Thursday, July 31, 2008

LeBron and Obama

I'm ambivalent about athletes and celebrities voicing their political opinions. On the one hand, they have every right to speak up as the rest of us, and if they think they can use their fame to help spread a message that they believe in, I can't really blame them.

On the other hand, it can be annoying. Eddie Vedder went off on an anti-Bush tangent during Pearl Jam's Bonnaroo performance, which kinda bugged me. Hell, I agree with Eddie Vedder! I'm no fan of Bush either. But I wasn't at a politcal rally, I was at a concernt (and not even a Pearl Jam concert, a festival with 100s of musicians). It wasn't like I was mad, just mildy annoyed.

But I wouldn't mind more athletes speaking up, especially since our major sports are dominated by minorities, those whose voices aren't normally heard on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News (you know, our national discourse). Not that I blame them for keeping quite. They're in the entertainment and money making business ("republicans buy shoes too") so keeping their opinions to themselves and not rocking the boat makes sense.

That being said, I do enjoy (for multiple reasons) seeing LeBron make his first real non-canned public statement:

James has lavished a little more than 0.1 percent of his 2008-09 salary of $14.4 million on the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, according to Federal Election Commission records. In June, the Cavaliers star donated $20,000 to the Democratic White House Victory Fund, a joint committee set up by Obama and the Democratic Party for the presidential race.

Supporting a political candidate is a risky move for an athlete who has a $100 million contract with Nike, and depends on shoe sales for part of his income. But in this case it's not foolish, according to one sports marketing expert.

"If you're going to go with someone and be vocal about it, Obama does seem to be a pretty safe choice," said Bob Dorfman, executive creative director at San Francisco-based Baker Street Partners. "He's the candidate of youth and change, and the media darling. I can't see it really hurting LeBron that much to get behind him."

Still, it marks the first time that James has taken a political stand, and the first time he has broken from the advice of his childhood hero, Michael Jordan. When Jordan once declined to endorse a Democratic candidate, His Airness famously explained, "Republicans buy shoes, too."

James, though, appears to be vocal about his fondness for Obama. In June, he and girlfriend Savannah Brinson were part of a group that had dinner with Obama and his wife, Michelle, in New York.

"It was an unbelievable experience," James told the Associated Press. "It was mind-boggling."

At the time James said he wasn't going to campaign for either presidential candidate.

"I'm not so far into it, I don't feel I need to be hands-on into it," he said. "You want to keep athletics and politics separate. I don't want to start getting up on panels or talking about Barack or [John] McCain. I'm aware of what's going on not just with the presidential election. You want to be aware of gas prices and other things. Being a father and being responsible for my kids, I want to know what's going on in our world."

Last year, James declined to sign former Cavalier guard Ira Newble's petition condemning China's association with Darfur and genocide in the region, citing a lack of knowledge about the situation. But in May, James said he would lend his voice to shed light on the Sudan region if it would help end the conflict.

Again, supporting a major presidental candidate isn't exactly going out on a limb... and Obama isn't exactly unpopular... but still, I do enjoy seeing him take this small step. And if he chooses his spots wisely (and by all accounts, he probably will), this is a development I welcome. It makes him a tad more human.

Plus, aren't athletes with opinions a little more interesting?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wanna hear a bullshit rumor?

This is some quality B.S.:

Right now, the Cavaliers are looking at making a blockbuster deal. I had talked with a person in the front office who said they are looking at various trades.

The biggest one is landing Leandro Barbosa. The Suns are interested in sending away Barbosa or Boris Diaw for some depth. They are looking to win the title next season, as they are all in at this point.

Barbosa would be the star player the Cavs need. He is arguably the fastest player in the NBA, who is also an overall talent. Imagine him and LeBron running down the court.

A trade scenario would be trading Joe Smith or Anderson Verajo and a first-round pick for Barbosa.

The Suns would get a veteran backup for Amare Stoudamire in Smith or just a hustle bench player in Verajo.

This would be the best option for the Cavs and Barbosa, who has an option to start since there's no Steve Nash is in Cleveland.

The most interesting deal I have been hearing about for a while has been that the Pistons are looking at adding veteran big man Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

The trade that would work is sending Rasheed Wallace and Arron Afflalo to the Cavs for Ilgauskas and Damon Jones.

For the Pistons, they would get the center they have been looking for. Ilgauskas is the most underrated center in the game. He gets boards and scores consistently.

Misspelled words? Check.

Crazy scenarios? Check.

Trading for Rasheed Wallace? Check.

Please ignore this crap.

BTW: as for my thoughts on Ron Artest going to Houston? Good. The Rockets needed to take a risk and getting Artest definitely qualifies. They won't be putting the season on his shoulders (that'll still be on Yao and McGrady, until one inevitably gets injured) but he could be the piece that puts them over the top.

I didn't want Artest here. The Cavs aren't in a position to take a flier on a guy like him. If Artest would sink their season, LeBron would almost be a sure bet to be out the door in 2010. However, with Ron-Ron playing the role of 'stopper', I wonder what Shane Battier is doing? Could he be on the block? I (and I'm sure Mike Brown) would love to have the former Dukie helping on the defensive end.

Friday, July 25, 2008


LeBron needs New York or New York needs LeBron? Hmm...
I'm a writer at Time Magazine, and as part of our Olympic preview cover feature on James, he graciously agreed to get on the court with me at the University of Akron for a few minutes. You know, so I could add a little "color" and "scene" to my story. And feel like a fool as I even tossed an airball.


West going East? HAR!

Can't blame Josh Childress for moving to Greece... I mean, like that wouldn't be sweet. But now Delonte West might play in freaking Russia? From Yahoo!:

This time, the overseas revolution of outbidding NBA teams for restricted free agents advances with Dynamo Moscow discussing a two-year, $10 million offer with Delonte West, a source close to West said on Thursday.

Clearly, Dynamo is a franchise with the resources to be taken seriously. Just a week ago, it lured New Jersey Nets forward Bostjan Nachbar with a three-year, $14.3 million contract.

Nachbar’s contract turned into a prelude to Atlanta Hawks free agent Josh Childress signing a groundbreaking three-year, $20 million deal with Olympiakos of Greece. So far this summer, four international players with NBA résumés – Jorge Garbajosa, Juan Carlos Navarro, Carlos Delfino and Pops Mensah-Bonsu – have taken substantial offers in Europe.

As with most restricted free agents, West has few options right now. He could sign a $2.76 million qualifying offer for the 2008-09 season and become an unrestricted free agent next year. General manager Danny Ferry has considered sign-and-trade possibilities for West but ultimately has wanted to keep West.

Obviously, I'd prefer to have the Delonte stay with the Cavaliers. But at the same time, I really don't want the Cavs to overpay for West. I'm OK with him leaving, but I'd like it to be within a sign-and-trade type scenario. Losing him for nothing would be a blow.

This means that Ferry has to up the ante a little bit. West wants to get paid more than Gibson, since, you know, he actually starts. If the Cavs offer a 3-year, $15 million type deal I'd be fine with that, but I wouldn't want to go over $7 million per season. He simply hasn't proven enough at the NBA level. I like West, but at at the right price.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Early Christmas

Emeka Okafor anyone?

A source with knowledge of the negotiations says Emeka Okafor is ready to move on, rather than accept what the Charlotte Bobcats have offered long-term for his services.

The Bobcats can hold on to him for next season, but perhaps the best way to preserve value is to arrange a sign-and-trade. The Bobcats aren’t saying what they’d consider but here are five ideas that might be worth considering now or later:


CLEVELAND: Remember when the Bobcats signed Anderson Varejao to that offer sheet last season? Predictably the Cavaliers matched it in an instant. But now Varejao’s agent, Dan Fegan, is interested in moving his client to a team that would prioritize re-signing Varejao.
The Bobcats need an athletic, energetic big man, but here’s the rub: Under league rules, the Bobcats couldn’t trade for Varejao until a year has passed from the time of the offer sheet. That means after Dec. 5. It’s possible the Bobcats could wait that long to resolve the Okafor issue, but that’s a long time to sit in limbo with an unhappy star.

I know Cavs fans want stuff to happen NOW NOW NOW.... but landing Okafor in a midseason deal would be absolutely sweet.

As long as Wally isn't part of that deal (saving him for the BIG BIG chip) then I'm all aboard this train.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

But for how much?

Future ESPN rumor: Daniel Gibson will demand to be traded to the Nets in 2011.

LeBron's little brother just inked a 5 year deal (3 years past 2010) with the Cavaliers. This is good news for multiple reasons, A) Gibson is one of the only non-LeBron Cavaliers that has major cojones and moxie B) it happened early in the offseason, so Gibson will be in training camp and C) he's tight with James (which never hurts).

Now all I want to know is how much of Gilbert's money Danny Ferry just spent. Was it the MLE? Was it simply Bird Rights and they went (more) over the cap? Do they have stuff left over to go after Josh Childress or C.J. Miles? Can they still take a flier on Shaun Livingston (which I really really really really really want to happen)?

Details please.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not a terrible way to start

Not that it means a whole lot, but J.J. Hickson kicked some ass in his Summer League debut:

Cavaliers first-round pick J.J. Hickson had 26 points and nine rebounds, but a balanced attack led the New York Knicks to a 97-94 summer-league victory Monday in Las Vegas.

Hickson, a 6-9 power forward from North Carolina State who was playing at center, was 11-of-15 from the floor.

Not that this matters in the grand scheme of things, but it's always nice to see the rookie putting up some points (from the paint no less). The farther away we get from the draft, the more comfortable I feel with Hickson's selection.

In other news, Tractor Traylor played and scored 8 points for the Cavaliers. I always liked Robert (I thought his passing was way underrated) and if he and Hickson could provide some depth off the bench, it'll make the inevitable loss of Anderson Varejao much more palpable.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Really? A four game win streak?

Can we fire Eric Wedge yet? It seems that every time that the Indians face some pressure or have expectations placed upon them, they fold. The make or break road trip? EPIC FAIL. Season is done, facing the first place Rays? Four game sweep. Thanks guys.

This has happened before... start of the 2006 season... the 2007 playoffs... this season.... there's a distinct pattern emerging. At what point does Wedge take the fall for this? I mean, I know you can't blame him for the entire team slumping or the bizarre faith in Joe Borowoski (and the lack of backup plan) but some of this has to go on him, no? When Wedge's teams can fly under the radar, they play well. But when we actually expect them perform? Notsomuch.

Anyways, let's hope Grady doesn't screw up his swing tonight.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

James Posey

This is at least something:

Free agent forward James Posey of Twinsburg is likely to sign a multi-year deal in "a day or two," agent Mark Bartelstein said Wednesday evening.

Asked if the Cavaliers were still in the mix, Bartelstein said, "We're still talking." Posey, who played a key role in the Boston Celtics' 2008 NBA championship run, remains the most attractive unrestricted free agent on the market, after Elton Brand and Corey Maggette agreed to terms with Philadelphia and Golden State, respectively.

With his strong defensive abilities and 3-point shooting, he'd be an interesting addition to the Cavs' lineup, even if he's not the perimeter scorer or low-post resence many thought the team was looking to add.

Posey, 31, is believed to be seeking the mid-level exception, which will be $5.585 million for the upcoming season. In addition to the Cavs, his suitors are believed to include the Celtics, Lakers, New Orleans, Washington and Houston -- at least. Posey lives in Texas in the off-season. The San Antonio Spurs, who had been interested in aggette, are another possibility.

I like James Posey quite a bit and I think he'd really give the Cavs a solid veteran presence off the bench (in addition to his actual basketball skills) but I'm wary of over paying another role player.

Don't get me wrong, he's produced for championship teams in the past and he's a local kid, but he is 31 years old and he's won championships... so he might be looking to get paid. I don't think anyone is going to offer him a ton of money per year, but if it might take a 4-5 year deal to sign him... and I'm not sure if I want the Cavs to be paying a 36 year old James Posey $6-7 million (3 years with a club option for the 4th would be ideal).

Of course, his resume has some pretty good recommendations:
The Globe adds this from the Heat's Dwayne Wade, Posey's former teammate."I don't think Boston is letting Posey go," Wade said recently. "I was looking at Posey the whole playoff series and thinking, 'Man, he was good for us.' It's indescribable what he does. He's one of those guys that won't get the national attention, but he will get the locker room respect. That's probably more important, when you get the locker room respect. I miss him and miss what he does on the court, for sure. I'll be surprised [if he leaves Boston]."

Signing Posey won't propel the Cavs to the Finals, but it is a step in the right direction (provided they make another trade or four).

Monday, July 07, 2008

C.C. Ya

(just felt like I had to get my obligatory stupid pun out of the way)

So it's official, the Tribe traded away a 28 year old, reigning AL Cy Young award winner.


The Tribe picked up four prospects, with the 'name' being OF Matt LaPorta, who is currently batting .288 with 20 HRs in AA. They also grabbed two pitchers and the always fun 'player to be name later'. Now, I have no clue about any of the prospects, but I tend to trust Mark Shapiro when it comes to trades like this (no one bring up the name Alex Escobar, please).

A couple of friends (who support other teams) have asked me if I'm "mad" about the deal. Mad that they traded him at all, mad that they should've gotten more, mad that it was with the Brewers.... mad.

Am I mad they traded him? At this point... no. I don't think you can be. The Tribe is in a complete free fall, two of their three best hitters are on the DL and they definitely 'broke' on their make-or-break road trip. Shapiro had to trade C.C., because the longer they lost, the more likely it was he was going to head elsewhere anyways. It's one thing to take a hometown discount to stay with a franchise that is winning... but when you're last in the AL Central...

While I'm not mad a Mark Shapiro for making this deal, I am mad at Shapiro for letting it come to this. This team was one win away from the World Series (where I thought they'd be favored over Colorado) and they're now mired in last place and trading their Number 1 starter for prospects. I always thought C.C. would leave because of more money, I never thought it would be because the front office couldn't field a competitive ball club.

For instance, while no one thought that the offense would be this bad, it wasn't a secret that they needed another power bat (specifically a right handed one), for sometime now. I didn't expect Hafner and Victor to go down (and I expected some kind of return to form from Pronk), but those guys could've used some help last year, let alone this season. No help + injuries = lots of 2-1 games. Jason Michaels, Dave Dellucci, Casey Blake and Ryan Garko. Those were the players in the "power positions" to start the season. What? We're shocked that this team couldn't score runs?

And the bullpen... I mean, Christ... If Shapiro and manager Eric Wedge actually thought that Joe Borowoski was going to make it through another season armed with only smoke, mirrors and a fastball that tops out at 88 mph, they should be fired on the spot. They absolutely needed to shore up the back end of the pen or at least have some kind of contingency plan in place just in case JoeBo couldn't replicate last season's (unlikely) heroics.

What makes this deal somewhat palpable for me is the fact that Sabathia ended up A) in the National League and B) on a small town team. Shapiro didn't ship the hefty lefty to the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers, C.C. ended up in the land of beer and brats. I'm cool with that. Plus, I'll get to see the big fella swing the stick every time he starts, so that should be neat.

Though I do have one question, when was the last time the Tribe was on the opposite side of a deal like this? When is the last time an Indians team was having a good year and they added a major talent in a mid-season trade? The closest thing I can think of is Ken Hill in 1995... In the 1990s they were always rumored to be in the running for somebody like Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling or Pedro Martinez, but they never pulled the trigger on a blockbuster in mid-season. They always added auxiliary pieces like Hill, John Smiley or Kenny Lofton Round III.

Just once I'd like to see a Tribe GM say, "fuck it, we're going for it all this year". I'm actually somewhat happy for Brewers fans out there. Their team is going for it. Their team just picked up the reigning Cy Young winner.

I'm jealous.

Friday, July 04, 2008

And only 3 months too late...

Happy 4th of July everyone!

CLEVELAND -- Indians closer Joe Borowski, last year's American League
saves leader, was designated for assignment on Friday. The right-hander blew his fourth save in 10 chances on Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox, and was 1-3 with a 7.56 ERA in 18 games this season.