Thursday, February 28, 2008
LeBron had a big night... kinda. He became the youngest player to reach 10,000 career points, which is kinda neat. He also hurt his ankle late in the first half... which isn't neat at all. However, James did come back in the second half and he finished 26 points, 8 boards and 4 assists. His shooting was a problem; LeBron was just 7-24 from the floor and shot a brutal 1-6 from behind the arc. This was a tough game for James and company; Boston is a great defensive team (though I felt they got away with a ton of shoving) and the new guys aren't completely in sync with each other. Say what you will about Gooden and Hughes (and I have), but they at least knew where they should be on the court (the new guys are having some spacing problems).
Mike Brown is angry. Brown was furious at a no-call, touch foul sequence in the third quarter and blew up at the officials. Brown was visibily upset and was actually shoving his assistant coaches to get at the refs. Though I kinda wish he had done it during the Bucks game, his angry tirade was a welcome sight. Not that I want him getting kicked out on a regular basis, but I wouldn't mind Brown getting T'd up every now and then, just to show the guys he's got their backs.
Even though Wally isn't shooting well, I'd rather have him starting over Devin Brown. The Cavs started Delonte West and Brown in the backcourt and there were multiple instances where West or James drove the lane, drew the defense in... and kicked out to Devin freaking Brown. I love a lot of what Devin brings to the team, but his long distance shooting isn't one of them. Starting both Brown and Ben Wallace doesn't seem like best idea.
Szczerbiak had another bad shooting game. He was just 3-13 from the floor, but he was 2-3 from downtown and 4-4 from the line. Wally finished with 12 points, 5 boards and 2 assists. Like many of the Cavaliers, Szczerbiak seemed frustrated with the foul situation (he had 4 PFs) and he definitely could've made another couple of trips to the stripe (which would give him a 3-11 night... much better!). Szczerbiak (2-3) and West (2-4) were the only guys hitting from behind the arc (James was 1-6, Damon Jones 1-4 and Brown 0-2).
I'm just going to keep saying it: Ben Wallace has no lift. He moves well up and down the court, he rotates well on the defensive end... but he's been caught flat footed many, many times in his 3 games for the Cavaliers. Maybe he's thinking too much about positioning and where he should be on the floor, I dunno. Maybe lift isn't the right word... spring could work better. When Wallace has time, he gets up and dunk the ball or skies for a rebound. But when it's a quick play, he's trying to lay it up or he's floor bound.
Both Z and Varejao were available, so that was cool. Z finished with 8 points and 12 boards in 28 minute of court time. He was 4-9 from the field and somehow didn't attempt a single free throw. Varejao seemed preoccupied with drawing fouls on Boston players and never seemed to get a rhythm out there. Andy didn't attempt a single shot and had just 4 boards (though he did pitch in 3 assists, 2 steals and a block). The other big man, Joe Smith, had a solid offensive game, 9 points on 4-5 shooting, but only had 15 minutes of court time due to foul trouble (5 fouls).
Delonte West had a big game in his return to Boston. West had 20 points (8-13 shooting), 5 boards and 2 assists. West looks really good in the open floor and I really want to see what him and James can do once they get used to each other. I'd also like to see West and Z get some pick-and-pops going; let's see how those two can work off each other.
Oh ya, the Celtics. I've said this before, but I'm not overly impressed by them. I've never been a big fan of either KG (get some post moves!) or Pierce (take better shots!) and I wonder how they're going to do in a long playoff run. They're old, not particularly deep (though they just signed PJ Brown and they're hoping Sam-I-Am gets bought out) and I think the Cavs matchup fairly well against them. For the game, Garnett had a solid 18 points, 11 board, 5 assist and 4 steal game and Ray Allen was 7-10 from the floor (5-6 from beyond the arc- ouch!) and finished with 22 points. Like I said after the Milwaukee game, I wish this game was played next week, after the new guys were completely settled in.
Just what the doctor ordered: the Timberwolves at home. Friday, the Cavs face a Minnesota team that is 2-24 on the road and 2-8 in their last 10 games overall. The Cavs should have this group of guys for a decent stretch (both Z and Varejao are back) and hopefully they can start building some familiarity with each other. The Cavs face a headbandless Drew Gooden and the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Ben Wallace has no lift. He does a lot of things well, but he's been caught flat footed quite a bit in these first 3 games.
Is Boston an extremely physical defensive team or are they just hacking a lot? Somehow LeBron ended up with 15 free throw attempts, but he could've easily have had over 20. The final free throw and foul tally was similar, but the Cavs got a lot of FT attempts down the stretch that evened things up.
Ideally, I'll have something up before noon tomorrow, but I make no promises.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
*For instance, that final play. On the last play of the game, no one picked up future-Cavalier Michael Redd until he got past half court. Redd proceeded to hit the game winner from roughly 30 feet. On one hand, you just have to tip your hat at a guy who nails a 30 foot buzzer beater with a hand in his face. On the other hand, you'd like your defense to pick up the man with the ball at least at halfcourt, if not way (way way way) earlier.
You guys used to the 7-3 guy with a post game and mid-range jumper? Good, now for game two, we're gonna replace him with a Brazilian guy with limited offensive game. Enjoy. Andy was back and Z was out with an "upper respiratory infection". In case you were wondering how the Devin Brown-Varejao-Wallace offense looked, wonder no more. (hint: it was awesome!)
LeBron is awesome, I'm not sure what else to say. This guy makes a couple plays a night that just make me shake my head. He had a string of 'and1s' in the first half that were simply ridiculous. James finished the game with 37 points, 4 boards and 6 assists. He also had a block and a game tying layup with 5 seconds left. However, this wasn't LeBron's best night. While his offense was mostly spectacular, his free throws weren't (just 2-5). He also got burned by future-Cavalier Michael Redd numerous times (Redd drew a few fouls on James too). Just think about this: James had 35 points while making just two free throws and one three... while only attempting 24 shots! He was 16-24 from the floor! I know he won't get it, but this guy is the MVP.
About those five free throws. LeBron was just 2-5, but I'm less alarmed by the misses than I am about the number of attempts. Five? Three separate Milwaukee starters had over ten attempts apiece (Redd, Andrew Bogut and Mo Williams) and LeBron freaking James had just five?! By the way, those five attempts led the Cavaliers. As a team, Milwaukee made 32-37 (!) free throws to the Cavaliers' 10-14. I can't even begin to count all the terrible calls that went the Bucks' way (but I'll try: Ben Wallace should've had at least two more trips to the line. Somehow the Bucks got not one, not two, but three 3pt plays off of jumpers where the shooter wasn't even touched. Future-Cavalier Michael Redd got free throws on a fast break where he wasn't even bumped. If that kind of contact was foul worthy, LeBron should've had 25 attempts. Easy). Don't get me wrong, I'm not putting this loss on the refs (the Cavs had 13 turnovers and way too many miscues), but if I'm Mike Brown, I might send that game tape to the league office.
What's with the floor? Why were so many people slipping? The Cavaliers were affected the most (Delonte West especially, though James, Wallace and Varejao skidded during the game) but both Mo Williams and future-Cavalier Redd slipped up too (if you wanted to be really anal, you could've called traveling on last shot, Redd's skidded and slid on his stop). (Also, from my extremely biased point of view, the Cavs should've had .5 seconds left to take a terrible shot. Instead they called the game).
The rumors are true: Wally Szczerbiak is a chucker. Not that I minded really, but Wally took a ton of shots (18) and didn't make many (5). If this was Larry Hughes, I'd be furious. But I'm not. Why? Well, first of all, Szczerbiak still has that 'new player smell', so I'm can't get mad at either of the new guys for at least a few more games. Secondly, Wally's shots came in the flow of the game; he got open looks from the corner, he posted up, and he generally was open when he shot (he was the main guy on the second unit and the Cavs kept giving him the ball). It wasn't like he was pulling up with 17 seconds on the shot clock to hoist a contested 20 footer. However, we could just chalk the whole thing up to racism; maybe I just look the other way when a clean cut white guy goes 5-18.
I would've liked to see more Delonte West. West played just 29 minutes (Szczerbiak had 38) but put up 7 points, 8 boards and 7 assists. West repeatedly got to the paint and found the bigs for easy buckets. Nothing was particularly amazing, but after not having anything close to a legitimate point guard for awhile, it felt like a breathe of fresh air (you mean a non-LeBron player is allowed to set up teammates? Attack the rim and dish for easy baskets? This is amazing). West had some trouble with Williams, who went off for 37 points, and maybe it's just me defending the new guy, but I thought it was more the case of Williams getting red hot than West slacking on D.
Ben Wallace has no lift. You can definitely tell he looks old (especially after FSN Ohio showed some Pistons highlights). Wallace moves pretty well (he gets up and down the floor well) but he's no longer explosive. He doesn't jump quickly to contest shots and rebound. I dunno, I could be overly picky, but I don't know if a change of scenery can put the spring back in his legs. Big Ben finished with 7 points and 11 boards (5 of which were offensive).
Damon Jones is absolutely on fire. Jones was 4-5 from behind the arc and he hit a huge 3 with 16 seconds left to cut the Bucks' lead to 99-98. The guy has been lights out lately and Brown is going to have to find minutes for him when everyone is healthy. He's played too well and hit too many big shots to be sent back to the bench.
I wished they played Boston in a week. I think you can see how this trade will work itself out, but they need time to gel. West gives the Cavs a completely different look at the point and Joe Smith (12 points, 8 boards) is smart, consistent version of Drew Gooden. I think Wallace will work well with Z and Szczerbiak gives the Cavs a scorer on the second unit (which should help keep LeBron under 40 minutes a night). This team will be very, very tough when all the parts are in sync, but right now, there are some kinks. However, I cannot wait to see KG and Varejao matched up on Wednesday night... I really want to see Andy get under his skin.
Monday, February 25, 2008
I'll be concerned in two years. Until then, please shut the fuck up. Look at what's happened in the NBA over the last month. How can anyone even speculate what the league will look like in 2010.
It never ends.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
LeBron and Z meshed well with the new guys. James had 25 points, 11 assists, 7 boards, 3 steals and a block (to go along with 6 turnovers) while Z had 22 points (8-17 from the floor), 13 rebounds (7 offensive) and a block. With the addition of West, LeBron didn't have to run the offense as much (especially after the last game) and we frequently saw him set up on low block. LeBron also had a completely ridiculous double pump dunk, which I can't even begin to describe.
Ben Wallace had some good moments and some so-so moments. I thought Big Ben looked really well speed wise; he defended the pick-and-roll really well and he even forced a 5 second violation on his own. From a pure speed/in shape standpoint, I thought Wallace looked good. However, one area I found lacking was his rebounding. His reaction speed seemed a bit slow; Wallace got beat on the boards more than once, but as this seemed to improve as the game went on. Offensively, he didn't force anything (he tied his season high of 12 points) and he actually finished strong at the rim (4 dunks).
Delonte West could end up having the biggest impact of all these guys. West had 5 points, 6 assists, 3 steals and a block. He pushed the ball, he got inside (and dished) and he was active defensively. However, West didn't shoot well; just (a Larry Hughes-esque) 2-12 from the field. He was just 1-5 from beyond the arc and most of his misses were short.
Wally seemed to be forcing things while Joe Smith looked completely at ease. Maybe it's just because I haven't seen him play in a couple years, but it looked like Szczerbiak had almost no lift on his jumper. Wally had 10 points on 4-10 shooting (2-4 from 3) and he looked a bit unsure of where his shots will come from. On the flip side, Joe Smith fit right in. Smith knocked down open looks from the baseline and from the elbow and when he ran the floor, he was actually looking for the ball (I'll miss ya Drew!). Smith was 6-8 from the floor and finished with 14 points and 6 boards.
The Cavs announcers were pretty sweet themselves. At one point, Fred McLeod actually said the phrase "spank job" and things got dicey anytime that Rudy Gay was involved in a play. However, a special mention must be made to the "interview" with Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert. Gilbert sat in with the guys for the bulk of the second quarter, and wow, was it painful. Every time there was a commercial break, I was hoping that'd be the end of Gilbert in the booth... but nope, he was still there. Gilbert spent his TV time questioning the critics of the trade, commenting on the negative press from the national news media and making a shameless plug for the Lake Erie Monsters (hey fans, do you like fast paced NBA basketball? Then you'll love minor league hockey! Minor league hockey goes with Cavalier basketball about as much as that redneck dating site that always advertises during Cavs games).
The bench was one aspect of the trade that didn't get a whole lot of talk. The Cavs got 36 points from the bench crew. Damon Jones continued his strong play with 11 points while shooting 3-5 from behind the arc. Once everyone gets healthy, this is going to be one of the deepest teams in the league. I'm more than anxious to see how Coach Mike juggles the minutes of these guys (especially the big man rotation). Guys like Devin Brown and Jones have played themselves into Brown's rotation, I'm interested in seeing how this works out.
So far, so good. The Cavs travel to Milwaukee on Tuesday then face the Celtics in Boston the next night. The team looked good in their first time out, but we'll see how things look after a couple road games. After Boston, the Cavs face the Timberwolves at home on Friday and meet the Bulls for the first of four meetings. That should be fun.
Friday, February 22, 2008
This game alone should prove why LeBron is the MVP. James hit two free throws with 7 seconds left to give the Cavs the win. After posting back to back triple doubles, James came out and dropped 34 points, 15 boards and 8 dimes. James was doubled and tripled all night, but he never tried to do too much; he always found the open man (usually spotted up for 3). Though he made two free throws when it counted, James was just 9-14 from the line (
Damon Jones had a huge game. DJ was the beneficiary of a lot of the Wizards' double teams. Jones was 7-11 from behind the arc and finished with 27 points and 4 assists. Damon played 44 minutes and was obviously enjoying himself; the whole team seemed to play with a reckless abandon.
But let's be honest, the Wizards stink. Seriously guys, you can't guard Damon Jones? You double team LeBron, but you leave Damon open? How can you not make Devin Brown and Eric Snow shoot the ball? Hell, the Cavs, who had no size at all, outrebounded Washington 43-31. Hell, their last second play was a DeShawn "losing the beard growing contest to Drew Gooden" Stevenson isolation. I know Gilbert Arenas and Caron Bulter are hurt, but there's no reason why they should've lost this game.
The Cavs didn't get a lot of calls. Washington shot 29 free throws to the Cavs 17. In the fourth quarter (where the Wizards got some ticky-tack calls), Washington shot 18 free throws (they made 14) to the Cavaliers' 2 (LeBron made both). You'd figure the short handed team, at home, with a super-duper star might get some love, no?
Well played Billy Thomas, well played. 19 minutes, 11 3pt attempts (making 3). Well done. Brought in from the D-League, Thomas came in and gave the Cavs some not terrible minutes. He didn't do anything particularly well, but did enough things adequately to be productive. Thomas used most of his minutes chucking up wide open 3s. If he would've made a couple more, James might've had a third straight triple double.
Eric Snow should be retired. At this point I feel sorry for the guy. He's old, he can't shoot and he can't keep up with the bigger, faster players. Snow was 1-6, but the one he made was memorable. He got a nice mock cheer from the fans and then raised his arms in celebration, acknowledging his terribleness. Snow also pitched in 2 boards and an assist in 32 minutes (probably the most PT he'll see for the rest of his career).
Devin Brown was pretty effective. This guy's shots don't especially pretty, but enough of them went in Friday night. Brown had near Jason Kidd-like triple double with 10 points, 10 boards and 7 assists in 43 minutes. (Think about that- the Cavs played both Damon Jones and Devin Brown over 40 minutes. Eric Snow was over 30. LeBron James isn't the MVP because?).
Fresh blood! New players! Guards not named Larry Hughes! The new additions should debut this upcoming Sunday against Memphis. It should be a fun night for everybody; the team should be pumped with the new guys, the home crowd will be excited and (best of all) they'll be facing a terrible Memphis squad (so it should be a relatively easy win). The next big test will come Wednesday, when the Cavs travel to Boston on the second night of a back-to-back (but we probably be denied the matchup I've been waiting for all season: KG vs Varejao. I can't wait til the playoffs when KG gets thrown out of Game 3 for slugging Andy in the face).
As for the other big trade this week, kudos to Danny Ferry for somehow getting four of the best five players in an 11-player trade. That has to be some sort of record, right? I already made the case for Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West helping the Cavs in my Trade Machine piece Wednesday (scroll down to trade 4a), but the Chicago guys pushed the deal over the top for me. First, Drew Gooden needed to go -- he was too inconsistent and too much of a bonehead, and we neared the point where a fed-up LeBron might punch him in the face during a game about three months ago -- and Joe Smith gives the Cavs steadier minutes and reliable production with those minutes. (Maybe Smith's ceiling isn't as high as Gooden's from game to game, but when you have LeBron, you need consistency from the rest of the guys more than anything else.) Second, the fact Ferry was able to trade an overpaid guard who actually drove a frustrated Cavs fan to create a site called www.heylarryhughespleasestoptakingsomanybadshots.com and update it every day ... I mean, even if you got back a dead body for Larry Hughes, it would have been a moral victory.
Instead, the Cavs got back the Artist Formerly Known As Ben Wallace, someone who stopped being an elite rebounder and shot-blocker about three years ago, but someone with playoff experience and the ability to defend bigger guys like KG, Shaq, Duncan or whomever. He certainly makes more sense for the 2008 Cavs than Larry Hughes did. Anyway, I thought the Cavs could win the East before this trade, simply because none of the Eastern teams have someone who can match baskets with LeBron in a close game. Now? They're the favorites. Look, I love the Celtics, I watch them every game, it has been the most enjoyable season in 15 years ... but a playoff series almost always comes down to one question as long as both sides are relatively equal:
Which team has the best guy?
Well, LeBron is better than anyone else in the East. So if you were beating Cleveland this spring, it was happening because your supporting cast was significantly better than LeBron's supporting cast. That's why this trade was so dangerous for Boston and Detroit; it shortened the sizable gap between guys 2 through 12 on Cleveland and guys 2 through 12 on Boston and Detroit. Now LeBron has four shooters who have shot 40-plus from 3-point range at least once in their career (Wally, Delonte, Boobie Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic), three playoff-proven forwards who can defend and rebound (Wallace, Smith and Anderson Varejao), a scoring center (Zydrunas Ilgauskas), and best of all, no Larry Hughes screwing everything up. LeBron is in a much better place than he was last year, and what's even more frightening is that he has been playing out of his mind since last April. I know the Celtics are 41-11, and I know the Pistons have been there a million times ... but still, how could you bet against LeBron in the East when he's playing like this?
Charles Barkley called it a "great trade". (In case you forgot, both of those guys predicted that the Cavs wouldn't make the playoffs).
Wondrous Wally can shoot with anybody, has a limited handle, and an unlimited ego. He can establish and maintain proper defensive positioning, but he's too slow off the mark to be considered an adequate defender. Delonte West has guts and a nifty shot, but is too slow to play point guard at a playoff-caliber level.Wally is risky, but he's no worse defensively than Damon Jones. Plus, he's a trade chip next year. West is young and unproven, but we'll see how he looks when sharing the court with LeBron.
Together, Szczerbiak and West lack the speed and quickness of the departed Larry Hughes and Shannon Brown, but are much superior shooters. In any event, the Cavs have done nothing to resolve their point-guard dilemma.Shannon Brown? Really? Rosen should be fired for even bringing him up. Oh, and the Cavs addressed their point guard dilemma with the acquisition of a point guard. Thanks for keeping up.
Smith is a pro — curtail his minutes and he can score in the low post, grab unexpected rebounds, and always be in the right place at the right time. If he can stay healthy, he's a modest upgrade over Drew Gooden.For the most part, I agree. Gooden has more talent and physical skills... but he's also the guy who wore a square patch of hair on the back of his head on purpose. Joe Smith may not give the Cavs a whole lot of 20 and 15 nights, but he won't disappear for weeks on end either.
Ben Wallace is ready for the glue factory. Will he be content to back up Zydrunas Ilgauskas? And when Anderson Varejao returns, who sits: The younger, quicker, much more active Varejao? Or the rapidly shrinking Ben?Well, going by the fact that Brown played both Daniel Gibson and Varejao in crunch time (ahead of recently departed starters Gooden and Hughes), I would imagine that Brown would play whoever is more effective. You know, basketball reasons.
Overall, the Cavs got appreciably slower and their perimeter defense got worse. Except for an occasional foray by LBJ, forget about fast breaks and early offense. From now on, it's half-court basketball — and with Wallace on the floor, look for LBJ to be two-timed on his every touch.
Cleveland's grade: C+
I hate you.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Cavs give up Larry Hughes (Bulls), Drew Gooden (Bulls), Donyell Marshall (Sonics), Ira Newble (Sonics) and Cedric Simmons (Bulls) (Shannon Brown also goes to the Bulls... stupid WKNR). Seattle also gets Chris Duhon from Chicago (the Sonics actually get Adrian Griffin, WKNR lied to me).
I would imagine West, Wallace and Wally would all step into the starting lineup. I'd keep Varejao off the bench and let him bring the energy. Wallace could be used to guard KG, 'Sheed, Howard and (hopefully) Duncan come playoff time. West gives the Cavs an honest to god point guard and Szczerbiak is an upgrad over Pavlovic.
As for the future...
Smith is gone after this year ($5.2 million) and West has a qualifying offer ($2.7 million) which I expect the Cavs to pick up.
Szczerbiak is owed $13 million next season, which is his final year, so he could definitely be moved within the year.
Wallace... well, he's owed $14.5 million next year and $14.0 million the year after (he expires in 09/10, same time as Hughes).
The Cavs are taking on a lot of money, but they didn't give up any picks (thank God!) and they still have some flexibility. Szczerbiak, Snow ($7 million) and Damon Jones ($4.5 million) all become expiring this summer, so the Cavs still have pieces to trade for a Michael Redd type player.
I think the trade improves the Cavs a bit. All of these guys (even Smith) should contribute to the team right away. But it also opens up some holes... like who the hell is going to guard Chauncy Billups?
Earlier, Windhorst was on KNR and said that the Cavs are not going after Vince Carter (who I thought was the most likely option due to his contract) and that Z will not be dealt.
(also, you may have noticed there's no Cavs-Pacers recap. Oops).
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
In the meantime, I'll leave you with rumor from Brian Windhorst:
Folks, I have not watched a second of the first half as I pursue some hot trade rumors with the Cavs. They are being very active and are in talks over a blockbuster that has not been reported yet. It does not involve Mike Miller. More to come later.My guesses, in order of most likely:
Michael Redd (plus bad contracts)
Update: 11:00 PM -
–So this will surely disappoint some of you and also anger some of you, but I cannot yet say what player the Cavs are considering making a deal for. I have to protect sources. But I can tell you that I have talked to two different people in different organizations that have confirmed the talks are serious. I know you want more, but I just can’t give it to you at this point. I am not trying to build up ratings here, I am reporting what I can report. Just know that Danny Ferry is serious about trying to upgrade the roster. Whether or not it gets done though is up in the air. It’s 50/50 at best.God damn it.
–Here is what I can tell you, it is a trade that would change the dynamic somewhat of how the Cavs play but not directly affect the way LeBron James plays. Also, if this deal goes through, it would potentially allow the Cavs to make another deal.
–Also, the Cavs are trying to get a first-round pick as part of the deal. Which is a sticking point, the other team doesn’t want to give it up. Perhaps this is because they are thinking of trading their first round pick this year or next year as part of another deal.
–After the game, the Cavs locker room was buzzing about the deadline. There are players who have heard their names in rumors and are convinced they are being traded. Some players even were half-jokingly saying goodbye to one another. Others weren’t paying attention. But make no mistake, there is a strong belief in the Cavs locker room that they are going to do something. Maybe nothing will happen. A year ago on this night I was writing about how Danny was beating down the doors trying to get Mike Bibby and it didn’t happen. I am just trying to do my job.
More on the game a little later
TRADE 3A: Milwaukee trades Drew Gooden, Shannon Brown and Ira Newble for Charlie Villanueva and Bobby Simmons.
Why Cleveland does it: Because the Cavs need to do something and don't have any trade pieces that anyone really wants. They wouldn't miss anyone but Gooden, and he's replaceable because of Anderson Varejao. I also like the thought of Villanueva playing with LeBron because he can shoot 3-pointers and needs the kick-in-the-ass of playing with a great player like LeBron. And Simmons has a gawd-awful contract, but you know what? He's a physical defensive player, a tough dude who could make an impact on a playoff team. I watched him up close for an entire Clippers season -- he definitely has it in him. His contract sucks, but the good thing here is that it expires in 2010 right as do the contracts of Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and ... (gulp) ... LeBron James, which means they could spend the 2009-2010 season either turning expiring contracts into quality guys, or waiting until the summer to splurge on free agency and make LeBron happy.
Why Milwaukee does it: The Bucks save some money after this season, dump Simmons' deal and turn their umpteenth perimeter guy (Villanueva) into a much-needed banger (Gooden). A no-brainer for them.
(By the way, I'd like to officially apply for Larry Harris' job -- a job we knew would be open three years ago after his deer-in-the-headlights performance after winning the 2005 lottery. Bucks fans, lemme remind you that I pushed long and hard for Chris Paul as the No. 1 pick of that draft. Do you think you'd enjoy rooting for Chris Paul right now? I bet you would. I love the good city of Milwaukee, I'd love to live there, and I'd love to run the Bucks. Come on, you couldn't do worse! Start bugging Herb Kohl right now and vote Simmons for Bucks GM in 2008! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!)
So the Cavs would be giving up most of next years expiring deals (Gooden, Jone, Marshall) while getting back Wally Word (owed $13 million next year), Bobby Simmons (owed $20.5 mil through 09/10) and Charlie Villanueva (owed $8 million through 09/10). So the would the Cavs be starting... Delonte West? They'd be bringing both Simmons and Szczerbiak off the bench?
TRADE 4A: Seattle trades Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and Mickael Gelabale to Cleveland for Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall, my illegitimate brother Cedric Simmons and a 2008 No. 2 pick.
Why Seattle does it: Saves the Sonics nearly $5 million over the next two seasons and dumps their two unhappiest guys. Of course, they'd be acquiring three unhappy guys, but who cares? The Sonics need to keep saving Clay Bennett money so he can devote more resources to needlessly destroying basketball in the city of Seattle and ripping the heart out of a loyal fan base that's only supported the NBA for 41 years and counting. Yeah, let's pull their team from them because they don't want to help a billionaire build a new arena that doesn't need to be built. That's an awesome idea. I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me how David Stern could care so little about saving basketball in Seattle. It's completely inexplicable and goes against everything he's ever been about. I don't get it. I don't get it.
Why Cleveland does it: The Cavs are getting two quality 3-point shooters, one of whom (Wally) has playoff experience and could be an X-factor in the right series. While we're here, I think Delonte West is the second-best bargain available for a playoff contender other than Quinton Ross (who's going to end up being the next Bruce Bowen before everything's said and done), and here's why: He shoots 40-plus from 3-point terriroty; he was the second-best player on a great college team; he's scrappy as hell; and he's never played on a good team in the NBA. If he's your 10th man in the playoffs, you're going pretty well. Hey, speaking of Quinton Ross ...
These are exactly the types of moves that the Cavs should avoid. Adding mediocre players owed a lot of money. It's one thing if you turn your expiring contracts into Vince Carter or Michael Redd. It's quite another when you're getting Bobby Simmons and Wally Szczerbiak in return.
LeBron had a triple double, but it wasn't enough. Though the stats are nice (26, 13 and 11) it was a relatively quite triple double. LeBron played pretty well, but his shot didn't start falling until the fourth quarter (he had no field goals in the first half). His head didn't seem in it; at one point, he got his pocket picked by Luis Scola and he 'led' all players with 5 turnovers. From what I could tell, it seemed like LeBron was taking on more of the point guard duties; he took the ball up, he set up the offense (and his teammates) and he led most of the breaks. Not sure what that means exactly, but it seemed like he had the ball in his hands earlier in the possessions.
He did get a little help (but just a little). Both Z and Larry Hughes scored 16 points, but Z was 8-15 while Larry was 5-15... Z didn't get any free throw attempts, which is kinda irksome, and he only grabbed 7 boards. Hughes... well, he had 4 boards and 2 assists...
The bench was particularly useless. With Varejao out, Mike Brown needs to find a way to always keep either Drew Gooden or Z on the floor (the Cavs got beat on the boards, 47-45). When both starting big men sit, the Cavs rebounding (especially at the offensive end) is atrocious. The Cavaliers benched combined totaled 11 points (4-16 FG) and 10 boards. Daniel Gibson in particular didn't play well; Boobie was 1-5 from the floor, got beat defensively a couple times and gave LeBron one of the worst post feeds I've ever seen in my life- maybe he's recovering from New Orleans, I dunno.
This game was ugly all around. The Cavs did a good job defending Tracy McGrady (6-21) and Yao (3-17) and the Rockets shot 40% for the game (to the Cavs 38%). The refs didn't help matters; 4 technical fouls were called (2 on each team) and the there looked like a lot of contract was overlooked. Also, neither team shot free throw very well; Houston was 21-30 (but Yao was 10-10) and the Cavs were 17-23 (LeBron was 8-11).
The Rockets' role players killed them. Rafer Alston (22 points) hit 6 3s and a few daggers down the stretch that put the game away. Somehow Scola finished with 15 points on various offensive rebounds and set jumpers (I'm not sure he was guarded all night) and he also grabbed 8 boards.
Last game before the trade deadline. The Cavs travel to Indiana to face the Pacers (of course they do, why wouldn't they start the second half with a back-to-back... second night on the road). I may be speaking for myself, but I'm really waiting to see who dresses tonight. If the game starts and Ira Newble and Donyell Marshall don't check in, I'll be very happy (and slightly aroused).
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Meanwhile, check out the trade that has Cavs fans buzzing:
They're still trying desperately to upgrade the team. One league source told ESPN.com that the Cavs are making one last push to try to acquire Mike Miller and Kyle Lowry from the Grizzlies. They don't have much to offer, so to sweeten the pot, they are willing to take back Brian Cardinal as part of a deal. Memphis has been trying to push him in a deal for a while, but hasn't found any takers on the remaining $13 million left on his contract after this season.Yes. The Cavs wouldn't be giving up any of their top 7 guys and they'd be getting back an upgrade at shooting guard and a young point guard to come off the bench. Plus, the Cavs would still have the expiring contracts of Drew Gooden ($7 million), Eric Snow ($7 million) and Damon Jones ($4.5 million) to work with in the coming offseason.
The deal, as described to me by a player agent, would send Miller, Cardinal and Lowry to the Cavaliers for Ira Newble, Donyell Marshall, Shannon Brown, Cedric Simmons and Dwayne Jones along with cash and at least one first-round pick from Cleveland. If the Cavs can pull that off, it would be an immediate upgrade of their roster. But they face stiff competition from a number of teams for the services of Miller and Lowry.
If this deal happens, it won't go through until the deadline. The Grizzlies will be trying to field better offers, but if nothing comes up...
I really hope the Cavs just deal one first round pick. That's my only concern... if you're taking Brian Cardinal's deal, only give up one first round pick. Pau Gasol is worth two firsts and Jason Kidd is worth two firsts but Mike Miller is not. worth. two. firsts.
LeBron James needs help, and he's unhappy about not getting it.Chad Ford:
Mike Bibby trade, in which Sacramento sent him to Atlanta for four players, coupled with New Jersey still trying to move Jason Kidd to Dallas reportedly has James fuming.
They have been trying and trying to make a deal happen, but they've been stuck on the sidelines while Mike Bibby and now, it appears, Jason Kidd, have moved to other teams. Meanwhile, LeBron James stews.Marc Stein:
What I want to know: If LeBron looked so glum when he found out his buddy Jason Kidd likely was headed to Dallas, how's he going to take it when he hears that Kidd and Bibby might be unavailable now?Nathaniel Friedman:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are getting worse and worse. The rest of the NBA is getting better and better. The Cavs' front office has screwed up at pretty much every turn, and now the NBA's best player must be thinking about life beyond Cleveland. Like maybe in Brooklyn, where that cap space being cleared practically has James' name on it.Adrian Wojnarowski:
Why aren't the Cavs in on any of the big trade powwows? Simple: They don't have any tradable assets. Everyone is overpaid, under contract for too long, or, as in the case of Drew Gooden, offers nothing to get other teams stoked.
And so, in a shrewd attempt to keep James' eye from wandering, coach Mike Brown will be fired -- probably as soon as the Cavs are eliminated from the playoffs.
James is playing strictly for regional and personal pride but is not about to slack off. But with the team powerless to get him real help, this is the best it can do to publicly shake up a sinking ship.
Over the summer, LeBron, Bryant and Jason Kidd were grumbling teammates with Team USA. Bryant wanted out of Los Angeles. Kidd wanted a trade to Cleveland. And James just wanted someone to share the burden with him. Well, the two point guards whom Cleveland GM Danny Ferry had tried to obtain for two years – Kidd and Mike Bibby – are on the way to Dallas and Atlanta.
When those stars left Las Vegas over the summer, they talked glumly about returning to teams with unworthy talent. Now, James leaves New Orleans and nothing's changed in Cleveland. Ferry has tried tirelessly to find him a point guard, but the Cavaliers have uninspired young talent and veteran contracts that won't expire for two years, leaving little value now.
When most of his All-Star pals are making runs with new teams and new toys, it's back to reality for LeBron James. There are so many better teams in the NBA now, but it gets harder and harder to make the case that there's a better player.
That's why the situation with Ferry and James is on a collision course, even if no one in Cavs management wants to admit it. If the Cavs want to retain James, they are going to have to demonstrate in dramatic terms that they are committed to putting a team on the floor capable of winning it all. A new practice facility and a tricked-out locker room are always nice amenities. But if they don't bring in the kind of players seriously capable of winning a championship, then they are all for naught.
Ferry can't simply wait until James has one foot out the door to step forward with a move that might make a difference. With James captive for the next two seasons, the time is now. In fact, the Cavs and Ferry are operating on borrowed time as it is.
It's no secret that in the summer of 2010, LeBron James is a free agent. Between now and then the Cavaliers will have the chance to shed every one of their bad contracts (goodbye, Larry Hughes!) and should have a revamped roster. If, however, LeBron James is dissatisfied with the team at that point, it'll be trouble for Cleveland. It's no secret that keeping James happy is a major corporate mission for the Cavaliers.
How could LeBron James leave? All options are on the table. He could waltz as a free agent to one of the teams that is now maneuvering to have cap space that summer. He could theoretically sign with a major market team for the mid-level exception, and try to make up the income difference in endorsements. Or he could use the threat of either of the above to goad Cleveland into a sign-and-trade.
Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things that Cavs fans can worry about. They have numerous injuries, Daniel Gibson hasn't shown he can handle the ball well enough to play the point and the defense isn't where it should be if the Cavs want to beat Detroit and Boston come playoff time. These are things that should cause some sleepless nights.
But you're wasting your time worrying if LeBron will leave in the summer of 2010 based on what the Cavaliers' roster looks like in early 2008.
Look at the Cavs salaries, there at least five players (possibly as many as seven) who's contracts are ending after the 2008-09 season. Not only will those players (Eric Snow, Donyell Marshall, Damon Jones) be off the team before LeBron can leave, their contracts will help facilitate moves throughout the upcoming season.
I cannot believe that we're already discussing LeBron James leaving in free agency. His new deal (you know, the one he signed to re-up with the Cleveland fucking Cavaliers) just kicked in this season. The Cavs are coming off their first Finals appearance and they just gave their coach a contract extension. People are acting like this trade deadline is make or break time with LeBron and the Cavs.
According to several league sources, the Cavs are involved in discussions with a handful of teams. They have looked into acquiring point guard Andre Miller of the Philadelphia 76ers and shooting guard Mike Miller of the Memphis Grizzlies, among others. But neither is assured of being traded and if the Cavs get into bidding wars with other teams, they are not in a good position because they don't have very attractive trade assets.Medina County Gazette:
There's a good chance the trade deadline will come and go without the Cavaliers doing anything, but a couple guys to keep an eye on are Seattle's Delonte West, who is stuck behind Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour, and Portland's Jarrett Jack. Both are point guards on teams who don't want a ton in return, which could make them attractive to Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry.Either Miller would be awesome. I'd like Delonte West or Jarrett Jack, but I wonder if they can be had without giving up a first round draft pick.
I didn't see this little nugget yesterday from Chad Ford:
With Bucks GM Larry Harris in trouble, no one's sure whether owner Herb Kohl will let him make a deal. If the Bucks are active, don't be surprised if the player moved is Michael Redd. He has a ton of talent, but the three years and $34 million left on his contract are a concern for Milwaukee -- and for potential trade partners as well.Yes please.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Yup, the parts aren't there to make a big move. Go figure. Again, I hope they do something, but I really wonder if its going to do anything to placate the fans. Jarrett Jack and Kyle Lowry could be a possibility, but they don't excite people like Mike Bibby or Jason Kidd.
They have been trying and trying to make a deal happen, but they've been stuck on the sidelines while Mike Bibby and now, it appears, Jason Kidd, have moved to other teams. Meanwhile, LeBron James stews. [ed. Does he really? Is he frustrated at the front office or the situation?]
Cleveland's problem is plain. They just don't have enough of the assets they need -- expiring contracts, talented young players, multiple draft picks -- to swing a big trade. [ed. No shit] They have only $6 million (approximately) in expiring contracts, and Daniel Gibson is their only young player coveted by other teams, and he's not available. So while they may keep trying to get their hands on Andre Miller, Kyle Lowry, Javaris Crittenton or just about any other point guard out there with a heartbeat, their chances don't look good.
Meanwhile, Jason Kline of the Mansfield News Journal is making too much sense:
While other teams land the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Mike Bibby, Pau Gasol and -- maybe, finally, today -- Jason Kidd, it's pretty certain Thursday's trade deadline will come and go and the Cavaliers roster will look the same.
The man who'll be hold accountable is used to being the target of Cleveland fans' scorn: General Manager Danny Ferry. More than a decade ago, it was his fault for being the bust of a player who cost the Mark Price-Brad Daugherty teams a shot at the finals. Now, if his personnel moves aren't enough to put the team over the hump, he might just drive LeBron James away to a major market near you.
That's the national media's storyline, and they're sticking to it. Their devotion to LeBron's imminent departure reached new, absurd heights Saturday night, when the lead to an ESPN.com column about Bibby's trade to Atlanta didn't have much to do with Bibby or the Hawks at all. "It's the Hawks ... who wound up getting Mike Bibby," wrote NBA reporter Mark Stein, "after LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers chased Bibby for more than a year."
The script must be adhered to, the truth be damned. In this case, the Cavs just don't have the goods to land a superstar running mate for LeBron right now. If Ferry can be blamed for anything, it was pulling out of a summer blockbuster that would have brought Bibby to town along with Argentinean forward Luis Scola and some bad contracts. It probably wasn't Ferry who was scared off by the price tag -- salary-cap hell. That'd be owner Dan Gilbert's call. But when it comes to Saturday's deal and the other big-name trades, Ferry can't be blamed for getting outgunned by teams with more ammunition.
Wow... Way too much sense (read the whole piece, it's quite good). The Marc Stein article that he referenced is quite inane. What kills me is, all these ESPN guys know what the Cavs cap situation is like, but they act surprised that Ferry can't pull in a major piece.
Kline then throws some names into the rumor mill:
While the Cavs don't have the goods to bring in a superstar, Ferry has been kicking the tires on some pretty attractive players. With so man of the teams' formerly ill-fitting parts starting to gel -- Hughes, Jones, Marshall and heck, even Ira Newble have been productive the last few weeks -- a trade around the roster's fringes isn't likely. That being said, here are a few possibilities:
Orlando's Carlos Arroyo is in the last year of his contract and the team's third point guard behind Keyon Dooling and Jameer Nelson. Teammate J.J. Redick, a favorite of fellow Duke product Ferry, has made noise about wanting out because he can't crack the Magic rotation. He probably can't crack the Cavs' lineup, either. Think Luke Jackson without the athleticism or size. Ouch. The only upside he offers is the possibility he'd leave an instructional shooting DVD in Hughes' locker.
Because Wally Szczerbiak played at Miami of Ohio and the Cavs play at Quicken Loans Arena of Ohio, Wally would be a fan favorite. But it's hard to see how he'd fit beside LeBron and that's not taking into consideration his declining play and hefty price tag (he's owed $13 million in 2008-09). The Sonics haven't been able to give him away for good reason.
Golden State's Mickael Pietrus is an intriguing player who is headed to free agency this summer and has been trying to get out of Golden State for years now. Pietrus has the makeup of a defensive stopper but his game has developed beyond that.
Here's a couple more point guards who have been on the Cavaliers' radar for more than a year: Portland's Jarrett Jack and Memphis' Kyle Lowry. Problem is, neither can shoot a lick. Both are losing out in a numbers game -- Portland also has Steve Blake and Sergio Rodriguez; Memphis Mike Conley, Javaris Crittenton and Juan Carlos Navarro -- and the Cavs actually have the expiring contracts to land them.
The Grizzlies' Mike Miller is reportedly on the block and he's a real value at about $9 million a year for two seasons beyond this one. If he's moved this week, it'll be to a team with something better to offer than a package built around Newble's expiring deal and other cap fodder.
The Cavs might take a flyer on little-used Houston swingman Kirk Snyder. He probably could be had for last year's disappoint first-round pick, Shannon Brown, but isn't much better. Devin Brown is better than both of them, which would make such a sideways move irrelevant.
Of all the "available" point guards I've heard the Cavs linked to, the one I'd like the most would be Carlos Arroyo (OK, I lied, Kirk Hinrich would be my top pick). Arroyo is stuck behind Jameer Nelson and at some point, you'd think Orlando would trade him.
Mickael Pietrus is an intriguing possibility as well. There's no way the Cavs would be able to give up Hughes in the deal, but a defensive trio of Hughes, Pietrus and James would be rather formidable.
Finally, Sam Smith tries to make a mountain out of a molehill:
First of all, the tone of the article doesn't match LeBron's words at all. Smith says that the trade has James fuming and proceeds to print a rant about how his team gets no respect. There's no mention of Jason Kidd or lack of help in the rant. Then he was asked if he wanted his team to improve and his answer was... yes. Shocking, right? I mean, expected James to express his desire for the team to get worse, but nope, he fooled me, he wants to get better.
LeBron James needs help, and he's unhappy about not getting it.
Saturday's Mike Bibby trade, in which Sacramento sent him to Atlanta for four players, coupled with New Jersey still trying to move Jason Kidd to Dallas reportedly has James fuming.
"San Antonio is the Western champion. We are the Eastern champion. Everyone talks about everyone else," James said in a sarcastic rant.
"We're not that good. That's what everyone talks about. We beat Detroit. We didn't beat Detroit; Detroit beat themselves. Washington was missing key guys, and New Jersey didn't play up to their capabilities. Enough of the Cavs now.
"You all got me a little upset."
Asked if his team needs to make a deal, James tried to be delicate: "If we can get better, you want to be in that position. This is nothing to do with any of my teammates I have in my locker room. They know I'd never disrespect their games. But as a competitor, if we can get better before [the trade deadline] Thursday, hopefully we can.
"I'm not the only guy who wants to get better. I'm the only one who gets interviewed."
The talk is that James' associates are making it clear to the Cavs that improving the team quickly remains a litmus test for the forward's decision on whether he'll look favorably on re-signing in Cleveland. [Note: in two years!]
The clock is ticking toward the trade deadline. Anderson Varejao and Drew Gooden are the names that come up most often, though the Cavs would most like to deal Larry Hughes. Acquiring Ron Artest from the Kings remains possible if the Cavs would take some of Sacramento's bad contracts. The question is how much they have to do to satisfy James.
In case you were wondering how full of crap Smith is, he mentions how Varejao and Gooden are the names that come up most often. I'm sure Gooden has been a part of any major talks that the Cavs have had, but Varejao? Not so much. Since he signed his contract so late in the year, Andy won't be eligible to be traded until after this season's deadline.
I can't wait until Thursday.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Like I've said before, LeBron can make it known that he wants the Cavs to make a deal, but that doesn't mean that the Cavs pieces are any more attractive to rival GMs. "What? LeBron wants to make a move. Well, I wasn't going to take Donyell Marshall's fat ass, but now that LeBron went on TNT, sign me up!"
I also liked how he referenced Kobe going to the media and later ending up with Pau Gasol. The thing is, the Lakers didn't do what Kobe asked them to do. Kobe wanted them to trade Andrew Bynum and then requested that he be dealt. I don't know if LeBron noticed, but neither of those things happened. They ignored Kobe, kept Bynum and tried to improve the team in other ways. Making a move to placate a player is not a good basketball decision.
Every time James opens his mouth to the media, he ultimately makes it harder and harder for Ferry to pull off a good deal. Ferry doesn't have a lot of pieces to begin with and now that GMs know that he has to pull the trigger to keep LBJ happy, they'll be able to tighten the screws. It's not like the guy was dealing from a position of strength to begin with.
Oh, and the second problem? Mike Bibby just got traded for (expiring) garbage:
The Kings have reached an agreement in principle to send veteran guard Mike Bibby to the Atlanta Hawks for guards Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue and forwards Lorenzen Wright and Shelden Williams, sources told The Bee on Saturday.In case you were wondering (and I know I was), here are the contracts for some of these players:
Anthony Johnson - final year - $2,860,000
Tyronn Lue - final year - $3,500,000
Lorenzen Wright - final year - $3,240,000
That's $9.6 million coming off the books after this year. The Cavs can offer only $5.6 million in expiring deals (Ira Newble and both Shannon and Devin Brown), so I'm not really surprised that the Cavs couldn't beat that.
Neither development is going to make Danny Ferry's life less stressful.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
According to media reports, the Portland Trail Blazers are shopping point guard Jarrett Jack, and the Memphis Grizzlies have taken offers for point guard Kyle Lowry. The Cavs have interest in both. A source said they have had long-term discussions involving Jack. In 2006, they coveted Lowry in the draft, but he went with the 24th pick to the Grizzlies, one spot ahead of where the Cavs picked Shannon Brown.
Both guys would be a very nice addition and I don't think they'd cost a whole lot. A deal would probably get done a lot faster if the Cavs threw in a first round pick (which Ferry is loathe to do).
Not sure if either team is looking to dump salary, but Portland will have to start making roster decisions with all those young players at some point... and for that you'd need cap room... see where I'm going here?
Tipping my cap. Manu Ginobili... dear lord. 46 points, 8 assists, 5 boards and 3 steals. He was 15-20 from the floor! He was 7-8 from behind the arc! He was 8-9 from the foul line! (ok, that last one isn't as impressive... but still). I spent most of the game wondering when they'd switch LeBron on him... but it never really materialized. I also kept waiting for the Cavs to knock him on his ass (legitimately, not due to a flop) and he did fall hard... with a minute left in the game. To a certain extent there's only so much you can do when a guy is hot like that (I mean, 7-8 from downtown!) but I would've liked to see someone body him up.
The defense was not good. Manu's hot streak facilitated everything, but the Cavs didn't keep him out of the lane either (this I put on Hughes and Devin Brown) and when the defense collapsed, the Spurs found the open men camped outside for 3. The Spurs scored 41 points in the final period! 41 points! That's insane. The Cavs would have stretches of decent D, but they never lasted very long (someone always ended up making a boneheaded play). One play in particular sticks out: just under two minutes to go, leading 103-100 with 6 seconds left on the 24 clock, the Spurs were inbounding from the baseline corner. LeBron simply fell asleep on the play and lost Ime Udoka, who ran right under the rim and got a layup (which basically put the game out of reach). It's not like LeBron got picked or didn't know who his man was... he just lost him.
The offense was good, but there were things I didn't like. It's hard to fault the offense when they score 105 points for the game and 30 for the final period, but I will. A lot of the scoring came via the jumpshot. The Cavs were 11-22 from beyond the arc, but they seemed to settle for 3s late in the game (especially after the Spurs hit a few bombs to take and build the lead). LeBron was the main culprit, as he was just 1-5 from downtown. The Cavs rarely ventured inside and they ended up with just 16 free throw attempts. Again, it's hard to find fault with 105 points against the Spurs, but there weren't a lot of good shots taken down the stretch.
All that being said, LeBron was pretty awesome. James finished with 39 points, 9 assists and 6 boards. He shot the ball fairly well (17-31 FG but just 1-5 3pt and 4-7 FT) but seemed to grow frustrated with the foul and free throw situation. James got a tech late in the first half after he picked up his 3rd foul while attempting to block a shot by Duncan. James was frustrated because he felt he should've gone to the stripe the last few times down the court. However, to me, the fouls that James picked up were pretty legit. He got mostly wrist when he blocked Timmy D's shot. James definitely should've had more free throws (though he should've attacked more often too) but if anyone deserves to be pissed at the refs, it's Z (who was in foul trouble all game). For all the contact the refs allowed out there, three of the big fella's four fouls were iffy at best (and dead wrong at worst).
My reaction to Larry's performance against Orlando: freaking awesome. Against San Antonio: Pretty sweet, but.... Against the Magic this past Monday, Hughes was taking good shots and attacking the rim (netting 13 FTAs) on his way to 40 points. Against the Spurs on Wednesday, Larry scored 26 points (11-19 FG, 4-7 3pt) but had just one free throw attempt (which he missed). Versus the Magic he was hot and playing the right way, versus the Spurs he was just hot (and that worries me). It wasn't that Hughes took bad shots, it's just that a lot of his jumpers fell. Check out his shot chart, from what I can tell, only four of his shots came inside of 15 feet. Don't get me wrong, Larry was awesome (6 boards, 3 assists and no turnovers) but I dunno... I just think his Orlando game was something to build off of, whereas the only lessons learned from the Spurs game was that it sure is nice when long jumpers fall.
Drew Gooden is practically worthless. He guy doesn't go up strong (really, a reverse layup in traffic?), he rebounds well but gives up offensive boards too often (off a free throw) and he regularly loses his man on defense (and let's not get into his 'help' D). To his credit, Drew still grabbed 11 boards even when his shot was falling (2-8) but the Cavs could've used him during crunch time, but Mike Brown (for some reason) was relying on Donyell Marshall (who did hit a big 3 with about six minutes to go... but who also was outrebounded by Damon Stoudamire). I can't wait for Varejao to return.
The Cavs held the lead for the bulk of this game. The Cavs led after the first 3 periods. While their lead was as high as 12, they usually had a pretty solid cushion of 3-7 points. They even had the lead for the first half of the fourth quarter. Then this happened (keep in mind, these are consecutive possessions):
6:13 - Bruce Bowen makes 22-foot three point jumper (Manu Ginobili assists)
5:39 - Manu Ginobili makes 25-foot three point jumper
5:03 - Bruce Bowen makes 9-foot jumper (Michael Finley assists)
4:22 - Bruce Bowen makes 24-foot three point jumper (Manu Ginobili assists)
3:53 - Manu Ginobili makes 25-foot three point jumper (Michael Finley assists)
3:08 - Manu Ginobili makes 25-foot three point jumper (Michael Finley assists)
Before Bowen's 3, the Cavs held a lead of 88-84. After Ginobili's final dagger, they were down 101-95. A 17-7 run, 6-6 from the field in just over three minutes. Yup, that'll do a team in.
Rest up boys. This was the 5th game in 7 nights and the last game before the All-Star break. The Cavs need this time to heal up. Daniel Gibson could've suited up for Wednesday's ball game, but Mike Brown said he'd be on a 15 minute limit and with the break coming up, he'd rather not chance it (which makes sense). The Cavs next game is on Tuesday, at home against the Rockets and they then play the next night in Indiana (and why wouldn't they come out with a back-to-back, second game on the road?). Oh, and if you haven't heard, the trade deadline is a week from Thursday.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The deal -- salvaged from talks on a three-way trade with Portland that developed and fizzled quickly two weeks ago -- has Dallas sending 24-year-old point guard Devin Harris, veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse, the expiring contracts of center DeSagana Diop and swingman Devean George and guard Maurice Ager to New Jersey for Kidd and forward Malik Allen.That seems to a be a ton of stuff to give up for Kidd. Even with this:
Sources say Dallas will also send the Nets the league-maximum $3 million, the Mavs' first-round draft pick this June and a first-rounder in 2010.
The Nets are expected to buy out Stackhouse's contract immediately, which could enable him to re-sign with Dallas if he waits 30 days. "I feel great. I get 30 days to rest, then I'll be right back," Stackhouse said. "I ain't going nowhere."I call shenanigans!
Anyways, I like Harris a lot and I wouldn't have traded the 24 year old for the 35 year old Kidd (but that's just me). I also wouldn't have traded Diop when the Suns just got Shaq (and when the Lakers have Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the Spurs have Tim Duncan, the Rockets have Yao, etc).
So what's the market like for Mike Bibby and Ron Artest at this point? I mean, the Grizzlies gave up Gasol for Kwame Brown's expiring deal while the Nets got a Kings ransom for Kidd. At this point, I can see either of those two guys traded for practically anything.
And I think the Cavs chances of signing Joe Johnson diminished greatly since the Suns traded Richardson. However, Pluto just brushes over Hughes poor shooting. It's not Redd is a better shooter than Hughes, but Ira Newble is!Here's what Windhorst is saying now (because Cavs fans are pissed that he's not ripping Ferry):
If you watched any Cavalier games this year, you know Newble can't shoot worth a damn. Other teams left him open, daring him to shoot. So Pluto wants the Cavs to lay down a big chunk of money on Hughes? Lets compare stats.
Newble: FG% - .429 3PT FG% - .358
Hughes: FG% - .430 3PT FG% - .282
And why not, here's another terrible shooter, Eric Snow's stats:
Snow: FG% - .382 3PT FG% - .289
Is Hughes a better player than Newble and Snow? Yes, but that's not the point. The point is the Cavs need players who can shoot the 3 more than Rob Schneider needs Adam Sandler to keep making movies. Hughes more of a slashing player and the Cavs need someone who can hit open shots. Especially 3s. If they are going to spend a ton of money on a shooting guard, my hope would be that he shoots the 3 better than Eric Snow and Ira Newble. I don't think that's too much to ask.
I would rate the SG in this order (Allen is lower because of his age and money demands):
Johnson would be ideal, and if they overpay for him (and I think they are going to have to overpay to get anyone of these guys), the Suns may not be able to match because of the contracts of Nash and Marion, plus Stoudamire's coming up (keep Amare over Joe).
One more thing before I go. I have been accused of defending Danny Ferry, especially today because I wrote a realist column in the paper that talks about the $30 million in expiring contracts the Cavs have next year to use in trades. What I attempt to do in stories in the paper and on this blog is to add perspective to the Cavs, which fans don’t have to worry about and that’s fine. When the Cavs made those signings in 2005, I agreed with all of them. I felt Larry Hughes’ contract was an overpay, especially the fact that there were $10 million in incentives on top of the $60 million guaranteed. I felt the contracts given to Jones, Donyell Marshall and Zydrunas Ilgauskas were also each one year longer than they had to be. But that is what the market dictated that summer.
But I didn’t disagree with any of their additions, they each gave the Cavs something they needed. To sit here today and criticize those signings would be hypocritical and not fair. At the time, Hughes was one of the most productive players in the NBA, Marshall was one of the best-shooting big men and Jones just hit 225 3-pointers and was coming to a team that was 29th in 3-point shooting. To help make it happen, as I have said many, many times, Z took a massive pay cut. He then even took less money when the Cavs screwed up his contract and accidentally renounced his rights, meaning he could only get 8 percent raises and not 10.5 percent raises. I didn’t like the David Wesley signing when they made it and therefore I felt I was fair when I ripped it all of last season. Also, before this season I said not getting a point guard, even an average one, was a mistake and it would hold them back. Which I also stand by.
I didn't agree with all the moves, but I can at least understand them. And remember, Ferry was on the job roughly 10 minutes before he had to spend his cap room. Plus, the Cavs hadn't been to the playoffs with LeBron yet, so they weren't an attractive destination to veteran ring chasers (meaning they had to overpay guys in order to convince them to come to Cleveland).
This offseason, they'll have a first round pick (barring a trade) and a roughly 5 kajillion dollars in expiring contracts to play with. Those matter more than you might think:
Iverson traded to Nuggets:
This deal will bring Philly a former league assist leader in Miller, Smith's expiring salary of nearly $7 million and those two first-round picks in June -- projected to be in the 20s -- to go with their own lottery pick. Miller is averaging 13 points and 9.1 assists per game -- third-best in the NBA -- while Smith, an 11-year veteran, has played little this season, averaging only 13.5 minutes and 5.1 points per game.Garnett traded to Celtics:
The package going back to Minnesota, sources say, is built around two assets Wolves vice president Kevin McHale has long coveted: Al Jefferson and Theo Ratliff's expiring contract.Gasol to Lakers:
Griz general manager Chris Wallace didn't try to spin the transaction any other way for his squad: It's about financial flexibility and future talent.
Don't expect Brown to be a part of the Grizzlies' plans once his contract -- paying $9 million -- expires after this season. Brown, 25, is widely considered a bust despite being selected No. 1 overall in the 2001 draft.
Claxton was in his second year with the Warriors, but the former Hofstra guard never got comfortable. He fought off challenges for his starting job from Nick Van Exel and Derek Fisher, but couldn't score consistently enough to help Golden State become a winner.Korver to Utah:
Dale Davis, a 14-year veteran, is in his first season with Golden State, which acquired him from Portland in a deal for Van Exel. He hasn't played consistently with the Warriors, but his contract expires this summer.
The deal, though, was more about salary cap flexibility for the Sixers than it was getting a player who could help them this season. Giricek's $4 million contract expires at the end of the season, giving the Sixers about $10 million in cap space for next summer.Things will be looking up come the offseason. The Cavs will be in a much better position to make moves. But unless Ferry somehow convinces Rod Thorn that Hughes is better than Jason Kidd, I don't see anything big happening.
Hughes actually has been on a bit of a hot streak offensively the past three weeks. Hughes has scored in double figures in seven consecutive games, averaging 19.7 points in that span. Nine of the 16 times he has scored in double figures this season have come in the past 10 games.This is all I ask for. Hell the 'Hey Larry Hughes...' site isn't called LarryHughessucks.com, it's all about his shot selection. If he improves that and is aggressive, then he's no longer worthless and outrageously overpaid (just kinda overpaid).
The difference recently is that Hughes has been mixing up his jumpers with drives and it has gotten him higher percentage shots and more trips to the foul line. Before this 10-game run of solid play, Hughes got to the foul line just 15 times in his previous 17 games.
In the past 10 games, Hughes has been to the line 53 times. Which is an advantage, because he's shooting 83 percent at the foul line this season.''It makes the game easier when I can get to the line,'' Hughes said. ''I've been getting the same shots for the last few games and not settling for jumpers.
If Hughes could play within himself and not force jumpers, the Cavs could be lethal come playoff time.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
in other news, I highly (highly highly highly) recommend Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfus. I finished it in two days... day two consisted of me beginning to read in bed at 10pm... and finishing the book at 4am. His blog is also highly entertaining.
Also, I enjoyed The Franchise by Windhorst and Pluto. A lot of things are familiar, but a lot of the behind the scenes stuff I found fascinating (the Kemp trade especially). One complaint, somehow Paxson's explanation for the Jiri Welsch deal didn't seem to make it to print. Hmm.
Monday, February 11, 2008
LeBron James and Larry Hughes combined for 69 points. Larry Hughes had 40 of 'em. Hughes had his best game as a Cavalier, scoring 40 points (12-19 FG, 12-13 FT), grabbing 6 boards and nabbing 3 assists and 2 steals. Hughes was 4-5 from beyond the arc and scored 23 of his 40 points in the third period. The best part was, Larry was taking good shots. There weren't any of those "contested 20 footers with 18 seconds on the clock" heaves. He took his shots in rhythm and within the 12-18 foot range. He also attacked. Did I mention that? Larry Hughes went inside. It seemed to work out (13 free throws!).
LeBron wasn't bad either. 29 points, 10 assists and 7 boards worked out pretty well. James also attacked the basket, getting to the line 15 times and making 12. The Cavs ran the offense through James (he basically played the point) and the rest of the team worked around that. He set up the role players with good shots and the team responded by moving without the ball (the Cavs had 21 assists).
The Cavs (and their fans) really needed this game. After Sunday night's mauling by the Nuggets, I wasn't too thrilled to see the Cavaliers travel to Orlando to face Dwight Howard and co. But the team rebounded nicely; Drew Gooden returned, forcing Ira Newble to the "2" and Eric Snow to the bench and the Cavs played with a sense of purpose (also, the Magic are a much better matchup for them compared to the fast-paced Nuggets). The win means the Cavs ended up with a split in their 4-in-5 stretch and got the horrible Denver game out of our minds.
Ira Newble may be in the process of taking Pavlovic's minutes. Newble hustles, plays defense, plays multiple positions and is making enough shots to keep opposing teams honest (and making them pay when they aren't). Newble put forth another solid game with 10 points (1-2 from beyond the arc) and 5 boards. For the year, Newble is shooting 33% from 3 while Pavlovic is at 28%. Just sayin...
The bench stepped up. Devin Brown led the bench bunch with 11 points (4-5 FG) and also pitched in 4 boards and 3 assists in 27 minutes. Donyell Marshall was actually useful; hitting 2-4 from 3 and grabbing 7 boards. However, Marshall was just 3-7 from the floor (he missed a lot of shots inside) and I think the Cavs should start fining him every time he takes a 3 that isn't from the corner. Both DJ's also played well; one of 'em had 2 points and an assist while the other had 2 points, 5 boards and 5 fouls.
Dwight Howard should've had more points. The big fella ended up with a stat line of 16 and 9 and I don't know why he didn't get the ball more. Every other Orlando starter had more shot attempts than Howard (though he did have 9 FTAs) and both Turkoglu (25) and Nelson (22- that whole defending quick pg problem...) outscored him (all five Magic starters had double figures). Both Z and DJ had 5 fouls, and that is mostly due to Howard's presence. I just don't get why they didn't force feed him more...
Rashard Lewis... meh. Lewis ended up with 15 points and 4 boards and not much else. You think Cavs fans are pissed at Hughes's contract... give Magic fans a few years. The only thing he did Monday night was drain 3s off of broken plays. He's a nice player... but they're paying him franchise money.
One more game til break. The Cavs face San Antonio at the Q this Wednesday (making it 5 games in 7 nights) before they get a few days off for the All-Star festivities. They already have one of the best records in the new year and if they could finish up this stretch going 3-2, that'd be huge (especially when you consider the injuries). The Spurs will be playing the last game of their rodeo road trip and both teams will be tired and looking ahead to their time off. Let's hope the Denver debacle gives them enough motivation to finish the first half of the season strong.
The NBA trading deadline is less than two weeks away, and it isn't that General Manager Danny Ferry has decided to stand pat, it has been decided for him. As of this moment, the Cavs just don't have what other teams want. But it won't always be that way.
The only young player the Cavs have that is desired by the rest of the league is Daniel Gibson, who James calls his younger brother.
He is not going anywhere. Other than James, the player teams would want the most in a trade is Anderson Varejao, and he cannot be traded under league rules.
The largest expiring contract the Cavs have is $3.4 million and belongs to Ira Newble, who actually has been indispensable recently with the Cavs' multiple injuries. Even then, it's not that much money to pick up a major piece. Short of a collapse, the Cavs' draft pick next June will not be in the lottery so that's hardly attractive.
Now, pretend you are Ferry calling around and try to get Kidd or someone of his caliber with those facts not in question. He's certainly tried and will continue to do so, but so far there just don't seem to be any bites.
So how can it be said they have bullets? Well, just take a little look into the near future, the 2008-09 season when the Cavs will have about $35 million in potentially expiring contracts. The deals of Donyell Marshall ($5.9 million), Eric Snow ($7.3), Damon Jones ($4.5), Drew Gooden ($7.1) and Cedric Simmons ($1.7) will all be in their final seasons. Varejao ($5.7) has a player option that he plans on not picking up, and it is the final fully guaranteed year of Sasha Pavlovic's ($4.5) deal.
Stephen (West Des Moines, Iowa): Chris, What, if anything do you make of Lebron sitting away from the huddle? Also, is he going to get any help?I think I'm with most Cavs fans when I say that I'd like to see them make some kind of trade. But with all the recent activity in the NBA, Cavs fans are getting anxious. I don't blame 'em, this is practically the same team that took the Pistons to 7 games in the 2nd round of the playoffs two years ago. Not much has changed.
Chris Broussard: Stephen,
I once lived near West Des Moines - in Clive. Went to Dowling HS in WDM for 2 1/2 years. Anyway, I wouldn't make too much out of LeBron sitting away from the huddle. Just in-game frustration. He definitely wants the team to add some more talent - J-Kidd, obviously - but he's not estranged from his teammates or coach Mike Brown by any stretch. As for as him getting that help, I doubt it. Cavs just don't have the assets to make anything big happen before the deadline. One GM told me last week that the Cavs have only one asset that people want - LeBron. But after next season, the contracts of Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall and Eric Snow expire, so the Cavs might be able to do something then.
But let's stay grounded in reality (check out the boards at RCF or the comments on Windhorst's blog- people are close to rioting). The Cavs aren't going to get Jason Kidd. It's just not going to happen. LeBron can talk all he wants to the media about, but it doesn't make Rod Thorn any more likely to accept that sweet offer of Drew Gooden, Shanon Brown and Larry Hughes.
If the Cavs pull off some kind of deal, it's going to be small. Tyron Lue. Flip Murray. Something along those lines. I'd love for them to go out and grab Carlos Arroyo or Juan Carlos Navarro, but even that seems to be stretching it.
They aren't going to have the flexibility to mess with the roster until the summer. At that point, we can start dreaming big.
But right now? Let's just hope that the team can get healthy for the playoffs.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
There's a few reasons things looked this bad. First of all, the players out there aren't used to each other and some aren't used to playing at all. Guys were lost, guys weren't rotating and no one seemed to be communicating (the Nuggets got a lot of easy baskets (especially weak side)). The Cavs started Snow and Newble to go with James, Hughes and Z, and they never really looked in sync (Snow especially).
Ya, the Cavs are missing four guys from their rotation, but it's four guys for two positions. My point being, the Cavs aren't relying on backups... they're relying on the backups' backups. The Cavs got out rebounded 48-47 and gave up 15 offensive boards (I can't believe the margin isn't bigger... I'm having a hard time with these final box score numbers, because fourth quarter garbage time is skewing things). The Cavalier big men (Dwayne Jones, Donyell Marshall and Cedric Simmons) were never in the correct position to rebound the ball. Early on, Denver got seemingly every loose ball (and turned those extra possessions into points) and just ran the Cavs off the court.
Also, the four guys who are hurt? All are young. The Cavs had to face the fast paced Nuggets squad with guys like Snow, Marshall, Newble and Damon Jones logging heavy minutes... ya. Having some players with fresh legs might've helped slow down the onslaught at least for a little bit. In the same vein, I don't care how raw Shannon Brown and Cedric Simmons are, at this point neither Snow or Marshall can make a freaking layup- they're useless. I don't care if Brown takes an ill advised shot, at least defenses have to respect his jumper just a little; having Snow out there screws up the offense, guys force their own bad shots rather than pass him the ball (guys=Larry Hughes). (also, I hate the offense when Marshall is in the game. If Z takes a shot there is no one down low fighting for the ball, because 'Yell has his fat ass camped out in the corner).
The Cavs had no answers for 'Melo and A.I. Anthony had 27 points on 11-19 shooting and Iverson had 25 points and 13 assists (note: the Cavs had 15 assists as a team). 'Melo was particularly frustrating because it seemed like he made every single jumper he took. Iverson on the other hand... well, I figured that he'd be a load, simply because that's the Cavs have trouble with quick guards (see Lue, Tyron and Parker, Tony). What really hurt was the fact that the help defense on the stars left role players like Linus Kleiza (2-4) and J.R. Smith (6-11) open from downtown (Nuggets were 11-27 from down town... the Cavs were 4-23).
The good news: LeBron still kicks ass. James led what's left of the Cavaliers in points (30) and added 5 boards and 3 assists. He didn't play his best game, but he played hard and tried to stay into it (though I have no idea why he kept trying to force a pass to Marshall at the end of the first half, it was almost like James was punishing him). Also, I'm not sure what to make of this, but the AP said that James was pissy on the sideline (I didn't think this was an issue, I just thought he was pissed off/frustrated with the game/situation).
And the bad news (besides, you know, the final score): more injuries (and no, I'm not joking). Z left the game with backspams, Damon Jones left to due to an ankle sprain and Newble had to be taken out late due to his ankle. Awesome. At the least the Cavs get to play Orlando on Monday and the Spurs on Wednesday... nothing like seeing Dwight Howard and then the NBA champs
Remember when the Cavs beat Boston on Tuesday? Good times. With this game and the Rockets game, things don't look that great. But the Cavs have looked good when they've been healthy. The All-Star break can't come soon enough. These guys need some time off to heal.