July 31, 2014

WFNY Roundtable: Should the Cavs trade for Kevin Love?

WFNY_roundtable

And you thought that the Cleveland Cavaliers were done with lightning-rod debates for the summer? No, my friend, they are just getting started.

During the four days since LeBron James’ letter, Twitter has been on fire with all sorts of takes on the potential for a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love. To get a sense of where we all stand, I asked my Waiting For Next Year colleagues for their brief responses to the current rumors. Stay tuned for more posts to come soon and share your thoughts in the comments.

Scott Sargent (@WFNYScott): This won’t make for great debate, but I somewhat feel that the Cavaliers—especially David Griffin—will be in a no-lose situation. The decision, reduced to its most simplest terms, comes down to winning more games sooner, or delaying potential dominance, but with the window open a bit longer. [Read more...]

Cavs land Andrew Wiggins, #CavsTwitter, USMNT and Jeremy Enigk… While We’re Waiting

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It’s my day so that means it’s Friday. It was a fun sports week guys, so let’s go!

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First of all HUGE shoutout to #CavsTwitter who put up with me last night at the draft party. I’m more a part of #BrownsTwitter but it was fun to hang with all the folks I knew going in and meet some new ones. There were too many people there to name, but I’ll let @WFNYBen do the honors for a few of the notables that fit in the initial 140 characters…

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So the Cavs drafted Andrew Wiggins and while I admittedly don’t know a lot, I’m happy today. It’s the first time in a while where we weren’t shocked by the Cavaliers’ selection. The Cavaliers have been surprising me with picks basically since after Kyrie Irving was selected. The smell wafting off the Cavaliers has been one of eccentricity or arrogance that they just knew better than everyone else. That’s pretty difficult to pull off way up at the top of the draft where the Cavs have been drafting for so long.

With that in mind, it’s very satisfying to think that the Cavaliers didn’t overthink the number one pick in the draft. It should be pretty easy to figure out who you want first, foremost and before anyone else’s plans are capable of getting in your way. I know you can still get it wrong and it’s easy to get paralyzed at times with big decisions, but that’s why you have big organizations of well-paid professionals. The Cavaliers came off like those kinds of professionals as opposed to trying too hard. After the most recent drafts, at least from an outsider, fan perspective to me that’s a good thing.

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I’m still glowing from the USMNT advancing to the knock-out stage of the World Cup. The USMNT did that in 2010 too when they were knocked out by Ghana 2-1 in the opening match of that stage. That was a big let-down in 2010 for me, but this year it seemed like such a bonus to escape the “Group of Death.” Now that the United States has drawn Belgium, my hope is that this team will actually start to play a little bit looser than they have so far. My goodness have they looked tight.

That’s part of playing in a tournament that isn’t single elimination though, I think. The team is interested in winning, of course, but it’s also a style of play that requires more situational awareness and game management. If you’re going to lose your opening game, for example, you need to pay attention to goal differential. A tie is not only possible, but not necessarily a bad outcome depending on the team you’re playing and who you’ve got upcoming in the rest of the group.

On Tuesday in the knock-out round that’s all over. Win or go home. Play smart, but don’t leave anything on the field because you might have to leave it there for the next four years until you get a chance to play again. As I said, the USMNT has seemed tentative and tight, so I’m hoping that making it out of the group is a relief and they really let their best play out. I truly think they can play better than what they’ve shown in any of the first three games of this World Cup. I hope we see the best of what they can be before they’re sent home.

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This is cool A guy charted out all the goals scored in the World Cup so far. I believe Jermaine Jones’ nice shot against Portugal was the seventh longest goal of the Cup so far.

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I didn’t have a great current music recommendation, so I thought I’d spotlight an amazing song that nobody knows about. Jeremy Enigk is one of my favorite songwriters. He was the singer from Sunny Day Real Estate and has carved out a nice solo career too. He did some songs for a relatively small film from 2003 called The United States of Leland. It starred Ryan Gosling and Kevin Spacey and Don Cheadle, but it was really a film that was independent in spirit. Anyway, Enigk wrote some songs that were in the film and were unavailable for purchase anywhere. I scored a promo copy of the film soundtrack including “Ballroom” somehow on eBay back in those days. Now, thanks to the magic of the Internet and YouTube that song is freely available for anyone to listen to. It’s really really beautiful and intense.

Sorry to end on a downer, but I just love that song so much and wanted to listen to it as I was writing my WWW. So that’s what you get. And as my son so eloquently repeats from his daycare school teachers to his daddy, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

Rumor: Tristan Thompson on the block this summer

David Griffin has not shied away from the fact that his roster is due for some significant retooling this offseason. One player that could be traded due to a lack of fit moving forward is fourth-year power forward Tristan Thompson. Joe Kotoch of Probasketballdraft.com reports that this is a very real possibility. His veteran post mentor going along with him could also happen.

The Cavaliers have a logjam in the post with Thompson, Varejao, Zeller, and Anthony Bennett all needing playing time. It’s also possible that the team could resign center Spencer Hawes. This frontcourt as currently constructed lacks size, shot-blocking presence, and defensive prowess. While Varejao is the team’s best low-post defender, he continues to struggle when guarding the more physical centers in the league. The Cavaliers likely need to get some more offensive skill and shot-blocking down low if they hope to become a more well-rounded team.

Thompson averaged 11.7 points and 9.2 rebounds this season in 31.6 minutes per contest while completing his second straight 82-game season. His only real improvement came at the foul line where he improved 61% to 69%. Aside from that, Thompson plateaued offensively as he adjusted to switching shooting hands in the offseason. It raised concerns about his long-term potential as a starter. It may be the case that Thompson’s ceiling is an energy first big off the bench. Thompson can be extended this offseason, but his current contract pays him $5.4 million this season with a qualifying offer of $7.2 million next season.  Varejao has struggled to stay healthy the past several years, but he has produced when on the floor. The 31-year-old Brazilian averaged 8.4 points and 9.7 rebounds on 49.5% shooting in 27.7 minutes in 65 games this season. He enters the final year of his contract set to earn $9.8 million, though there is a $4 million buyout on his deal that could serve as instant savings for a cap-strapped team.

Kotoch also added that the Cavaliers could be in on the Kevin Love sweepstakes in Minnesota as he is just one year from free agency. Any package the Cavaliers could put together would likely include both Thompson and Varejao along with draft picks and other assets. The Cavaliers currently have the 9th best odds heading into Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery and are most likely to end up with the 9th pick in a deeper draft than the past few years.

While Kotoch seems convinced the Cavaliers have enough ammunition, I’m not so sure. If a trade would take Waiters as well, it really strips down basically everything on this team not named “Kyrie Irving”. If the Cavs could pull off such a deal while holding onto their talented backcourt, it would be a huge success.

Related: History Repeating: Mike Brown takes the fall… again

Could Tristan Thompson be dealt?

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While everyone awaits the opening of the NBA’s contract extension window with regard to Cleveland and Kyrie Irving, the All-Star point guard’s teammate—and “buddy ball” partner—Tristan Thompson may very well find himself on the opposite end of that discussion.

In a recent chat on FOX Sports Ohio, NBA writer Sam Amico wrote that he believes Thompson will be dealt before the team would give him a contract extension.

Since we don’t know who the GM is yet, it’s tough to make an accurate call. To be quite honest, from everything I’m hearing, Tristan will get traded before he gets an extension with the Cavs.

Thompson, who was selected three picks after Irving in 2011, has played all 82 games in each of the last two seasons. While he experienced solid growth between his rookie and sophomore season, Thompson averaged a near-identical 11.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per contest in 2013-14. Switching his shooting hand, Thompson did see an 85-point increase in his free throw shooting, but he took a hit from the field where he shot just 47.7 percent. By all accounts, Thompson is a great teammate and a high-quality individual, but the 6-foot-9-inch power forward blocked just 0.4 shots per game and continues to hover around 108 in defensive rating.

Given how much frontcourt bodies make in today’s NBA, it can be reasonably expected that Thompson’s camp (he’s represented by LeBron James’ friend and agent Rich Paul) will be commanding a number that the team may not be willing to match. Given that the Cavaliers invested the first-overall pick a year ago in power forward Anthony Bennett, there is undoubtedly a safety net from a roster standpoint.

When the new CBA was inked, it was only a matter of time before the Cavaleirs’ lottery talent was going to be due for extensions. Hopes were, obviously, that the Cavs would be in a much better place when these decisions would have to be made. If anything, this all just adds another fold into what is looking to be a crazy summer for the Wine and Gold.

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Cavalier Offseason Wishlist: Frontcourt

spencer hawes grizzliesThis will be the first in a few posts from me about my post-season Cavalier thoughts. Before I dive in, be sure to check out the great work from Ben, Andrew, and Jacob in their varying post-season thoughts and breakdowns.

It was only this past weekend that I sat down and watched the majority of a NBA playoff game. That’s truly a shame for many reasons. First and foremost, we’re having a crazy bonkers playoffs thus far in terms of road teams winning, eight seeds with series leads over one seeds, multiple overtime games in the same series, and thrilling game-winners. The second reason is because for as much as NBA regular season ball has its warts from critics, the playoffs are everything you could ask for in most cases. It had me thinking back to the way I watched the playoffs from 2006-2010. I lived and died with every playoff game, not just those involving my team, because it all meant so much with a team chasing a title.

Well, back down here on planet Earth, the Cavaliers are not doing any such thing. While they improved by nine wins over last year, we all know that so much more was expected with the major additions that transpired. So, with the disappointing season finally over and with nearly two weeks to digest it, I offer the first installment of my offseason wishlist (at least at this point), with the hopes that I’m back to living and dying with every playoff game come next April.

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Cavs vs Magic Behind the Box Score: Signs of a fun April?

AP Photo/John Raoux

AP Photo/John Raoux

Talk about a boring game. But boring in the best way ever.

The Cavaliers were ready to play from the start in this one, and they never let up as they absolutely crushed the Magic by a 119-98 score. This one had a little bit of everything and everyone. Kyrie Irving came back and played well, Dion Waiters just kept doing what he’s been doing, Spencer Hawes had his best game in a while, and Tristan Thompson had a double-double. So yeah, it was a good game.

With every win the Cavaliers continue to keep the playoff hunt interesting. The Knicks and Hawks are virtually tied for the 8 seed, with the Cavs lingering just two games back. The Cavs’ chances would be a lot better if they were only chasing one team instead of two of them, but still, with six games left to play, this thing isn’t over yet.

Now lets look at a few numbers… [Read more...]

Cavs vs Raptors Behind the Box Score: One ugly way to win a game

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

The Cavaliers started out playing great basketball on both ends of the court. In the 3rd quarter they extended the lead to 18 points at 81-63. Then they turned the offense switch to the “Off” position, and with with just under 7 minutes remaining in the game, Greivis Vasquez hit a three point shot to put the Raptors up 95-94.

The Cavaliers would quickly take the lead back and would lead the rest of the way, but it took a little luck down the stretch. The Raptors missed a couple good looks and the Cavaliers held a three point lead with 12 seconds left. DeMar DeRozan then drove and was fouled by Alonzo Gee. DeRozan only made one of his two free throws and after a Cleveland timeout, the Cavaliers were inbounding at midcourt with 7 seconds left.

This is where the Cavaliers’ inbounding issues would strike yet again. First Luol Deng was handed inbounding duties, and when nobody was able to get open, he called a timeout. Then Varejao was given the job of inbounding, and once again with nothing really developing, he tried to throw it in to Deng along the baseline, but the ball sailed out of bounds. It looked like the refs missed a foul on the play, but regardless, its embarrassing that the Cavaliers still can’t operate an inbound play in late game situations.

Thankfully, though, the Raptors decided to return the favor with a bad turnover of their own on their last possession and the Cavaliers hung on for the 102-100 win over a playoff team in the East. The Cavaliers continue to play hard without Kyrie Irving, CJ Miles, or Anthony Bennett, it’s just a shame it’s happening now that the playoffs are but a minute possibility.

Now lets get into the numbers: [Read more...]

Spencer’s Gifts

HawesThunder

Turmoil often leads to reaction. You can attempt to rectify your prior poor decisions with new ones, but oftentimes this is analogous to doubling down at a blackjack table in hopes of catching a hot hand. We often expect things to simply work out. Our decisions that were, at the time, supported by well-thought and careful analysis are supposed to bear fruit. But when they don’t… Well, that’s when some point fingers and others lose their jobs.

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Cavs vs. Jazz Behind The Boxscore: A single triple double!

kyrietripledoubleIf the Cavaliers have done one thing consistently this season, it’s give fans anxiety with their inability to handle any sort of success. They came out in this home matchup against the Utah Jazz incredibly flat on offense and slow on defense. Then, the Utah Jazz started missing and they never stopped for the rest of the game. In the process of pulling away from the Jazz late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, Kyrie Irving inched closer and closer to a triple double. He finally got it, marking the first Cavalier to do so since LeBron James in 2010. With the 99-79 win, the Cavaliers have won two straight as they prepare for a trip to Memphis tomorrow night while still incredibly short-handed. Here’s a look at some of the easy on the eyes stats from this big win.

48 – Irving was the star of this game, but the Cavalier frontline deserves equal credit. Those two elements combined to the tune of 48 points in the paint for the Cavs, completely dominating that category 48-22. Tyler Zeller continues to confidently cut to the basket and finish strong, and Spencer Hawes’s spacing has opened up more driving lanes for Kyrie (more on Hawes in a second). No one has confused the Cavaliers for being a team that consistently takes it strong into the paint, but that improved spacing is reducing the number of blocked shots (just six for Utah tonight) as the defense collapses. The 22 points allowed in the paint (on 11-of-25 shooting) is probably even more impressive with the Cavs closing off the paint and making the shots that did occur in there a higher degree of difficulty. Which leads quite well into…. [Read more...]

Your Post-Trade Deadline Cleveland Cavaliers Viewing Guide

Wut

Because masochism isn’t for everyone

I hate winter.

Seriously.

I woke up today at 7:00 a.m., barely able to breath for the fifth straight day. I spent the next two minutes trying to vacate my nasal cavity of what I suspect was approximately a fetrick muckton of the crustiest boogers known to man. I then turned towards the window directly adjacent to my bathroom sink and peeped through the closed blinds to see that once again it had snowed overnight.

[Insert barely coherent mumbled obscenities here]

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Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski writes about how the Cavs lost their way

Chris Grant Cavaliers RookiesLiterally minutes after the Cavaliers sealed a rare three-game winning streak on Tuesday night, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski decided to rain on Cleveland’s parade and release an article about what he’d dug on a seemingly dysfunctional Chris Grant regime.

Wojnarowski is the most well connected NBA writer out there and he tends to be the one to break most of the major news that hits The Association. It’s not often though that he decides to expound further on NBA events beyond dropping #WojBombs on Twitter. So when such a well informed writer decides to go more in-depth about your favorite franchise, it’s hard not to pay close attention.

Some of the most interesting claims he makes in the article are:

  • Despite the league-wide acclaim for interim GM David Griffin, owner Dan Gilbert is going to search far and wide for a replacement this summer. That doesn’t mean Griffin is out of the running though.
  • There was belief among the Cavs organization that Grant had not scouted Jonas Valancinunas well enough before the 2011 draft. Though most of the Cavs personnel department wanted Valanciunas, Grant used the fact that the player’s agent, Leon Rose, would not negotiate a buyout agreement with his European club before they knew where he would be drafted. Thus, that was his justification to select the player he wanted in Tristan Thompson.
  • Grant passed on Andre Drummond in the 2012 draft over concerns that a Tristan Thompson-Andre Drummond frontcourt would not be offensively compatible.
  • Kyrie Irving pushed hard to have his “close friend” Harrison Barnes drafted by the Cavs in 2012.
  • Grant had been attempting to trade Dion Waiters before he was fired.
  • Klay Thompson was discussed for the No. 4 pick in the 2011 draft by the Cavs, but Grant believed he could move back into the lottery and snag him later.
  • The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft was between Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett.
  • If Bennett had not been selected by the Cavs, then he would have fallen somewhere around the No. 10 spot in the lottery.
  • Bennett loved making late-night pizza runs at UNLV which was a contributing factor to his weight problem.

I take qualms with some of the opinions expressed in the article such as Victor Oladipo being the “perfect two-way player to complement Kyrie” and that Anthony Bennett is a “colossal failure” considering no one in this draft class has colored themselves in glory. Plus, Bennett hasn’t been given a ton of opportunities. Nonetheless, the sourced information is fascinating and a must-read for any Cavs fan.

[Related: David Griffin: Next Man Up]

Photo: Joshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer

New Cavs GM will have the tools in place to rebuild properly

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From the first day Chris Grant took his office as the general manager of the Cavaliers, the buzz word on everybody’s lips was “assets.” As Investopedia describes it, “assets are bought to increase the value of a firm or benefit the firm’s operations.” At the time Grant took over general manager duties for the Cavaliers, the franchise had just lost the biggest asset they’d ever had (or anyone had ever had) in LeBron James. And since there was no other asset attainable on the market of the caliber of LeBron, Chris Grant went into asset collection mode. The notion was the more assets you gather, the more flexibility you have as a franchise. [Read more...]

Cavs vs Rockets Behind The Box Score: If the Cavs lose and no one notices, does it count?

Mike BrownHeading into this latest Cavs game, the season appeared to be as low as could be. After a week of drama and speculation, a New York Daily News report centered on Luol Deng comments painted the team as an absolute mess.

Over in Houston on Saturday night, the final result wasn’t that terrible after all, somewhat. Heck, the Rockets have won two-thirds of their games this season, so this could have been much, much worse. The final score read 106-92. It was a wee bit close for a few minutes midway through the third quarter, but that was about it. The Rockets are a much better team.

During a 33-12 rally by the Cavs that intersected halftime, they looked very solid, especially offensively. Small victories! But at half, only three Cleveland players even scored more than two points: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Luol Deng. Those were the three players with notable efforts, really. The Rockets are just too good, too talented and too efficient in their schemes. It wasn’t really that competitive. Yikes. [Read more...]

The Diff: How the Cavs lost momentum during home losses

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about C.J. Miles’ oddly impressive plus-minus data. This week, I’m logging terrible recent runs against the Cavaliers.

The Diff

This Cleveland Cavaliers season has not gone according to plan. That’s the understatement of the year. Heading into this five-game home stand, the team appeared to be turning a corner. With Luol Deng in tow, they were 4-2, including a very solid five-game road swing. But with just one win – against the NBA’s worst team – over the past nine days, the Cavs season has perhaps hit its crescendo. And these losses weren’t just any boring defeat; no, they went down in the most Cleveland way possible. [Read more...]

Cavalier Film Room: Too much help-side and three point consequences

When we last convened in the film room, I was breaking down the offensive rebounding of Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao, aka “The Windex Duo”. As always if you have any suggestions for film room topics, you can reach me at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNY Cavaliers Film Room

Today, we’re going to be talking about help-side defense and what happens when players help too much. Specifically, we’re going to take a look at several wide open three-point looks the Suns got on Sunday night and how these could have been much better contested with proper defensive floor balance. Let’s go ahead and dive into the evidence.

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Behind The Boxscore Cavs vs. Suns: Watch That Third Quarter Step, It’s a Doozy!

BtBS Suns

Wow. At halftime, I was expecting to talk about one of the more glowing wins of the season from both ends of the floor. The Cavaliers shot 55% from the field in that half. They were cutting without the basketball toward the basket, setting effective picks for one another, knocking down mid-range shots, and sharing the offensive workload as well as they have all season. Defensively, the Suns were settling for shots, and the Cavaliers were forcing turnovers and playing inspired as one unit. With a 18-point lead, the Cavaliers could do no wrong heading into the locker room at the half, and then came the third quarter. We should have known better. The Cavs lost it all and then some, and they got doubled up in the second half as they dropped their third game of the five-game homestand 99-90.

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Cavs vs. Bucks Behind The Box Score: A sweet honest-to-goodness victory

BtBS Bucks

Don’t you wish the Cavs could play the Milwaukee Bucks every night? Friday night felt like a beautiful dream compared to the rest of this dreadful half of a season.

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Cavs vs. Nuggets Behind The Box Score: Road trip ends on a high note

brown nuggetsThere’s no denying that this was a monster victory, likely the best of the season.

To complete a five-game Western Conference road trip, the Cleveland Cavaliers just beat the West’s hottest team. A 42-point second quarter led the way for a 117-109 victory over in Denver against a Nuggets squad that was 6-1 in their last seven games.

Entering the road swing, the Cavs were just 2-15 on the road all season. They finished the trip with a 3-2 record, more than doubling their previous total of road wins.

Tristan Thompson had a very efficient offensive night while the Cavs bigs dominated again against the Nuggets. The guards led the way early on. Overall, it was a great performance as the team heads into the holiday weekend. [Read more...]

Comparing national and local perspective of the Cavs and Browns – Cleveland Scene’s Sam Allard and Andrew Zelman – WFNY Podcast – 2013-01-13

WFNY Podcast LogoToday I wanted to talk about the national and local perspective of the Cavs and the Browns. It feels so paranoid, angry and negative locally, but that also can sometimes feel accurate. In various cases, that perspective is backed up nationally. So what’s the right perspective?

I talked to Cleveland Scene’s new owner Andrew Zelman and on of Scene’s many resident sports fans, Sam Allard.

You should follow these guys on Twitter as well.

Andrew Zelman is @AZFromCleveland

Sam Allard is @SceneSallard

Check out this episode

Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings host suddenly streaking Cavaliers

Cavaliers vs KingsThe Cleveland Cavaliers are suddenly an exciting team to watch. Just like that, after a trade for a two-time All-Star and a double-digit road win – just the third in four seasons – and the season has turned around again.

Tonight, they continue their five-game Western Conference road trip in Sacramento. The Kings are 12-22, even with the 13-23 Cavaliers in the overall NBA standings, and they also had a major trade for a small forward earlier this season. They’ll likely have a much more difficult road to postseason contention over in the West, however.

On the year, Cleveland remains just 3-15 on the road. They have just five three-game winning streaks in four seasons and zero four-gamers. Here’s a preview of what to watch over at the humorously named Sleep Train Arena.
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