Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Clips from the Cavs-Warriors game

Here's two videos of Z's pass to Gooden:

This video has a terrible/terribly good shot by Varejao plus the outlet pass pass by Z that I talked about in my recap (sorry about the video quality, I'll get better at this).

The pass by Z is one of the points I try to make about the Cavs being able to run with Z in the pivot. Don't just grab a rebound and wait for Snow or Hughes to come to the ball, grab a rebound and pass it up quickly (replace Sasha with James in that play and the Cavs have dunk).

Please God, not this

I'm sure this guy probably has no idea what he's talking about, but I really don't like seeing these 'reports' about the Browns.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the only non-offensive lineman acceptable in the first round is Adrian Peterson. That's it. With the combination of Oakland and Detroit drafting ahead of the Browns, plus the glut of talent like JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Peterson, Joe Thomas and Calvin Johnson, the odds are good that the Browns will be able to land either Thomas or Peterson, especially if they're drafting third.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cleveland 124, Golden State 97

WTF, 124 points? None by LeBron? Honestly, this is mind boggling.

Gibson started. This was the big news of the evening. Coach Brown sat Eric Snow and started the rookie and the looked notably different. They looked fast, they pushed the ball and the offense flowed a bit smoother. Gibson finished with 12 points (all off of 3s) with 3 rebounds and two assists. Snow came off the bench and played decently as well; he seemed much more aggressive bringing the ball up (he only really walked it up once or twice) and he seemed fresher while he was out there. Needless to say, I'm a fan of the move.

Maybe Brown does have an offense. The Cavs shared the ball. The Cavs moved without the ball. They got the ball inside. They didn't force jumpers. They didn't stand around. They pushed the ball after misses. Long outlet passes. Give and go's.

How much credit does Golden State get for all this? As well as the Cavs played, part of me wonders if this was due to their recent change in philosophy (with Gibson starting) or being able to play the Warriors at home. They stink on the road and they aren't a good defensive team to begin with. This is what last weeks Philly loss should've been; a blow out win at home that rights the ship.

I can honestly say that this was their most fun win of the season. The ball movement, the running, the defense, the garbage time; this was fun. The bench was smiling, LeBron was laughing and you could just tell guys were enjoying themselves. And I know that they were playing the Warriors, but they've played down to teams like that all season long. But because LeBron was out, they were focused and on a mission. It was good to see.

The Cavs do have more than one player. The Cavs had eight guys score in double figures (plus Varejao had 9). Nine guys notched an assist (they had 26 as a team). The Cavs out rebounded Golden State 48-36 and they also had 12 steals.

Sasha. Pavlovic. So he starts versus Philly, logs a DNP-CD versus Phoenix and starts against the Warriors. Makes sense to me... Pavlovic got his team leading 24 points in variety of ways: he was 7-11 for the game, 2-3 from beyond the arc and he was 8-10 from the foul line; that's pretty efficient.

They ran. The Cavs ran up and down the floor all night, so you'd figure Z was a non-factor right? The big fella got 14 points on 5-5 shooting, grabbed 10 boards and even got 4 assists. He seemed much more willing to pass out of the post when he saw that Gibson was the guy taking the open jumpers rather than Eric Snow. He had two passes that stuck out toe me: the first was an over the shoulder pass from the post to a cutting Drew Gooden- Z fed him perfectly and Drew got himself a wide open dunk. The second pass wasn't overly remarkable, but it stood out to me: in the third period Z grabbed a Golden State miss and threw a long outlet pass to a streaking Pavlovic for a fast break. I wish that the Cavs did this more often- grab the rebound and run. Don't walk it up, don't run dribble breaks (lookin' at you Snow and Hughes)- pass it up.

Larry Hughes... 3-9 shooting, 11 points, 4 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals. He looked like he was pressing early on (can't exactly blame him after the stinker of a game he dropped on Sunday)
but he seemed to find his rhythm after awhile. The news is that he was 5-5 from the foul line.... so that's looking up... His shot selection still leaves a lot to be desired. I'll just leave it at that.

Is the offense better without LeBron? Yes and no. Yes in the fact that guys now have to step up and they can't rely on LeBron. LeBron dominates the ball quite a bit; with him out of the lineup they had to move the ball around. But some of this offense goodness lies at the feet of the Warriors; I highly doubt the offense would've looked this good had they been playing Detroit. A lot of the Cavs points came off of good ball rotations and fast breaks- in the flow of the offense. Now you'd like the Cavs to have this kind of ball movement (and off the ball movement) with LeBron out there, so he doesn't have to bail the Cavs out. It won't hurt that they'll be playing offense 5-5 with Gibson rather than 4-5 with Snow (leave the point to go double LBJ or Z you'll actually have to pay for it. Neat!).

and finally...

This just one game. Versus a bad team that plays no defense. However, it'd be nice if Brown got some confidence in non-James players and it led to him resting LeBron more often. The goal should be to get LBJ's minutes down under 40. If Brown can trust his bench players like Pavlovic (hell, even Wesley- IF his shot returns) then sitting LeBron for somewhat lengthy stretches shouldn't be too hard to handle. Maybe resting LeBron and his toe for a little bit isn't such a bad thing.

Terry Pluto: Don't Fire Brown

(Pluto is probably my favorite sports writer and probably the guy I try to emulate the most in my writings on the blog (not exactly in style, but in substance- not freaking out and overreacting).)

Right now fans are pissed at Mike Brown. Go read the message boards at or some of the posts at YaySports!, Cavs fans are fed up. They want the guy gone.

And it's not just the fans; Bill Livingston wrote a column comparing Mike Brown to current Browns lame duck Romeo Crennel:

No telling what's been ignored the most around town, but the contenders seem to be the coach of the Browns, that of the Cavaliers and the no-smoking ban in restaurants.

The Cavs, without the Browns' injury excuse, have been a very disappointing team in the NBA. Lack of effort has been their calling card, inconsistency their competitive characteristic, and tomorrow their empty promise.

After wasting a good start on their West Coast trip, in which they lost to three straight struggling teams (Seattle, Portland and Denver) and barely exerted themselves vs. the latter two, you wanted to look around for Braylon Edwards, blowing off some coach or teammate. Seldom has a team been called out by its coach for such indifference, as the Cavs were in Portland, and then played -- in the very next game! -- as if the coach were speaking Esperanto.

Both Mike Brown and Romeo Crennel are likable guys, but their players perform at times as if there's no penalty for passivity. In fact, Brown, saying the Cavs are still at the "learning stage" and Crennel, talking about "mentoring" players, both come off as teachers targeted for spitballs by their pupils.

The last time so many men in so many stages of undress stood around as long as the Cavs do on offense might have been male models in Calvin Klein photo shoots.

Brown has played James, after a long summer at the World Championships in Japan, more minutes as of Friday's official statistics, than anyone except Allen Iverson. No wonder the fourth quarter sometimes finds LeBron playing like (simile deleted).

Brown seeks a "partnership" with James, much as between coach Gregg Popovich and Spurs star Tim Duncan. Yet when James was asked by what date the Cavs needed to step up their play, he said, "Middle of February, early March."

That's Valentine's Day at the earliest. And no kisses for the fans.

(Couple things: 1) Bill Livingston is not as clever as he thinks is 2) Bill Livingston hates Braylon Edwards.)

Plus, local radio host Kenny Roda has taken to calling Mike Brown "Cavalier head coach-at-the-moment Mike Brown" and has been ragging on coach Mike for awhile now.

Enter Pluto:

They are one of several underachieving Eastern Conference teams. The Washington Wizards lead the East at 26-17; the Cavs are No. 5 at 25-19. They are two wins from the top, five losses from being out of the playoff picture.

It has been frustrating, but it's also ridiculous to insist that the season can be kicked into a higher gear by firing Brown.

No interim fix

Somehow, some way, fans have to learn this lesson: Interim coaches do not work.

When Cavs owner Dan Gilbert fired Paul Silas with 18 games left two seasons ago, turning the team over to Brendan Malone, it didn't work. I poured through more than 20 years of NBA records, searching for interim coaches who became a success.

I found two: Lawrence Frank with the New Jersey Nets and Rudy Tomjanovich with the Houston Rockets.

That's it.

George Karl (Denver Nuggets) and Scott Skiles (Chicago Bulls) had positive impacts when they took over teams at midseason, but they were given long-term contracts, so the players knew they were in charge. They also had extensive head-coaching experience.

Teams have a hard time finding coaches to take over a team in the offseason. Most of the big names available are aging and glad to be broadcasting: Doug Collins, Hubie Brown, Matt Goukas and, yes, Silas.

I have issues with Brown. It was apparent the team was offensively challenged last season with two basic plays: a high pick-and-roll and a side pick-and-roll. Most of the time, it was throw the ball to LeBron James and watch him do something.

Brown talks about wanting to get out on the fast break, but he either hasn't coached it well or he doesn't have the players to run it. I lean toward the coaching argument, because seldom do you see the Cavs actually throw the ball 40 feet up the court on the break. It's dribble, dribble, dribble.

This year, his offense has more movement but little focus. It seems Brown still can't consistently find ways to get the ball inside to center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. James is not pleased with the offense, either.

Those are no minor concerns.


Just like how the Cavs came back from 17 points behind at halftime to win Friday at the Philadelphia 76ers without James. Doesn't that say something good about Brown?

He is savvy enough to let the players take credit for the victories, while accepting criticism for the shortcomings with little complaint. The Cavs also are a team with no real player rebellions, major legal problems or signs of a clubhouse out of control. That is the NBA, and several franchises seem to stagger from crisis to crisis with players openly disrespecting the coach.

The point is: Like a young player with some promise, Brown is a young coach with potential. Don't debate the idea of who should have been hired in the summer of 2005. Living in the rear-view mirror of history and playing the what-if game is a favorite among fans and media types, but it is utterly irrelevant.

No time for change

Brown is the coach and should remain the coach for the rest of the season. If he can't see that the team plays with more zip when rookie Daniel Gibson is at the point -- or that Eric Snow's game is slipping -- then he should be held accountable for that at the end of the season.

You see that there? That's called logic. That's why I love Pluto's writing. You want to fire Brown? Alright, who are you hiring? You know that interim coaches don't work right? He recognizes things aren't where they should be, but taking some bold move to ax the coach is the wrong move.

We're all aware that this team has struggles and the coach has and will take responsibility for that, but firing guy now does no one any favors. Sure, it'll placate the message boards and Kenny Roda may calm down for a week. But unless the Cavs have a guy already waiting, a Rick Adelman or a Larry Brown, firing Brown for a Brendan Malone is pointless.

To often us Cleveland fans (and sports fans in general) are too quick to freak out; we can see problems but have no long term answers. Sure we can point out that Eric Snow sucks and Larry Hughes is disappointing, but do we really have any solutions? We can scream "Danny Ferry needs to make a trade" but we don't seem to realize that he doesn't have a lot of movable parts.

So ya, firing Brown may seem like a good idea, but really, is it? Do we really want Kenny Natt finishing out the season? I don't think so.

Gibson to Start

We've been clamoring for it, we've been screaming for and now it's finally happening:

A team source said Brown plans to start rookie Daniel Gibson at point guard tonight when the Cavs host the Golden State Warriors. Snow has started 139 consecutive games for the Cavs, including playoffs, dating to the end of the 2004-05 season. The team is 83-57 with him as a starter.

Brown has appeared to be drawing closer to this decision the past two games, giving Gibson more minutes than Snow in both as he has searched for more offense out of the position. Snow has played 13 minutes in each of the games, the fewest minutes he has seen in any game this season. Brown has been giving more minutes to veteran David Wesley the past week, as well.

Quite frankly, I'm shocked by all of this. I never expected Gibson to start at point guard this season barring an injury to Snow. I could see him getting more minutes or playing in crunch time... but starting? Brown loves his veterans. Windhorst says that this probably isn't a decision Brown took lightly:
Watching the last two games, you could see it coming. Gibson's minutes have been rising, Snow's dropping. In the last two games, Snow has played just 13 minutes each. Those are his fewest of the year. After the game, Brown indicated he wanted to give Gibson an extended look.


That said, knowing Mike the way I do, he didn't come to this decision on a whim. He's probably been thinking about it for a long time before making the decision. We'll see how it works out. Who knows, maybe he'll change his mind, but he's told Eric he's not going to start.
Maybe Brown has been mulling this decision for awhile, but I don't buy it. I would bet that public opinion or (more likely) Dan Gilbert's opinion may have affected Brown's thought process a tad. Gibson's minutes haven't exactly been 'rising'- they've spiked:

Date - Team - Min - Reb - Ast - PT
1/20 - @GSW - 3 - 1 - 0 - 0
1/22 - ORL - 4 - 1 - 0 - 0
1/24 - PHI - 0 - 0 -0 - 0
1/26 - @PHI - 22 - 2 - 5 - 11
1/28 - PHX - 19 - 3 - 5 - 6
3 minutes, 4 minutes, finally a DNP-CD and suddenly 20+ minutes. Hmmm... Somehow I don't really believe that coach Mike came to this decision all by himself. The Cavaliers and their offense were struggling before the Philly game; the last half of the West coast swing was brutal. Gibson has needed more playing time (if not starting) for the last few weeks. Brown is just now putting him in after the terrible loss to Philly. My guess would be that Brown felt pressure from the fans and (more likely) Dan Gilbert to play the rookie more.

My thoughts? I like this, but I wonder how it's going to play out, especially if LeBron is missing the next few games. Part of me feels like this could be a 'too much, too soon' scenario. Gibson has deserved more minutes for awhile now, but three games ago he never got off the bench and now he's starting? All I've been clamoring for is simply a steady diet of court time every game. I wonder if this doesn't work out, will Brown just go back to playing him 4 minutes a game. Or will this finally lead to Boobie getting decent minutes every night.

Either way, this season just got that much more interesting.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. So I was at both Cavs-Suns games... ouch.

2. After the game James was roasted. This would be much cooler if the Cavs were playing well and LeBron was playing well (or making over 70% of the free throws). That being said, I do hope there's video somewhere; especially of Ralphie May telling Damon Jones to "get on the bench where you're used to sitting".

3. James aggravated his toe injury during the fourth quarter of the aforementioned Suns loss. He'll probably sit out the Golden State and Charlotte games but be back for Miami.

4. I guess the Suns really wanted Drew Gooden:
If the Suns would've had their way, Drew Gooden would've been in Phoenix this season. Liking his rebounding and overall offensive efficiency, the Suns made a serious bid for Gooden when he was a free agent last summer. The Suns were just unable to offer the Cavs a package that could make a sign-and-trade work.

At one point, Gooden said they made a mock-up electronic poster with him in a Suns jersey under the banner ``The missing piece to a championship.''

``They were in it to the end,'' said Gooden, who ended up signing a three-year deal worth $20 million with the Cavs.

5. "The missing piece to a championship"?? Really? Drew Gooden? Missing Piece? I'm surprised we didn't hear any about this over the offseason.

6. Let's trade Gooden for Barbosa!

7. In all seriousness, he'd probably thrive with the Suns; he'd hit the open jumpers, run around and not have to worry too much about defense (not that he does here...). He'd be a cog there, whereas here the Cavs actually have to rely on him.

8. Not good:

"We need to run more," he [Larry Hughes] said. "Our identity is not as a defensive team. It is to get out and push the ball down the court. That's obviously how we've been more successful. The wins and losses show it when we're in the attack mode.

"Trying to call us a defensive team when we need to put the ball in the basket is not what we need."

9. It's pretty great that Hughes is bitching about the offense and says that they aren't a defensive team after the game he played against the Suns: 3-13, terrible defense and 0 rebounds; a complete non-factor.

10. It's not a good sign that the players are openly bitching about the offense. I do agree that Brown focussed a bit too much on defense (or ignores the offensive problems), but you can't have Brown talk about the Cavs getting back to defensive basics and then have your starting 2-guard say that you aren't a defensive team.

11. From the newly created 'I Detest Larry Hughes' blog:
When you go 3-13, 1-4 from beyond the arc, 0-0 FT, and collect 0 rebounds in 39 minutes, you may want to just shut the fuck up and stare at the wall.
12. I do disagree with the blog's second post, about signing Joe Johnson instead of Hughes. He says the Cavs should've traded two first round picks ('06 and '08) for Johnson (because the Suns gave up 2 first rounders and Boris Diaw). The problem was that the Cavs didn't have the draft picks to trade; yes the Cavs did have a first rounder last year and they do have one in '08 but that's because you aren't allowed to trade your first round picks for consecutive drafts (you can't go two years in a row without a first round draft pick). So the Cavs had to draft in '06 and '08 because they traded away '05 and '07 (thanks Jim Paxson!). The next first round pick the Cavs are allowed to trade is '09 (unless they get back into the first round of the '07 draft).

13. He also neglects to mention that Phoenix got a pretty decent prospect in Boris Diaw in the deal as well. I still say if the Cavs signed Joe Johnson that the Suns would've matched. (Plus, again, Johnson wanted to be 'the man'. The Cavs have LeBron. There's a problem there).

14. My constant link whoring paid off. Take that, self pride! (BTW, I love the pic and Hudson sucks ass)

15. Two games in a row of Gibson playing more than Snow. This something I could get used to.

16. So the Knicks are the NBA's most valuable franchise. Sounds weird, but it's probably true. Of course, they'd be more valuable if they were any good.

17. The fact that the Knicks are so valuable right now is one of the reasons why I can't imagine David Stern pushing LeBron to leave Cleveland for NYC. The Knicks are valuable without LeBron, they don't need him to make money. The Cavs? Notsomuch. LeBron is their entire franchise, he's the only reason they're ranked 10th on that list. If he leaves (especially if he leaves within 5 years), the team will basically be done. If he goes to the Knicks, he turns a profitable franchise into a more profitable one, but in turn the Cleveland franchise would be decimated. Am I articulating this well? I don't feel I am.

18. Stephon Marbury wants to become an announcer. A preview?
Mike Breen: The Rockets trail by three, with 2:11 left in the game ... McGrady has the ball on the wing.
Marbury: SHOOT IT!
Breen: Here comes the double-team.
Marbury: SHOOT IT!
Breen: McGrady passes out of it, to an open Battier in the corner.
Breen: Sixteen seconds on the shot clock.
Breen: Battier pump-fakes, goes baseline ...
Marbury: No, don't shoot the two, you're just leaving a point out there.
Breen: He draws the defender, and hands the ball off to Yao.
Marbury: Lame.
Breen: Yao with an open dunk, and some nice ball movement from the Rockets.
Marbury: Just a garbage play. Where'd they learn that, "basketball school?" It's too bad they don't have a go-to guy like me. I'd have just shot it.
Breen: I know.
19. Man, that one guy has all the bad luck

20. Joe Lieberman sucks.

21. So does Sean Hannity.

22. Do this (it's quick and easy).

23. HBO has optioned George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. This is fantastic news (In my personal HBO run, I've just started Deadwood and waiting to start season 4 of The Wire).

24. Ryan Garko needs to earn his first base job. (I'm OK with this, in theory. He shouldn't just be handed the job Brandon Phillips-style, but I have a sick feeling that the Tribe won't give him a long look at first until they're out of contention mid-season).

25. I meant to link to this last week, but I forgot. It is fantastic:
38. Carlos Mencia

A German-Honduran who pretends to be Mexican so he can engage in jovial slurs about "beaners" and "wetbacks." Repeatedly says "what?" and "no, I’m serious!" during his stand up routines, as if his audience is blown away by his tiresome retreading of age-old ethnic and gender clichés and his bellowing one-note delivery. Imagines himself to be some kind of envelope-pushing genius despite the fact that his entire body of work is a series of variations on the hackneyed "white guys do this, black guys do this" routine that has launched a thousand careers in stand-up mediocrity. What’s that you say, Carlos? Asians can’t drive? Gee, we’ve never heard that before. A well-known joke thief, Mencia can’t even write his own shitty, hackneyed material.
26. Because Ben brought it up: I know Columbus loves it Blue Jackets. And that's great, but they aren't nearly as big in Columbus as the Buckeyes. If they make the playoffs it'll be an event, but OSU gets tens of thousands of people at their scrimmages. They just don't really compare. That being said, I do wish I had attended at least one game while I was down at school (not that I can't now, but still).

27. Because Ben brought it up II: the church league... well, we've lost both our games by 20+ (30+?) points. In our defense, we've never played together, while other teams have been with each other for sometime now. As for myself, I've really been a non-factor. Sure, I've made my moves in the post but I don't get the ball a whole lot, plus my jumper is off. I'm unbelievably out of shape; I haven't realized how much the shoulder surgery has taken out of me. I guess if you can't run for a about year (10+ months or so), you don't get up and down the court very quickly (and I was never fast to begin with). However, I have been playing ball and getting in shape at their Sunrise pick up games at 6AM. Yup, ball at 6AM. Alright, no one really cares about this, moving on...

28. YouTube Time: I saw this short animated film on my plane ride out to AZ. It's called 'Badgered':

29. More YouTube, I saw this new ipod commercial and went to go find out what song that was:

30. The band? The Fratellis. The song? Flathead. I'm a fan of both. I can't recommend their album (Costello Music) enough. Here's some of their videos to get you started:

Chelsea Dagger

Whistle for the Choir

Creeping up the Backstairs


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Phoenix 115, Cleveland 100

It was closer than that final score suggests. Basically the opposite of their first meeting (where the 19 point loss looked better than it really was); the game was close for 3+ and the Suns just pulled away at the end.

This was winnable. Going into the fourth quarter, the Cavs were down 91-87. The Cavs got some stops (actually, the Suns simply missed some threes, good defense boys!) but they couldn't capitalize. Shawn Marion scored the first points of the quarter at 10 minute mark to bump their lead to 93-87.... and with 8:10 left to play, the Cavs were down 99-87. And that was all she wrote.

Can a the offense be the problem, even when the Cavs scored 100? Yes. The Cavs put up a 13 point fourth quarter. Terrible. Play all the defense you want, when you're scoring less than 15 points in a period (especially against the Suns) you're not going to win many games.

More fourth quarter (actually, the entire second half). In the first half, the Cavs were challenging Phoenix inside and drawing fouls, with LeBron leading the way. LeBron was feeling it and abusing the Suns down low. The second half? Not so much. LeBron shot zero free throws in the second half. Wanna say the Suns clamped down? Fine; but the Cavs fell in love with the jumper and stopped working the ball in the lane.

LeBron needs to be a leader. True, he passed the ball to the open man and sometimes it worked and sometimes it went to David Wesley. I get it, he's sharing the ball. But he needs to demand the ball on the block and just take his man. He's bigger and quicker than anyone down there; whenever they utilize him in the post it seems to work. He needs to demand the ball.

Larry Hughes. Needs be traded. (He took too many jumpers, had 2 charges, got a shot blocked and he lost his man more than a few times on defense). I can understand giving Hughes time to work out of his funk but come the fourth quarter, isn't it time to sit him? Brown just kept waiting for him to come to life but it never happened. You know it's bad when there are shouts of 'put in Sasha' in the fourth quarter.

More Brown. The substitution pattern didn't really make a whole lot of sense. With Hughes struggling, you'd expect to see some Sasha Pavlovic action. Nope; a game after starting for LeBron, Sasha logs a DNP-CD. Normally, I'd complain if Z only got 13 minutes, but it made sense versus the Suns (especially considering how the Cavs were guarding the pick and roll, but we'll get to that in a bit). Snow only played 13 minutes as well, but his absence led to 16 minutes for David Wesley (which really wasn't that awful considering David's recent play and the fact that Shannon Brown is hurt, but I have a feeling we'd have seen Wesley no matter how Brown is feeling).

Brown did play Boobie. In 19 minutes Gibson scored 6 points (both 3s) and had 5 assists and 3 rebounds. He missed a couple of two point shots (one was a floater where he totally faked out Marion). He picked up 3 quick fouls in the first half, but Brown actually brought him back in mid-second quarter with those 3 fouls. Hopefully this is a stretch where Brown will give him 20 minutes a night before sending him back to the bench.

The defense confused me. The Cavs seemed to have a plan to switch defenders whenever the Suns ran a pick and roll. They didn't fight through the screens, they automatically switched. This led to numerous Diaw on Gibson, Stoudamire on Snow and Nash versus Zydrunas match ups. The Suns kept running the pick and rolls to get the mismatch and the Cavs kept giving it to them. I didn't understand this at all.

The refs stunk. The Cavs had 25 fouls to the Suns 13. Phoenix shot 21 free throws to the Cavs 14 (both teams were under 70% from the stripe). Not all of this is the refs; the Cavs fouled a lot on defense because they were out of position and they also stopped taking the ball inside. However, there were a couple bogus charge calls on the Cavaliers (not all were bogus), a rookie call or two on Gibson and too many ticky-tack calls in my opinion (especially in the first half).

Sights at the game. This was the third game (second at the Q) I've been to this season and this was the first one where I didn't get to see Ira Newble play. Damn. Also, during a quarter break the Cavs had a group of kids come out dressed like Michael Jackson and dance to classic Jacko songs. Yup... Little kids. Michael Jackson.

The Suns are good. They shot 57% from the field and 46% from 3 point range. They had 3 players score 20 points or more and one with 19 off the bench (Barbosa). Oh yea, Nash also had 15 assists.

and finally...

Will LeBron play versus Golden State? LeBron was a game time decision for the Suns game (they even had Pavlovic's number 3 up on the scoreboard) and after the game he said his toe was bothering him and he may have to take off some games to let it heal. I'm OK with this, he needs the rest (Brown plays him way too many minutes). It could be a good thing to let the Cavs play a few games without him so they can develop some chemistry with LBJ out of the lineup (and then Brown will feel comfortable resting James during games which will lead to a more focused and aggressive James (as he won't be saving himself)).

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cleveland 105, Philadelphia 97

Makes sense to me. Of course the Cavs lose to the Sixers at home with James but beat them at Philly without him. Of course they do.

They didn't start that great. The Sixers shot 81% in the first quarter and 65% for the half. The Cavalier offense wasn't in sync (I, for one, am shocked) and I was really wondering if they were actually going to lose big to Philadelphia. The Cavs let Philly score 38 in the first quarter and they were down 60-43 at the half.

The whole team stepped up. This was real nice to see; with LeBron out, everyone did their part; 5 Cavs scored in double figures: Hughes had 16, Gooden had 21, Marshall had 17, Jones had 15, Gibson had 11. Zydrunas pitched in 8, Sasha had 6 (he was the only Cav doing anything early in the game) and David Wesley added 5 (though it should've been 7, he blew a wide open lay).

More Wesley. As much as we all have trash his signing, can't we say that he's given the Cavs two wins this season? He played huge minutes against the Sixers; played tough defense, hit a 3 and actually made free throws. He also had a big game against Golden State. I'm not sure if the Cavs beat Philly (or the Warriors) without Wesley's contributions. (Not to get ahead of myself, but wouldn't you rather see Wesley out there than Snow? I mean, if the Cavs are going to play an old defensive point guard, why not make it the guy who can shoot the ball? Just sayin')

I'm not sure what this means, it's some kind of pattern... It seems every time Brown gives Daniel Gibson extended minutes, he produces. It's the weirdest thing. Gibson had 11 points and 5 assists while logging 22 minutes. He scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter (he played the final 15 minutes) and also handed out 5 assists. And in that fourth quarter? He *gasp* ran the point. Fantastic.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Fred McLeod called Daniel Gibson 'mini-LeBron' and said that Gibson reminded him of Isiah Thomas. Whoa. (Though thats not as bad as Scott Williams calling a Sasha Pavlovic drive 'Jordanesque')

Wesley also played the entire fourth period. Snow only got 13 minutes. I'm OK with this.

Live by the three. Usually, if the Cavs shoot 18 threes, I'm not particularly pleased; this usually means at least 5 of those are from LeBron and at least 3 of those are ugly 'he's LeBron so he's allowed to take those' shots. The Cavs actually made 9 of those threes. 50%. And the weird thing is, they were good shots. You remember those; passing the ball to the open man, drive and dish, swinging the ball. Without LeBron not out there, the Cavs couldn't just stand around and wait for him to do something awesome.

Not that the offense was all that great... Snow holds on to the ball way too long and they still take a long time to execute the play. The Cavs really didn't to towards Z very much, but the get get Gooden the ball on the low block a few times (at least someone touched it in the post).

Hughes. Some good plays (3 steals) and some bad (4 turnovers) but overall I'd say he had a pretty solid game. With LeBron out, he didn't try to do too much (which was good). Also, I'd really like to know what he needs to do in order to get a foul called. The man takes the ball to the rim, gets contact and.... nothin. Nada. He only took 1 free throw all night (naturally, being a part of the '06-07 Cavaliers, he missed it). He should've had at least 5 attempts from the stripe tonight.

Coach Brown actually coached, wha? He rode the same 5 for most of the fourth quarter (Jones, Gibson, Wesley, Marshall and Gooden) and let Gibson handle the point for all of crunch time. He even drew a technical foul for arguing with the refs; he stuck up for Gooden (I've been waiting for this to happen. I've also been waiting for him to get himself kicked out of game to wake his team up). This whole 'motive the team' concept is nice, I could get used to that. Plus, he kept Eric Snow on the bench, which I think we can all agree is a good thing. (I did notice he kept clapping a ton when the Cavs were getting beat bad in the first half. Constant clapping. That really didn't seem to do it for the guys).

Free throws were delightfully not terrible. The Cavs shot 72% for the game which, while isn't great, isn't a hindrance either. If the Cavs can shoot around 75% most games, they should be alright. Those 50% nights have to end.

and finally...

Oh great, the Suns. Phoenix comes to town on Sunday riding a 16 game win streak. James should be back and hopefully Brown doesn't use LeBron's return as an excuse to go back to his 'Eric Snow plays 35+ minutes' strategy (Gibson needs more minutes, he can actually create for people! Also, he can make baskets, which is neat to see coming from the point guard spot every now and then).

Don Banks Mock Draft

Hey, he actually has the Browns taking a lineman (Peter King's early early early mock draft had them taking Ted Ginn Jr. (WTF?)):
3. # OT Joe Thomas Wisconsin SR. 6-8 315

The Browns and Bucs coin flip at the NFL Combine for the No. 3 and 4 spots could be huge. For now, we'll give the Browns Thomas, this year's premier offensive lineman. Cleveland's OL had trouble from day one of training camp in 2006.

"Cleveland's OL had trouble from day one of training camp in 2006 1999."

Oh Goodie

PHILADELPHIA -- LeBron James will sit out the Cleveland Cavaliers' game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday to rest his aching toe.

His right toe is still sore and the team doctor said a night of rest would help, Cleveland coach Mike Brown said after shootaround Friday.

"If it was a playoff game he could play," Brown said. "The doctor suggested it would be good to give him the additional rest. It's just sore."

Brown said he did not expect James to miss Sunday's home game against the Phoenix Suns (ABC, 1 p.m. ET).

James, who leads the voting for next month's All-Star Game, originally injured his toe on a West Coast swing earlier this month. He aggravated it in a double-overtime home loss to the Sixers on Wednesday, skipping a team workout Thursday and recording an appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman" in New York.

Cleveland started out the New Year with four straight wins but has lost five of six games.

In Wednesday's loss, James scored a season-high 39 points, including 13 in the second overtime.

The Sixers are coming off consecutive wins for the first time since late December of last year.

Ya, 13 points in the second overtime. 9 of those points were desperation 3s while the Sixers were up 4 or more. One was a layup that the Sixers gave him up 5 with 12 seconds left. The other two were off a layup that was the result of him missing two free throws...

Not saying that those 13 points weren't hard to get or isn't impressive, just that those are the hollowest (most hollow? Hmm... that music history degree isn't helping here...) 13 points in an overtime I've ever seen.

.... adding, he could use the rest and normally I'd say this is as good a game to miss as any... except that they just lost to Philly AT HOME.

I for one am interested to see the Zydrunas and Larry Hughes two man game put into action. Right?

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Right now the Cavs have lost 5 of their last six and they're a Stephen Jackson missed three from being on a six game losing streak. For the season, the Cavs are shooting 43.71% from the floor, which is good for 26th in the league and they are last in the NBA in free throw percentage at 68.54%. Over their last six games they're shooting a frigid 40.83% from the floor and 66% from the charity stripe.

Cavs message boards are filled with posts about replacing Mike Brown, Cavs bloggers are questioning LeBron's will to win and clutchness and they don't even want to watch the team. And we're starting to see the local sports writers write columns about the Cavs needing a reality check (well, Terry Pluto is writing that, Bud Shaw's column in the Plain Dealer today is about Browns owner Randy Lerner not living in Cleveland. Memo to the PD: the Cavs are no longer the 'third team' in Cleveland sports. They're actually the best team we've got around here. It's okay to write about them. Though for Shaw, maybe it's best that he didn't).

The coach and the players aren't on the same page (Brown: the defense was bad. LeBron: I'm OK with allowing the Sixers to shoot 50% at our place it was the offense that was the problem) and there's been reports of players yucking it up soon after getting berated for a terrible loss.

Over this same stretch of games we've gotten more news on LeBron's off the court exploits. He just signed a deal with Microsoft, he's going be roasted by comedians (and Damon Jones) for charity and he floated the idea of making a movie about the LeBrons:
Two major business publications have reported the sports representation agency of Leon Rose, who is James' agent, will be acquired by Hollywood talent giant Creative Artists Agency. If it comes to pass, it will be interesting to see if it paves the wave for James to someday get involved in a major motion picture. James has maintained such an interest for several years and had informal talks with Spike Lee several years ago.

One idea already being bandied about is a movie featuring his popular Nike commercial characters, ``The LeBrons.''

``If it is the right opportunity, if it is the right fit for my personality, then I'll be open-minded about it,'' James said. ``If we could do a movie with `The LeBrons' that would be cool. It is something that could happen. It would take a lot of time and dedication, if the right thing comes along maybe it could happen.''

Fantastic idea.

If you read the summaries on ESPN you'd think that all these losses are because of LeBron's teammates ('LeBron gets triple-double but Cavs still lose'). I mean, LeBron scores 30 points and has a handful of assists and boards, so he showed up, right?

Over the last 6 games LeBron is averaging 28.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists; those are fantastic numbers, how could someone bitch about LeBron? But dig a little deeper and you see a different picture: over those same 6 games, LeBron is shooting 46% from the floor, 23% from 3 and 64% from the foul line. Um... not good.

Right now LeBron is struggling; he's shooting too many jumpers, he's missing free throws (and critical ones at that) and he's not really taking over in crunch time (some of this blame falls at the feet of Mike Brown. LeBron should be getting 38 minutes a game, instead he's getting 42, this takes it toll). LeBron looks disinterested out there; you can tell when he's playing and when he decides it's winning time. His whole demeanor changes; he looks angry, he's flying in for rebounds and he's taking it to the hoop with authority. The rest of the time he's settling for fade away 20 footers and floating around Drew Gooden style.

Pluto is right, the Cavs do need a reality check. But it might behoove the Cavaliers if someone in the organization took LeBron aside and told him to focus more on basketball and less endorsements.

If you're playing well and winning, the commercials, movie idea and comedy roasts are cute. It's nice to see more of the Cavs superstar and he's great at what he does.

But if you're losing? It looks like you got your priorities out of whack.

And that's a lack of focus.

The Best Part of the Sixers Game

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Philadelphia 118, Cleveland 115 (2OT)

Wow... just... wow. A double overtime loss to the last place Sixers, at home. Nice job boys.

Well, at least 4 guys came to play. LeBron: 39 points, 10 boards and 5 assists. Zydrunas: 23 points, 10 boards and 1 block. Hughes: 26 points, 4 assists and 2 boards. Anderson Varejao: only 3 points, but 10 boards (5 offense and 5 defensive) and 5 assists (is it time to start him over Gooden yet? When is it OK to start calling for Varejao to start? Are we there yet? Will someone let me know when we are?).

Ugly. The Cavs shot 39% from the field and for most of the game it was worse than that (high 20s). The bench was non-existent besides Pavlovic and Varejao. Andy gave the Cavs some hustle and fire down the stretch (Gooden sat for most of the fourth quarter and all of the overtimes, until late in the second OT when Z fouled out). Sasha did chip in 12 points on 6-8 shooting (he shot with confidence, so that was neat) but he added 0 rebounds and 0 assists. Everyone else? Bleh. Jones was 0-8 and Marshall was 0-2. Daniel Gibson didn't play.

The offense. Here's a though, you know how you guys started off the game, where you force feed Z down low and it netted him 10 first quarter points? How bout doing that throughout the game (not the force feeding every play, but get him the ball on the low block. He'll draw fouls, he's one of the guys who makes his foul shots). In overtime, guys stood around until late in the shot clock and a few times Z got the ball way out of position as the time was running low. Don't get me wrong, I love the big fella, but he shouldn't be the Cavs last option with the clock running down.

What goes on during timeouts?? In the first overtime, the Cavs called a time out to set up a play after a Kyle Korver basket. The result? A LeBron James 25 foot fade away to beat the clock. That's simply good coaching. There was next to no movement. This is getting almost comical.

Free throws are officially a problem. Sure, they've been an issue all season, especially lately, but you could really say that tonight's game came down to the freebies. The Cavs shot 73.5% (25 of 34) and Philadelphia shot 96% (25-26). Now, obviously Philly won't always shoot like that, but down the stretch the Sixers made theirs and the Cavs didn't. Period. LeBron missed 3 in OT and Hughes (while 7-8 for the game) missed one that could've put the Cavs up 3 with 16 seconds left in the fourth.

Here's what's troubling. Late last season and even earlier this season, if the Cavs were in the middle of a close game, I had confidence that they'd execute down the stretch and pull it out. That certainly didn't happen against Philly.

Andre Iguodala is a beast. I really got nothing else here; he hit big shots, he scored 34 points, hit 12-12 free throws and had 9 assists.

Fox Sports Ohio. During the West coast trip, FSN had a Austin Carr teamed up with Jeff Phelps in the studio for their halftime reports and game breaks. I liked this; Austin worked really well there and he wasn't annoying. As a color commentator he becomes too excited and gets ahead of himself; he rushes things and he won't know what to say so he'll just keep repeating the same thing over and over (and over...). Fred McLeod had a quip about some people say that he calls the game through 'wine and gold glasses' (a reference to Bill Livingston's column). Of course he's not... just every time a Cavs player gets picked its always off an opponents moving screen....

More FSN. They really want the Cavs to trade for Andre Miller. Both announcer kept harping on how wonderful he is. He's a leader, a floor general, he sees things on the court that other players don't. We get it.

But at least LeBron played 53 minutes. In a loss. At home. To the Philadelphia 76s. Heckuva job Brownie.

Here's a fun stat: over the last 6 games, the Cavs have shot over 43% just once (Golden State).
New Orleans/Oklahoma City is last in the NBA in FG% and they shoot 43.47%. Starting with the Seattle game, the Cavs had games of: 41%, 35.4%, 42.2%, 47.8%, 39.2% and 39.4%. We all realize how bad this is right? These weren't exactly against any of the NBA defensive stalwarts either.

and finally...

So... wanna do this again Friday? Your place? So the Cavs can't beat the Sixers at home and now they get to go on the road. Fantastic. What's that? Phoenix on Sunday? I'm sure they'll be ready...

Defending Danny Ferry and the Zydrunas Signing

Joel has had some detailed posts on Danny Ferry's term as Cavaliers GM. I'll oversimplify things here, but his main point is that Ferry wasted the Cavs cap space two summers ago with the re-signing of Zyrdunas Illgauskas and the signings of Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones.

The Hughes signing, while not ideal, I think had to be done. As much as I would've liked Ray Allen, Michael Redd or Joe Johnson, they just weren't going to come here. The Cavs couldn't have paid Allen and Redd enough; they got more money by staying with their current teams. I can't really blame either of them, but I Redd staying makes too much sense; he was a second round draft pick so he didn't get that first round rookie contract like Dajuan Wagner and Luke Jackson. He also outgrew the first longterm deal he signed and was vastly underpaid (by NBA standards) at the end of it. After being underpaid for most of his career, he was going to cash in.

As for Joe Johnson... the Suns were going to match any deal for him until the Hawks offered them Boris Diaw and two future first round picks. The Cavs couldn't offer anything close to that (they had recently traded their first round pick for Jiri Welsch. Thanks Jim Paxson!). The Cavs really didn't have much of a choice; Hughes was really their only viable option (unless you want Ira Newble starting for the second year in a row).

But like I said, Hughes has been disappointing. How disappointing?

Ira Newble - 04-05 season (when he started):
Games - 74 (69 started): FG% - 42.9% 3pt% - 35.8% FT% - 79.7% RPG - 3 APG - 1.2 PPG - 5.9
Larry Hughes 06-07:
Games - 30 (28 started): FG% - 40.6% 3pt% - 38.7% FT% - 65.7% RPG - 3.6 ASG - 3.3 PPG - 14.6
Ouch. Obviously, no one is going to suggest that Ira Newble is better than Larry Hughes or argue that Hughes isn't an upgrade (well, maybe that one commenter, who I'm beginning to suspect was Ira Newble). But for roughly $10 million per year more than Newble, it'd be nice to get a better FG%.

But like I said, Ferry didn't have a lot of options.

Anyways, back to Joel and Ferry. Here's the crux of his latest post (more or less, just go read the whole thing):

Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Salary: $9,442,697
Expected WP: 7.5
Salary Should Be: $6,630,937
Difference: $2,811,760 OVERPAID

Donyell Marshall
Salary: $5,633,037
Expected WP: 2.4
Salary Should Be: $3,892,123
Difference: $1,740,914 OVERPAID

Damon Jones
Salary: $3,884,678
Expected WP: 1.1
Salary Should Be: $3,209,416
Difference: $675,262 OVERPAID

Larry Hughes
Salary: $13,363,012
Expected WP: 1.8
Salary Should Be: $3,543,929
Difference: $9,819,083 OVERPAID

Again... ouch. First lemme say that Jones is barely overpaid, $675,262 isn't exactly much on a NBA roster. But that's a small quibble.

Let's get to Z.

The Cavs are paying Z roughly $9.4 mil this season and he's giving them 12 points and 8 boards a game on .473 shooting. Not great, not bad; remember, he only averaged 9.8 points per game in November when everyone was saying he's done (he's averaging 13.5 ppg in January).

He's probably a bit overpaid. Joel says Z's expected salary should be roughly $6.6 million. Is that a fair value for Z? Probably. In a perfect world, Ferry would've signed Z for roughly that amount.

But here's the problem we don't live in a perfect world. In our world, George W Bush is President, La Toya Jackson is working in law enforcement and NBA big men are vastly overpaid.

Here's what Z is getting paid for the next few years (current year first). All numbers via HoopsHype:
Zydrunas Ilgauskas - $9,442,697 - $10,142,156 - $10,841,615 - $11,541,074
Now let's see what some other big men are getting paid:
Eddy Curry - $8,171,103 - $8,947,543 - $9,723,983 - $10,500,423 - $11,276,863

Samuel Dalembert - $8,840,000 - $9,680,000 - $10,520,000 - $11,360,000 - $12,200,000

Erick Dampier - $8,625,000 - $8,587,500 - $9,550,000 - $10,112,500 - $13,075,000

Adonal Foyle - $8,125,000 - $8,937,500 - $9,750,000 - $10,562,500

Chris Kaman - $3,491,767 - $8,600,000 - $9,500,000 - $10,400,000 - $11,300,000 - $12,200,000

Raef LaFrentz - $10,905,000 - $11,813,750 - $12,722,500

Kenyon Martin - $11,818,182 - $13,000,000 - $14,181,818 - $15,363,636 - $16,545,454

Brad Miller - $9,625,000 - $10,500,000 - $11,375,000 - $12,250,000

Troy Murphy - $8,285,714 - $9,206,349 - $10,126,984 - $11,047,619 - $11,968,253

Nenê - $10,000,000 - $11,050,000 - $12,100,000 - $13,150,000 - $14,200,000

Theo Ratliff - $11,666,666 - $11,666,666
What's that list tell you (besides that the Nuggets are dumb)? Big men get paid a lot. For a regular player, is Z overpaid? Ya (though one could argue that all NBA players are overpaid, but that's neither here nor there). But for a big man? Z is probably right in line with the rest of the league.

You could also mention that Z's contract was too long, because he's getting up there in age and centers decline as they get older. I'd agree to a point. I mean, how much more can Z really break down? He can't jump, he's slow and he already relies on a series of 'old man moves' (not to mention his devastating hook shot). He doesn't rely on quickness or strength like other big men; he uses his length, he shoots well and has good footwork. The man is always going to be 7'3". Plus, he's pretty much injury free (which in all seriousness should be a bigger story than it is, considering how his career started).

But here's the thing, take a look at that list again, is there anyone on there that is really that much better? Chris Kaman is nice, but that's about all you can say. He's nice. Eddie Curry has a ton of potential, but he also has motivation issues and is a serious health risk. The Nuggets are already trying to unload Nenê and he just signed that contract this offseason. Raef LaFrenz is useless, as is Troy Murphy, Theo Ratliff and Eric Dampier are basically one way players and Samuel Dalembert is being paid for his potential.

Could you argue that some of them could make better fits for the offense? LeBon could use a more athletic big man to run the floor with. I guess, but that's not saying much. Hell, the current offense doesn't use LeBron or Hughes correctly, let alone understand the concept of 'post play'. They love the jumpshots. Plus the Cavs don't have a point guard to run with and I'll say it again, having Kareem in the pivot never really hurt the Lakers running attack did it? (Centers start breaks with blocks, rebounds and outlet passes, they don't finish them)

Finally, I think we're relying too much on 20/20 hindsight here. Let's look back on what was going on at the time of the signings:

- The Cavs and LeBron had just missed the playoffs by one game (for the second year in a row) while Wade and 'Melo were getting ample postseason experience.

- The Cavs had a new owner who fired their current coach with 18 games to go in the regular season. The franchise seemed to be in turmoil.

- The previous offseason was the Carlos Boozer debacle.

- LeBron had yet to sign his contract extension.

That's what Ferry had to deal with; he had to show LeBron that after missing the postseason twice, the Cavs were 'serious about winning'. If Ferry lets Z walk away that would mean that LeBron's only two teammates who were worth a damn, Boozer and Z, would've left for nothing.

If the Cavs had decided that Hughes wasn't the right fit for LeBron (and from the looks of it, he ain't) and decided that since they couldn't sign Redd, Allen or Johnson that they'd sit on their money (much like the Spurs did a few years back), could you imagine the outcry? The media would've gone nuts. Cavs fans would've gone nuts. "How could the Cavs not upgrade the SG position?!? LeBron is going to leave!!" I mean, Bill Simmons went crazy when LeBron waited a week to sign his extension and that was coming off a 50 win season and a game 7 second round loss.

To me, the Cavs had to sign both Hughes and Z simply to keep LeBron. If they pass on both of them... well... who's to say if the Cavs make the playoffs last year or if LeBron signs his extension.

As for Marshall and Jones, the Cavs were a terrible outside shooting team and those two were supposed to bolster the Cavs 3 point attack. It hasn't worked out, but it made sense at the time (let me say this: all these signings are much more defensible than Jim Paxson giving both Ira Newble and Kevin Ollie 5 year $15 mil. deals).

Honestly, if LeBron wasn't 'on the clock' so to speak, I don't think the Cavs sign Hughes. I honestly think they would've made a bigger push for Joe Johnson. And if they couldn't get Johnson they'd find something cheap for a season and use their cap space the next offseason.

(I think they're doing the same thing now with Snow. Ya, they could probably trade for a PG if they gave up any combination of Gibson, Brown, Varejao, Pavlovic and Gooden, but they would probably have to take someone else's junk contract back. A lot of people want Andre Miller and of course he'd be an upgrade over Snow but he doesn't exactly have the jumpshot, range and speed the Cavs really need. To me trading for Miller short term fix with long term ramifications (the young guys the Cavs give up and Miller's contract) who really isn't the ideal fit).

In conclusion, I probably come off as a Danny Ferry or Ilguaskas apologist. I don't think I am. I do admit, I like Zydrunas, but I'm a big fan of post play; that's my style. As for Ferry, ya, the moves haven't all worked out, but I'm not really sure what he should've done instead.

It's too bad LeBron signed that contract extension

Cause playing in Cleveland is really hurting LeBron's endorsement opportunities:

SEATTLE (AP) -- The ever-expanding LeBron James empire is entering a new realm.

Microsoft Corp. is using the NBA star to promote next week's consumer release of its new Windows Vista operating system. James will make what a Microsoft spokesman described Tuesday as cameo appearances on national television commercials that will begin airing Jan. 30.

James is the first NBA player that the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant has used to promote its products, Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos said. And Vista may not be the last Microsoft project for the Cleveland Cavaliers guard.

"We're happy with him. And I know his people are happy with it, too," Gellos said. "We're talking about what future projects we might do with him."

James and Microsoft have worked together in the past, during the player's summer bicycle event for charity in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

Microsoft declined to reveal how much it paid James, who turned 22 last month. When he was still a senior at Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, James signed a seven-year, $90 million endorsement contract with Nike.

James already has endorsement contracts worth an estimated $150 million. He and three friends, Maverick Carter, Randy Mims and Rich Paul, have formed LRMR Development LLC to run James' personal and business management. James is LRMR's CEO.

James signed a three-year, $60 million contract extension with the Cavaliers last July. Last year, in an interview with The Associated Press, he said one of his primary goals was to "be the richest man in the world."

He also wants to be a world "ambassador."

"I've moved in my life and my first day in a new school I was always able to make new friends," James said last year. "That's difficult for some people. So someday being an ambassador to the world and not just the NBA would be great. I want to be the face of a lot of things."

Honestly, not being a Knick is sure killing his pocket book.

Look, I've said this before but I'll say it again, playing in big markets help marginal players. I firmly believe that Greg Anthony is on ESPN because he played most of his career on the Knicks and I'm not sure how soon Tiki Barber would be on the radio had he gotten his yards while playing for the Kansas City Chiefs. If not for LA, Luke Walton wouldn't have appeared on The Young and the Restless and Rick Fox wouldn't have his own IMDB page.

And I'm pretty sure that if he didn't play for the Yankees, no one would be making arguments for Scott Brosius to be in the Hall of Fame.


"The Plan" sucks major ass:

Even if Garko makes the team, his playing time will be severely limited, at least theoretically. His primary path to the plate must go through Casey Blake, who is scheduled to play first base most of the time.

But Blake also is one of two right fielders and will play the outfield when an opposing left-hander starts. Recently signed Trot Nixon will be the right fielder against righties, thus getting most of the playing time.

When Blake plays the outfield, Garko will play first, which means he might receive only 150-175 at-bats. Wedge probably will look for more, but aside from an occasional pinch-hitting appearance, it will be difficult as long as ``The Plan'' remains in effect.

Hey Tribe fans, we're serious about winning! Casey Blake is going to get the bulk of the time at first place over our promising first base prospect! Come buy season tickets, we're trying!!

Last season, in 50 games Garko had 54 hits, 45 RBI, 12 doubles and 7 home runs in just 185 ABs.

To compare, in 109 games Blake had 113 hits, 68 RBI, 20 doubles and 19 home runs in 401 ABs.

Maybe you think Garko had the benefit of anonymity; pitchers didn't know about him and they didn't have video. Fine. However, as Terry Pluto will tell you, Garko has always hit:
It's also curious how the Indians are willing to dismiss Garko's overall performance as a hitter in the minors, partly because he batted .247 with 15 home runs and 59 RBI in 103 games at Class AAA Buffalo before being recalled. But Garko batted .303 at Class AAA Buffalo in 2005. He hit .330, primarily at Class A Kinston and Class AA Akron in 2004. Garko always has been a good hitter.
Here's my money quote, take as you will:
Garko has leaned on Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner, an MVP candidate with a locker next to his.

"I talk a lot with Travis about hitting," Garko said. "If something comes up, he'll pull me aside and break down an at-bat, whether it's one of mine or one of his. He has a great understanding of what pitchers are trying to do. I've learned a tremendous amount from him already."

Hafner is happy to assist.

"He has a real interest in hitting," Hafner said. "He likes picking the minds of the veterans, trying to get better and learn as much as he can. I remember as a rookie how nice it was to have guys around who could show you the ropes and make you feel comfortable.

"Based on what I've seen, he has a chance to be a really good hitter."

(Casey Blake?!?!?)

Wait, so this guy is going to coach Kevin Garnett?

Get ready Wolves fans, I'm sure Wittman will do for your organization what he did for the Cavaliers- lose ball games (62-102 record in two seasons). Though, I'm not sure how much coaching Lammond Murray, Bimbo Coles, JR Reid, Andrew DeClercq and Clarence Weatherspoon is really going to help him.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Orlando 90, Cleveland 79

Rough schedule. I don't know if you heard or not, but the Cavaliers just got back from a West coast trip. I hear that they're tired. (To be fair, it is crappy that they only got one day off, especially since their last game went into overtime).

Of course, if Mike Brown used his bench... Brown knows just as well as any of us that the Cavs were tired (and they sure looked it). Which is why it made perfect sense that Sasha Pavlovic got only 8 minutes and Daniel Gibson only got 4 and, correct me if I'm wrong, but neither played in the second half. Honestly, what the hell is going on here, LeBron logged 43 minutes and Hughes got 41. Are we surprised that they looked tired? Out of 41 games, LeBron has been under 40 minutes just 8 times (and that's with 2 games each of 38 and 39 minutes); this is flat out unacceptable. Use the bench consistently!!

Cavaliers vs Magic drinking game. Here's how it works: every time one of the Cavs announcers (or Jeff Phelps) mentions something about being tired, fatigued or works in the road trip, that's a sip. If they follow it up with "but that's not an excuse" (or some variation of) add an extra 5 sips. Every time Austin Carr calls Dwight Howard a beast, that's a sip. And finally, take a shot whenever the Cavs shoot a jumper off of fast break. Every time Eric Snow misses a wide open jumper, stab yourself in the eye.

I have a question: when the Cavs are down somewhere between 8-14 point for most of the second half A) why is Eric Snow out there and B) why isn't Z? In close ball games, I totally understand why Eric is out there; he makes defensive stops and he runs the point. That's fine. But when you have to make up a deficit, why have a guy who can't shoot. It's not just his shooting, it's him 'not shooting'. Case in point: in the fourth quarter, Anderson Varejao drove the lane and found a wide open Snow with a nifty behind the back pass. What'd Snow do? Pass it up and got the ball to Damon Jones for a corner three ball. Any other PG has an easy hoop there, so if you're just looking at the box score and seeing Snow shot only 5 shots (making 2) and you think to yourself, "hey, at least he's not taking a lot of shots", you aren't getting the entire picture. As for Z, he only got 5 shot attempts in this game which is pretty awful considering Snow got 5, Jones got 12, Marshall got 5 and Varejao got 7.

Let's work on the thee man weave. Can the Cavs execute a fast break? Hughes took 2 jumpers off breaks (and could've passed up to a wide open Varejao on another one, but decided to try to dribble around a guy before he got fouled), Jones took a three off a break and Donyell Marshall passed it right to Keyon Dooling on another. That is poor execution.

More poor execution. In the third period, the Cavs got the Magic into the bonus at 8:33 mark. That's 8 and a half minutes of free throws every time Orlando touches you. What do the Cavaliers do? Not take a free throw until the 4:24 mark (of course, LeBron missed both of 'em). Well done.

Not that it would've really mattered. As a team, the Cavs shot 55.6% from the line for the game. That is real bad. They're under 70% (68.7%) for the season, after shooting 73% last year. And despite what team stooge Fred McLeod says, last year's 73% is not "OK"; 73% is still the bottom fourth of the league, if you want to be considered a contender 75% is a must.

LeBron... Not a real good game: 18 points on 6-15 shooting, 6-13 from the line with 5 assists and 4 boards in 43 minutes. Let's be fair here, he gets some of the blame for the loss. Sure it doesn't help when Larry Hughes lets Grant Hill drive by him all game, but LeBron didn't exactly lead the Cavs out there. Also, he had Hedo Turkaglu guarding him for most of the game; there is no reason why LeBron shouldn't have abused him- Turkoglu sucks. Wait, here's a reason: LBJ is averaging 41.0 minutes a game this year. And he's averaging 42.3 a game for January:
1/2 Spurs: 40
1/3 Celtics: 45
1/5 Bucks: 43
1/6 Nets: 44
1/9 Kings: 43
1/11 Suns: 39
1/13 Clippers: 42
1/16 Sonics: 44
1/17 Blazers: 35
1/19 Nuggets: 44
1/20 Warriors: 46
1/22 Magic: 43
That is insane. He only had 2 games under 40 minutes and they were still above 35. In the first night of back-to-backs: 40, 43, 44, 44. For the season, Kobe Bryant averages 38.8 minutes a game and 37..5 per in January. Dirk Nowitzki is at 36.4 for the year and 38.5 for the month. Dwyane Wade is at 39.0 and 40.6 respectively. Tim Duncan? 34.4 and 36.6. Steve Nash? 35.7 and 34.0 (and Nash has only played 40 minutes or more 3(!!!) times the entire year). Are any of those players less important to their team than LeBron is to the Cavaliers? I don't think so. Yet they all play less than LBJ. Is it really a surprise that LeBron isn't the best rebounder or defender?

Why do I keep harping on this? LeBron shot only 6-13 from the line and only scored 5 points in the second half. Over the last 20 minutes LeBron was 1-5 from the floor and 0-4 from the line. You think fatigue might have played a part in that? His last point came with 8:56 left in the fourth.

Boo birds. I know there are going to be people ripping the Cleveland fans for booing the Cavaliers. And I understand that. But here's the thing: you spend 50 bucks for a ticket, 8 bucks for parking, get a 86 dollar beer and a 32 dollar pretzel and then you watch the Cavs team settle for jump shots, not work the ball inside, leave men open on defense, get out rebounded 43-31, blow fast breaks and at one point miss 4 consecutive free throw attempts (and only shoot 50% from the line for the game). I wasn't there so I really can't say if I would've booed or not, but I can completely understand why someone would. Everyone in that building knows that the Cavs are a better team when they go inside and it's frustrating as hell watching the 'motion' offense stand around and hoist jumpers.

As is has been all season, the problem is offense. The Cavs shot 39.2% for the game and 6-17 from beyond the arc. That is gawd awful. The defense wasn't great, but it kept the Cavs relatively close most of the game. If the Cavs could have made a good 6-0 or 12-4 run would've cut the lead close and we would've had a ball game on our hands. It just never happened.

and finally...

Philly on Wednesday. This is a must win. A crappy team coming to your building; no excuses.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. I'm really indifferent to the hiring of Rob Chudzinski as the Browns new OC. He was San Diego's TE coach and that's great for Kellen Winslow and probably bad for Lawrence Vickers.

2. He's already been the Browns O.C. once already? Who knew?

3. Peter King loves him some Peyton Manning.

4. From MMQB:
"I don't get into monkeys and vindication.''
-- Peyton Manning, asked after the AFC Championship win if he felt the 38-34 win over the Patriots got the can't-win-the-big-one monkey off his back.
5. I know Manning won a 'big game' and that's great for him and it was really great to watch. However, he hasn't won 'the big one' yet. He got the monkey off of his back but he needs a championship to really shut people up.

6. Simmons can always find a way to bring up the Red Sox, can't he? (Though I was going to mention the parallel myself):
There were eerie parallels to the Dave Roberts Game in that the Colts (A) were handicapped by their collective history (much like the Red Sox heading into that 2004 ALCS), (B) were battling their long-time nemesis who always owned them (much like the Yankees), and (C) needed to hit rock-bottom to set up the whole "miracle comeback that makes everyone forget that this team was snakebitten in the first place" thing (like the Red Sox being three outs away from a sweep). Nothing's scarier than a home team playing with house money in front of a desperate crowd dying for a reason to jump back into the game.
7. First line of Simmons's column: "We had it". No, the Patriots had it. You were watching the game like the rest of us.

8. The whole 'fans using 'we' when talking about their teams' is one of the little things that bugs me. Don't get me wrong, I understand it and I used to do it myself. I make a conscious effort not to use 'we' when I discuss the Cavs, Browns or Tribe (with OSU it's more difficult, cause I actually went there and my tuition paid for those players scholarships). It's really not a big deal and it's quite common, but still, for whatever reason, it's grown to irk me.

9. This makes it real easy to root against the Bears.

10. So if Manning wins the Super Bowl, how many more commercials can he do? He's already everywhere and that's with being perceived as a choker. If he wins, he's going to be everywhere.

11. Bill Livingston is not a good columnist.

12. Livingston has a point with the Cavs don't have a consistent second man, but he (like everyone else) absolves James from any of this. LeBron's interest varies from game to game (or from quarter to quarter) and the Cavs suffer because of it. If LeBron plays the every game like the second half of the Warriors game, the Cavs are up 5-6 games in the East.

13. Free Darko uses big words to discuss LeBron's season.

14. They also have a great discussion on Bill Simmons and the Suns.

15. Does "I'm in, and I'm in to win" remind anyone else of "We'll take the ball and we're gonna score"

16. I agree with this:
I think you may have touched on this before, but I'd like to reiterate the single biggest mental block that currently makes me think I will not cast my vote for Clinton. It makes my stomach hurt to think that in twenty or thirty years I could look back at a list of presidents that includes "Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton." This country is far too great to have to rely on two families for so much presidential leadership. Think about it: a two-term Hillary would be TWENTY-EIGHT years of Bush and Clinton. It's petty, but like I said it's a mental block, and I'm just not sure how I can get over it.
17. More on Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton

18. Huh? Liberal blog fights PETA misinformation? wah?

19. That terrible Nancy Pelosi.

20. Tell me this isn't awesome:

22. Come on, who wouldn't want to see this?

23. Bob Saget as Zyrdrunas Ilgauskas? This works for everybody.

24. I must say, I do like the blue unis.

25. It turns out that there's a reason that Shannon Brown isn't playing and it's not because of Sasha Pavlovic's awesomeness:

Brown is dealing with a somewhat serious injury in his lower left leg. He was kicked just above the ankle during practice Dec. 29, the day before he was to go to his hometown of Chicago for the first time as a pro. It turned out to a very deep bone bruise which has led to a host of other complications.

``It's really affected some muscles that control the movement in my foot,'' Brown said. ``I had a little bleeding in my bone marrow, then it sent some fluid into my Achilles area and swelled my ankle up. It's one of them freak things that happen, I guess.''

The Cavs never officially announced Brown had been injured and have never listed him on their daily injury report. Team officials said they haven't listed because they didn't think the injury was serious. Perhaps it isn't a big deal for a player who has been inactive for most games, but frankly Brown wouldn't mind it. He knows there's a perception out there that he just has been unable to play well enough to crack the lineup.

26. I still say it's a little too soon to rip Ferry, though I can see the point. However, I'm pretty sure Joel's piece generated more comments on Real Cavs Fans than anything I've written combined (and I write for them after every game : ) ).

27. Trade for Pau!

28. This was by far the best thing on SNL this past week (I had the exact same thought about having an entourage):

29. The tivo will be working overtime tonight with a new Heroes and Studio 60 combined with the Cavs-Magic game and me being out of the house due to a church league game.

30. I've been wanting to post a video of the Hold Steady for awhile now and while I love their song 'Chips Ahoy', I really don't care for the video. So here's 'Stuck Between Stations' from their Letterman appearance (though the piano is too drowned out):

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Cleveland 106, Golden State 104 (OT)

Are you kidding me? Midway through the second quarter the Cavs looked dead. They were tired, their legs were gone and it looked like they just wanted to go back home. Here's how bad it was: with 5:13 to go in the 2nd, the Cavs were down 42-40. The halftime score? 62-44. A 20-4 run in 5 minutes. However, something crazy occurred at halftime...

Mike Brown decided to start Anderson Varejao in the second half. Wild Thing gave the Cavs some extra energy to begin the half and it showed. They rebounded, they played defense and they cut the lead to 2 points with 4 minutes to go in the third.

But they couldn't sustain it. Golden State pushed the lead back up to 12 to end the period, but there was a change in the mood of players; this game was winnable.

Effort, glorious effort. In the second half, the Cavs blocked shots, swiped at balls and dove for rebounds. They hustled and fought. I credit this to Brown's decision to start Andy. He not only gave his usual contributions, but he was yelling and getting in his teammates faces. He gave Z a giant bear hug after finding him for sweet three point play, he kept giving Gooden some encouraging words and he kept talking up LeBron. In short, he looked like a leader. (Am I going to far here? I'm writing this right after the game, so maybe I'm just too excited, but I was impressed with Varejao tonight. I think we've all been waiting for someone on this team to step it up and get in guys' faces; have 'em show some heart.)

WTF? David Wesley? Sasha Pavlovic? Never in a million years did I expect those two guys to step it up and help the Cavs win a game this year, let alone the same game. I've been giving Sasha some grief the past couple weeks (not unjustly I don't think) but he shut me up with how he played tonight. He played pretty good defense, rebounded the ball extremely well and was a factor on offense. He hit 2 threes, took the ball to the rim (Scott Williams called one of his drive s'Jordanesque', which is the first and last time I ever want to hear Pavs compared to MJ) and even had a nifty assist to Varejao off of a baseline drive (I was about 80% sure he was going to commit a charge there).

David freaking Wesley? I wasn't even sure why this guy was still dressing for games. But man did he step up. David at the same time gave the Cavs a chance to win and almost cost them the game. He played some huge defense down the stretch (2 steals), had 6 boards (in just 15 minutes) and hit a huge three in overtime. However, he also missed 2 critical free throws that could've put the Cavs up 4 points and allowed the Warriors to have a shot at winning the game with a last second three. Thankfully, Stephen Jackson's shot rimmed out (now that would've been heart breaking loss).

Is it just me, or does Stephen Jackson always kill the Cavaliers? It seems like he always plays with a little extra fire against LeBron and co. I could be wrong, but it feels right. Anyway, Jackson played huge in his first game as a Warrior, scoring 29 points with 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals. For those of you wondering, he played 46 minutes (to be fair, it was an overtime game).

LeBron played defense! LeBron had a huge strip on Matt Barnes potential game tying drive (the loose ball went to Wesley, who was fouled and missed the aforementioned free throws). LeBron followed up his first triple double of the season with another near triple double, but not the good kind. LeBron led everyone with 32 points but he also led the game with 9 turnovers. The Cavs coughed it up a whopping 27 times against Golden State and a lot of those were unforced (terrible passes into traffic, long cross court passes and general miscommunication).

Well, I was wrong. After the Denver game, I mentioned how it seems that the Cavs never win ugly. They either look really good and win or looks absolutely awful and lose. But they sure won ugly against the Warriors. Not only did they commit 27 turnovers, they only shot 50% (THIS NEEDS TO IMPROVE) from the line (14-28) and a dismal 6-25 from behind the arc. Brown had to sub out the starters and use his bench more than he's used to and the Cavs had to fight through their tiredness. I loved it. The Cavs could've easily folded up shop and called it a trip. Down 18 points and playing the 4th game in 5 nights? With they way they've been playing lately, no one would've been surprised if they packed it in. But they fought back and showed some the passion that's been missing over the past 5 days.

What? Larry Hughes? Hughes chipped in 15 points, but those seem pretty empty. Larry shot only 1-6 from behind the line, got his shot blocked a couple times, missed the only 2 free throws he took and had three turnovers (I could've sworn there was more than that). Hughes played the entire third quarter, started the fourth on the bench and never returned. He too often settled for jumpers that the defense was more than happy to give to him (there is no reason for him to have 6 three point attempts). Anyways, here's the first paragraph of the AP's game wrap:
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- LeBron James scored 32 points and Larry Hughes had 15 as the Cleveland Cavaliers put an impressive finish on their seven-game road trip, rallying from a big halftime deficit for a 106-104 overtime victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.
If you read that, you'd figure that Hughes chipped in during their late surge. Nope.

Other guys who stepped up: Z, Snow and Marhall. Both Z and Marshall had a couple big blocks, Z had a few baskets in the third, but stayed on the bench in favor of Marhall and Andy for most of the fourth (Brown actually stayed with the hot hands. Fantastic). Both Z and Snow finished with double-doubles; Snow had 12 points and 11 assists while Z finished with 14 points and 12 boards. Marshall played some of the best defense I've seen him play as a Cavalier and was a big factor in a game in which he wasn't scoring.

and finally...

I'm still pumped after that game. Ah, to see a Cavs team play with passion and win a game in which they weren't their best. Great isn't it? Plus, they finished up the road trip at 3-4, which is quite decent. If you would've told me three weeks ago that they would've gone 3-4 on the trip, I'd have been thrilled. If you would've told me after their 2-1 start... well... not so much... Anyways, the Cavs aren't going to get a lot of rest as they play host to Orlando on Monday (ya, that's right, they end their trip Saturday night and get one day off before playing again).