot-7 forward, will not be made available for any private workouts prior to the June 27 draft, league sources said.

Most NBA teams wanted to get Karasev into their facilities for closer inspection, but none will get the opportunity.

So are the Cavaliers the team who gave the guarantee? There are no indications who the team is that gave Karasev the guarantee, and certainly no clues or signs that point to Cleveland. However, using history as a guide, a move like this wouldn’t be out of character for the Cavaliers.

Cavalier GM Chris Grant was on Danny Ferry’s staff back in 2006 when Ferry masterfully got Daniel Gibson to cancel workouts in an effort to get him to slide to the team with their first pick in the 2nd round. Mike Brown was also the coach at the time, so the team certainly has experience using the pre-draft guarantee to try to get what they want. Furthermore, we know that Chris Grant is comfortable drafting players without holding workouts for them. Last season he drafted Dion Waiters despite the fact the Cavaliers never once had Dion in for workouts.

None of this is to say the Cavaliers are the team who is trying to get Karasev. Instead, this is just pointing out that it falls within their method of operations, and so they certainly have to be considered as one of the teams who would more realistically be inclined to make this kind of move. We’ll have to wait until draft night to see how everything plays out.

[Related: DeMarcus Cousins rumors fading, so what's next for Cavs?]

Report: Otto Porter under consideration for first pick

While we now know the Cavaliers have the top pick in this year’s draft, we still have to wait until June 27 to find out what they do with the pick. While most pundits and analysts have Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel circled in as the pick, we know from experience that Cleveland Cavaliers GM Chris Grant doesn’t make his picks based on what the “consensus” says is the right move.

With that being said, and with so many options in front of the Cavaliers, expect to hear a lot of rumors about different scenarios, trades, players, etc being considered with the first pick. So it’s not surprising then that the Washington Post’s Michael Lee is hearing Otto Porter’s name being brought up:

Porter is currently preparing for the June 27 NBA draft at McDonough gym at Georgetown and will likely work out for the top three or four teams in the lottery. At 6-feet-8 and with a 7-1 wingspan, Porter stands out as an obvious choice at No. 3 for Washington. He would fill a need small forward, has local ties and a skill set that would mesh well with Wall and Beal.

But there is a possibility that Porter, arguably the most NBA-ready player among the top prospects, might not be around when the Wizards pick third. A source with knowledge of the Cavaliers’ thinking said Porter is under consideration to go No. 1.

We all know the Cavaliers want to trade this pick if possible. They also know Washington wants Porter. So it makes sense to float Porter’s name out there as the guy you want to pick. Ideally this would motivate teams to want to make trades to position themselves better to get the player they want. So yes, Otto Porter is “under consideration” with the top pick. Along with a lot of other players.

[Related: Dan and Nick Gilbert continue to defy the odds]

Joe Banner: “We’ll be a quality, competitive team pretty quickly.”

Despite Grantland’s Chuck Klosterman struggling to get a sit-down interview with Joe Banner over Draft Weekend, Clark Judge, CBS Sport’s senior NFL analyst, was able to sit down with Cleveland Browns’ CEO Joe Banner and talk about the rebuilding project of the Browns.

In what was a, frankly, candid interview, Banner refused to shrink under the weight of the massive job that lies in front of him. In fact, Banner was exceedingly confident that he will not fail in his duty:

Q: Five years from now what are we going to be saying about Joe Banner and the Cleveland Browns?

Banner: “Hopefully, you’re not focused on Joe Banner. But I think you’ll feel the Browns are where they’re supposed to be. It’s an iconic NFL franchise that has a rich tradition and fans that deserve success. To me, it’s a three-legged stool: You have on-the-field performance; you have charity and a commitment to community; and you have the whole fan experience element of running these teams. I think people will look at this franchise and feel we’re doing all of those very well.”

Q: But talk about a daunting challenge. Aren’t you basically trying to raise the Titanic?

Banner: “This is a big challenge. I’ve sold people on coming here on the basis that we have a chance to create one of the most compelling turnarounds of any sports franchise in the country. And I think that’s how we’re thinking about it. Some people may be intimidated by that, but we’re actually excited by it.”

Banner also had some strong remarks about the failures of his predecessors:

Q: I’ve heard talk about a 3-5-year program, but Browns fans are sick of more long-term pledges. So what should people know about what you’re doing here, and how soon should they expect to have a winning franchise?

Banner: “I think it’s going to be obvious so that once we get playing, they won’t need to ask the question. I think they’ll see improvement immediately, though nobody realistically thinks we’re ready to win a Super Bowl. And, at the risk of crossing the line, there have been a lot of people here over a lot of years who talked about long-term plans, but I haven’t seen anybody who actually implemented that. They’ve been filling needs year by year, sometimes with expensive players who aren’t that good. Everybody talked about a long-term plan, but when’s the last time the team traded for a future draft pick? When’s the last time the team said, ‘We may not have position ‘X’ with the best player this year because there’s nobody in the marketplace who’s that good, and we don’t want to waste all the future cap money just so we win six games instead of five?’ So there’s been a lot of cheap talk about long-term plans here, and I’m not talking last year. You go back 15 years through different administrations. They all have basically been trying to win now.”

Whether Banner will find success where others have failed remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Joe Banner is going to approach this process with a confidence and a straightforward approach that seems to differentiate itself from what Browns fans have seen before. The results should speak for themselves on the field.

[Related: Cleveland Browns to release QB Thaddeus Lewis]

NBA Trade Rumor: Cavaliers and Grizzlies working on deal for Leuer and Speights

EDIT: It appears this trade is agreed upon and just waiting for league approval.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies are in talks on a deal that would see Jon Leuer sent to Memphis and Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, and Josh Selby coming to Cleveland. Per Windhorst, draft picks would also be included in the deal.

The Grizzlies have been trying to rid themselves of some salary, and this deal would certainly help them with that. Speights is making $4.2 million this year and will make $4.515 million next season. Wayne Ellington is making $2.083 million this year and will be a restricted free agent after this season. Jon Leuer is making $762,195 this season and will have a qualifying offer to become a restricted free agent after this year.

As for the talent impact, well, there’s not much. Speights is a solid offensive big man and a decent enough rebounder, but his defensive woes will fit in a little too nicely on the Cavaliers. He’s averaging 6.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in 14 minutes per night. Ellington gives the Cavaliers some outside shooting that they do lack, but has never really developed as Minnesota or Memphis had hoped. He is shooting 42.3% from three point range this season.

[Related: Halfway Home: Cavaliers' Stats and Trends]

NCAA Basketball News: Ohio State Revises Coach Thad Matta’s Contract

While this season has been a bit of an up and down year for the Ohio State men’s basketball team, their head coach Thad Matta is still being rewarded with a revised contract that sees a boost to his annual salary. According to Rusty Miller of the Associated Press, the new contract will see him receive a 10% bump to his salary (bringing him to over $3.2 million per year) including academic bonuses.

Additionally, the contract also revises some language regarding NCAA violations. The contract now requires Matta to report anyone who “may potentially have violated NCAA rules”. The new wording is presumed to be an effort by OSU to avoid some of the ambiguities that made negotiations with Jim Tressel a little trickier in the wake of the email coverup scandal that ultimately cost the coach his job.

Thad Matta is now under contract with Ohio State through July 2019.

[Related: Meltdown In Game’s Final Minute Spoils Deshaun Thomas Show]

NFL News: Cleveland Browns Hire Michael Lombardi as VP – Player Personnel

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter via Twitter, the Cleveland Browns have hired NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi as VP of Player Personnel. Initially Schefter reported that Lombardi was hired as GM of the Browns, but shortly updated his report to say Lombardi’s title will be VP – Player Personnel.

The Cleveland Browns have since confirmed the hire and have announced an 11:30 am press conference where Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner will officially announce Lombardi’s addition to the front office.

This will be Lombardi’s 2nd stint with the Browns, as he previously worked as a scout from 1987 to 1989, before taking over as Pro Personnel Director until 1993. His most recent tenure was with the Oakland Raiders where he spent 8 years in the personnel department from 1999 to 2007. He has since been working as an analyst for NFL Network.

[Related: NFL Rumors: Arizona's Ray Horton Potentially Landing In Cleveland]

When it Comes to NBA Trades It’s Not What You Ask For That Matters, It’s What You Get

Chris Grant“It was much pleasanter at home, when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn’t gone down the rabbit-hole – and yet – and yet – it’s rather curious, you know, this sort of life!”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Following NBA trade rumors often feels like a journey down Alice’s infamous rabbit-hole. We talk about this every season, but rumors are ubiquitous to NBA life. Agents and GMs leak information to trusted sources, often with an agenda in mind. What this means to the casual NBA fan sitting at home is that they are usually reading half truths that border on propaganda. Well intentioned beat writers and national scribes are frequently used as a medium to send a message to the other party in negotiations as well as to try to control the message that is being sent to the fans.

This isn’t to say NBA writers do a bad job or are somehow unaware of the game that’s being played. Far from it. It’s a give and take relationship in which a lot of good, solid, quality information is given to reporters to build rapport and trust. It’s just that every now and then a slight half truth might get slipped in there and nobody knows the difference. [Read more...]

Sources: Cavaliers Have Drummond Ranked Higher Than Barnes?

While things have quieted down a bit in recent days with the rumors of the Cavaliers going after Andre Drummond in the draft, it’s possible this could be exactly what the Cavaliers want everyone to think.

The general assumption has been that the Cavaliers are targeting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal, and Harrison Barnes at #4, but according to ProBasketballDraft.com’s Joe Kotoch, that might not be the case. In reality, Drummond might be higher than Barnes. Kotoch writes:

Per sources Cleveland covets Michael Kidd-Gilchrist but seem less inclined to deal with Charlotte to acquire him.  After Kidd-Gilchrist the Cavs brass appears to have it ranked Beal, Drummond, Barnes, and Robinson but that their final draft board will not be set until next week.  The UCONN center arrives in Cleveland this week and it will be an interesting workout as Cleveland has been very hushed about their feelings on him.  Looking historically at Cavs GM Chris Grant he prefers to draft athletic prospects with high upside whenever possible as evidenced by J.J. Hickson, Christian Eyenga, and Tristan Thompson.  Grant was the assistant GM but in charge of the draft and ranking the Cavs board at the time Hickson and Eyenga were selected.  It would not be a shock to see the Cavs pull the trigger on Drummond as the Cavs, who could have as much upside as any player in this draft.  Sources in Cleveland do concede if the Cavs were to select Drummond the rest of the draft would be centered on finding perimeter scoring with their remaining picks.

Kotoch also notes that the Cavaliers have been extremely active in trying to trade with New Orleans, Portland, and Houston to see about getting one of the 10th, 11, 14th, or 16th picks in this draft. If the Cavaliers do take Drummond at #4 and trade back up in the first round, potential targets would likely include Jeremy Lamb, Dion Waiters, Terrence Ross, Austin Rivers, Moe Harkless, and Perry Jones.

The draft is just 10 days away, so expect plenty of rumors like this to be coming fast and furious over the next week and a half.

[Related: Cavaliers' Plans at #4 Need Not Include a Center]

Report: Former Buckeye Greg Oden Undergoes Additional Microfracture Surgery

Undergoing what was supposed to be a procedure to clear debris resulted in yet another microfracture surgery in the left knee of former Ohio State center Greg Oden.

Reported by the Associated Press, the procedure performed in Vail, Colorado established that there had been additional damage sustained by the 7-footer’s left knee. The first-overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft, Oden has now had three microfracture surgeries, this latest being the second on this specific knee. The selection, and subsequent misfortune, of Oden will likely go down along side the Blazers selecting Kentucky center Sam Bowie ahead of North Carolina’s Michael Jordan in 1984.

Agreeing to a one-year deal prior to the 2011-12 season, it was hoped that Oden could see the floor for the Portland Trailblazers, but two separate set-backs have derailed his return. Oden, who has not played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009, has appeared in 82 career games for the Blazers, averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds.

[Related: Varejao’s Injury Changes Cavs Outlook]