Tag:Cavaliers
Posted on: September 8, 2010 3:00 pm
 

Witness the burning embers of the Cavaliers

The top team in the East the past two seasons now finds itself exhuming its fallen squad to determine what went wrong.
Posted by Matt Moore




This season for the Cleveland Cavaliers is incredibly rare, even as it is inherently depressing for their fans. It's not a contending season like they've experienced the last three years, far from it. It's also not a rebuilding year, struggling through youth and inexperience while lamenting the patience necessary for their team to develop. And it's the polar opposite of a team rising to contention (see: Oklahoma City, 2009-2010). It holds the worst possible future. T+-he firesale. The deconstruction. The undoing. This is the season to watch the top seed in the East the past two seasons burn into ashes.

Oh, there's hope for a playoff run. Mo Williams, for all his limitations, is still a viable starting point guard, probably top 15. Antawn Jamison may have gotten his clock cleaned by the Celtics, but he's still been an All-Star and has a few tricks up his sleeve. Anderson Varejao was a defensive player of the year candidate and J.J. Hickson is promising in a lot of aspects. Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon are both legitimate NBA rotation guys and you can do worse than Byron Scott as head coach.

But in the end, their ceiling, their highest aspiration can only be a playoff appearance and a swift dismissal from either the Celtics, or, disgustingly, the Heat. That's all they've got. So this season could very quickly turn into a full-on firesale, with Jamison and Williams thrown out for draft picks or expiring contracts. And to hear some former members of the team tell it, it's what's left of this team that has them in this predicament in the first place. Well, one member specifically, with a big mouth. Can you guess who it is?

Shaquille O'Neal told the New Orleans Times-Picayune the following tasty quote:

"I like that they play together and nobody really worries about shots, " O'Neal said. "When I was with Cleveland, guys who couldn't even play were worried about shots. Why was Mo (Williams) taking 15 shots, and I'm only taking four? If LeBron takes 20 shots, that's cool."

As Tom Ziller noted , this isn't the first time Shaq has detonated the bridge he just left. He's notorious for three things at this point in his career: taking a good long time to get in season's shape, having a big personality, and lobbing verbal grenades at everyone he used to play with. But it's the vocalization of questions a lot of people wondered. There was always a clear separation of LeBron and everyone else (and he was treated as such, from every indication). But from there, there were a lot of rumblings about players wanting to put their own mark on their team, and Mo Williams was the most effusive example. Was he at that level? It was hard to find many who thought so.

But maybe that was just a reaction from that separation with LeBron we talked about. Maybe it was that gap between James and everyone else that caused the team to fail. Dan Gilbert certainly thinks so. In an interview with the News-Herald following the extension of new GM Chris Grant, Gilbert said the following about the past few years in Cleveland:

"We weren't as focused on the long term (before James left)," he said. "We'll build the right way. It's absolutely refreshing and challenging and we're all looking forward to building the Cleveland Cavaliers into a premier team.

"We didn't achieve the ultimate goal (with James). It can't be a one-person show. We have to have a team approach and a team effort to make it happen."
As Kurt Helin noted , there's good and bad in this approach. Building good team chemistry and working to get a team of young, versatile, athletic players has been proven to work with Portland, Oklahoma City, and potentially Sacramento. But you do need one guy. Portland has Brandon Roy. Oklahoma City obviously has Kevin Durant. And Sacramento has Tyreke Evans. Cleveland will need to find that new player when they do decide to torch the foundation.

And they will, make no question about it. Even if they find success with the core of players they have, it's a mitigated, low-level success that comes with a hefty price tag (the Cavs are on the books for over $51 million this season). In reality, a sub-.500 season would be better for fans. Instead of sitting through a middling season trying to justify keeping the core together, the faster you can detonate the foundation, the sooner you can start bringing in players the fans can get behind.

This season is going to be hard for the Cavaliers. It's less of a story being written as a eulogy. It would take a story of the ages for this to come out well for them. The worst part is that even as James will have been gone for more than three months, the entire year may serve as one long autopsy on a team that died on its way to glory.
Posted on: September 1, 2010 12:41 am
 

Cavs considering complete blow-up

Cavs not making any trades now, but if team struggles before deadline, we may see a firesale.
Posted by Matt Moore


Things fall apart. The center does not hold. And in the Cavs case, the center up and leaves on national television to join his buddies on the beach, sipping pina coladas while they freeze their tales off in a Midwestern winter.

And it turns out the rest of the Cavs are likely to fall apart in the next year or so. The Cavaliers haven't thrown the rest of the belongings on the lawn and put out the yard sale sign yet. After all, they still feature a lineup with Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao, and young asset J.J. Hickson.  But signs are pointing towards the rest of LeBron James' former dancing partners being sent to the four corners of the league.

Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports via Twitter that if the Cavs are sub-.500 in February before the trade deadline, Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker, and Jamario Moon will all be on the block. That's three starters and a backup wing. You may be wondering who they would be getting back. Get ready for a whole lot of Erie Bayhawks if that happens, Cavs fans.

Windhorst goes on to say that he puts the odds of Jamison being moved before the deadline at 60/40. The question will be who's in the market for an aging forward with $28.4 million left on his contract (prorated, naturally). It would have to be a team similar to where the Cavs were last year, except they've already seen how that worked out. The other option is a team in the middle of a detonation, looking to clear space next year and hoping to acquire a 2012 expiring.

It's possible the Cavs could be competitive. The East is improved, no doubt, but still vulnerable and winning as many games as you're losing with a pretty good coach and a pretty good roster isn't out of range at all. But I wouldn't be snatching up any jerseys of those guys either. They may not be wearing them much longer.
Posted on: August 20, 2010 4:20 pm
 

West suspended ten games for guns charges

Former Cavs guard suspended 10 games for weapons charges.
Posted by Matt Moore


Delonte West was arrested on weapons charges nearly one year ago. He was pulled over and found to be in possession of multiple concealed handguns and a shotgun in a guitar case he had with him. This summer, he pled guilty to those charges and was expected to receive a 3-6 game suspension. It would appear the league has elected to come down even harder, despite West's plea deal.

The league today suspended West for 10 games in the 2010-2011 season. As a free agent, if West were to sign, his suspension would start with the first game he was physically able and eligible to play. So if a team picks him up on November 1, his suspension will start with the team's game that night.

It's a development that makes the odds of West being able to get on with a new team even tougher. Leaving a difficult situation in Cleveland in a trade to the Wolves, he was waived for cap considerations, and is now trying to find a new place to land. But a GM will have to overlook now not just the limitations of his game and the locker room distractions, but now a ten game suspension that any team will have to swallow if they sign him.

West has had a difficult run of things, mainly due to decisions of his own making, but partly on account of a neurological condition. It's going to take a GM that is willing to take a considerable chance in order for West to get his career, and potentially his life, back on track.
Posted on: August 20, 2010 8:53 am
Edited on: August 20, 2010 8:54 am
 

Shootaround 8.20.10: Grant Hill, tambourine man

Carmelo and LeBron's loyalty, Greg Oden's return timeline, and Grant Hill is a tambourine man.
Posted by Matt Moore


Troy Murphy is thrilled to be playing for the Nets. And he should enjoy this opportunity. For a full season. Because when his contract expires, he likely won't be able to enjoy the beautiful vistas of New Jersey unless it's on vacation.

No wonder everyone freaked out when Anderson Varejao was injured. The video of the injury was signficantly worse than the result. X-Rays and MRIs were negative, and he's day-to-day for Brazil. Odds are that won't make the Cavs feel totally fine with Varejao playing so much this summer.

Basketbawful points out how a delightful quote from Carmelo that harkens back to another person that claimed loyalty to his team: LeBron.

You know the best way NOT to use PER as a useful statistic? Compare those whose PER is similar to a player to conclude that player should take more shots. The end result? Don't try and tell Amir Johnson to take more shots. That just won't work out well. I'm a numbers guy, and even I know I don't need a formula for that.

I'm not saying this is the last time you'll see Daniel Orton in a Magic uniform this year . I am saying this very well might be the last time you'll see Daniel Orton in a Magic uniform this year.

My favorite listing of things Phoenix Suns did this summer ? Grant Hill played tambourine on his wife's album. Yeah.

There is no time frame , at least publicly, for Greg Oden's return. I'm sure this makes Blazers fans feel just fabulous. Oden's also off the radar and his trainer isn't talking. The only time you don't share that kind of information is if either the news is not good, or you're trying to take what is perceived to be too much pressure of an injury-prone guy that's struggling to get back.

An appeal to approve the application for Wilt Chamberlain to have his own stamp .

There is so much "UGH" about this .

Derrick Rose likes Skittles so much they sent him his own custom Skittles vending machine . It has every type of Skittles ever made. According to sources, his mom is really worried he'll ruin his appetite before dinner.

Posted on: August 10, 2010 5:56 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2010 5:58 pm
 

5 can't miss national TV games in 2010-2011

Posted by Matt Moore

The story of the 2010-2011 national television schedule is about what you'd expect. Lots of Heat, lots of Boston, lots of Lakers, and the rise of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Boston Celtics surprisingly lead all teams in national television appearances across NBATV, ESPN, ABC, and TNT with 33 appearances. The Miami Heat, no shock, are second, with 29 appearances, while the defending champion Lakers appear 27 times. That number is likely to increase signficantly with NBATV's fan night. The Orlando Magic also appear 29 times, compared to the East's three-seed Atlanta Hawks, who appear just 14 times. Of the 15 games on ABC, 14 feature the Heat, Celtics, Lakers, or Magic.

New York appears 18 times, while Phoenix has certainly earned some faith from the producers, landing 25 national appearances. Oklahoma City were the big winners, with 24 big-time appearances, and the first post-Christmas ABC game, facing the Heat at home. It's a big win for a small market club.

Of course, most other small-market clubs didn't fair so well. Indiana is without a single appearanc. Charlotte and Memphis have 6 each, New Orleans 7, and Milwaukee only has 8, despite being playoff or near-playoff teams. This is in contrast to the Clippers, the freaking Clippers, getting 12 appearances. Win total didn't have much to do with these decisions.

Your top five nationally televised games not on Christmas, Opening Night, or MLK Day:

  1. Heat at Magic, November 24th, ESPN: The Sunshine Massacre. The Heat's primary weakness, true size, is tested against Dwight Howard while Jameer Nelson could have a huge game against Mario Chalmers.
  2. Lakers at Thunder, February 27th, ABC: Welcome back, Lakers. They barely got out of the Sooner state with their playoff lives last April and the Thunder should be improved. Kevin Durant will likely take this one personally, while Kobe loathes challengers to his throne.
  3. Heat at Cavaliers, December 2nd, TNT: "Peace? Peace. I hate the word. As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee."-Cleveland
  4. Blazers at Jazz, April 7th, TNT: Let's imagine Greg Oden stays healthy. Let's imagine Al Jefferson stays healthy. Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap. The Northwest Division is a bloodbath.
  5. Lakers at Celtics, February 10th, TNT: It's refreshing when the networks give you two seldom-seen teams that never match up. It's a once-in-a-lifetime type game, really.

Posted on: August 10, 2010 5:56 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2010 5:58 pm
 

5 can't miss national TV games in 2010-2011

Posted by Matt Moore

The story of the 2010-2011 national television schedule is about what you'd expect. Lots of Heat, lots of Boston, lots of Lakers, and the rise of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Boston Celtics surprisingly lead all teams in national television appearances across NBATV, ESPN, ABC, and TNT with 33 appearances. The Miami Heat, no shock, are second, with 29 appearances, while the defending champion Lakers appear 27 times. That number is likely to increase signficantly with NBATV's fan night. The Orlando Magic also appear 29 times, compared to the East's three-seed Atlanta Hawks, who appear just 14 times. Of the 15 games on ABC, 14 feature the Heat, Celtics, Lakers, or Magic.

New York appears 18 times, while Phoenix has certainly earned some faith from the producers, landing 25 national appearances. Oklahoma City were the big winners, with 24 big-time appearances, and the first post-Christmas ABC game, facing the Heat at home. It's a big win for a small market club.

Of course, most other small-market clubs didn't fair so well. Indiana is without a single appearanc. Charlotte and Memphis have 6 each, New Orleans 7, and Milwaukee only has 8, despite being playoff or near-playoff teams. This is in contrast to the Clippers, the freaking Clippers, getting 12 appearances. Win total didn't have much to do with these decisions.

Your top five nationally televised games not on Christmas, Opening Night, or MLK Day:

  1. Heat at Magic, November 24th, ESPN: The Sunshine Massacre. The Heat's primary weakness, true size, is tested against Dwight Howard while Jameer Nelson could have a huge game against Mario Chalmers.
  2. Lakers at Thunder, February 27th, ABC: Welcome back, Lakers. They barely got out of the Sooner state with their playoff lives last April and the Thunder should be improved. Kevin Durant will likely take this one personally, while Kobe loathes challengers to his throne.
  3. Heat at Cavaliers, December 2nd, TNT: "Peace? Peace. I hate the word. As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee."-Cleveland
  4. Blazers at Jazz, April 7th, TNT: Let's imagine Greg Oden stays healthy. Let's imagine Al Jefferson stays healthy. Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap. The Northwest Division is a bloodbath.
  5. Lakers at Celtics, February 10th, TNT: It's refreshing when the networks give you two seldom-seen teams that never match up. It's a once-in-a-lifetime type game, really.

Posted on: August 6, 2010 11:37 am
Edited on: August 6, 2010 11:46 am
 

Of leadership, LeBron, and KG

Posted by Matt Moore

Kevin Garnett is one of the most respected players in the NBA, with good reason. No one has shown  more focus at both ends of the floor over the past decade than Kevin Garnett. Much of his trademarked intensity is show; the screaming, spitting, growling is revealed as little more than theatrics when you employ them as often as he has. But that doesn't change how he's constantly barking out defensive assignments, dressing down teammates, and blocking the ever-loving crap out of anyone that dares to challenge his authority (or dying trying). He's a 13-time All-Star, and has an MVP trophy, a Defensive Player of the Year trophy, and an NBA champion.

And with all that respect that he has earned comes a level of expectation, often unfair, mostly ridiculous, that he live up to what we believe is the model of a true NBA legend. Or at least, that's been the pattern for everyone except KG. And if you want proof of that, compare KG and LeBron James.

In 2010, LeBron James abandoned his team, the Cavaliers, and did it in a publicly humiliating and disgracefully opulent way on national television. Maybe you heard about it, here and there. Before we continue, let's be very clear on this point:

The primary reason for the backlash against James is the way in which he announced his decision ("The Decision"), the way he seemingly laughed and skipped out of town while the dreams he had given Cleveland fans burned to the ground. There is simply no way to defend or even deflect that criticism. You're not going to find anyone outside of South Beach who thinks this was in any way acceptable. KG has never behaved in such a way, nor did he embarrass Minnesota on the way out of town. The way the two left is simply not comparable. See, I put it in bold, just so we're all clear on this.

However, the secondary argument against James is that he has in some way compromised his legacy, lessened his greatness, by not being the sole elite player on his team. He is no longer considered able to reach the sport's summit because he has joined Dwyane Wade's team instead of building championship gold from the rubble he was drafted into. That by joining other elite players, he can no longer be considered elite.

Let's head on back to 2007.

Kevin Garnett has failed to reach the summit with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that drafted him. Though there were a handful of very good teams, none of them even approached what you would call a "great" team. The Sam Cassell-Latrell Sprewell team rose and fell apart as fast as it came together, and Garnett has been losing consistently. It becomes known that he wants out, wants to be traded to a contender, does not want to waste his career any longer. He doesn't outright say he wants to be traded, after all, you're fined for such activity. But it's made pretty clear that his time with Minnesota is over. It's done. He winds up heading to Boston, joining Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, the captain, to form the first modern Big 3 and first relative superteam since the Lakers' 2004 crime against nature.

(It should be noted that the Spurs' combination of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili definitely constituted enough talent as to be considered a superteam, but more perhaps more impressively, they did it organically. They came to have three superstars by developing the talent they drafted. Not by acquiring the gold when the market was high on it.)

But KG was and is the leader, right? Well, I don't know. Paul Pierce is the captain, right? And the guy taking the game winning shots, most often? The face of the team? It's heart and soul? Isn't Pierce the one most often relied upon to rally the team? While Garnett is undeniably a leader on the Celtics, is he really considered the leader?

Oddly, what led me down this line of thought was a quote from, of all people, Rasho Nesterovic.

In an interview with rtvslo.com , and translated and brought forth by Project Spurs , Nesterovic talks about the difference between Garnett and Duncan. He discusses how Duncan won with the team that drafted him, and how Garnett made the smart move, but it was one to turn to the Celtics, who already had a leader in Pierce. This all leads to Nesterovic saying Duncan was the greater power forward of his time.

Huh.

Now, this is Rasho Nesterovic. We're not talking Bill Russell here. But the idea is one that deserves consideration. Did KG join the Celtics as a leader, or did he simply do the exact same thing that LeBron James did, only under better PR cover? The argument can certainly be made that James joined in free agency (which is apparently worse than bailing on your team while under contract with them), while Garnett was traded, so it wasn't really his decision. But if Garnett had told Minnesota management, "I don't want to be traded. I either win here, or I don't win at all," do you really think the Wolves would have said "No, no, Mr. Hall-of-Fame-Most-Beloved-Player-In
-Franchise-History, we want no part of you here"? Is that what you think would have occurred? Because I'm pretty sure Kevin McHale would have just gone back to figuring out ways to build the Wolves around KG (and failing miserably).

The argument could also be made that KG was on a "loser" while James was on a contending team. But there are two responses to that. 1. While this Cavs team was certainly better than any KG had, James has also been superior in terms of production (and playoff success if we're being honest) than anything KG had been. I'm simply pointing out that if you're going to say the Cavs were better, you also have to point out that James was better, and was a reason for the Cavs being better. And 2, is there really a difference between contender-but-not-champion and loser in our society? I don't subscribe to this. I think there are tons of brilliant players that simply were never fortunate enough to run into the blessed set of circumstances you need to win a championship (or play for LA). But if you're a results oriented person, KG and James had accomplished the same thing, and so to say that one needed to do what he needed in order to win a ring and the other needed to continue to struggle is a bit ridiculous.

We come to the crux of this, which is actually not that KG deserves more criticism or scorn for leaving Minnesota to fall into the void. Far from it. Garnett recognized that he needed to win a ring before his time was up, that it wasn't going to happen in Minny, and that Boston represented the best chance for him. He took it. He doesn't deserve to be slagged for that. Garnett has told other players not to let what happened to him in Minnesota happen to them. Now, that particular action is a little less likable. After all, there have been players that stayed "home" and eventually reached the promised land, and those championships are much more special to their small markets than the umpteenth championship for a storied franchise. This is nothing to do with the quality of the fans and just the simple fact that a lone championship means more than one of many.

But Garnett is simply passionate about being the best he can be. And for him, that meant joining a team with an established star, a veteran leader, along with another veteran leader, and winning a championship. That was his path. And it is not all that dissimilar from LeBron James' path (in terms of the end result; remember, the bold clause! The bold clause!). So if we're going to criticize James for not being "the man," we need to similarly disparage Garnett, Pau Gasol, and other players that did what they needed to in order to win a ring.

Garnett is no villain. He loved Minnesota. But in the end, he felt his best chance for achieving that ring was in Boston, alongside other stars. Those facts coincide with LeBron James' actions of the past three months. Even if you feel that Garnett was able to be a leader alongside Paul Pierce (the most rational and likely conclusion), you should at least recognize the same dynamic's likelihood in Miami. You don't have to like how James pulled off this career correction. No one does. But to question his legacy opens up a Pandora's Box that is linked throughout some of the greatest players in the history of the league.

Don't throw stones. The halls of NBA greatness are built of glass.

Posted on: August 3, 2010 10:13 am
 

LeBron's Cleveland snub is bad business

Posted by Matt Moore

What logic does this make? What possible sense could this be built from? What line of thought would take him down this road?

LeBron James bought ad space in the Akron Journal to thank fans there and send a message that his heart is still there. It was a decent gesture that should have been made weeks ago. The day after "The Decision," actually. But what was missing from the letter is what was most relevant.

The word "Cleveland."

Andrew Sharp of SBNation.com weighs in on why this shouldn't be a big deal. And he's right. It shouldn't be a big deal. It shouldn't be a deal at all. It could have been a non-story, something marginal that takes even a half-pinch of sting off the mountain of anger and resentment from Cleveland towards a player attempting to become the most popular brand in NBA history (and failing miserably, but that's another issue). But it wasn't. And that's the question that needs to be asked.

What possible reason did LeBron James' camp have for not including the Cavs or Cleveland in this letter?

Sharp points out the myriad of reasons for James to slight Cleveland like this. Jerseys burned. Angry letters in Comic Sans. General hatred upon his departure after years of trying to make Cleveland into a winner. And those are all great reasons for someone to spite the city like that.

If that person is fourteen years old.

This is a business. That was the reason behind James' defection to Miami, behind "The Decision," behind all of this. This whole ordeal was meant to be the extension of James as a business entity in the world. And the business move here? The plain-clothed mention of gratitude to the state of Ohio, Cleveland, the Cavs, something that includes those people. Sharp's also right that it wouldn't have made anyone in Cleveland feel any better. But the point is that slighting them makes them feel worse. It makes James seem petty and small. It's not professional. Taking the high road isn't a noble cause, it's a protecting your Q Rating and shoring up your PR image. You don't do it to try and win back friends and make people love you. You win championships to win friends and make people love you. You take the high road to protect your interests and not make another blunder. And that's what James has done.

Maybe he's got a letter for the Plain Dealer and is just waiting to release it. But now if he does, it looks like a reaction to the scorn he's getting for ignoring Cleveland. This is not complex stuff. And it's yet another indication in a long stream of tiki torches that blaze a path to the same conclusion: LeBron James' management team, LRMR, is desperately out of its league and playing at a level it cannot compete at.

It's not that James was wrong for snubbing Cleveland. It's that it was just another bad business decision.


 
 
 
 
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