Thursday, August 30, 2007

This and That

Couple things...

I was hoping I'd be able to recap all of Team USA's games on here, but a few things happened: 1) classes started 2) the games are kinda boring so I'll only watch the first half to see if they're actually being challenged. So I haven't really watched many full games.

I'm not sure if you guys listen to the Bill Simmon's podcast B.S. Report stuff (they aren't bad IMO) but if you listen to one featuring Steve Kerr, not only do you get some good basketball talk, some sucking up to the Suns and an awesome Steve Kerr presence, but at the very beginning Simmons and Kerr discuss Mark Price and how much he kicked ass. So if you don't want to listen to the whole thing (I liked it), you can hear the Mark Price/90's Cavs stuff at the very beginning.

I wasn't sure C.C. was ever going to get that elusive 15th win but he did AND the Tribe is in first place. Here is Sabathia's run support since July 24th: 0, 1, 5, 4, 2, 3, 1 and 4. Over this time he is 2-3 with 3 no decisions (though the Tribe lost those 3 games) and he hasn't given up more than 2 runs since July 29th (where he gave up 3). It's not a stretch to say that he could very easily have 20 wins right now (and be cruising towards a Cy Young award, cause voters LOVE wins).


I know it's not against the best competition and the 3pt line is shorter... but damn, this is nice to read (emphasis added):
LeBron James soared for powerful dunks, pulled up for flawless 3-pointers. And when the halftime buzzer sounded, there was only one way to describe his play.


James was 11-for-11 from the field, making all four of his 3-point attempts, and scored 26 points in the first half Wednesday night to lead the United States to a 118-79 victory over Uruguay in the FIBA Americas tournament.

In a sensational display of speed and power, James raised his tournament-leading shooting percentage to an almost comical 79.7 percent (47-of-59). He is 14-of-20 from 3-point range, a 70 percent mark that also leads the event.

80% from the floor and 70% from beyond the arc. Those aren't even video game numbers. That's simply insane.

I wasn't sure I really wanted to see James play for the US this summer. I wanted him to rest up, work on some post moves and get ready for next season.

But he's looked good in Vegas; he ran the floor really well, played good defense and got to the rim at ease. But I was a bit worried because, at least early on, all of LeBron's shots were dunks and layups (which is fine for FIBA, where he can just run the floor and overpower the other team with his athleticism) and I don't think he even attempted a jumper until the 3rd game.

But that jumper went in. And more jumpers went in. Then Bill Walton informed viewers that only Jason Kidd and LeBron were practicing during Team USA's lone off day (now that I liked to hear). And more jumpers went in. Maybe he has found time to work on his jumper. I dunno.

But if he comes into next season with a reliable jump shot.... dear God...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Charles Oakley Wants to Play for Cleveland

Like Alan Houston, this would be great news.... if it was the late 90s. And like Alan Houston, I'm torn on this, because I think Charles Oakley (or a player like Oakley) is exactly what the Cavaliers (and LeBron James) need:

Oakley, a 6-9 power forward and center, said the Cavs could have used his knowledge and skills in the finals against the Spurs, who dominated the inside with Tim Duncan and with uncontested drives by guard Tony Parker. The no-nonsense Oakley, rumored to have smacked around a few players off the court, would not have any of that.

"They lost to San Antonio because guys didn't know the next step on defense," said Oakley, whom the Cavs drafted in 1985. "The Cavs are not a good help defensive team. . . . When I come back, I'm going to bring an attitude. I'm not coming back just to be on a team. I'm going to come back and go all out."

Johnny Clark, who was the assistant player development/shooting coach when Oakley was with the Toronto Raptors, said LeBron James would benefit from Oakley's presence just as Vince Carter did several years ago. Back then, Carter was fearless when he went inside for monster dunks. Carter knew who had his back if he was on the other end of a hard foul.

"Other teams need to know that a superstar has a teammate who will step up in their chest if the superstar gets knocked down or receives a hard foul," Clark said. "LeBron would definitely have that with Oakley as a teammate."

Would Oakley have changed the outcome of the Finals? Not really. Maybe Tony Parker would ended up with a few more bruises, but a 43 year old power forward doesn't tilt that series in the Cavaliers' favor.

But the thing is, the Cavs could really use a player like Oakley. They need a badass, they need an enforcer, they need that presence. For his part Oakley says he hasn't changed from his playing weight of 245 lbs and that he's in shape:
Oakley said he is still in great shape. "I run three miles per day, lift weights, take shots in the gym and I still play," Oakley said. "Everyone's going to get old, it just comes down to how did you take care of your body and I've taken care of myself. I guarantee, if I get into someone's training camp, I'll end camp as one of the top eight players. It just comes down to if you want to deal with me."
Honestly, right now, I don't particularly care how about the age of the players that the Cavs bring in, I just want to see new faces. They've had this roster for two years now and the only real additions have been the draft picks (and neither was picked particularly high).

Are Charles Oakley and Alan Houston too old? Maybe.... probably... but what do you got to lose at this point? Worse comes to worse they embarrass themselves, you cut 'em and the Cavs enter the season with basically the exact same roster as last season. And honestly, does anyone want to bet against Oakley's "I'll end camp as one of the top eight players" remark? I don't.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

United States 112, Venezuela 69

Something is different... Oh, look Kobe Bryant. You'd think with a team of stars, no one player would stand out. Wrong. Kobe stood out. The most striking thing was his intensity, especially at the defensive end. He was a ball hawk from the get go, constantly pressuring opposing guards and forcing mistakes. He also hit an array of shots, including a weird loopy looking layup and a dunk of a LeBron behind the backer. And I don't know if you heard, he's slimmed down and dropped 18 pounds (this was mentioned just a few times in the broadcast). The announcers also mentioned how Bryant has been practicing a lot of catch-and-shoot jumpers to prepare for the tournament, since he's not used to shooting without creating the space himself- I'm not gonna lie, I'm not a big Bryant guy, but that is pretty cool. Bryant probably had the best overall line in the box score with 14 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and a block.

Dwight Howard is a beast. He had his way inside and often got punished for it (as did Amare Stoudemire, they shot 7 and 9 free throws, respectively). It seemed like Team USA was actively feeding Howard in the early going and they got the Venezuelan big men in foul trouble.

LeBron... some good, some meh. The good: LeBron was 5-7 from the floor, scored 11 points and passed the ball quite well. The meh: he didn't take a shot that wasn't a layup (of the two shots missed, one was a long alley-oop from Bryant and the other was a scoop reverse layup thing) and he missed his first free throw attempt (1-2 overall, I'm glad hosting the ESPY's paid off...). James also pitched in 3 assists, 3 boards and 3 steals.

Shooters! Mike Miller and Michael Redd are both on the team this time around and they made their presence known; they shot long ball early and often (Redd was 3-5 while Miller was a Larry Hughes-esque 2-8). Redd took the ball to the hole as well and tied for the team high in points (with 'Melo) with 17.

And point guards!? Jason Kidd started for Team USA, didn't attempt a shot but finished with 3 boards, 4 assists, a steal and a block. Yup, sounds about right. The US also played Chauncey Billups (meh) and Deron Williams (yay!). Right now Williams is third on the depth chart, but I'd like to see him get more PT over Chauncey (mostly because I hate the Pistons).

Tayshaun Prince played, but I barely recognized him. He wasn't whining during every stoppage of play, it was weird to see (har!). Not that it wasn't justified (sans the scoreboard of course)- the refs sucked pretty hard. There were a lot of weird calls and no calls; clean strips were called for fouls, but body checks... notsomuch. However, I don't believe there were any traveling calls (none that I remember at least), which has plagued the Americans in the past (and by 'plagued' I mean that the refs actually call traveling violations).

Bill Walton was in rare form. I think I'm going to enjoy Bill during the Tournament of the Americas, not just due to his normal "horrendous call" and "that was the worst pass in the history of Western civilization" schtick but he studied up with the world atlas and gave us a lot of 'fun facts' on Venezuela (he compared a LeBron dunk to Angel Falls, the tallest water fall in the world and located in Venezuela). He also went rambling on about Hugo Chavez and called this sports summer "the summer of madness". Good times.

and finally...

Tonight: the Virgin Islands. This should be a cakewalk as well. Neither Venezuela nor the Virgin Islands will give the US much of a test. The game to look forward to is on Sunday, when Team USA takes on Brazil.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

This is a good sign for Larry Hughes

Yup. Confidence

John Clayton (emphasis added):
It's pretty clear in Cleveland that no one seems to know how to handle the quarterback situation. Coach Romeo Crennel used a coin flip to determine the starter of the first preseason game. After that, Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson made mistake after mistake. Heads or tails, no one looks like the winner there.

Then there's Brady Quinn. He came off the bench on Saturday to lead a frantic fourth-quarter rally against the Lions that excited the fans. His reward was being tabbed as the No. 3 quarterback in this weekend's preseason game. Folks, Quinn isn't ready to start, but the Browns aren't doing much to push the process. The new offense is taking time to mesh with the talent that's there. It looks like the Browns are in for a long season.

Anyone who thinks differently is fooling themselves. Will they be better than last year? Yes. Will they be good? I doubt it.

Yes, yes and yes!

I have a feeling that this might be filled with jokes that I've been personally making since the age of 13, but it still looks awesome (Jack White as Elvis? Paul Rudd as John Lennon?):

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

This and That

In an effort to get me to stop ragging on them, the Plain Dealer signed Terry Pluto (who is leaving the Akron Beacon Journal after 22 years). This is probably for the best (well, not for the ABJ, they better hold on to Brian Windhorst or they got nothin'), the more people who read Pluto the better and the Plain Dealer could use a sports columnist that actually enjoys watching the NBA.

RIP the ducktail 2006-2007.

This Alan Houston business.... I'm torn here. On one hand, the Cavs could use a veteran lights out shooter at the 2. On the other hand, I'd prefer one with two working knees. He's 'only' 36, but again, he retired because of injuries. Houston would be a great fit for LeBron... seven years ago. But now? I dunno (though this could be another Chris Webber type scenario. When he was making $20 million a year in Philly, Webber was regarded as trash. But making the veteran minimum in Detroit? A very nice player. My views on Houston could be tainted by his bloated salary from his latter days as a Knick). If he plays 15-20 minutes a game, that is fine, but who is he taking minutes away from? Boobie? Pavlovic? Hughes? Shannon Brown? Though, I'm not gonna lie, I do love the idea of crunch time back court of Gibson and Houston... double team LeBron now assholes!

Oh, Charles Oakley is also trying to make a comeback. He's another player I would LOVE to pair with LeBron... ten years ago (I mean, come on? With Oakley on the team who knocks down LeBron... ever? Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao just don't bring that same intimidation and toughness- I know, understatement of the year). That's the problem here, the Cavs don't actually need the 2007 version of Alan Houston and Charles Oakley- they need the 1997 versions. Put those guy with LeBron and you'd have something special. But the 2007 versions... I just don't know

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A few observations from the first preseason game


Charlie Frye looked really, really good.... until he made two costly plays. One wasn't completely his fault (the lateral that got returned for a TD) but the other one was (taking a sack/scrambling inside the 10 with 12 seconds left in the half and no timeouts. Not good). I like Frye a lot and I'm in his camp, but I'm starting to wonder if these big mistakes are something you can coach out of... It sucks, because Frye made a lot of good decisions throughout the first half (scrambling.... in order to pass? Wah?)

Derek Anderson didn't really impress me either. Both QB's dealt with drops, but Anderson simply missed guys. It seemed like whenever he made a good throw, he immediately followed it up with a terrible one. He almost got picked off a few times and didn't seem to handle the blitz too well.

Joe Thomas: some good, some bad. When he wasn't being called for holding, Thomas looked really good. Problem was, he was called for holding a few times. Overall, the o-line looked vastly improved- QB's had time to throw and running backs had holes. It was god damn beautiful.

The running backs looked pretty good. Both Lewis and Wright run down hill and into people, while Harrison skips around. They all looked pretty solid running the football.... but they all missed picking up some blitzes.

The defense was solid. Honestly, the defense dominated the entire game, no matter which unit was in there. I suspect that Wimbley will have a big year- that man is a beast. Eric Wright made a few nice plays as well- this could very well be the best secondary that the Browns have had since their return (I know, bold statement, right? Better than the Robert Griffith years? No way!)

Coaching... meh. I know it's preseason and all, but the Browns had, what, 4 redzone opportunities and didn't get a touchdown out of any of 'em. It's actually worse than that- the Browns had multiple plays inside the 20 and didn't once throw a pass into the endzone (or even make an attempt). I know it's preseason and that Edwards and Winslow played a combined 5 seconds, but still. Take a shot.

To end on a lighter note: I saw a commercial for Sports Time Ohio's "Morning Coffee" (which has all the articles from which I write for, sometimes, when I actually have something to say).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Scot Pollard will now be telling kids in Boston to do drugs.

And hey, this guarantees that the Cavs roster will change at least a little bit...

Thank the Lord

Bonds hits 756 and Brady Quinn ends his hold out. Now maybe we can focus on baseball playoff races (even ones that don't involve the Yankees!) or other such things.

Monday, August 06, 2007


(how bout those Indians...)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

They're Trying... Really!!

After the Cavs did nothing in the draft, sources said that the Cavaliers were this close to pulling off trades of Larry Hughes and Eric Snow but it just didn't work out. See, don't be mad that we didn't do anything. We tried! We were so close to trading the two players fans hate the most! (Cynical? Me? Nah...)

Well, the NBA offseason had been pretty lame (and the Cavaliers' offseason still is) until Boston landed KG. Erik thinks that Cleveland fans might get upset that the Cavs didn't trade for Garnett's services (and he's right, they'll get mad, even though the Cavs don't have the cap relief or a young talent like Jefferson to trade).

But don't get angry that Garnett was traded to another Eastern Conference team, the Cavs were trying... we swear:
The Cavaliers were one of a handful of teams that tried to get in on the Kevin Garnett Sweepstakes, an NBA source said, even in the hours before Minnesota finalized the mega-deal that sent Garnett to Boston.

Cleveland, Chicago, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers all tried to wedge into the trade with serious offers, the source said, but no team could compete with the Celtics' offer that included potential in Al Jefferson, salary-cap relief in Theo Ratliff's expiring contract and a possible lottery draft pick.

Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry declined to comment on specifics of the Cavaliers' off-season maneuvers, but said they are aggressively pursuing avenues to improve. Among those explored, a source said, is mild interest in a potential sign-and-trade deal for Golden State restricted free agent Mickael Pietrus, a 6-6 small forward.
You hear that Cavs fans? Mickael Pietrus! Sure you're mad that the roster hasn't changed. But don't blame Ferry for sitting on his hands, he's out there aggressively pursuing deals! He's trying really really hard! He was after KG too! Til the very end!

All snark aside, here's the thing: I really want the Cavs to mix their roster up this summer. I though it needed it last summer and they really need to do something this offseason. But they're stuck right now. They'll be up against the cap once they sign Varejao and they don't have any expiring deals to trade (and it wasn't like the free agents were all that attractive either). If they want to make a trade they'll have to get really creative, fleece somebody or end up taking some terrible contracts in return.

The problem is. Ferry blew his wad two summers ago on Hughes, Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones. At the time, it didn't seem like that bad of a move, but you can't say that any of those guys have worked out. I can even defend those signings to a certain extent (I don't want to get into the whole Allen or Redd discussion again-they weren't coming here!) based on the Cavs need to show LeBron they were 'serious' about improving before he signed his extension.

They threw money around. They had to do something (I don't see how you can go in 2005-2006 with Ira Newble starting at the 2 and expect LeBron to re-up). It didn't work out. And they are stuck.

Am I expecting some kind of deal to be made this offseason? Yes, but I'm not sure on the size or scope. The last thing I want them to do is trade their current bad contracts for longer bad contracts. I don't want them making a move "just to make a move" (basically, I don't want them overpaying a mediocre point guard who is simply better than Eric Snow).

Needless to say, I'm not holding my breath. But maybe I should be, after all, the Plain Dealer says they're trying.