July 26, 2014

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

Browns show interest in DL Alex Carrington, another former Pettine player

Carrington

The Browns once again are showing interest in another one of new head coach Mike Pettine’s former players, this time Bills’ defensive lineman Alex Carrington. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com is reporting both the Browns and the Rams have shown interest in the former third round pick.

Carrington averaged 52 snaps a game in just three games for the Bills last season before suffering a season ending injury to his quad. The 26 year old product of Arkansas State was just starting to find his legs in Mike Pettine’s defense before having his season ended. The Bills valued both Carrington’s ability to play defensive end in their base defense as well as get after the passer in nickel and sub packages.

Many around Buffalo believed the Bills would try to resign Carrington this off season, an idea that seemed to fit well with Carrington himself.

Describing his situation in Buffalo, Carrington told Mark Gaughan of The Buffalo News, “It’s the perfect defense for me and everything. I love the community.”

With the Browns hiring of Mike Pettine, the defense Carrington felt was perfect for him has now relocated a few hours west in a community very similar to the one Carrington loved in Buffalo.

[Related: NFL Free Agency Notebook: First Impressions]

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”]

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?]

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...]

Report: Browns targeting John Pagano for DC

Looks possible that Norv Turner may not be the only former Chargers coach joining Rod Chudzinski in Cleveland. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports:

Ohio.com’s Nate Ulrich adds:

Pagano was a defensive coordinator for the first time during the 2012 season. The Chargers ranked 24th with 326.4 yards allowed per game and 17th with 21.9 points allowed per game.

On Friday, Chudzinski, an offensive coach, and CEO Joe Banner indicated they like hybrid defenses that use 3-4 and 4-3 alignments, but the defensive coordinator will ultimately decide the type of scheme the Browns use. The Browns have used a 4-3 system for the past two seasons under defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, who’s not expected to return.

Pagano ran a 3-4 base defense in San Diego, but the Chargers also used multiple looks. Outside linebackers would often move up to the line and get into a three-point stance to create a four-man front.

Pagano is the younger brother of Colts coach Chuck Pagano.

[Related: WFNY Debate: Do NFL coaches even matter?]

Rumor: Browns could bring back Derek Anderson

Browns fans, you might have to un-burn your Derek Anderson jerseys, WEWS Mike Cairns reporting that new head coach Rod Chudzinski may bring Derek Anderson back to Cleveland. From late Friday:

and from Saturday afternoon:

But it’s not just Cairns. ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi tweeted:

Anderson, 29 (the same age as Brandon Weeden. YAY), played for Chudzinki in Carolina last season, appearing in two games and completing all four of his pass attempts. Anderson’s last season as a starter was in 2010, when he threw for 2,065 yards with seven TDs and ten interceptions for the Arizona Cardinals.

[Related: Derek Anderson Still Doesn't Think It's Funny on Twitter

 

 

Trading Anderson Varejao Still Doesn’t Make Sense for the Cavaliers

So here we are again. Another season, another never ending stream of talk about the Cleveland Cavaliers trading Anderson Varejao.

It’s not surprising. Exhausting? Sure. But not surprising. Any time you’re a young, rebuilding team and you have a top level player in his prime, it’s only natural that there will be speculation about trading him. To many, Anderson Varejao is nothing more than an asset. That’s an unfortunate way of looking at one of the most valuable players in the NBA.

Look, I get it. We all know top free agents don’t sign in Cleveland. The Cavaliers can’t keep drafting in the top 5. Eventually they have to start getting better. And when that happens, the draft will become much more difficult to add difference making talent to the team. That will leave trades as the primary way of improving the roster. So the thought is, why not trade Anderson Varejao while he’s still in his prime. He’ll never get more on the market than he will today.

That’s true. All of it. Good, sound reasons for trading Varejao. The problem is, there’s absolutely no return on investment in trading Varejao now. The Cavaliers will never, ever replace Varejao’s value to the team because players like Varejao are extraordinarily rare. [Read more...]

Acquiring Andrew Bynum Might be Cavaliers’ One Shot at Building a Title Contender

An actual young All-Star could be Kyrie Irving’s teammate for the future.

There’s a story I remember from my childhood. It involves a man who is living in his house on the bank of a river. One day, a storm begins to build up strength and the rains begin to pour down. The newscaster on TV interrupts programming to warn those living on the river to evacuate because of the risk of flood. The man thought to himself, “God will surely deliver me from this flood.”

The rain continued to pour down and the water began to rise. The man had to move to his 2nd floor balcony as the first floor was now completely submerged. A neighbor who happened to have a boat was driving through the area looking for people who were stranded. He saw the man on his balcony and brought the boat over to offer him help escaping. “Thank you, but I don’t need your help,” said the man. “God will surely deliver me from this flood.”

The rain continued to fall and the water continued to rise. By now, the man had moved to his roof as the water had overtaken the 2nd floor of his house. A rescue helicopter was flying over the houses looking for people to rescue. Seeing the man on his roof, the helicopter sent a rescue diver down to get the man. “Thank you for offering, but I don’t need your help,” the man told the diver. “God will surely deliver me from this flood.” [Read more...]

Rumors of Cavaliers Involvement in Dwight Howard Trade Heat Up Again

According to NBA sources, the Cleveland Cavaliers are once again thought to be involved in a potential Dwight Howard trade. This time, the Cavaliers would theoretically be landing Lakers big man Andrew Bynum.

According to ESPN.com’s Ric Bucher:

The Cavaliers would land Lakers center Andrew Bynum for a package of draft picks and veteran power forward Anderson Varejao, according to one league source. The Lakers would receive Howard for Bynum. Orlando would get Varejao and draft picks. The source said this was merely the framework of a deal being discussed.

Obviously we’ve heard rumors like this before, so this isn’t exactly new territory being covered. But for what it’s worth, it sounds like there’s some smoke to this fire. Which, of course, means nothing is probably going to happen.

For the Cavaliers, though, it’s a chance to pair a top 5 PG in Kyrie with a top 2 center in Bynum. It’s a core that you have to believe you can build around and, frankly, gives you 2/3s of your own Big 3. It’s a risky trade for Cleveland and it throws a wrench in the rebuilding plan, but it’s probably a risk that makes too much sense to pass on for Cleveland.

Again, assuming these rumors are true.

[Related: Summer League Thoughts: On Dion Waiters, His Struggles, and More]

Wojnarowski: Cavaliers Out of the Dwight Howard Trade Situation

Much of the past couple days have been spent focusing on the potential 3-4 team trade to get Dwight Howard from Orlando to Brooklyn. The Cleveland Cavaliers were expected to be the 3rd team involved in the trade, looking to acquire Kris Humphries and a first round pick for their troubles.

According to Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski, though, the Cavaliers are no longer involved in the trade discussions:

Not only is Cleveland out, but it sounds as if the trade itself seems to be falling apart, with the Magic and Nets now trying to focus on a deal just between the two teams:

As always, the Cavaliers have not and will not comment on this trade. Despite some ridiculous speculation that the Cavaliers were looking to facilitate this trade to “stick it” to LeBron by creating another Eastern Conference power, the reality of the situation is the Cavaliers were merely looking to add assets for nothing. When it became clear, though, that Kris Humphries wanted a longer deal than the Cavaliers were comfortable giving him, the Cavaliers walked away from the table.

[Related: Irving, Waiters, Thompson and Zeller Headline Cavs’ Summer League Roster]

Morosi: Cleveland Indians Scouting Matt Garza

There’s still time before the Major League Baseball trade deadline comes, but that’s not stopping teams from trying to make impact moves prior to the All-Star Break. While there’s no doubt the Cleveland Indians could really use a right handed bat, they’ve already seen potential targets such as Kevin Youkilis and Carlose Lee traded to contenders. Does this mean the Indians might turn their focus instead to bolstering the pitching staff?

Perhaps. According to Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi, the Indians were among a handful of teams scouting the Chicago Cubs’ Matt Garza during his last start.

Morosi would go on to tweet that the Tigers have also had discussions with the Cubs and that the Cubs have been seen scouting the Tigers’ AA team for prospects.

For the season, Garza is 4-7 with a 4.32 ERA with an 86/29 K/BB ratio.

[Related: Indians 3, Rays 1: Tomlin Steps Up]

 

NBA Draft Rumors: Dion Waiters Might be a Target at No. 4

The NBA Draft is officially less than 18 hours away, which means the crazy back-and-forth rumors are only now just kicking into hyperspeed. Late Wednesday night, we got the latest of murmurs possibly affecting the Cavaliers’ plans at the No. 4 pick, courtesy of ESPN’s Andy Katz:

Syracuse’s Dion Waiters could be in play at No. 4 to Cleveland, according to those close to Waiters. That would shake up lottery a bit.

There’s a lot going on in that tweet, starting with the fact that the source is Waiters’ camp. I’m not sure exactly how I should respond to that as an informed fan, considering that initially seems like pure posturing on Waiters’ part, and no one elses.

However, Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski added more validity to the report with his post moments ago:

The Cavaliers haven’t been able to get Waiters to visit Cleveland for a workout and meeting with officials, but it hasn’t extinguished management’s ever-evolving fascination with choosing Waiters at No. 4 – especially if the Cavaliers are unable to secure Florida guard Bradley Beal.

Syracuse’s Dion Waiters has quickly climbed into the top half of the draft lottery. (Getty Images)
Cleveland has intensified its background checks on Walters, and sources in direct contact with Cavs officials believe Waiters would be the franchise’s choice over Kansas’ Thomas Robinson should the Charlotte Bobcats select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2, and the Washington Wizards take Beal at No. 3.

Twitter has been on fire late at night here with rumors about Cleveland’s possible new interest in the Syracuse scorer. With his name and Washington’s Terrance Ross’ bursting onto the NE Ohio spotlight over the last moments, this likely is just a sign of things to come by the time the draft finally is here at 7 p.m.

[Related: 2012 NBA Draft: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes and Growing Debates]

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]

NBA Playoffs Showing Cavaliers How Hard Building a Championship Team Really Is

Even with Kyrie Irving in place, the Cavaliers still have much work to do

With the NBA Finals drawing near, it’s only natural for fans of teams not currently playing basketball to look on from a distance, wondering what it must take to be one of the teams representing their conference in the Finals.

Make no mistake about it, the Cleveland Cavaliers are a very long way away from getting there. The first key component is in place. Kyrie Irving was everything the Cavaliers were hoping for, and more, in his rookie season, but when you consider the 4 Conference Finalists, it’s clear that much work needs to be done.

In the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder have Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden1 as part of their “Big 3”. The San Antonio Spurs featured Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.

The Eastern Conference Finals have their own clash of “Big 3s”. The Boston Celtics have the original Big 3 in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. Not to mention Rajon Rondo, who is currently better than any of the original Big 3. The Miami Heat have the most infamous Big 3 in the NBA with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. if you count Serge Ibaka in that group, they actually have a “Big 4” []

Buster Olney: Carlos Quentin a “perfect fit” for Indians

The Cleveland Indians offense might best be described as mercurial. Or perhaps unorthodox is a more fitting word. The Indians don’t hit a ton of home runs, they don’t hit well for average,  they’re in the bottom half of the American League in most offensive categories.

Yet they’re 4th in OBP, 1st in walks, and 1st in stolen bases. They’re manufacturing runs and generally trying to get the job done. However, a power right handed bat would seemingly be the perfect pick up for this offense. ESPN’s Buster Olney agrees and says in his latest column that Carlos Quentin would be a great trade deadline pickup for the Tribe:

Cleveland Indians: He would be a perfect fit in so many ways; Quentin is a right-handed hitter, which the Indians need desperately. But it would not be the Indians’ way to give up prospects for a short-term fix.

He’s right about that last point. Sure, the Indians gave up two top level pitching prospects last year for Ubaldo Jimenez, but that was because the Indians were hoping Ubaldo was hitting his prime and would be in Cleveland for several years. Quentin, a free agent at the end of the season, is currently making $7.03 million this season. Giving up prospect(s) for a several month rental is indeed very un-Indians like. However, if the Indians are still battling for first place and Quentin is viewed as a player who can put the team over the top, who knows how desperate the team will get to make the postseason for the first time since 2007.

[Related: Indians 4 Tigers 2: It's a Ubaldo Sighting!]

Cavaliers Shouldn’t Alter Rebuilding Path for the Sake of Making the Playoffs

The Cavaliers still should trade Sessions...for a first round pick

It’s funny to be sitting here a day before the NBA trade deadline and thinking about how a Cleveland trade would impact their own playoff hopes.

It’s true, though. That is the Cleveland Cavaliers’ reality. As of today, Cleveland is 1 game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. I don’t think anyone ever thought this would be an issue for Cleveland this soon, yet here we are.

With Anderson Varejao now having been out for a month, how did the Cavaliers get here? It’s really a combination of things. First, getting the 8 seed in the East is nothing special. The Cavaliers are 8 games under .500 and yet are 1 game out of the playoffs. If anything, these playoff aspirations are more about the pathetic nature of the Eastern Conference than about any perceived quality of the Cavaliers.

Were they in the Western Conference, the Cavaliers would be in 14th position, five and a half games behind 8th seed Houston. Rather than talking about how exciting the season is and having all this hyperbole about how incredible it is that Cleveland is in the playoff hunt, the talk instead would be just how far the Cavaliers have to go to be competitive with their Western Conference peers. [Read more...]

It’s a Shame, but the Cavaliers Need to Trade Ramon Sessions

Sessions' time in Cleveland may be ending soon

The first half of the NBA season is now complete for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They now will enjoy a nice 5 day break (except for Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, who will partake in some of the festivities in Orlando) for the All-Star Break. When they come back next Tuesday, they will play two games back to back nights, and then that is it for February.

It’s hard to believe March is right around the corner already, but even more surprising is how quickly the NBA trade deadline will be here. March 15 is just 21 days away, which means Chris Grant and company have just 21 days to decide the future for several players.

We’ve already debated trading Anderson Varejao, and Antawn Jamison is an obvious trade target due to his contract status. But the one player who the Cavaliers absolutely must trade is Ramon Sessions. It’s just too bad they have to do so.

There are actually a few decent reasons not to trade Sessions. The Cavaliers will probably never find a better backup PG than Sessions. You want to know a big reason why the Cavaliers are such a competitive team this year? It’s being able to have a player like Sessions fill in for Kyrie Irving when he goes to the bench. The losses of Anthony Parker and Daniel Gibson would have been much more brutal for the team if they didn’t have a versatile PG who could also coexist in the backcourt with Irving to trade off PG/SG roles. [Read more...]

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]