April 24, 2014

WFNY Roundtable: The Kipnis Contract

WFNY_roundtable
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!

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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]

Report: Packers Unlikely to Use Franchise Tag on Matt Flynn

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Green Bay Packers are likely to use their 2012 franchise tag on tight end Jermichael Finley rather than back-up quarterback Matt Flynn.

The Packers were reportedly considering using said tag on Flynn to allow for sign-and-trade possibilities, ultimately netting them at least one additional draft selection with the counterparty inking the quarterback to a long-term deal akin to that off Matt Schaub or, more recently, Kevin Kolb.

Flynn, 26, was on the radar of many heading into the final week of the season and saw his stock rise considerably following a 480-yard, six-touchdown Week 17 performance against the Detroit Lions.  He has been linked to the Browns as well as other quarterback-hungry franchises like the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins.

The one-year tender for Flynn would cost the Packers $14 million in guaranteed money.

[Related: What Would it Cost for Matt Flynn if He is Franchised?]

Report: Indians Will Not Pursue Manny Ramirez

Despite the ongoing search for a middle-of-the-order, power bat – one that is preferably right-handed – to help boost run production for the 2012 season, Cleveland Indians general manager Chris Antonetti reportedly went on record to say that the team will not look to add former Indians outfielder Manny Ramirez.

Ramirez decided to walk away from the game of baseball in 2011 after he failed drug test for the second time, opting to skip the season rather than face a 100-game suspension, penance that has since been reduced to 50 games due to something akin to “time served.” The 39-year old, oft-eccentric slugger recently told ESPN’s Pedro Gomez that he would like the chance to prove that he is a changed man.  “I don’t want to leave the game like I did,” said Ramirez. “I also want to show my kids that if you make a mistake, don’t quit. Just go back and fix it. And if you’re going to leave, leave the right way.”

Despite not having a season over .300 since 2008, Ramirez’ career batting average stands at .312 with an OPS of .996 with 555 home runs and 1,831 runs batted in.

Tom Withers of The Associated Press states that despite the team’s lack of Manny-related plans, the Tribe front office remains “aggressive” in their search for an offensive addition.  On Thursday afternoon, it was reported that the team has interest in veteran first baseman Carlos Peña, but was seeking approval and the requisite resources from ownership.

[Related: Report: Indians One Of Six Teams With Interest In Yoenis Cespedes]

On Character and the Future of Cleveland Teams

Over the course of the last few seasons of loss-littered sport within the city of Cleveland, the discussion of character, specific to those on the field of play, has been bantered about.

Case in point: The infamous 2009 NFL Draft wherein Eric Mangini opted for Alex Mack and Brian Robiskie over Rey Maualuga, and David Veikune over everyone else eligible for said draft, mostly due to their character. Motor, to be sure, but also character.  Or when, following the departure of one LeBron James, the Cavaliers were left in the hands of general manager Chris Grant, he of the Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Boris Diaw additions in Phoenix as well as the Kyrie Irving, Omri Casspi and Tristan Thompson additions in Cleveland. Brandon Phillips becomes a clubhouse cancer? His Gold Glove gets sent down 71-South.

The talk of “choir boys” or “convicts” typically represent the two character-based teams with the black and white argument leaving little room for the greys of the world. Up until they added Andy Dalton and AJ Green into the mix, the Cincinnati Bengals were notorious for their willingness to ignore off-field issues; Pacman Jones is the posterboy for such aggregious decisions. Same can recently be said for the New York Jets where, up until this past week, Rex Ryan’s willingness to place reward firmly ahead of risk was lauded and praised and writ large.  At least until the win-fueld music stopped and his Green and White cabal of underachievers are left standing, shoulders slouched and knees wrapped in ice, without a chair. [Read more...]