Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Some Cavs thoughts

Windhorst has a blog post which I echo completely:

It is hard for me to give much praise to the Cavs tonight. A win is a win and they all equal the same, I suppose. Watching them again chuck jumpers in the fourth quarter left me to consider dragging out my old links again. So on this night they made them, which will probably happen roughly 33 percent of the time.

Please allow me to point out the following:

--The Cavs have taken zero (0) free throws in the fourth quarter in the past two games yet got up 19 3-pointers.
--Zydrunas Ilgauskas was 5-of-8 from the floor in the first half and was permitted two shots in the second half and none in the fourth.
--In the fourth quarter the Hornets were using Bobby Jackson and Devin Brown to defend LeBron James and he didn't take much advantage at all by working to get low post position, from which he would be unstoppable against those two. Which isn't all that surprising since I watched him not abuse Jason Kapono like I thought he should Sunday in Miami.
--Without LeBron on the court tonight, the Cavs were a -7 in plus/minus. Over the last three games, it is something obscene like a -30. Which just shows how vital bench production is for this team.

Overall, that's bad offensive basketball. Sorry for writing about it again. I can't help it.

Amen! I go insane when teams put a Kapono or Jackson on LeBron and he doesn't destroy them and make them wish they were never born. I know people love to compare LeBron's killer instinct to Kobe, but could you imagine if the Heat trotted out Kapono to guard Bryant? A bloodbath would ensue.

Also, I was unaware that the Cavs shot 0 free throws the past 2 games. That is awful.

I also completely forgot that Chris Paul burned Gibson last time they played (in my defense, I believe I was in Columbus at the time and didn't watch the game). So good job by Boobie for stepping up the defense.

Moving on... Windhorst says the Cavs could still add more players and here's what Chris Sheridan says about the Cavs and Scottie Pippen (insider):

I've learned that Cleveland is one of the two teams that contacted Pippen's former agent to find out how to reach him.

General manager Danny Ferry is still recovering from the hangover caused by his 72-hour binge session right before the trading deadline in which he tried and tried to find ways to make Drew Gooden's base-year compensation status workable in a multiteam deal that would have landed him Mike Bibby.

"We'll do our due diligence, sort through where we are as a team and go from there," Ferry told me Monday, throwing out the term "due diligence" for the umpteenth time since I saw him outside the competition committee meeting and first broached the subject of whether he'd be interested in playing Pippen alongside LeBron James.

"We're not diving into this deeply," Ferry maintained.

Weather might be a factor, considering that Pippen is hanging out in South Florida right now, and that wouldn't work in the Cavs' favor.

The other teams interested (says Sheridan) are both Los Angeles teams, the Heat, the Suns and Mavs (doubtful) and the Spurs (who were the other team to contact his agent).

I don't know how much weather is going to be a factor here (as Sheridan says it could be for both the Cavs and the Heat). If Dwyane Wade doesn't return, I doubt Pippen will join the Heat. And if he wants to be a factor (if he CAN be a factor) Cleveland would be a pretty good spot (plus, the guy played in Chicago, so it's not like he's never been in a cold city).

And finally, one of the three things I've been predicting for the upcoming offseason might come to pass: James is unsure about about playing for FIBA:

LeBron James has not decided whether he will stay home or participate in the FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas late this summer.

James has been busy during the past two seasons. After taking the Cavaliers to the second round of the playoffs, James took a short break and then participated with Team USA last summer.

His pace continued into this season. He's third in the league in minutes per game (40.9)

"Anyone needs time off," James said.

The location of the tournament may become a factor in James participating this summer. The games could have been out of the country.

"Being in this country is more persuasive," James said. "Playing in Vegas would be a big reason why I would play, but I still have to think about getting some rest."

The tournament, one of five FIBA Olympic qualifying zone tournaments, will determine the two men's teams from the Americas zone who will earn qualifying berths for the 2008 Olympics.

The 10-team championship is scheduled Aug. 22 through Sept. 2 at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

The NBA Fanhouse says that this is a bad thing. Not me. The kid needs some time off, he's tired. It's pretty obvious to anyone who's watched him this season. Plus, he's playing 40+ minutes a night and takes a bruising during the games. He needs some rest and some time to refocus his energy on improving his game (if need be, use the big toe as an excuse).

I would have no problems with him missing the Worlds next offseason, however, if he uses that time to shoot more creepy Sprite commercials, I'll be less than pleased.

(BTW- the other two predictions? Danny Ferry forcing an offensive assistant on Mike Brown and trade of Larry Hughes)

Cleveland 97, New Orleans/Oklahoma City 89

The offense- some good, some bad and some ugly. In the first half, the Cavaliers ran the offense, LeBron got inside and they had Z involved. Third quarter? LeBron's first three shots were fade-aways and the rest of the team followed suit. The fourth quarter wasn't much prettier; the Cavs blew a 12 point by settling for jumpers.

But LeBron bailed their asses out. LeBron found Gibson for a 3 and hit two backbreakers of his own to seal the game. I'm torn with this... LeBron stepped up, hit some huge shots and he got the Cavs a victory... However... those weren't exactly shots you'd call 'good'. Here's what the Hornets had to say:
The Hornets' defensive strategy down the stretch was to force James to take the toughest shots possible. They were able to do that, but what they didn't bank on was James making them anyway."We got what we wanted," Hornets forward David West said. "He took a 3 with a hand in his face. He just knocked it down. We know he's going to take the shot. You've got to live with him hitting a 27-footer or whatever it was he hit."
So, LeBron and the Cavs did exactly what the Hornets wanted them to do, but hit a few ridonkulous shots. I love that he had the killer instinct, I just hate the shot selection. It's great for a night, but I'm not sure you can make this a regular thing.

Did I mention that they executed in the first half? Z finished with 11 points on 5-10 shooting with 9 boards and a block. All 11 points were scored in the first half (when the Cavs looked inside and LeBron went inside) and he got just one shot in the second. Look, I'm not a basketball expert (obviously) but if your center goes 5-9 from the floor and has 11 points in the first half, you'd think you'd look to him at least a little bit in the second. Guess not...

I love David West. If you've read this blog with any frequency at all, you'll know why I like this guy's game: fundamental post moves, rebounds well and hits the open (spot up) jumper. Is there anything more you want from your power forward? He's not flashy, he's a not freak athlete (he's undersized) but he plays the right way. With Chris Paul having an off night (was in foul trouble all night and just scored 7 points- but did have 5 assists and 5 boards) West kept the Hornets in the game with 25 points (10-21), 10 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals and a block. Pretty good.

I feel this needs to be mentioned. LeBron played 43 minutes. Pavlovic only played 19 minutes. I know Pavs is just coming back from being sick and all, but he couldn't have taken 4-6 of LeBron's minutes? Also, Hughes played 43 minutes as well, but who cares?

Speaking of...the Larry Hughes update: 11 points (good-ish), 5-16 shooting (bad), 0-1 FTA (bad-for the miss and the lack of attempts), 8 rebounds (good) and 5 assists (WTF? He had 5?). If you look past the fact that he needed 16 shots to score 11 points, Hughes had a pretty decent game. It's real nice to see him get 8 boards (guards rebounding = fast break) and I'm actually pretty shocked he got 5 assists (I've never seen Hughes hit the open man after a pick and roll- he either shoots it or attempts to, and by the time he realizes the shot isn't there, the guy who set the pick is no longer open). Hughes did have a decent drive or two (spinning floaters? when did this happen?) but overall the shot selection left a bit to be desired.

Hooray for Boobie! Gibson did a decent job on Chris Paul for the bulk of the evening and he hit a big 3 down the stretch (he was 3-4 from downtown. He's playing with more confidence and taking more shots (though he's needs to improve on shooting off of curls) and getting inside more (for his own shot and for dishing off). We missed Gibson's best play of the night (a 3 pt play off of a steal of an inbounds pass) because of Fox Sports Ohio showing a Cavalier make an unhappy face. Thanks guys. Show the game.

The bench was OK. Pavlovic played well in his given opportunities (3-6 shots in 19 minutes), Varejao played well, but didn't rebound (9 points, 3 assists, a few charges drawn but just 2 boards) and Marshall hit a 3 and got two points in the post, but had 0 rebounds. Fantastic. And let's not forget Eric Snow, who played 14 minutes and recorded 2 assists and a foul. Well done.

I almost saw my dream lineup. Well, it's not that special, but I'd like to see what a five of Gibson, Pavlovic, James, Varejao and Z could do. You have post play, shooters, aggressive defense, guys who crash the offensive boards and LeBron. Best of all, no one named Eric, Larry or David. The lineup wasn't quite there versus NOOCH, as Hughes was out there instead of Gibson (and Gibson subbed in for Pavlovic when the latter rolled his ankle). I will say that there was never a lineup of Z and 4 guys who can't shoot... so that's a good thing (seriously, Snow, Wesley, Hughes, Varejao and Z?? WTF is that? Why would that ever happen?).

and finally...

I'm scared. So not only are the Cavs playing the Mavericks at home on Thursday (where they are 27-3) but they're playing on national TV. Most of the Cavs most horrendous losses have occurred with the nation watching (the Phoenix games, a Chicago game or two, some ugly Heat games and a Detroit game which I've forced myself to forget). Needless to say, this has all the makings of a fantastic evening for Cavs fans.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. New York was awesome.

2. It felt a bit like my freshman/sophomore years at OSU- we walked everywhere and my suburban legs were not used to it.

3. Sweet: We caught the Producers. Sweeter: Staring Tony Danza. Fantastic.

4. While walking around NYC, a guy noticed our (mainly Nick's giant red) OSU hats and asked us if we're from Ohio. Turns out this guy was from Macedonia (which is like one town away from Hudson) small effing world.

5. More small world:

Me: "Did you see that guy? Why the hell is he wearing a Columbus Blue Jackets jersey?"
Nick: "Cause they have a large national following"
Me: "Shut up"
Nick: "The real question is: why is someone wearing an NHL jersey?"

6. Staying in bars til 4 am is pretty sweet.

7. Outside: cold. Inside our hotel room: burning. I'm not sure we were at a comfortable temperature all weekend.

8. I haven't laughed that hard/much in quite some time.

9. While walking around Times Square, I overheard a family discussing trying a way to get home and their little girl (who was around 4) was adamant about wanting a cab. It just struck me how different growing up in a city is from growing up in a suburb.

10. Can you have too much New York style pizza? No (and we tried pretty hard).

11. One of the pizza shops we frequented was Famous Ray's. According to some newspaper cut outs posted at the restaurant, some kids from London once flew to New York just to buy Famous Ray's pizza (and they bought $400 worth and brought it back to London). I'm not sure if it's that good, but it was damn delicious.

12. On Friday, from my hotel room, I purchased my ticket to Bonnaroo. It shall be glorious (and if you need any convincing, check out Lewis Black's video on the site. I couldn't agree more).

13. So not only did I partially plan my Bonnaroo trip while in New York, but we started preliminary talks on a Europe '08 extravaganza (which basically means I'm eating peanut butter sandwiches until then, but still). That shall also be glorious.

14. last night, around 8 pm:

Nick: "hey man, what's up, you back in Ohio?"
Me: "ya, I've been home for about and hour or so, I ate, had some birthday cake and now I'm about to watch the Cavs-Heat game. You?"
Nick: "no, I'm still in New York, my flight got canceled."

We were scheduled to leave maybe 4o minutes apart (I departed at 4 pm). All I know is, I got a text at 3:30 saying he was in DC. That blows (btw, Nick had the camera, so if you want to see pics, we have to wait for his triumphant return to Columbus).

15. When I got home, I had a choice of watching either the OSU-Wisconsin game or the Cavs-Heat (both were tivo'd). I chose wrong.

16. actual conversation, last night:

Gilmore: "You back in Ohio?
Me: "ya"
Gilmore: "You catch any of the OSU game"
Me: "not yet, I got it tivo'd"
Gilmore: "Cool, I won't spoil it for you"
Me: "sweet, thanks"
Gilmore: "but it was awesome"

thanks buddy

17. "The Gentleman from Hudson, OH" I like it.

18. I do love Simmons's NBA writings, but he's dead wrong about the Cavs. Amar does a good job handling it.

19. I also disagreed with his assessment of the Spurs. Did you know that no Spur plays over 35 minutes a game?

20. Despite all this, I still like his writing. Why? Because he's actually one of the few national voices that actually likes the NBA (which has long been my favorite league). Sure, at this point it seems like he's intentionally trying to piss off Cavs fans, but I still come back for more. If you're passionate about basketball (particularly the NBA), I'm gonna read your stuff, even if I sometimes get confused (FreeDarko) or pissed (Simmons).

21. Speaking of the NBA, this is what was robbed of us on All-Star Saturday night.

22. Windhorst says that Ferry obviously isn't pleased with this roster.

23. I'm not sure if I've written this here or not (I know I've voiced this in person and in message boards), but I would be shocked if Larry Hughes is in training camp in Cleveland next season.

24. The reason Z has been out (though it's been known, if not printed, for some time now) and other tidbits.

25. Erik takes a look at the Cavs recent draft picks and frankly, I'm surprised he didn't kill himself.

26. The reason I think they do better in the 2nd round than in the 1st? In round two they are taking the best player available. In the first round they've been taking players based on need (and height). The Cavs took Luke Jackson because they needed a shooter with LeBron. They reached for Mihm and Diop because you can't teach height. In the second round they can land college players who, for whatever reason, have slipped (Boozer, Kapono, Gibson).

27. Troy Smith has grown so much.

28. What? Kellen Winslow had micro-fracture surgery? WTF?

29. Heh, fun flow chart

30. This is good for democracy.

31. But the press isn't exactly helping (warning: liberal defending Mitt Romney)

32. Conservapedia? Yes, it's as awesome as it sounds.

33. Dems forcing Bush to get tough on terror? More here.

34. Enough links for ya Chris? Enjoy.

35. Music stuff: Paul and Ringo are going to finish the third Lennon song from the Anthology project (also, this book looks awesome). As for new music... I haven't listened to the entire album yet, but I will that I'm really digging this song by Corinne Bailey Ray (I guess I'm a late comer to CBR, oh well):

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Miami 86, Cleveland 81

I want my two and a half hours back. That was awful. Would a non-Cleveland/Miami fan actually watch that game? The Pussycat Dolls. Susan Lucci references. Jon Barry and Georgia Tech. The Cavs shooting 36% for the game and still being in it. Free throws... my God the free throws... There was nothing redeeming about that basketball contest. (OK, I lied. Antoine Walker hit his first free throw of 2007. Good for him).

The Cavs offense was terrible. 36% shooting. 10-21 from the line. 37.5% 3pt shooting (It can't be a good thing when you shoot better from 3 than you do normally- and don't hit at least 40% of either). The Cavalier starters shot 13 free throws. LeBron James shot 12. My God that is bad. You're starting back court was 0-1 at the line. Snow and Varejao each shot four apiece (and those sure are the guys you want at the stripe).

Any of this sound familiar. The Cavs didn't move the ball. They took horrible shots. The never went inside.

Give Larry Hughes some credit. It's got to be difficult to score 14 points with out making a free throw, right? 6-17 shooting. 6-17! And these are horrible shots; 19 foot contested jumpers just 4 seconds on the shot clock (with no one down low, so he can't even use this insane excuse). It's almost as if the guy is trying to screw up the offense. At this point Brown should just bench him (and hopefully will once Sasha gets healthy).

Does anyone else hate Alonzo Mourning? I didn't use to feel this way. But over the past season and a half, I've just gotten really annoyed by the guy.

Z's back. And his first game back he gets to guard Shaq (during one of his rare games that he gives a crap). Z didn't particularly have a strong game but he wasn't awful either (8 points, 4-9 shooting, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 6 mostly good fouls).

David Wesley played 5 minutes. It baffles me that he still gets court time. I don't advocate firing Coach Mike, but you could make a case just on the 'Wesley playing time' factor alone.

You're confusing me. At one point in the second quarter the Cavs ran out a lineup of Eric Snow, David Wesley, Larry Hughes, Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Go back and read that again. You have your best post player surrounded by players who can't shoot. Seriously, what offense to you run for that group? You can't go inside-outside, because you have no outside game. But at the same time, your only player with any decent offensive skills is your big man... Hughes set the tone and the Cavs shot contested jumpers. Just good, fundamental basketball.

This is yet another game that shows why the Cavaliers are so vexing. By all accounts, the Cavs played awful. They just looked bad. But here's the thing: with 4 minutes to go the Cavs were just down five. They played so terrible, yet they were in it. If the Cavs would've just played poorly (as opposed to the Norbit-level awful they laid out there), they probably would've won. Everyone who follows this team at all know what they have to do; move the ball, shoot good jumpers, go inside and get to the line. Combine that with their regular dose of good defense and they are pretty hard to beat.

We had a Damon Jones sighting. DJ managed to shoot six shots in ten minutes (four 3s). Very impressive.

Could the Cavs get a whistle? Varejao got pushed around a bit, James got nailed a few times and Z got hit in the head, shoved and pushed. I'm not saying the refs blew this game or it was unfair, but come on.

and finally...

The Hornets in Cleveland on Tuesday (hooray!). Cavs in Dallas on Thursday (gulp). Judging by the Cavs performances on national television this season, that Maverick game is going to be brutal.

Happy Birthday George

Thursday, February 22, 2007

No no no no no

Chris Sheridan:

• As Kidd suggested, Cleveland was emerging as the likeliest destination for Bibby. I heard from a very reliable source that the Minnesota Timberwolves were involved in three-team talks with the Kings and Cavs, with Mike James looking like the likeliest replacement at point guard for the Kings. Drew Gooden would headline the package the Cavs would surrender.

There was also talk that a fourth team was trying to get involved, and it wouldn't surprise me if it was Phoenix. I'm told the Suns and Cavaliers have discussed a Marcus Banks-Damon Jones trade as a fallback in the event a Bibby deal fell through. There also was a possibility Banks could go to Sacramento in a four-way Cleveland-Sacramento-Phoenix-Minnesota deal, with the Kings getting one of the two spare No. 1 picks the Suns have at their disposal (their own and Cleveland's). The third No. 1 pick Phoenix owns is a pick owed by Atlanta for the Joe Johnson trade. It is top-three protected in 2007 and unprotected in 2008, and is virtually untouchable.

Chad Ford:
Eric (Phoenix, AZ): What are the odds that Marcus Banks gets traded and are their any PGs out there that the Suns could bring in to back-up Nash?

Chad Ford: (12:26 PM ET ) They are trying to move Banks who's been a MAJOR bust in Phoenix (don't get me started on this ... I'm still stunned they passed on Rajon Rondo to get this guy ... that's almost worse than the contract). I think they are less worried about point guard at this point than the front court. They've been showing a lot of interest in Drew Gooden lately and the Cavs might be willing to do a deal for Banks, Kurt Thomas and a couple of first round picks (Phoenix has three this year, including the Cavs pick). Not sure if Gooden is a great fit in Phoenix ... but they seem to like him.
No! Trading for Marcus Banks reeks of making a move simply to make a move.

Banks is owed roughly 17 million over the next for seasons (not including the 06-07 season). He just signed a contract this past offseason (5 years, $20 mil) and the Suns are already trying to unload him. For his career he's a 43% shooter and blazing 31% 3pt bomber.

Is he an upgrade over Eric Snow? Probably. But he's a short term fix for with long term problems. The Cavs have enough long term contract issues the way it is (Hughes, Z, Marshall, Jones, Snow) and they need to sign Varejao and Pavlovic this summer. Trading for Marcus Banks won't help matters.

Plus, let's not forget that he's been HORRIBLE in Phoenix. The Cavs would be doing them a huge favor by taking Banks off their hands.

It's risky enough trading Gooden for Mike Bibby, but for Marcus Banks? No thank you.

Where are the Cavs on the trade front?

Here's what we got so far:

Windhorst says that Ferry is pushing hard to land Mike Bibby

Newsday's Ken Berger says Bibby is being dealt, it's only a matter of 'where'.

Marc Stein says the Bibby deal still isn't close and the Cavs are trying to find a third team's Ian Thompson said the Kings already passed on a deal with Cleveland, though there is still hope's Adrian Wojnarowski says that the Cavs are desperately trying to get Bibby's Peter Schrager says that big names are likely to stay put.

A random poster on said that the Suns play by play guys announced a Bibby deal last night but said it was unconfirmed.

One more note: in all these scenarios, the player that the Cavs part with is Drew Gooden. I'm OK with this.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Simmons and LeBron: My Thoughts

I was going to address this tomorrow, but since I have some free time on my hands, at the risk of parroting the Cavalier, I'll dive into this tonight.

Let's break it down, shall we?(side note: should anyone really be parsing Simmons's writing this much? Probably not. Hooray for the intertubes!):
Thumbs Down. To LeBron James, who coasted through the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday and played the All-Star Game with the uplifting, charismatic intensity of a female porn star trying to break one of those "most male partners in one afternoon" records.
Did Simmons watch the skills challenge? Nobody tried hard. Only Dwyane Wade gave a shit, and that was just in the finals. Sure LeBron jogged through the obstacles, but so did Chris Paul, Kobe and Wade. No one looked good during that thing.

The same thing goes for the All-Star game. Hello? That game sucked ass. It was a 20 point game at halftime and a 30 point game after the 3rd. Again, I'm not sure why LeBron gets singled out here. Let's compare LeBron's line with the game MVP, Kobe Bryant:
LeBron: 32 minutes, 11-20 FG, 4-8 3PT, 2-2 FT, 6 reb, 6 ast, 1 stl and 28 pts.
Kobe: 28 minutes, 13-24 FG, 3-9 3Pt, 2-2 FT, 5 reb, 6 ast, 6 stls and 31 pts.
Remarkably similar, no? (By the way, I'm pissed as hell that Washington Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan played LeBron 32 minutes while no one else on the East got more than 24)

Could LeBron have played better? Sure (he blew an off-the-backboard dunk and airballed a three) but to knock the guy for a game where he got 28 points, shot 50% or better from the field and three, made both free throws and dished out 6 dimes is pretty stupid. Simmons singled out LeBron because it fit with his theory.
Could we end up putting him in the "Too Much, Too Soon" Pantheon some day? Will he become the basketball version of Eddie Murphy, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and every other celeb who became famous too quickly and eventually burned out?
I'm more concerned with LeBron pulling a Tracy McGrady or Vince Carter and having one good run then become an after thought. LeBron hasn't reached the basketball version of Murphy, Spears or Jackson yet (they were all at the top of their games at one point. I'm not sure if I'm helping or hurting this argument... let's move on)

Simmons then drops a giant paragraph:
Here's what I know. I had four conversations with connected NBA people over the weekend that centered around the same themes: LeBron isn't playing nearly as hard as he did last season; it looks like his only goal right now is to get his coach fired; he's regressing as a basketball player (especially his passing skills and his shot selection); he made a huge mistake firing his agent and turning his career over to his buddies back home (all of whom are in over their heads); he was a much bigger problem during the Olympics than anyone realized; he doesn't seem to be enjoying himself anymore; he has an overrated sense of his own worth and his own impact in the sports world (as witnessed by the ESPN interview last week when he answered the "What are your goals?" question with two words: "Global icon"); he's been protected by magazine fluff pieces and buddy-buddy TV interviews for far too long; he doesn't have the same relentless drive to keep dominating everyone like Wade and Kobe have; and basically, we're much closer to LeBron re-enacting the career arc of Martina Hingis, Eric Lindros and Junior Griffey than anyone realizes. This will evolve into THE dominant NBA story of the next two months. You watch.
I'll address it line by line:
LeBron isn't playing nearly as hard as he did last season
Good call. Cavs fans have been bitching about this for awhile. This is why we've been reading the "Is LeBron tired?" stories for the past few months. I will say this: I don't want to be making excuses for the guy, but Mike Brown NEEDS TO CUT HIS MINUTES. The guy has been logging major minutes (40+) his entire career.
it looks like his only goal right now is to get his coach fired
I think he's confusing LeBron with Larry "our identity is not as a defensive team" Hughes.
he's regressing as a basketball player (especially his passing skills and his shot selection)
I can't say I'd disagree. To be fair, LeBron has never had the best shot selection out there, so let's say it's gone from a C to a D+ (this needed to be worked on awhile ago). He's always been allowed to jack whatever shot he wants because he's The Chosen One. Also, it's hard to get assists in an offense with poor shooters and no movement (thanks Mike Brown!).
he made a huge mistake firing his agent and turning his career over to his buddies back home (all of whom are in over their heads)
He's probably right, but I'm not sure how big a deal this is. I mean, LeBron just signed a deal with Microsoft and he's always going to get the max deal NBA-wise. What more does he need these guys to do?
he was a much bigger problem during the Olympics than anyone realized
This has been discussed before but I can't imagine Coach K feeding a guy minutes that he didn't earn. Maybe he wasn't perfect, but I can't imagine he was that bad.
he doesn't seem to be enjoying himself anymore
He's right, LeBron needs to smile more, this is extremely important. I'm not sure I'd be having a lot of fun if my starting back court couldn't shoot, my starting power forward showed to up once a week and my starting center plays lousy in big games.
he has an overrated sense of his own worth and his own impact in the sports world (as witnessed by the ESPN interview last week when he answered the "What are your goals?" question with two words: "Global icon")
This just in: professional athletes have huge egos.
he's been protected by magazine fluff pieces and buddy-buddy TV interviews for far too long
The liberal media elites in this country are coddling our 22 year old sport stars! Is he kidding? This is what sports journalism is. Hell, this is what journalism is. Also, he's wrong, check out anything written by Charley Rosen ever.
he doesn't have the same relentless drive to keep dominating everyone like Wade and Kobe have
He's probably right on this one, but lets not forget that we're just 9 months removed from last season's playoffs. Two game-winning shots over the Wizards and a game 7 loss to the heavily favored Pistons (btw- has any fan based milked a second round loss more than Cavs fans? I say no). Could you have imagined anyone making that argument 9 months ago?
basically, we're much closer to LeBron re-enacting the career arc of Martina Hingis, Eric Lindros and Junior Griffey than anyone realizes.
How can anyone call not call the Sports Guy a reactionary? LeBron has had a bad half season and now the sky is falling and he's wondering if LeBron will flame out.

Look, I'll be the first to admit I'm getting sick of his commercials and his other commitments (like comedy roasts). He needs to focus more on his game and less on the other things.

But it's a little unfair to compare him Lindros and Griffey just yet. I'll be concerned if we're having this discussion around this time next season. After the first adversity of his young career? Please.

Let's not forget that he's a 22 year old kid who's best teammates have been (in order on non-suckiness) Carlos Boozer, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao, Larry Hughes, Ricky Davis and Drew Gooden (and who's been coached by Paul Silas and Mike Brown). Wade and Kobe have been coached by two Hall of Famers (Pat Riley and Phil Jackson respectively) and have been teamed up with great (Shaq), good (Lamar Odom) and former great (Gary Payton) players. LeBron hasn't had anything compared to those two.

But he shouldn't be coasting. And part of me doesn't think he is; I think he's tired and he's too stubborn to say so. Eric Snow likes coming off the bench now because he doesn't have to ration his energy; he's playing less, so he can play harder while he's out there. Same thing is needed with LeBron; the guy has been playing an insane amount of minutes and, coupled with his too hectic off the court schedule, he's tired. Should he be playing harder? Absolutely, but he should also be playing less than 42 minutes a game (FYI, first game back from the break: 37 minutes. Hooray!).

Let's be clear, I'm not saying Simmons is wrong per sey, just that he's way too early on this. I'll be interested to see how LeBron responds the criticism this season (like from D.Wade) and how he carries himself the rest of the year and into the summer. So far I like the early signs (strong Laker game, strong All-Star game, strong Raptor game) plus he's dropped the "wrist kissing" on his free throws (he's 25-29 in his last 3 games, including Vegas).

But what I'm really want is for him to skip next summer's Olympic qualifiers (use the big toe injury) and have him take a break and then work on his game. Cut out the extra crap and rededicate himself to basketball (he's done it before, he improved his jumper tremendously after everyone said that he couldn't shoot).

However, if he decides to pull a Willie Mays Hayes and shoot a movie (say about the LeBrons), Simmons could very well be right.


So I'm driving home from work with the game on the radio figuring I'll listen to the end and then rewatch the tivo'd game when I get home. One problem: I forgot to tivo the game. Fantastic. I'll have my complete thoughts after I watch the replay on FSNOhio tomorrow afternoon.

But I do have a quick thought or two.

Here's the Cavs last 8 possessions:

3:29 - 80-83 - LeBron makes 9 foot shot (82-83)
2:49 - 82-85 - LeBron makes 9 foot shot (84-85)
2:18 - 84-85 - LeBron misses 19 foot shot (Drew Gooden rebound)
2:04 - 84-85 - Hughes misses 12 foot shot
1:25 - 84-85 - Hughes misses 9 foot shot (TJ Ford fails to save ball, Cavs keep possession)
Time Out Cleveland
1:10 - 84-85 - Hughes misses 13 foot runner
0:39 - 84-85 - LeBron James charging foul (turnover)
0:16 - 84-85 - Pavlovic misses 3 pointer
0:16 - 84-85 - Varejao scores off the rebound (86-85)

There's a lot to like about that sequence and there's a lot to dislike. First of all, notice how the Raptors' score stayed at 85 over the last 3 minutes. This is good.

But... over that same time the Cavs are stuck at 84. Not so good. The Cavs had 6 chances or possessions (I'm counting the offensive rebounds as separate possessions) where they could have taken the lead. They took five shots and had a turnover. Out of those five shots, James took just one and Larry Hughes had three. Now, I didn't see the early part of the game, maybe Hughes was shooting well (though somehow I doubt that, as he finished the game 6-18), but I do know that James had scored on consecutive possessions to keep the Toronto lead at one. I'm not sure why Hughes got the shots down the stretch.

So to recap: down the stretch the Cavs shot the ball 5 times and James just once. I don't get it.

Again, I missed the first 42 minutes of this game, so I'll have deeper thoughts tomorrow. Also, a reminder: I'll be in New York city for the weekend, so I won't have anything in depth tomorrow after the Chicago game.

Simmons on LeBron

From the Sports Guy's excellent All-Star weekend recap:
To LeBron James, who coasted through the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday and played the All-Star Game with the uplifting, charismatic intensity of a female porn star trying to break one of those "most male partners in one afternoon" records. Could we end up putting him in the "Too Much, Too Soon" Pantheon some day? Will he become the basketball version of Eddie Murphy, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and every other celeb who became famous too quickly and eventually burned out?

Here's what I know. I had four conversations with connected NBA people over the weekend that centered around the same themes: LeBron isn't playing nearly as hard as he did last season; it looks like his only goal right now is to get his coach fired; he's regressing as a basketball player (especially his passing skills and his shot selection); he made a huge mistake firing his agent and turning his career over to his buddies back home (all of whom are in over their heads); he was a much bigger problem during the Olympics than anyone realized; he doesn't seem to be enjoying himself anymore; he has an overrated sense of his own worth and his own impact in the sports world (as witnessed by the ESPN interview last week when he answered the "What are your goals?" question with two words: "Global icon"); he's been protected by magazine fluff pieces and buddy-buddy TV interviews for far too long; he doesn't have the same relentless drive to keep dominating everyone like Wade and Kobe have; and basically, we're much closer to LeBron re-enacting the career arc of Martina Hingis, Eric Lindros and Junior Griffey than anyone realizes. This will evolve into THE dominant NBA story of the next two months. You watch.
I'll have more to say on this later.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Random Thoughts from the Weekend (belated)

1. RE: All-Star Weekend. I guess I enjoyed Saturday a lot more than most. I actually watched the whole thing, even the 2ball/Shooting Stars/WNBA crap (just to see how good Pippen looked).

2. He looked no worse than Eric Snow and David Wesley, I'll tell ya what.

3. The game stunk. There's no way around it; guys didn't care, players were chucking up terrible shots and they acted like they weren't even keeping score.

4. ESPN Classic was showing old All-Star games and I saw the end of the 1993 game. The East's lineup? Isiah Thomas, Mark Price, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Patrick Ewing. The weird thing was that they were running plays and playing defense yet ALSO having fun. What happened to that?

5. Plus Shaq was skinny. Now he's done.

6. Bud Shaw didn't care for the All-Star game either. Not that I'm surprised. Though I will give him props for this line: " Wayne Newton's new face: leather or microfiber composite?"

7. LeBron and Microsoft are teaming up. Meh.

8. It's too bad LeBron is stuck in Cleveland, if only the kid could get an endorsement deal every now and then.

9. Speaking of LeBron's endorsements, Bill Livingston basically wrote a giant Nike ad and placed in the middle of the Plain Dealer's Sunday sports section. Really? The LeBrons? There was nothing else to talk about?

10. Brian Windhorst smacked down my "A" is for Akron idea.

11. That Akron post was linked to by Deadspin yesterday and I am still getting a ton of traffic today. It's nuts. Come back often people.

12. I mentioned Carlos Boozer's acne in my Utah recap last week and the Cavalier has a pic and a steroid theory.

13. Charley Rosen previews the second half of the NBA season and *surprise!* he hates on the Cavs. Rosen has had it out for LeBron and the Cavs ever since he predicted that LeBron would nothing more than an average NBA player.

14. I don't believe people really think that Wayne Embry was a 'bad trader', I just think he robbed me of seeing Ron Harper and the Cavs in the 90s. The Johnson/West for Nance/Sanders deal was pretty sweet. (And his trade for Kemp wasn't too bad either).

15. Watching Jason Kapono win the 3-point shootout reminded me of another player the Cavs let slip away in the expansion draft: Dell Curry.

16. Could you imagine a Cavs roster featuring Mark Price, Ron Harper, Dell Curry, Larry Nance, Brad Daugherty with Craig Ehlo, Steve Kerr and Hot Rod Williams coming off the bench? I can. Often.

17. I am loving the Dane Cook backlash.

18. Speaking of things that aren't funny...

19. Atrios discussed religion a lot last week and I found it very interesting. (they're all short posts)

20. I've been debating whether or not to even discuss this, but here we go: I have a few friends go to Iraq, but they've all come back safely. I haven't had any personal loss with the war. But a girl I took to Homecoming my junior (sophomore maybe?) just had her husband die over there. Now, I haven't talked to this girl since high school (the dance didn't exactly go well) but just hearing that news made my heard just drop. I dunno man... I just don't know.

21. In the same vein, reading shit like this and this (and this, all these and this) just makes me want to vomit.

22. Good for Murtha. Pissing people off.

23. I know the quotes are cherry picked, but still. Creepy is right.

24. McCain is done. So is Hilary (obviously not yet, but I can't imagine them winning their respective primaries. I won't exactly shed a tear).

25. The Indians are in Winter Haven, so you know time it is? Time to Fire Wedge Now.

26. All I know is, the Indian's Plan seems to involve too much Casey Blake.

27. I knew the Tribe was in a tough division, but really?

28. Mark Schwab is probably the only WTAM host I can stand (besides Mike Snyder, who does the Cavs halftime and postgame).

29. Latest mock drafts: ESPN's Todd McShay and SI's Don Banks both have the Browns taking Adrian Peterson. I'm okay with that pick, as long they address the line in the first day.

30. Happy birthday to the Ton-o-War (Ben W).

31. Because Ben asked before: re: Church League- we got whooped last night by 40 points (to be fair, it was only 25ish before we decided to go zone on a team of shooters in the last 5 minutes. That didn't work). Personally, I played decently, scoring 11 points on a team that scored 32 or 34.

32. What should we do? Well, first of I'd recommend more Ben Cox post action. But honestly? Our big problem is ball control. When we take care of the ball, spread it around and take good shots, we do alright and get back on D pretty well. But when we take quick shots (and Larry Hughes-esque quick long shots) it leads to breaks and we can turn a 5 point deficit into a 15 point one in 3 minutes. I'm not saying we should play Mike Fratello circa 1995 style but we can't think we're the Suns.

33. I'm going to be in New York City from Thursday through Sunday and there's a 99% chance I won't have a recap for the Cavs-Bulls game on Thursday night, so consider yourself warned (I'm not sure if I'd really want to watch it anyways, I can only take so much orange). Though I should be good to go for Wednesday's game versus Toronto and Sunday's Heat game (Miami again?).

34. Speaking of Sunday, I share a birthday with George Harrison (thus making me awesome). Harrison is probably my favorite Beatle, here's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' off of the new Love album (those strings are gorgeous) and Ringo's tribute to George titled 'Never Without You' (it's full of Beatles quotes).

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (acoustic)

Never Without You

35. As for new music, I'm getting into Badly Drawn Boy's new CD Born in the U.K. I first heard BDB in college and I'd really recommend checking out his first album The Hour of the Bewilderbeast, his soundtrack to About a Boy and Have You Fed the Fish?.

'Once Around the Block' from The Hour of the Bewilderbeast (if you don't find this song at least a little catchy, you officially have no soul)

'Silent Sigh' from the About a Boy soundtrack.

'You Were Right' from Have You Fed the Fish? ("I remember I stayed up to watch the news with everyone")

'Nothing's Gonna Change Your Mind' from Born in the U.K. (I love the whole idea of this video. Just awesome).

Should the Cavs make a move?

Both local papers address the prospect of the Cavs making a trade for a point guard.

Branson Wright:

A trade would provide relief, and the Cavs have inquired with several teams about possible deals that include everyone on the roster, with the exception of LeBron James. Several teams have expressed an interest in Anderson Varejao, but management is reluctant to make that deal.

The Cavs made several moves in the first half that contributed to their recent success. One in particular is point guard Daniel "Boobie" Gibson. But Gibson is not ready to lead the team during the postseason. That would mean making a deal for a veteran point guard, especially since the team has given up on Eric Snow as a starter.

There are plenty of quality point guards available. The Nets have shopped Jason Kidd, Sacramento's Mike Bibby can opt out of his deal at the end of the season and if the Knicks don't buy out Steve Francis, he could be available. The Cavs have lukewarm interest in Memphis' Damon Stoudamire, Charlotte's Brevin Knight and Phoenix's Marcus Banks. The NBA trading deadline is 3 p.m. Thursday.

Brian Windhorst:

According to league sources, the Cavs have made everyone on their roster available, with the exception of LeBron James.

But unless they feel it is a slam-dunk move, they won't want to disturb their core.

Especially considering the team played well before the All-Star break, winning six of its last nine games.

Here's a look at point guards who may be on the market and what the Cavs have to offer:

Potential targets

Mike Bibby, Kings -- The Cavs have been in on-and-off talks with the Kings about their point guard for a long time. It is believed the Kings would move Bibby for the right deal but the Cavs don't have the parts needed. A third team needs to get involved and both sides have been looking.

Juan Dixon, Trail Blazers -- He's not a pure point guard. He's more of a combo guard and may be too much like Daniel Gibson for the Cavs to consider. But he can handle the ball, he's available and he could help.

Beno Udrih, Spurs -- He's lost his playing time again and is constantly in and out of coach Gregg Popovich's doghouse. Ferry was a part of the team that drafted Udrih three years ago and he likes the lefty's game. It is questionable whether the Spurs would let him go, though.

Travis Diener, Magic -- The Magic have been shopping their quick guard, according to reports. But potential playoff opponents aren't usually trading partners.

Marko Jaric, Timberwolves -- He's been in rumors for months now, ever since he voiced some displeasure earlier in the season. The Cavs looked at him in the summer of 2005, when he was a free agent, but the hefty contract he eventually signed makes him prohibitive. He's very unlikely to be going anywhere.

Jason Hart, Kings -- Never plays, isn't happy, wants to be traded. He's the type of player the Cavs could get cheap and he could be a change-of-pace ballhandler for the stretch run.

Look at those sexy names. Marko Jaric, Jason Hart, Travis Diener and Marcus Banks. Wow.

Obviously, Jason Kidd and Mike Bibby are the big names out there, but I doubt the Cavs have the parts that it would take to get them. They don't have a lot of big expiring contracts (Pollard, Wesley, Duane Jones, Varejao and Pavlovic), their better players are all overpaid (Zydrunas, Hughes, and I guess throw Damon Jones and Snow in there) and they have no draft picks (thanks Jim Paxson!). The Cavs are in obvious need of a point guard and teams will try to get them to overpay in a deal, but the thing is, I'm not sure the Cavs could overpay even if they wanted to.

And the lesser names on the list? I'll pass on Jaric and Banks for contract reasons alone (don't make a long term problem for a short term fix), Soudamire and Knight are intriguing but old and I have no idea how Stevie Franchise would even begin to mesh on the Cavalier roster. (Say the Knicks buy him out and he signs with Cleveland, could you imagine a backcourt of Larry Hughes and Francis? Their shot selection alone would be enough to drive me insane).

As for the rest, I can't imagine Cavs fans being that pleased with a deadline deal for Jason Hart. Not when Kidd and Bibby are out there (nevermind the fact that Cavs fans are idiots and the Cavs don't have the parts to trade. Fans will still be pissed at GM Danny Ferry).

Of course, there's still that other possibility...

The Cavs are expected to take a hard look and even perhaps make a hard sell on Scottie Pippen, who wants to make a comeback.

Pippen has said he prefers a warm-weather town, especially Miami, but playing for a contender is most important.

He's watched the Cavs play and believes he can help handling the ball.

One thing the Cavs might be able to offer him to sweeten the pot is a player/coach role, which would enable him to share his experience and give him a place to go without losing face if the comeback doesn't go well.

Pippen as a player-coach? Hell, why not? Maybe coach Pippen can install an offense that doesn't involve 4 guys standing around watching LeBron stand around.

Or am I getting my hopes up?

Monday, February 19, 2007

"A" is for Akron?

What was LeBron doing?

I'm devoting some time in an attempt to answer the most important of question coming out of last night's All-Star game:

What was LeBron doing with his hands during the All-Star game introductions? (God invented blogs in order to answer these types of questions.)

Henry at True Hoop says that the sign James held up during the All-Star introductions was:
the dynasty sign, associated with Jay-Z and his Rocafella empire.
Needless to say, I disagree.

This is just more propaganda by the ESPN-istas pushing LeBron out of Cleveland and to New York or the Nets (where Jay-Z is a part owner). James has been rumored to be leaving the Cavaliers since he was drafted in 2003 and as a Cavalier fan, I've been getting kind of sick of it. We never hear national pundits say that other players "need" to be in a big market; not KG, not 'Melo- just LeBron.

Am I overly touchy about the subject? Probably, but as a Cleveland fan, that's my job. Our teams never win and we don't even get credit for not winning like other cities (I don't want to hear it Cubs fans, your city had Michael Jeffery Jordan). Cavs fans finally have a guy (and team) that actually gets highlights in the first half of SportsCenter and what happens? Constant speculation that the hometown kid is going to leave. Fantastic.

Alright, back to LeBron and the dynasty sign. Now, I may be naive, but I always thought that sign was an "A". A as in Akron. The reason I think this? Well, I'm not sure if you've heard, but LeBron is from Akron. He also has a 330 (the area code) tattoo (this is why Cavs stooge homer unbiased announcer Fred McLeod says "from 3! 3-Oh!" whenever LeBron drills a trey).

But that could just be wishful thinking on my part. Again, I could just be naive to the hip-hop culture (Will Smith is still cool, right?) and LeBron could be flashing the dynasty sign.

The thing is, I've seen Ohio State running back Antonio Pittman flash that same sign. And Antonio Pittman is from Akron. Check out the 2:44 mark (or 1:05, depending on how the clip plays back) in this highlight clip (btw- I'd imagine this clip was made before the Florida game):

Is that the same symbol that LeBron flashes during the intros?

They look the same to me. Does Antonio Pittman has some connection to the Jay-Z empire I'm unaware of? Cause, if not, my money would be on Akron.

I could be wrong, obviously, could it be both? Are there differences I'm not seeing?

[Update 7pm: Holy Crap! Go to work and this is what I come back to. Welcome Deadspinners! Come back often and go visit some of my friends: Papa Cass, Disappointment Zone, God Hates Cleveland Sports, Vinny and the Hornless Rhino, Kid Cleveland, Pojo Dojo, Lake Erie Hope and the Cleveland Fan]

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Scottie Pippen?

One of the questions that has dogged LeBron James during his first four NBA seasons is who will become his perfect sidekick, ``his Scottie Pippen,'' as fans and pundits like to pose.

How about Scottie Pippen?

Using the All-Star festivities this weekend as a pedestal, the former Chicago Bulls great and running mate to Michael Jordan is making it known that he's attempting a comeback. And he's targeting the Cavs as a potential destination.

Should the Cavs give him a call? Probably, but I'm not sure how well this will work. The Cavs just getting used to their new lineup changes (more Pavs and Gibson) and I'm not sure how much Pippen would screw that up.

If the Cavs are going to go after a washed up point forward, I'd like them to call Penny Hardaway. Both guys insist they are healthy, but Penny actually had a bone spur removed, so he has proof.

All in all, I wouldn't expect much from either of these guys. But again, should the Cavs at least take a flyer? Sure. Assuming both guys can play, Pippen is obviously the choice. He's won, he's played with Jordan and he can show LeBron the effort it takes to win every night (and in the playoffs). The problem is that if Pippen can't play, how much would LeBron be deferring (out of respect) to a guy who is over the hill and washed up.

If nothing else, Pippen is forcing me to watch the NBA's Shooting Stars competition tonight, just to see how the guy looks. This will be the first time I've watched any event including WNBA player since Cleveland's dark horse candidates Wesley Person and Michelle Edwards came in 7th place in the NBA's first 2Ball competition way back in 1998. Thanks so much Scottie.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Reason 1,239,121 why I love the NBA

The Race

Cleveland 114, Los Angeles Lakers 108

I missed a lot of this game. Everyone missed the beginning of the ball game thanks to the Houston-Dallas game going long. I had the game tivo'd (with an additional 30 minutes!) because Real Life intervened and I had to work in the morning. So when I read this morning that the Cavs won and LeBron played well, I was really looking forward watching LeBron kick some ass, but because there were roughly 102,003 free throws attempted, the game ran a tad bit long. So if I'm missing key points (like say, crunch time...), lo siento.

Fouls. My God, the fouls. 61 personal fouls, 4 technicals and 97 combined free throw attempts. That is insane. Every Cavalier starter had at least 4 fouls (Gooden had 5), Andrew Bynum fouled out and Odom and Turiaf each had 5. James shot 22 free throwms and Hughes and Snow had 10 apiece. How Smush Parker played 35 minutes and only picked up a single foul is beyond me (though he did get a tech). Anyways... the refs were not good. Both team got hosed here and there, but I'd have to most of the real bad calls went the Cavs way.

James played great. I think we've all forgotten how good this kid actually is. James had 38 points on 10-16 shooting and he shot 18-22 from the charity stripe. Ya, you read that right. He. Hit. His. Free. Throws. James took advantage of the crappy refs, attacked the hoop all night and just looked like the LeBron of old. ('The LeBron of old'... right. The kid is what, 22?). Anyways, he looked awesome. He also had a sweet post move on Odom. Needless to say, I loved it.

James made free throws! 18 of 22. 82%! Right now, the Cavs need LBJ to shoot at least 75% from the line, but if he shoots in 80's, he's pretty much unstoppable. Also, for the first time all season (that I'm aware of) James didn't kiss his wrists before shooting. That is a great sign.

More free throws. I'm not sure which is more remarkable, that Eric Snow made 9 of 10 from the line or the fact that he actually got 10 free throw attempts. Either way, well done Eric (he finished with 13 points and 5 assists and I could swear he had more than just 2 turnovers). Then there's Larry Hughes. 3-10 from the line (that's 30% for you scoring at home) just one night after connecting on all 10 attempts against the Jazz. I love that he got 10 attempts, but making just 3 is terrible.

More Hughes. 5 of 18 from the field- not good. 5 turnovers- not good. 1-5 from 3 point range- faaaantastic.

Criticisms of Hughes aside... all Cavs starters scored in double figures. So did Pavlovic and Marshall. Not too shabby; spreading the wealth, moving the ball. I like it.

Third quarter woes. The Cavs started out the third the way they always do: poorly. Jump shots, lackadaisical effort- the works. But then the Lakers imploded (technical fouls, poor passes leading to turnovers, etc). They actually finished the quarter rather strong, so I guess they only crapped out for half the third quarter instead of the entire quarter. So they're improving.

Andy played well. 15 points, 11 boards filling in for Zydrunas. Start the Z trade rumors! (In all seriousness, I think Andy playing a few complete games without fouling out makes Gooden more likely to be dealt).

and finally...

Barkley vs Bavetta weekend! I'd still say it'd have been wonderful if LeBron had pulled a Pedro and skipped the weekend, but I can understand why he didn't (plus, dropping 38 on Kobe and the Lakers the last game before the break doesn't hurt). Despite all the turmoil and disappointment the Cavs have put their fans through in the first half of the season, they are 2nd in the East and just 2 games behind the Pistons for the conference lead. When all is said and done, not too bad.


too tired to finish the game... work til 5 on Friday, recap will be late. stupid west coast....

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I love the Onion

John Amaechi Comes Out as Former NBA Player:
STOCKPORT, ENGLAND—British homosexual John Amaechi sent shockwaves throughout the sporting world last week when he announced, much to the surprise of his family and friends—in addition to NBA players and fans—that he lived a double life for five years in which he secretly worked as a professional basketball player.

"It was difficult living with this secret," said Amaechi, who in his new autobiography Man In The Middle reveals that he played in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic, and perhaps most shockingly, the New York Knicks. "I loved it and hated it at the same time. And I was afraid that if I ever acted on some of my impulses, like say by requesting more playing time, that I would have ultimately embarrassed myself and everyone close to me."

"Now, it's like a tremendous weight has been lifted," Amaechi added, stating that although he still feels a certain shame about his furtive involvement in the often shadowy world of professional basketball, it has been a great relief to finally be able to speak openly about his professional life.

Really? Marty?

Pluto wants to bring in Schottenheimer. Here's my question, can Marty play offensive line? Will he advocate drafting linemen? (In case you weren't aware, I'm kinda obsessed with the offensive line problem).

As long as we're calling Marty, I say we give Lenny Wilkens a ring. And Grover. Sure, technically he's 'employed' by the Seattle Mariners, but who cares, no one is really that happy with Eric Wedge are they?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Utah 99, Cleveland 98

Man, that is a tough loss. The Cavs had the lead for the bulk of this game and they never put the Jazz away. Utah was actually up 8 with 1:39 to go and the Cavs got some stops and cut it close again.

Real bitter pill. Not only did the Cavs blow a chance to steal a game in Utah, but they blew a 33 point performance from Larry Hughes. I mean, when the hell can we expect another performance like that? 2 months?

That last possession... I knew what the Cavs wanted to do there; stop Utah and get the ball back with time remaining. The Jazz got the ball with about 30 seconds left, so the Cavs could've gotten the last shot with a stop (and I guess they technically did). But why not foul in that situation? It was only 6 second differential and you would force Utah to make their free throws and you'd extend the game. Plus, you'd take away the chance of 3 ball that would put the game out of reach.

Compare and contrast Deron Williams and Larry Hughes. Both players led their team in scoring, 33 apiece and both hit big baskets down the stretch. Williams abused the Cavs all game and Larry used his jumpshot to set up his drives (he was 10-10 from the line). But what about other aspects.... Williams finished with 12 assists, 6 boards, 2 steals and 2 turnovers while Hughes notched 2 boards, 2 assists, a steal and TO. Don't get me wrong, Hughes played a good game, but he didn't exactly stuff the stat sheet.

Pavlovic came back down to Earth. He got himself in foul trouble early on and he never really was a factor. He did hit a big three late in the game (actually it was the Cavs last bucket) but that was about it.

Even with Sasha's foul trouble and Gibson's toe injury, did we really need much Eric Snow? I understand that Gibson was out and having Snow guard Williams is a good idea in theory... But Eric was getting abused, plus the Cavs were switching on the screens leaving Varejao guarding Williams for 3 straight possessions. Why do this? Not surprisingly, Williams burned Varejao as well. Sasha left the game with 7 minutes left and didn't return until 2:30 to go. Why? Having both Snow and Varejao is almost certain doom for the offense, especially when LeBron isn't lighting it up. Pavlovic should've played more (foul trouble was no excuse in the second half).

James was a non-factor. Are the standards too high? James had 20 and 10. If Gooden, Z, Pavs or anyone else on this team had a 20-10 game, we'd be thrilled. Sure James had a 20 and 10 game, but 10 of that 20 came in the first period. Over the last 3 quarters he had just 10 points and just 4 in the final period. True, Hughes had his game going and the Cavs were running the offense through him, but still... The Cavs lost by 1 point and James was 5-9 from the line.

What was up with Carlos Boozer. Does anyone have a picture of him from the game? The dude has hardcore acne all over his forehead. I usually don't notice stuff like that, but it was everywhere. I normally would feel bad about pointing something like out, but it's freaking Boozer. Screw that guy.

Live by the jumper, die by the jumper. The Cavs built separate 11 and 12 point leads during the game, mostly on jump shots. Hughes (and James to an extent) were hot early, Drew Gooden got hot in the third period (he was the only one) but the Cavs couldn't sustain it. By the way, that third quarter was awful; it was full of bad offense and Drew Gooden jumpers- thanks but no thanks.

Don't tell anyone, but the Cavs missed Z. The Cavs had absolutely no inside presence whatsoever. Yes, they did rebound well (the Cavs out rebounded the Jazz 47-37 and Varejao grabbed 17) but they could've benefited from running the offense through the post at least a couple of times. And the Cavs give up a ton of points in the paint, FSN Ohio mentioned that the Jazz had 28 or 30 points inside in the first half and I didn't hear how bad it got by the end (does anyone know where to find that stat?'s box score doesn't seem to have it, though they do have this shot chart, which I trust at all).

and finally...

One more to go until Vegas. The Cavs face the Lakers again on Thursday night, let's see how strong the teams come out with the break looming. Speaking of the break, I wouldn't mind in the slightest if LeBron's big toe kept him out of competing. Sure I'd like to see him, but other stars are sitting due to nagging (or serious) injuries. With the way LeBron has been playing and considering the toe injury... well... he could use the rest.

I Miss PTI

A full week of 'NASCAR Now'? No PTI? Come on, at least put PTI on ESPN2 or something. I was going to post a video of Kornheiser doing the Penguin dance but all the videos are down off of YouTube. There is a bear on trampoline video... but it's from Kilborn's Late Late Show... sigh...

(also, Z is out for tonight's game versus Utah for a personal matter. That is really all anyone knows)

Time to buy that ticket

Bonnaroo released their initial band lineup for this year's festival, check this out:

The Police · Tool · Widespread Panic · The White Stripes · Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals · Wilco · The Flaming Lips · Manu Chao · The String Cheese Incident · Franz Ferdinand · Bob Weir & Ratdog · Damien Rice · Ween · Gov't Mule · Ziggy Marley · The Decemberists · Kings of Leon · Michael Franti & Spearhead · Wolfmother · Regina Spektor · The Black Keys · Galactic · DJ Shadow · Gillian Welch · Spoon · Keller Williams (WMD's) · Sasha & John Digweed · STS9 · Old Crow Medicine Show · The Hold Steady · North Mississippi Allstars · Fountains Of Wayne · Hot Tuna · Feist · Hot Chip · John Butler Trio · Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys · Aesop Rock · The Richard Thompson Band · Dierks Bentley · Xavier Rudd · Gogol Bordello · Junior Brown · Tortoise · T-Bone Burnett · Mavis Staples · Clutch · Cold War Kids · Dr. Dog · Paolo Nutini · Brazilian Girls · RX Bandits · The Nightwatchman · The Slip · Girl Talk · Railroad Earth · Martha Wainwright · Rodrigo y Gabriela · Annuals · Tea Leaf Green · Sam Roberts Band · Elvis Perkins in Dearland · Charlie Louvin · Sonya Kitchell · Mute Math · Apollo Sunshine · Uncle Earl · James Blood Ulmer · The National · The Little Ones · Black Angels · Ryan Shaw

Lewis Black & Friends · David Cross · Dave Attell

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mock Drafts

First things first, I'm not going to do one. Ever. I really would have no idea who the Bills would select with the 12th pick (and I just had to go look that up) and while I feel free (and obligated!) to speculate on who the Browns should draft, I have no clue on the rest of the teams. So if you read a mock draft coming from me, just assume it's complete bullshit (as opposed to the rest of my stuff...)

Anyways, after reading Erik's plea to Browns fans to not get distracted by shiny objects, I wanted to take a look at what the experts are saying about the Browns draft plans.

First off, Terry Pluto says that the Browns offense is too messed up to draft a QB:
When it comes to evaluating young quarterbacks, the Browns find it hard because they went through two offensive coordinators last year, the offensive line was a mess and running back Reuben Droughns had a poor year. How much do you blame Charlie Frye or Derek Anderson for that? It's not an easy question, even though some fans think picking a quarterback would solve many of the problems on offense. If so, they are conning themselves.
(BTW, Pluto also says the Browns are going to go after Bengals' guard Eric Steinbach in free agency. Hooray!)

Now to the mock drafts. has two of them up (both insiders)

Mel Kiper Jr has the Lions taking Joe Thomas and the Browns settling for Adrian Peterson. I'm okay with this. However, Kiper does mention that teams may be willing to trade up for Peterson:
However, the biggest buzz could center around Oklahoma junior RB Adrian Peterson (6-1½, 223 pounds). His workout numbers at the NFL combine should look something like this: 4.37 in the 40-yard dash; 38-inch vertical leap; and eight percent body fat. I have Peterson going to Cleveland, which will have either the third or fourth pick, depending on a coin flip tiebreaker with Tampa Bay; but there also could be several teams interested in trading up to get Peterson.
I'd be more than happy if the Browns traded down for multiple picks, even if that meant passing on Peterson.

Todd McShay
has JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn going 1 and 2, respectively and says this about the Browns:
Russell or Quinn would be a possibility if available. Otherwise, it would become a tough decision between Thomas and Michigan DT Alan Branch. Thomas seems to make more sense, as he could be the piece that finally solidifies the Browns' offensive line.
Obviously, I'm happy with this.

Fox Sports
' Peter Schrager has done three (1, 2, 3) mock drafts so far and in two out of the three he has the Browns taking Peterson. He had Peterson going to the Browns in his first and third drafts and the Browns landing Russell in the middle one. However, in his latest MD he has Russell and Thomas going 1 and 2 and the Browns landing Peterson:
How good is Adrian Peterson? When Bears DT and Oklahoma grad Dusty Dvoracek was asked whether he thought the Sooners running back will be a good pro player on media day, Dvoracek answered: "Adrian Peterson is going to be a Hall of Fame player. Mark it down in ink. He's going to be one of the best NFL running backs we've ever seen." With questions at both the quarterback and running back positions, Cleveland can do no wrong taking Peterson here. Hall of Fame or not.
Again, since Thomas is off the board, taking Peterson here is the right move.

I've already addressed the MD of's Don Banks here.

And finally, Yahoo! Sports' John Murphy also has two mock drafts in circulation and he has the Browns going with defense:
3/4. Cleveland Browns – Alan Branch, defensive lineman, Michigan. Branch would fill a major void for the Browns, who would allow him to clog the middle while opening up lanes for their outside pass rushers and young linebackers Kamerion Wimbley and D'Qwell Jackson. Cleveland paid close attention to the interior line position leading up to last year's draft but opted to take the pass rusher, so addressing the spot this year should come as no surprise.
Now, I'm not sure how I feel about this; I mean, don't me wrong, the Browns could use a player like Branch. But Murphy has the Browns passing on both Peterson and Thomas (he has Russell and Jamaal Anderson going 1 and 2). I can't imagine them doing this. If Joe Thomas is available, I fully expect the Browns to snap him up. Plus, Browns fans already have Braylon Edwards on this team, do we really have to root for another Michigan guy?

We can only take so much.

So we agree

Eric Snow likes coming off the bench. I like Eric Snow coming off the bench. Fantastic.
Eric Snow is starting to warm up to staying in his warm-ups.

The Cavaliers' veteran captain handled his move to the bench in favor of Daniel Gibson like a professional, offering nothing but support even if breaking his run of 139 consecutive starts hurt on the inside. Now, used to the idea, he is starting to find himself in favor of it.

He's been quietly, but convincingly, effective in his new role off the bench. The Cavs have been responding well with him in the game, even if it is somewhat hidden. In Sunday's victory over the Lakers, Snow scored just four points, but had an impact on the game.

After Larry Hughes got in foul trouble, Snow defended Kobe Bryant for nearly 15 minutes in the first half and held him to just six points. In that span, the Cavs outscored the Lakers by 15 points. Snow also ended up with six assists and no turnovers. In the seven games since leaving the starting lineup, Snow has 31 assists against just five turnovers and has the highest plus/minus rating on the Cavs' team.

``I think I may be better suited to what I am doing right now,'' Snow said. ``I know my minutes are more limited and I'm able to give more energy and I don't have to worry about getting in foul trouble.''

Snow also said that being able to play with Sasha Pavlovic, Donyell Marshall and Anderson Varejao with the second unit has also helped because they are more catch-and-shoot players than the guys who start. That allows him to set them up better.

``His leadership skills, especially when he's in, have been off the charts for us,'' Cavs coach Mike Brown said. ``That is something we should all feel good about.''

Having Snow play with the second unit has really solidified the Cavs bench play. I know there's still more to do but these moves have worked. Hopefully this will shut the crazies up for awhile.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cavs-Lakers Highlights

Some highlights from the Cavs-Lakers game

Marshall's outlet to end the first period:

Marshall also had a 4 point play:

Z played some defense and Sasha rewarded the big fella:

I wish the Cavs would run more simple plays like this. Or at least execute them:

Boobie sure can take contact can't he?

LeBron hit another long one, only this one didn't count:

This is a fast break that got Varejao two free throws. Notice how Sasha has the option to give the ball to Snow, but decides pass it up to LeBron (who then finds a cutting Wild Thing):

Slowest. Drive. Ever.

Honestly, anyone who says Z can't pass is a moron. The only passer I've ever seen cut to the hoop after feeding Z is Eric Snow. If that is James or Pavlovic in this situation, it's two points. Move without the ball!

Sasha attacked the rim all game:

This sequence pretty much sealed the game; right before Varejao shoots you can kind of hear the crowd moan, it was much more pronounced in the stands. No one wanted him to shoot that ball.

Andy pulled this out of nowhere:

The exclamation point:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. A week ago I'd be thrilled if the Cavs made a trade. But with the emergence of Pavlovic and the insertion of Gibson into the starting lineup (plus Snow's strong/rejuvinated play off the bench) I'm not sure they have to.

2. Pluto devotes his View to the Cavaliers, which I'm all for.

3. Pluto, as he's apt to do, defends Z:

Steve Cipriano wrote: ``Brown is a defensive coach, and everyone knows that. Why did the Cavs sign Z? Z is offensive when it comes to defense.''

OK, here's a team that's 25th in scoring, and they should dump one of their best threats -- either in the low post or from the foul line? I'd like to see Ilgauskas play more. He's averaging nearly 12 points and 8.1 rebounds in only 27 minutes. He's slow, but his 7-foot-3 frame does help clog up the middle. You don't see many opposing centers throwing in 30 points on the Cavs.

Fans complain about Ilgauskas' contract. It's not even in the top 50 this season. One ranking had it at 65th. If anyone is overpaid, it's Larry Hughes, who earns more than $13 million compared with Ilgauskas' $9.4 million. I was a fan of Hughes when the Cavs signed him as a free agent, but he has not been able to adjust to the Cavs. Injuries are a part of it. So is the death of his brother. But he has made noise about not liking some of the offense. He settles too often for long jumpers. Most fans would be surprised to know that he's at nearly 39 percent on 3-pointers -- only Gibson (45 percent) and Damon Jones (40 percent) are higher. But he's still better driving.

4. I agree with Pluto here (as I'm apt to do). Sure Z has a stinker of a game every now and then, but the man has played well this season. Take Sunday's Laker game, I didn't think he played all that well (he missed some jumpers he usually hits) but he still contributed 17 points and 7 boards. Anyone who looks at this season and says the problem is Z is an idiot.

5. Not everyone agrees.

6. Windhorst live blogged the Cavs-Lakers game and seems more down about the win than I was.

7. FYI, I was at the game, my fourth Cavs game for the season. So far I'm 2-2, with the wins being against the Lakers and Sonics and both losses being to the Suns.

8. It was nice for the Cavs to finally win a game on ABC. But it'd be a lot sweeter if they won a game on NBC.

9. Their game versus Miami on TNT was good too (btw- that pic is awesome).

10. Speaking of Miami, Mark Cuban defends Dirk from Dwyane Wade (I love Mark Cuban).

11. Windhorst mentioned seeing this guy and being astonished at how tall he was. But damn, that is a large man.

12. My head hurts.

13. This video of Vince Carter is downright awe inspiring. Just fantastic.

14. I meant to link to this before, but here's the 11 most irrelevant people in Cleveland sports. And unlike the Plain Dealer's list, it includes a woman (she may have nothing to do with Cleveland sports, but hey)

15. I love the scandals when the Dems have power again...

16. The Pelosi-Plane story is driving me up the wall. I mean, come on!

17. The Edwards-Blogger story is pretty retarded too. Especially when this asshole is doing the complaining.

18. I guess we've moved on to Barak Obama's first name.

19. Isn't there more important things that we should be discussing? I mean, WTF is this?

20. Good response by Obama.

21. Swerb has a mock draft and he's got the Browns taking... JaMarcus Russell.

22. I think we all know my feelings on the subject, but to reiterate: Joe Thomas or Adrian Peterson. If not, try to trade down.

23. I know trading down is easier said than done, but I think this year it'll be more possible. With the glut of talent up at the top (Russell, Brady Quinn, Thomas, Peterson, Calvin Johnson) I think someone would want one of those guys enough to trade up.

24. Also, even though Randy Lerner wants to draft Russell, I doubt the Browns will even have that chance. Especially if they draft 4th.

25. The best Tribe second baseman Paul Hoynes saw was Robbie Alomar. I could've sworn he was going to pick Ronnie Belliard.

26. Paul McCartney Peter Gammons really likes the Tribe. I've always thought that Gammons has really liked the Tribe a lot (I'd say second to, obviously, Boston). He always has good things to say about the Indians.

27. Keeping Mark Shapiro is the right move.

28. Do the Beatles really count as Zach Braff rock? I say no.

29. Though, Sondre Lerche probably would. He's got a new album called Phantom Punch and it is great.

30. I first heard Lerche's first album, Face Down, a few years ago in college and I loved it. It's great pop music (not like Jessica Simpson pop music, but Beach Boys and Beatles style).

'You Know So Well' from Faces Down

'Modern Nature' (Live) ('Modern Nature' is probably one of my top 5 favorite songs. It's simple yet gorgeous. This video has the complete album track)

'Two Way Monologue' from Two Way Monologue

'Phantom Punch' from Phantom Punch (the new album)