Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

This is why the Cavaliers are terrible

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

I semi-accidentally triggered a “why are the Cavaliers THIS BAD?” discussion with my last post. In the comments, there was a lot of talk about how the Cavs’ epic futility has occurred because they built their team around LeBron, and the team is now hopelessly rudderless without him.

There is a grain of truth in that. The Cavaliers arranged their talent around LeBron, because that was the best/only option really available to them. However, that glosses over the fact that LeBron prevented the Cavaliers from accumulating talent. He did not do this by being evil or failing to commit long-term to Cleveland in order to convince Trevor Ariza to join the team. He did this by making the Cavaliers significantly better very fast, and very good for a number of years. This gave the Cavs fewer chances to add real talent through the draft, and the Cavaliers blew the chances they did have.

Think of team-building as a very basic mathematical concept. Trades are made when each team is getting something of theoretically equal value — therefore, a trade can only rearrange the overall talent level of a team to best suit its goals. Free-agency is nice, but big free-agency opportunities are few and far between — remember that Shaq is the only max free-agent signing to have won a championship with the team that signed him. (To date, that is. Yes, the Heat have a chance of joining the Lakers as the only team to craft a dynasty through free agency. And remember that they got Caron and Odom in the Shaq trade, traded Caron for Kwame, and flipped Kwame’s contract for Gasol — the initial capital all came from that Shaq coup.)

And as I’ve said before on this blog, teams that spend money in free agency are the ones that already have solid talent “cores” — teams are not good because they spend money. Teams spend money because they are good. The Cavs’ big post-LeBron acquisitions were Mo Williams, Shaq, and Antawn Jamison. They got those players for almost nothing, because the teams those three players played for did not feel they were worth paying the remaining value of their contracts. There are reasons for that.

On a fundamental level, the only real way to really and truly add talent is through the draft. This is a fairly basic concept. If you do not have good players or prospects, other teams will not trade you good players or prospects. If you do not have good players or prospects, it makes little sense to spend money on free agents. The only reliable way to acquire good players or prospects is through the draft.

Even a team like the Celtics, which was seemingly built on trades, relied on the draft. They drafted Paul Pierce, bought the draft rights to Rondo, traded a top-5 pick for Ray Allen, and traded Al Jefferson (considered an all-time steal at #14) for KG. With very, very, few exceptions, team-building always comes back to the draft. With that in mind, let’s take a look at who the Cavaliers have used their post-LeBron draft picks to acquire:

2003: Jason Kapono, pick #32 overall. Lost to Charlotte in the expansion draft.

2004: Luke Jackson, pick #10 overall. For more on that, read my full writeup.

2005: No picks. (Effectively) traded their 1st-round pick for Jiri Welsch (click here for more) and their 2nd-round pick for Anderson Varejao.

2006: Shannon Brown, pick #25 overall. Eventually traded away as a throw-in to the Ben Wallace trade. Daniel Gibson, pick #42 overall. With Andy out for the year, Boobie is the best player on the team. This was a great pick.

2007: THIS FIRST-ROUND PICK WAS ALSO TRADED FOR JIRI WELSCH.

2008: J.J. Hickson, #19 overall pick. That’s been a roller-coaster ride.

2009: Christian Eyenga, #30 overall pick. Starting to look like a rotation player, maybe. Team also got Danny Green, who they later cut.

2010: Pick traded for Antawn Jamison.

Note: if anyone has an easy way to keep track of where all the Cavs’ 2nd-round pick went, I’d appreciate it, because it’s hard to keep tabs on exactly what the Cavs spend their 2nd-rounders on. Also, I am aware that the Cavs still have the rights to Sasha Kaun.

I mean, yikes. Eyenga, Gibson, and Hickson are the only rotation players the Cavs have managed to draft post-LeBron, and Jamison is the only rotation player, current or former, that the Cavs managed to get for a traded pick. That’s a miserable showing for six years of drafting. Oh, and the Cavs took their big free-agency shot at Larry Hughes.

Again, part of this is because LeBron made the team too good to fast. The Thunder got to rebuild with four top-five picks in three years, starting with the Durant draft in 2007. If the Cavs had the #3 pick in 2005, they would’ve gotten Chris Paul or Deron Williams. In fact, lets’ do this exactly (no CP3 over Deron): The Thunder drafted Jeff Green #5 in 2007: if the Cavs had the #5 pick in the 2003 draft, LeBron and Wade would’ve been Cavaliers from day one. And Deron Williams would have joined them when they drafted him 3rd overall in 2005. (Shaun Livingston in 2004 would have been a tough break, but no cheating.) Think about that for a while. By not carrying his team to a respectable record for the first two years of his career, Durant prevented himself from having to make an uncomfortable exodus to greener pastures later on. He really has done everything right, hasn’t he?

If they’d sucked in 2004, they might have actually snagged Dwight Howard. Now that’s the kind of young core that would have kept LeBron here forever. Instead, their success forced them to have to look for a Kobe-like minor miracle in the late lottery or full-blown Ginobili miracle in the later picks, and those aren’t easy to come by.

Why do the Cavaliers suck? It’s not because they built around LeBron. It’s not because they didn’t build around LeBron. The Cavs acquired an asset who wouldn’t have fit around LeBron without having to give up significant talent this off-season. His name is Ramon Sessions. You have been basking in his glory. The Cavaliers suck because the draft is the best way to acquire significant assets, the Cavaliers acquired one significant asset through the draft in the last seven years (Boobie is maybe .5 of a significant asset — what teams would give up a #1 pick for him? Consider that the #15 draft pick is an average 1st-round pick), and that significant asset left last summer. That’s why this team is historically terrible. That’s the story here, folks. Nothing less, nothing more. Until next time.

Varejao may be done for the year

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Wow. According to the AP, Varejao has a torn ankle tendon and may be done for the year. Obviously, this is completely devastating. Not only was Andy the team’s best player and the only guy playing any defense, but he was the only truly attractive trade asset the Cavs had. Keeping Andy isn’t the worst thing in the world by any stretch of the imagination, but trading him for the right package could have really helped the team rebuild in earnest.

Well, not much more to say here. The worst team in basketball just lost its best player. Lord only knows how much lower the Cavs will sink now. Never say things can’t get worse, right?

Congratulations to Brian Windhorst

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Full disclosure: it’s 8:04 in the morning my time and I’ve been up all night working on a presentation, so I won’t be able to do anything resembling justice to Brian Windhorst at the current moment.

Anyways, Brian Windhorst, along with Michael Wallace, Kevin Arnovitz (who, in the interest of fuller disclosure, has been my editor and immediate boss within the TrueHoop Network,  and Sebastian Martinez-Christensen), will be covering the Miami Heat next season as a part of ESPN.com’s “Heat Index” next season.

If you’ve followed the Cavaliers at all over the past several seasons, Brian Windhorst needs no introduction. He has established himself as one of the best and hardest-working beat writers in the country. His coverage of the Cavaliers has been even-handed, intelligent, and impossibly diligent. This man broke the Mo Williams trade while returning from the hospital. He will be dearly missed by Cleveland fans, but I’m certainly happy that Brian got this opportunity and wish him all the best in this endeavor.

Given ESPN’s role in “The Decision,” I can see how the launching of the “Heat Index” might not be the most welcome news around these parts, but I’ll say two quick things:

1. The interest in this Heat team is absolutely overwhelming. I can tell you that articles that mentioned LeBron or the Heat absolutely dominated all other articles in terms of comments over on NBC all summer long. Most articles get 1-5 comments; when LeBron says something, it’s not uncommon for 40-50 people to chime in. That’s admittedly an imperfect measure of interest, but I’m of the opinion that ESPN is reacting to a demand for news here rather than creating said demand.

2. I can tell you that this website will be good. We all know what Windhorst can do and how good he is at what he does. It would be impossible for me to overstate my opinion of Kevin Arnovitz. To put things simply, they would not be participating in this project and moving from Los Angeles/Cleveland to Miami if they didn’t believe in the project. If they are involved in a project, it will be both well-written and of a high journalistic standard.

I can also tell you that ESPN’s basketball section is extremely well-run. I’ve worked for a lot of websites, both big and small. From my experience, I can tell you that everyone I have had contact with at ESPN genuinely cares about the quality of the product they put out, journalistic ethics, and the well-being of the writers that work for them. My experience with ESPN has been an absolute highlight of my career, for reasons that have nothing to do with the exposure they have given me. Henry Abbott, Kevin Arnovitz, and the higher-ups in the basketball section care about what they do, what they write, and the people that write for them. I know that for a fact. Trust me, I am far too sleep-deprived to shill.

This is bad news for Cavalier fans who have gotten used to reading Mr. Windhorst’s coverage of the team over the course of his career. But it’s good news for him, and great news for everyone who will be looking for great coverage of one of the most fascinating and polarizing basketball teams in recent memory. Once again, congratulations and good wishes to Brian and Kevin.

Here are the new Cavs uniforms

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

If the above picture isn’t working for you, head over to the team’s official site for a look. I like ‘em — kind of an old-school flair to them, but clean and modern-looking as well. Hopefully this means the Cavs won’t be wearing 2,000 different jerseys over the course of next season.

Here’s the 2010-11 Cavaliers schedule

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Enjoy it while you can: http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/schedule/

Your Rashad McCants Update

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

As some of you may know, Rashad McCants was on the Cavs’ Summer League Roster. You may also know that Rashad did not show up for Summer League. After talking to Rashad’s agent and the team, here’s what I know about what happened:

-Rashad was supposed to show up for Summer League and was expected to be there. His mother, a breast cancer survivor, became ill, and Rashad decided that being with her and her family was more important than being there for Summer League. According to his agent, Rashad informed the Cavalier personnel in charge of picking the Summer League team that he would not be attending, and they were very supportive of his decision. The team corroborated this version of events.

-Some of the Summer League coaches, who were not involved in the team-selection process, were confused as to Rashad’s whereabouts during Summer League. When I asked Byron Scott about McCants before the weekend, he told me that he had been made aware of Rashad’s situation before.

-The Cavaliers told me that their experience with Rashad has been a positive one.

-There was some initial confusion over whether Rashad planned to show up late to Summer League and play the last game or two with the Cavaliers; whether that was Rashad’s plan or not, it was not an option Byron Scott was interested in pursuing when I spoke to him. In any case, Rashad always planned on being in Las Vegas this week to work out with Tim Grgurich.

That’s the extent of what I know about this situation. If it really was just a big miscommunication, I hope he gets another chance to prove that he can be an NBA player both on and off the court.

Delonte West pleads guilty to weapons charges

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Here’s the report, courtesy of the AP:

In Prince George’s County Circuit Court, Judge Graydon McKee sentenced West to eight months of electronic monitoring, two years of unsupervised probation, 40 hours of community service and psychological counseling.
Accompanied by his mother, girlfriend and uncle in court, West told Judge McKee he was ashamed.
He said he has been “put on a pedestal” because he can “dribble a basketball,” and worries about letting down youth who look up to athletes.
Authorities said the basketball player was carrying two loaded handguns, a loaded shotgun and an 8½-inch Bowie knife while speeding on a three-wheel motorcycle on the Capital Beltway last September. Police said West, who lives in Brandywine, Md., was pulled over after cutting off an officer.
West’s attorney said the player had the weapons because he was transporting them from one home to another that he owns in the county, after his mother ordered him to remove them from one property.

Glad that Delonte didn’t end up in jail. He’ll almost certainly be waived, and a possible suspension could make it harder for him to get a contract from another team. Delonte can really play, but I worry if the fallout from this will keep him from getting back to the level he was at during the 08-09 season. I hope it doesn’t, because he’s everything you want a basketball player to be when his head is in the right place and he has a franchise who supports him.

Windhorst: Ilgauskas to sign with the Heat

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

According to Brian Windhorst, Zydrunas Ilgauskas will join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in Miami next season.

Miami gets the center they needed, although I do think they would have wanted a more athletic center who could allow them to get out on the break a bit more. Still, Ilgauskas can defend the rim, finish around the basket, doesn’t do many stupid things, and will be a great locker-room presence for them.

It’ll be tough not seeing Ilgauskas on the roster, but I respect his decision. Ilgauskas has given everything and more to the Cavalier franchise, and he deserves a shot at that elusive ring. The best player to ever wear a Cavalier uniform left on Thursday; one of the greatest Cavaliers ever left today. Best of luck to Zydrunas in all his future endeavors, and hopefully we will see him come back to the Cavaliers for one more run before his jersey gets raised to the rafters.

LeBron James: The Golden Boy No More

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

I got most of what I wanted to say about LeBron’s departure out of the way last night (I assumed he was leaving), so I don’t think I need to say all that much more here.

That said, here’s my post-decision LeBron piece for Pro Basketball Talk, which does cover some new ground about LeBron’s future.

Here’s the link: http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/07/lebron-james-the-golden-boy-no-more.php

Let me know what you guys think. I’ve gotta get to packing, because tomorrow morning I go to Vegas to cover the Summer League. It should be fun, so try and sleep well. This blog isn’t going anywhere, and I promise we’re going to continue having fun talking Cavs and talking basketball. Until tomorrow, everyone.

LeBron James Signs With The Miami Heat

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

LeBron James will officially join Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade on the Miami Heat next season. Best of luck to LeBron and the Heat in all their future endeavors.