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Forget about Free Agency, Let’s Talk Trades

July 14, 2010

Since for some strange reason, the Cavs were handcuffed from making any moves in Free Agency since about Thursday-ish (a little after 9pm), a lot of the first, second, and third tier Free Agents are off the market.

Instead of throwing our capspace at RFAs and UFAs that won’t add anything to the roster next year, now’s the time to talk trades.

The Cavs have a TON of assets. From the LeBron S&T alone, they have a $16mil TPE, 2 first rounders, and 2 second rounders. Plus they have $9mil in capspace from FAs having gone (LeBron, Z, and Shaq). And they have Delonte’s cap-friendly contract ($4.6mil, with only $500k guaranteed) to dole out too. Plus, I’m fairly certain that no one is untouchable on the team, except for maaaaaybe JJ Hickson.

Now that we have our assets in order, let’s look at the teams that are teetering on the necessity to clear space before the new CBA and rebuild. The teams that come to mind are Philadelphia, Memphis, Minnesota, Detroit, Indiana, New Orleans, and Golden State. The Cavs have lots to offer (see above) to teams trying to sell their franchises (NO and GSW), penny-pinching teams (IND, PHI, and MEM), and teams that seem to make a lot of bad choices (MIN and DET).

If you take the best players from all these teams, that would make one really solid team. Hell, even if you take a handful of the top guys from that group, it would be a solid team. What I’m saying is, the Cavs need to take a handful of those guys. Except for GSW, none of them play in substantially bigger markets than Cleveland, so we don’t have that problem (Philly is bigger, but for some reason doesn’t like pro basketball, as I regurgitate this opinion from a Bill Simmons podcast).

The Cavs, right now, are in desperate need of a dynamic scorer and an athletic center. Not just because those are two commonsense jobs every team needs, but because they would be especially needed on Byron Scott’s new running offense.

Oddly enough, my simplest proposal takes both of those roles from only 1 of these teams: Memphis. As far as I can tell (and have been told by a well-versed Grizzlies fan), for some reason Memphis’s two best players are available for trade. Probably because Memphis signed Gay to a huge deal, and they have a history of being “trade friendly,” as it were.

So I say, the Cavs need to try to pry away one or both of either Marc Gasol and OJ Mayo. We need a versatile big man, and Gasol would be fantastic playing alongside Varejao, or really any of our other bigs. Hell, he made Zach Randolph look like an all-star last year thanks to him making up for Zach’s defensive lapses.

And Mayo is young and a scorer. We need that. We need that big time. He’s working on his ball-handling in summer league right now, but making him a scoring SG would be a great plan to me.

The Cavs can package anything they want to get those two. They can even pay for both with part (not even ALL) of their TPE.

If that doesn’t work, I say the Cavs need to work on stripping some of those other teams of their players in exchange for our assets. Even though we have a few players under contract for a while (Mo & Antawn, specifically), the rest of the contracts on the roster are much more flexible and put the Cavs in not-so-dire straights over the next few years.

And if we can’t get players, then we gotta turn those assets into some lottery picks, because on San Antonio can strike gold in the second round.

Do you think if I wrote this post in Comic Sans, Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant would take it more seriously?

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Well, He’s Gone

July 9, 2010

I wrote a post a while back praising LeBron for his years as a Cavalier. I think I still would have stood behind that post had he not announced his decision the way he did. The hype, the ESPN special, the information and misinformation–everything made the decision seem cold and callous.

When it comes to grief, I tend to jump around the stages a bit. I’m a fairly positive person, so I like to get to acceptance as fast as possible. I don’t try to tuck away my other emotions, but I try to get past them in a constructive way. Being on Twitter last night was a way for me to see everyone’s reactions to his decision. Maybe I was living vicariously through others’ anger. Maybe I was just feeling numb the whole time and couldn’t feel anything.

Well, I certainly know that’s not true. I know I felt something because when I read Dan Gilbert’s letter, I immediately agreed with everything in it, and then I also immediately agreed (yet tried to deny) any and all criticism of it. My quick thought on Dan Gilbert’s letter: he legitimately felt as duped as the fans, but he also knows that his letter made sure he retained some Cavs fans next season. Even when it’s not about money, it’s about money. Kind of a shame, but that’s how it goes, I guess.

Anyway, as I looked back on my post from May that sang LeBron’s praises as a Cavalier for 7 seasons, one part stuck out to me immediately:

“…we can’t exactly act like this is some shocking surprise when we knew the stipulations surrounding his contract. When he re-signed in 2006, the terms were he would stay a Cavalier if he won a ring or if he was in the best position to win a ring down the road. The Cavs proved they didn’t do those two things. It’s not like the Cavs didn’t try, and it certainly doesn’t mean the city and fans didn’t support him through the process. Thirty teams vie for the NBA title every year (well, usually 24 vie for the playoffs and 6 vie for John Wall), and only 1 can win it. The Cavs tried to stack the odds in their favor, and they couldn’t get it done. He’s not betraying us. He’s doing what a star athlete should do: getting better and putting himself in a position to win championships.”

I still believe that. Except for the betrayal part. That might go away soon, but I think I really have issues with the platform he chose to announce his decision.

But another part of my piece stuck out to me more:

“we as Clevelanders (whether resident or expatriate), need to take ownership of the image we portray to the rest of the country as sports fans, and to some degree we need to change it for the better. We always feel like our backs are against the wall, and we have a pervasive hollow and self-deprecating attitude.  We know that Clevelanders have pride, and that we love our city and our sports. We can no longer allow ourselves to be the punchlines and shameful relatives of other sports cities. But that has to start with us. We have to stop being bitter and living in the past. It’s not the curse of the Wahoo, or the Fumble, or the Drive, or the Shot, or the Jose Mesa [and now the LeBron/Decision]. We can no longer let despair and self-pity consume us. We have to stop acting like we are doomed from ever having anything good happen to us. We rail on LA, Boston, and NY for feeling entitled to win rings because “They have before.” But we feel just as entitled because we haven’t. Now how is this perception any different, except that we get to complain and invoke pity from other fanbases and sportswriters who read and write “Top 10 Unluckiest Sports Towns” lists? We had a really great shot, better than most, and we didn’t succeed. We have the money and the smarts to work to get there again.

…I say we can use this as the impetus to change who we are. No more feeling sorry for ourselves….Yeah it sucks, but we need to learn from it and grow. We didn’t hold back at all. Everyone thought we had the best chance. We set up everything the way we thought, but we overlooked a few angles and it came back to bite us. We must take these lessons and learn from them.

We can’t blame LeBron and dwell on the past. We can only look at our mistakes, try to learn from them, and move forward. No looking back to 1964. Only looking forward to 2011.”

Go Cavs.

Quick Thought on LeBron & Cavs

June 24, 2010

Forget about the draft. Forget about top tier free agents. Forget about #thewinnergetsjoejohnson. I think I know how the Cavs can make a splash this summer and vie to keep LeBron.

This is a half-joking idea (OK, like 99% joking, but it really could work), but if the Cavs really wanted the “edge” to keep LeBron, shouldn’t Dan Gilbert give contracts to LeBron’s SVSM teammates? Not just summer league spots, like the Cavs have already done in the past. But actual roster spots. They can be spots 12-15 on the roster and used during garbage time; coaches don’t usually go past 10 during a game unless there’s an injury, anyway (fingers crossed). But LeBron can play with them during practice and dream about days of yore. They’re his favorite teammates of all time, and since he’s so loyal to them specifically, he’d have to stay, right?

Marc Berman of the NY Post alluded to this idea for the Knicks a while back, but he implied that the Knicks could actually use LeBron’s old teammate (Joyce, specifically) for PG depth.

OK, so what are all the teammates doing now? Let’s see:

Dru Joyce III: According to  Brendan at Stepien Rules, he’s playing for a Polish squad in the Euroleague.

Sian Cotton: Well, he entered the 2010 NFL draft and didn’t get selected. According to his ESPN NFL draft profile, he’s about 6’4″ and 317 pounds. Not exactly in NBA shape, but if you think about it, that’s roughly how big Charles Barkley is, and he is one of the best power forwards of all time.

Romeo Travis: He’s currently playing in Germany, and he’s not too shabby over there either. According to Eurobasket.com, these are his stats from last season:

G MIN PTS FG 3P FT OReb DReb TReb AS PF BS ST
34 31.3 14.4 51.4% 39.6% 73% 2.3 4.2 6.5 1.7 2.6 0.4 1.1

Will McGee: He’s currently a Graduate Assistant coach for the Akron Zips basketball team.  Maybe the Cavs could just add him to the coaching staff, and free up another roster spot.

Think about it, Gilbert.

More Than a Free Agent

Look how happy they are together...

Well, What if he does leave?

May 19, 2010

Well, What if He Does Leave?

If LeBron wants to leave, we have to let him go.

First of all, as matter-of-fact as this sounds, we can’t exactly act like this is some shocking surprise when we knew the stipulations surrounding his contract. When he re-signed in 2006, the terms were he would stay a Cavalier if he won a ring or if he was in the best position to win a ring down the road. The Cavs proved they didn’t do those two things. It’s not like the Cavs didn’t try, and it certainly doesn’t mean the city and fans didn’t support him through the process. Thirty teams vie for the NBA title every year (well, usually 24 vie for the playoffs and 6 vie for John Wall), and only 1 can win it. The Cavs tried to stack the odds in their favor, and they couldn’t get it done. He’s not betraying us. He’s doing what a star athlete should do: getting better and putting himself in a position to win championships.

This year, we spent too much time worrying about Orlando and LA, we didn’t think to look out for Boston. And truthfully (someone on twitter said this, but I forget who), the only team you should worry about building yourself around is your own. If you make yourself competent then you won’t have to worry. That includes on-and-off court positions. It would be dumb for me to assert that everything will feel OK next year. It won’t. It will feel fundamentally different, even a little empty.

David O’Leary alluded to this earlier. But in all this talk about how angry and disappointed the city and the fans will be if/when he leaves, we’ve lost sight of the fact that LeBron has been the best Cavalier ever. He played well (and that’s an understatement), and we should be grateful for that. LeBron gave Cleveland the 7 best consecutive years ever of Cavaliers basketball. He came onto the team in 2003 and immediately became the team’s leading scorer, even with chuckers like Ricky Davis around.  In 2007, he pretty much single-handedly destroyed the Pistons, a team that had been tormenting us in our division for years, and brought us to the NBA Finals for the first time in Cavs history. In 2009 and 2010, we won back to back division titles, only our second and third in franchise history, thanks mostly to those same Pistons and the Bulls. We had the best regular season record in the NBA two years in a row. He also won a lot of individual awards as a Cavalier, including Rookie of the year, 2 MVPs, a scoring title, All-Star bids (and MVPs), first and second team all-NBA and all-Defense, and 4 Olympic medals.  I repeat he won those as a Cavalier. That will never change. Look at these team and individual awards. We had never had anything like this before. This is not all chump change.

LeBron, Danny Ferry, Dan Gilbert, and Mike Brown have all put in an immense amount of work into this franchise in these past years. Of all the things they’ve done, the most important has been that they’ve instituted a culture of winning. And I am confident, that even if LeBron leaves, we will continue to have a culture of winning. Yes, we will be further from a championship, but that doesn’t mean we can’t win any games. This isn’t the same group of Jiri Welsch-Desagna Diop-Ricky Davis rag-tag bunch of players we had in 2003. The rest of the Cavs roster has shown talent, a fighting spirit, and cohesion. Whatever else happens to this team in the long run, we can be sure that Dan Gilbert’s culture of winning won’t go away. The timeline may change, but the message won’t.

On a related note, we as Clevelanders (whether resident or expatriate), need to take ownership of the image we portray to the rest of the country as sports fans, and to some degree we need to change it for the better. We always feel like our backs are against the wall, and we have a pervasive hollow and self-deprecating attitude.  We know that Clevelanders have pride, and that we love our city and our sports. We can no longer allow ourselves to be the punchlines and shameful relatives of other sports cities. But that has to start with us. We have to stop being bitter and living in the past. It’s not the curse of the Wahoo, or the Fumble, or the Drive, or the Shot, or the Jose Mesa. We can no longer let despair and self-pity consume us. We have to stop acting like we are doomed from ever having anything good happen to us. We rail on LA, Boston, and NY for feeling entitled to win rings because “They have before.” But we feel just as entitled because we haven’t. Now how is this perception any different, except that we get to complain and invoke pity from other fanbases and sportswriters who read and write “Top 10 Unluckiest Sports Towns” lists? We had a really great shot, better than most, and we didn’t succeed. We have the money and the smarts to work to get there again.

So if LeBron leaves, I say we can use this as the impetus to change who we are. No more feeling sorry for ourselves. What this also entails is not booing LeBron. We have been good to him, yes, but he has also been good to us. He didn’t abandon us. The Cavs organization and the fanbase knew the stakes. Yeah it sucks, but we need to learn from it and grow. We didn’t hold back at all. Everyone thought we had the best chance. We set up everything the way we thought, but we overlooked a few angles and it came back to bite us. We must take these lessons and learn from them.

We can’t blame LeBron and dwell on the past. We can only look at our mistakes, try to learn from them, and move forward. No looking back to 1964. Only looking forward to 2011.

Breaking the Silence

May 14, 2010

Well that was quick. Not painless, though. For anyone who reads this blog and knows me, they know I’m from Cleveland, that I like the NBA, and that those two factors combine into my love of the Cleveland Cavaliers. So it was not a ton of fun watching my team get dismantled by the Celtics.

The Celtics definitely earned the series. No doubt about that. But last year, the Cavs built themselves up to take on the Celtics in the playoffs, only to lose to the Magic. This year…. well, yeah, you know what happened. I think more devastating than the loss, than the disorientation of another championship-less season, more disorienting than the potential loss of a once-in-a-lifetime franchise superstar, is the fact that all parts of the team that we all thought were solid were, in fact, not.

We thought we had a good coach. “Well,” we should rationalize, “he’s not a great all-around coach. But he’s a great defensive-minded coach. And he can’t make great in-game adjustments. But game-t0-game, he knows what he’s doing.”

We thought we added the right pieces. “This is a deep team. And Jamison is the stretch-4 we need. We can’t get rid of Hickson, because he gives us flexibility down the road. Shaq may be old, but he’s a great defender in the paint. We have a lot of long wing players, because that’s what we’ll need to defend other longer wing players.”

We have these facades, but we also have questions. What is the nature of LeBron’s relationship with the Cavs’ fans? What’s the nature of the fans’ relationship with LeBron? What is this team going to look like next year? If LeBron walks, does the Cavaliers franchise have any hope of fighting through that inevitable malaise and making anything of itself next year (good thing those season tickets got re-upped, right?)? Will it be through Free Agency, or will Cleveland get a bone thrown at it (not unlike the Thugs ‘N Harmony variety) and get some assets back in a sign&trade.

Lots of unknowns. Lots of speculation. Where do we go from here, indeed?

Sports Rivalries are Fun

April 27, 2010

Case in point: The Milwaukee Bucks vs. The Atlanta Hawks.

Enjoy folks!

(H/T: @tasmelas & @ndeddiemac)