If you tuned into the Cavs preseason opener against Maccabi Tel Aviv Electra (pretty sweet name…Electra) you may have noticed the Cavs dominated the boards. I mean, completely and utterly dominated. The final disparity was 64-36. Varejao, Love, and Thompson all had double-digit rebounds and they had 15 offensive rebounds between them. If a preseason game against a non-NBA opponent isn’t piquing your interest, I’ll just cut to the chase: Love, Varejao, and Thompson, are ELITE rebounders.
Almost immediately after the Spurs celebrated the conclusion of their ethereal basketball symphony I found myself between flights in Philly – a three hour layover of infinite possibilities. I searched frantically for uninterrupted charging stations to calm my insatiable device hunger. When the juice finally started flowing, I decided to write the
most passive aggressive knock on LeBron James definitive eulogy for the “Big 3” era of pro basketball. I shelved it long enough for the Cavs to sign Kyrie to the Pepsi MAX, LeBron to make peace with NEOhio, and the KLove #WojBomb to detonate. So now what?
Well, Howard Bryant wrote a similar piece in ESPN The Magazine (although he arrived at a much different conclusion) and I have not the fortitude to polish a hot mess while reconciling the central claim with the current situation.
But I’m skeptical about the Cavs dedication to patience. And what the Spurs did was instructive to every team in the NBA. So I’m going to prune and pick from the autosaved “Document 1” that’s been open for months on my laptop and briefly describe what the Cavs should learn from all this.
The takeaway, at least for those of us that aren’t surprised by the trade, is that Love and the Cavs have an understanding that he will re-sign for 5 years, 120 million in 2015.
No third team, just one draft pick.
Someone hand Austin Carr an Enduracool - he’s splashing tears of joy all over the floor.
PS – Be sure to scroll down and read Robert’s excellent piece on Wiggins, Mike Miller, and James Jones from earlier this morning.
We’re getting into the dog days of summer here. You know, when you’re dripping sweat and gasping for breath during that pickup game at the park with nine other crazy souls. With David Griffin and Co. in an apparent holding pattern until August 23rd, you and your fellow Cavs fans will have just a few subjects to discuss between games. So here’s five questions for you, answered by five CtB bloggers. Enjoy the run.
1.) A Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins+Anthony Bennett trade adds (subtracts?) how many wins to next season’s team? How about the playoff picture?
Tom: Love’s SWAgR was about 12, meaning he produced about 12 wins himself. Anthony Bennett’s SWAgR was negative. I’ll assume that Bennett would produce about a win this season and Wiggins about two (grabbing Kawhi Lenoard’s rookie season as my comp). The Cavs go +9 regular season wins with this trade. Putting them from mid 50s to mid 60s. Usually I would never assume that things would work out seamlessly for the Cavs, but Love and LeBron are outlandishly better passers than the Cavs have had during the
rebuild trade-asset-accumulation-process (or TAAP). The playoffs are murkier because, as we’ve seen in the past, PEDs match-ups can be game-changers. But the talent alone will take them to the Conference Finals. And if they’re healthy and firing on all cylinders, the Finals. I wouldn’t predict that without Love.
–I’ve noticed little things. He seemed more comfortable in his own skin. More resolute about his game. He respected his foes and disposed of them without fanfare. When he lost to the Spurs I was taken aback at how calm he was. He seemed genuinely happy for Tim Duncan. He made no excuses – the Spurs were superior. He praised their approach, which, really, would be his approach, if that were possible. That moment changed my rational characterization of LeBron James. And what a contrast. (My mind flashes to the Dirk coughing episode)–
I’m not sure how much LeBron changed between 2010 and today. But I do know that drastic and permanent change is possible in such a short timeframe. A man’s 20s is the most dynamic period of his life. The enormous transition from institutionalized childhood to the distorted lifestyles of higher education to family-building and career growth can occur in just four years. A 26-year-old can look back at his 22-year-old self and wonder how someone so dumb survived. And a 30-year-old can look back at his 26-year-old self and wonder how someone could believe he was so smart.
I am married with two children, was born in 1984, grew up on 80s cartoons, love video games, went to a Catholic High School in suburban NE Ohio, and I love basketball. Other than that, I don’t share much in common with LeBron James, I guess. There was only one constant during my tumultuous 20s – LeBron James in Cavalier garb. In 2003, when the Cavs won the lottery, I screamed up and down my dorm hallway like a madman (my freshman year). LeBron and the Cavs set out on a journey. He was always there, growing, amidst a reshuffling of teammates, coaches, GMs, even owners. I was growing too, while I shuffled between rental housing, girlfriends, and internships. I was in school for 8 years. The week I was to defend my thesis was the same week the Cavs were eliminated in the 2010 playoffs. I was under so much stress that my body stopped digesting food. In less than a month I defended my thesis, started my career, and got married. During that same month, LeBron left Northeast Ohio and it was devastating.
I took me 4 years to emotionally purge The Decision from my psyche. The restlessness required to pen the following words:
“And LeBron’s “decision” would be the ultimate endorsement or indictment of our beloved home.”
had finally washed away. I was forced to realize that my family, my community, my faith, and the things I’d been building and growing were real, within my grasp, and requiring my dedication. Amazingly (I know), I transcended to a higher state of being – no longer requiring a stranger to affirm my city, my state, my team. To the outsiders, I “got over it.”
And now, much like that explosive month back in 2010, everything has changed again. I’ve come full circle. The cynic in me, never more insufferable than the last few nights, is being purged. LeBron James reminded me why I cared so much in the first place. He reminded me not to be ashamed of having a passion for, and drawing happiness from, a game.
This season has followed the most unpredictable sequences of events that I have ever witnessed. Since being dubbed the #seasonOfHuh by Ben Cox for now insignificant things like “struggling to inbound the ball”, it has raged out of control in a fiery inferno. The NBA landscape seems unrecognizable. The Cavs winning the lottery with those miniscule odds seemed so utterly ridiculous at the end of that season. And now, LeBron James is returning to Northeast Ohio to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. (!)
And yet! They pale in comparison to the most remarkable thing of all. Despite all these events, despite all our incredulity, despite all the odds, despite LeBron coming home – something just happened that none of us, not even the most wildly imaginative, could have believed:
In less than 1000 words, LeBron James made everything right.
Seems wasteful to exert much energy over the LeBron to CLE rumors until something more permanent starts to take shape. As a person with access to zero “sources” it makes even less sense. We’re analysts, fans, and supporters, not insiders. But, I’ve had plenty of thoughts and conversations about all the rumblings lately. I thought I’d share them.
On everyone’s emotions:
Dr. Jacob Loeffelholz is the Director of Perduco Sports. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him a few times to talk hoops, analytics, fantasy sports, the Browns draft, etc etc. He rubs elbows with the Daryl Moreys of the world each year at the Sloan Conference and has worked various problems as a consultant for a number of pro teams. I wanted to get his take on the Cavs, the Finals, the upcoming draft, and to get a sense of how analysts scout the college game. If you’ve got Wiggins/Parker debate syndrome you’ll find Jacob’s thoughts on what the Cavs should do at the 48 minute mark.
Podcast Introduction: 0:00-3:26
Jacob’s Background: 3:27-7:30
SportVu Data: 7:30 – 13:04
The NBA is a Business: 13:04 – 15:30
Are they reading blogs?: 15:30 – 16:50
Griff and the Cavs: 16:50 – 18:00
College Analytics: 18:00 – 29:18
Last Year’s Draft: 29:18 – 33:00
Kawhi and the Spurs: 33:00 – 48:00
This year’s draft for the Cavs: 48:00 – 1:02:20
Other guys in this year’s draft: 1:02:20 – 1:06:58
LeBron Sending a Message?: 1:06:58 – 1:11:20
Tom Bragging about his Fantasy Team: 1:11:20 – 1:12:27
The Paper that he references (the one that Mark Cuban read) can be found here:
1.) Your favorite NBA finals moment was?
Tom: Ginobili’s dunk on Bosh. Had I been in San Antonio I would have rushed the court. Before security could get to me I’d have run up to Bosh to say “good job, good effort!” I’d do LeBron’s push-up dance as I was being hauled off. Maybe sneak an elbow to the nuts on Ray Ray in revenge for Varejao. #neverforget
Ben: Manu’s leap-back 3 (steps don’t cover 8 feet) with the crowd already delirious from his Throwback-Throwdown. As I was still bouncing around from the dunk, I just started giggling when I saw him gather his footwork. There are some shots that you just know are going in.
Let me start by saying I currently have two enormous pet peeves frequently generated by journalists/pundits. The first is the use of the word “nuance” or “nuanced” which is code for “I am enlightened and/or reasonable enough to understand that the world isn’t black and white, there are “shades of gray” and therefore my “nuanced” discussion or analysis is superior to your opinions, which are essentially Neanderthal grunting”.
This thinly-veiled hubris is insufferable, and the phrase du jour has permeated every sector and level of journalism. It’s one thing when the almond-milk drinkers at The Atlantic are using it; it’s another when sportswriters writing about…well sports, revert to it over and over and over. Can we go back to talking like characters from “da Bears” sketches already? It’s just as intelligent, only without the overwhelming smugness.