Archive for the ‘Actual Trade/Signing’ Category

On the Hickson trade

Friday, July 1st, 2011

I think Omri Casspi is a fine player. He can run the floor, he can knock down open three-point shots, he’s athletic, and he plays hard. I think he’ll be a solid player in this league for a long time, and now he’s wearing a Cavalier uniform. Oh, and he fills a gaping hole at the small forward position.

To be honest, though, I feel like this trade was more about Hickson than it was about Casspi. Everyone who reads this blog knows that I worship two things: defense and efficiency. I feel teams should be build around those two things.

For all his talent, J.J. Hickson was neither an effective defensive player or an efficient offensive player. The Kings got more upside in this trade. There’s no real getting around that. If Cousins decides to play in the paint instead of launching jumpers next year, Hickson refines his mid-range game and gets easy buckets off of Cousins’ passing instead of launching his own mid-rang jumpers, and Hickson learns to play defense like an NBA 4 should, than Hickson and Jog DMC could be one of the best frontcourts in the league. Casspi doesn’t offer that kind of upside.

However, what I think we’re seeing with the Hickson trade and the Thompson pick is an admission that the original run-and-gun Cavaliers idea didn’t work out. A defensive mentality needs to be put in, and the team used its fourth pick on one of the best defenders in the draft. The offense needs to become more efficient, and the team used the 1st overall pick on a floor general who also happens to be a hyper-efficient scorer.

Hickson showed flashes of greatness throughout his time as a Cavalier, especially after Baron came aboard. Some people probably believe he was talented enough to wait for. However, the management feels differently, and I can’t help but agree with them. I wasn’t willing to spend another year waiting for Hickson to get comfortable with his jumper, learn proper post footwork, or learn how to show and recover on defense. Rebuilding is different from waiting, and building a team around what Hickson could someday become is the definition of waiting.

The Cavs aren’t ready to contend for a playoff spot, but they appear to be done playing the waiting game. They’re ready to build a solid team, build around good defense and efficient offense. It won’t happen overnight, but if the team stays the course on the court and in the front office, it will happen offensively. I’m much more willing to wait for that team to come together than I was willing to wait for J.J. Hickson to put it all together.

Cavs trade J.J. Hickson for Omri Casspi

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

As fate would have it, I’m moving to a different apartment today and Colin is ridiculously busy at the moment, but the Cavs have reportedly traded J.J. Hickson for Omri Casspi. I’ll have a full writeup up tonight, but for now I like the move — the Cavs desperately needed a young wing, the frontcourt was getting a bit crowded, and I’d pretty much given up on Hickson hitting his “ceiling.” Again, more coming tonight.

Jent leaves the Cavs for OSU

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Former Cavs assistant coach Chris Jent has left the team to take an assistant coaching position with the Ohio State Buckeyes. My writeup on Jent’s move can be found over at NBC. Best of luck to Mr. Jent, his family, and the Buckeyes.

The Cavaliers trade Justin Harper

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

According to Chad Ford, the Cavs have traded Justin Harper to the Magic for two future second round picks. Fare thee well, Justin. We shall never forget you.

Scott Raab on the Baron Davis trade

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

When the Baron Davis trade was first announced, I had some opinions about what the trade meant re: hypocrisy that I felt would be received as fairly extreme. This blog’s mission statement is simple: it is a blog about why the Cleveland Cavaliers win or lose basketball games, not a site devoted to praising them.

That being said, I do recognize how passionate Cleveland sports fans are, and one of my greatest joys as a writer has been experiencing the kind of passion Cleveland fans have for their team. I tend to be more analytical than emotional in my writing, and currently reside in California, but I do recognize and respect what Cleveland sports mean to residents of the city. That is why I decided to email Scott Raab shortly after I hit “publish” last night and ask him for his thoughts on the trade.

Mr. Raab has written for Esquire Magazine since 1997, is the author of “The Whore of Akron: One Man’s Search for the Soul of LeBron James,” and is both an accomplished writer and an extremely devoted fan of Cleveland sports. These are his thoughts on the trade.

(Note: the only edits made were for language reasons)

I think the essential point — really the only thing that matters long-term — is that ‘now the team has hope for the future.’

I think it’s fairly safe to say that Maurice Williams had no chance of being part of the next Cavs team to contend for an NBA title. (I also think that that’s about the kindest thing I myself can find to say about Mo, who proved beyond debate that he was not a wartime consigliere.)

I don’t think Baron Davis will be a long-term Cav, nor do I think this dooms Ramon Sessions. I concur generally with JK’s opinion of Davis, and of Sessions. I think the Cavs have high regard for Sessions, too, and a realistic notion of what Davis can and can’t, and will and won’t, do.

(Still, if the head coach nails Ramon’s ass to the bench in favor of Baron — the more I puzzle over the riddle of Byron Scott’s tenure as Cavs coach, the less I understand — then I hope Chris Grant has sense and power enough to force Scott’s hand.)

But I think it’s mistaken to focus on the Baron/Ramon issue in view of the draft pick involved. Yes, there will be few, if any, can’t-miss options, but the Cavs’ odds of hitting a home run in the draft have just doubled, and, especially in the wake of LBJ’s departure and this horror of a season, that’s ALL I truly care about: Building the next Cavs team that can compete for an NBA title depends almost entirely on drafting well.

In short, the Cavaliers traded Mo Williams for a top-ten draft pick. I’m [freaking] thrilled about that.

***
I’m less certain when it comes to addressing the issue of ‘rooting for laundry.’ I started working on a book about LeBron and Cleveland fanhood on Draft Day 2009, and I followed the team all of last season as a fully-credentialed media member. Though I had no clue up to the end of last season that the [person who has biblical knowledge of his mother] was outward bound, it took little time to see that the gap between James and the rest of the organization was huge, and growing month by month. I certainly was not the only one to see it; plenty of other folks, inside and outside of the team itself, knew far, far more than I did. But the dysfunction had long since become business as usual, the team was kicking ass on the court, nobody actually believed the King would leave, and no one was able or willing to cal bull[excrement] on LeBron.

What I’m saying — in additon to ‘Buy my book’:  — is that as fans, all we really can do is root for the laundry, and hope that the players wearing it do so with the kind of passion and loyalty that Cleveland fans deserve. I’m not defending Twan’s lack of effort D, and I share Krolik’s frustration with the fans, media, and coach for not calling him out on it; nor am I dumb or dishonest enough to dispute his claim that the Whore of Akron was the best player in franchise history by far.

But that’s a different discussion altogether. Comparing the impact of this deal to The Decision — whatever the emotions of the moment and however things turn out — strikes me as absurd.

Ignorance or stupidity aren’t the same as hypocrisy. Any Cavs fan who rushes out to buy a Baron Davis jersey knows nothing about basketball, or has learned nothing about the essential lunacy of fanhood — particularly Cleveland fanhood.

As for moral codes and sports, the older I get, the more I tend to embrace the philosophy of Al Davis: Just win, baby.

Cavaliers trade Mo Williams for Baron Davis

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

There are two ways to look at this. One is good, and one is less good.

The Good Way: The Cavs traded cap flexibility and Mo Williams for a lottery pick

The Cavaliers are terrible this year. They will likely be terrible next year as well. The only way the Cavs were going to be able to dig their way out of this hole was to give up their current assets for draft picks, and they did that. Mo Williams is a name, and his spot-up shooting ability makes him attractive to good teams. However, he was exposed this season. He cannot create his own shot consistently, his defense is porous, and he cannot get into the paint.

As bad as Baron Davis may/will be in Cleveland, he will not be significantly worse than Mo Williams was. He will cost the Cavaliers cap flexibility, but we don’t know what that will mean after the new CBA gets done. Also, Gilbert has shown that he is willing to spend money, copious amounts of money, on the team. A buyout or something similar may be in Baron’s future.

The bad news is that the Clippers only traded their pick because they believe, as most do, that this will be a very weak draft. Still, the draft is not an exact science, and it still represents the Cavs’ best chances to find the players that will bring them back to respectability. In order to save this franchise, the Cavs’ scouting staff is going to have to hit two home runs in a draft with few sure-fire prospects. No pressure, guys.

The Less Good Way: The Cavs just traded for Baron Davis

Ramon Sessions’ play at the point was essentially the only good thing the team had going for it. Now Ramon has just lost his starting spot to a low-efficiency chucker whose passing ability and savvy in transition play mean he only works on offense if he is surrounded by talented offensive players. He will not be surrounded by talented offensive players in Cleveland. Baron is still a fast-break virtuoso, but I don’t see that making up for all the quick-trigger threes he’ll almost certainly be firing in Cleveland.

Baron is a guy who doesn’t play well in bad situations, and situations don’t get much worse than the one in Cleveland. And he’ll be taking the starting job of the one guy who was playing his butt off every night (at least offensively) and making the Cavs look like a competent offensive unit. I have watched Baron Davis. I know Baron Davis. I named my first blog after Baron Davis. Based on the last decade or so of Baron Davis’ career, he is exactly the wrong guy to turn Cleveland around. And the Cavaliers now owe Baron Davis just under 42 million dollars over the next three years.

One more thing: The hypocrisy is ridiculous

I understand hating LeBron James. I respect hating LeBron James. I have mixed feelings about this team, at its highest levels, sending an official “screw LeBron James” message, and those feelings are even more mixed now. Yes, LeBron has an ego. Yes, LeBron made it about him rather than about Cleveland when he left. Yes, LeBron could have tried harder when the Cavs were getting blown out in game five. It’s fine to harbor resentment about those things, even though LeBron is the best player in the history of the franchise. I understand tearing down your LeBron posters and putting up posters of guys like Big Z.

What I don’t understand is how burning LeBron James jerseys and buying Baron Davis jerseys is anything other than cheering for laundry. Baron Davis has all the talent in the world, and he has made a CAREER out of putting his ego above the game and quitting on his teams. He shows up to camp out of shape. He launches threes and jogs back on defense instead of running the offense. He does everything he can to keep himself in the spotlight and the bare minimum to keep his teams competitive. And he shot 11-32 in the last two games of the Warriors/Jazz series.

And don’t get me started on Antawn Jamison, who plays offense like a 6-9 Nick Young and doesn’t play defense. You want to call LeBron a quitter? Antawn quits on defense EVERY FEW POSSESSIONS. OF EVERY GAME. And nobody says boo. And Jamison and Davis are now the faces of this new, post-LeBron, pure Cleveland franchise. Sure, the team might suck, but at least it has a moral code: “If you’re going to be selfish and not work that hard, that’s fine. Just don’t prove yourself to be really, really good at anything before you screw up, because then people are really going to hate you. Just be adequate. It’s alright to treat your girl bad, so long as she’s the one you came to the dance with.”

This is not my favorite basketball season of all time. But now the team has hope for the future. And Baron Davis. Until later, campers.

Cavs sign Jawad Williams to one-year deal

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Via the twitter of Windhorst, Jawad Williams has decided to accept the Cavs’ 1-year, $1.02 million qualifying offer for next season. Good stuff. Jawad is a complete player, an Ohio native, and a very versatile guy who should work in any of Byron Scott’s lineups. ULTIMATE JAWAD SHALL RIDE FOR ANOTHER YEAR.

Cavs name David Griffin Vice President of Basketball Operations

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Via ESPN.com news services:

The Cleveland Cavaliers took another big step in their post-LeBron James era makeover by adding David Griffin as vice president of basketball operations.
Griffin has accepted the job, sources on Monday told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher, several weeks after turning down the Denver Nuggets’ offer to be their general manager.
A league source told Bucher at the time that Griffin declined the Nuggets’ offer in part because it was nowhere near $1 million a year, the median salary for recently hired GMs that include the Cavaliers’ Chris Grant.
Grant was hired in June after the Cavaliers didn’t bring back Danny Ferry. Byron Scott then joined the Cavaliers as head coach to replace Mike Brown, who was fired in May.
Cleveland finished the regular season 61-21 as James garnered his second consecutive NBA MVP award. But the Cavaliers were ousted in the second round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics in six games.
James signed with the Miami Heat in July, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh while ending a years-long buildup to one of the biggest free-agent moves in NBA history.

Cavs sign Joey Graham to a two year deal

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

The Cavs have signed Joey Graham to a two-year deal. According to Windhorst, the deal is worth 2.1 million over two years. It’s another role-player signing, but the money is good and Graham is a pro who’ll be good to have in the locker room.

Not earth-shattering in terms of the on-court implications, but the Cavs are definitely going to need everyone to have their heads where they need to be if they want to be competitive next season. Guys like Graham will help with that. If the signing is a flop, at least it won’t be an expensive one.

On the Ramon Sessions Trade

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Let’s get into it, Pro-and-Con style:

Pro: Ramon Sessions is the best pure point guard the Cavaliers have had since Andre Miller, and was a necessary acquisition for Byron Scott.

(I’m not being hyperbolic about Sessions with the above statement — I believe Sessions to be a better pure point than Jeff McInnis, Damon Jones, Eric Snow, Daniel Gibson, and Mo Williams. Not saying much, when you really think about it.)

The good news here is that Ramon Sessions can really play. He’s a true drive-and-kick guard who loves to get into the paint, and he’s as good as any guard this side of Kyle Lowry at drawing fouls. He was a highly coveted free agent guard last season, and the contract he ended up getting is pretty fair.

On paper, last year was a huge disappointment for Sessions, but his per-48 numbers were pretty good; 7.2 assists, 15.9% draw foul rate, and the best net +/- of any regular rotation player on the Timberwolves. If he can get back to his 07-08 form, when he averaged 11.3 assists per 40 minutes, that would be spectacular. But if Sessions gets enough minutes and room to stretch his wings, the 09-10 version of him will work just fine.

The Cavs desperately needed a playmaker to make this uptempo offense work, and now they have one. The Cavs have athletes on the wings, but it’s not about how fast the players move — it’s about how fast the ball moves. Sessions is also comfortable playing full-court basketball; 48% of his shot attempts came in the first 10 seconds of the clock last season. If the Cavs put Sessions, Mo Williams, Jamison, and two athletes out on the floor together, they’ll have some serious offensive firepower going. Eternal Sunshine of the Run-And-Gun Cavaliers is getting closer to becoming a reality.

Pro: As TYA guys go, Ryan Hollins isn’t bad.

(TYA = Tall, Young, Alive.)

Hollins hasn’t done much in his career, but boy does he have some tools. He’ll make one or two plays every game that make you wonder why he isn’t a MUCH bigger deal. He’ll then make three or four plays that remind you exactly why he isn’t a bigger deal, but those can theoretically be fixed. Hollins has serious upside, uptempo basketball should suit him perfectly, and he’s 25. If he doesn’t play at all, the Cavs only owe him $5 million over the next two years. If everything works out for him, he could be a worse version of JaVale McGee! CATCH THE FEVER!

Pro: The Cavs got rid of Delonte’s contract with a minimum of fuss.

They made it clear they wanted to get rid of his $4.5 million in guaranteed money before the August 5th deadline, and they got something back for him in return. The Wolves will reportedly waive him, so it’ll be interesting to see where he’ll go — I’d LOVE to see him back in Cleveland, for reasons I’ll get into in a bit. If he becomes a bargain-basement guy, he’s a MAJOR steal. (By the way, Miami could definitely use West to back up both guard spots next season. Just going to throw that out there.)

Pro: The Cavs just completed a trade with David Kahn.

I have near-complete faith in my lack of faith in David Kahn. He had no leverage here, and his moves have not been good. I take solace in this.

Con: Ramon Sessions isn’t all that.

Ramon Sessions is a heckuva 8.2 points/3.1 assists player, but he’s still an 8.2 points/3.1 assists player. He’s not going to put the team over the top, and I don’t see any way this team wins a playoff series with Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams leading the charge every night. I worry that this trade will make the Cavs just good enough to cost themselves a high-lottery pick. I’d love to see this team limp into the playoffs. I wouldn’t mind a 15-20 win season and a ticket in the Harrison Barnes sweepstakes. What terrifies me is 5 seasons of 30-40 win basketball and #12 picks.

Con: This team may now suck at defense.

Take a look at the Cavs’ current rotation:

1. Antawn Jamsion — not a good defender

2. Mo Williams — unspeakably horrible defender

3. Anderson Varejao — excellent system defender

4. J.J. Hickson — absolutely terrible defender

5. Jamario Moon — talented but fundamentally iffy on defense

6. Ramon Sessions — awful defender in Minnesota

7. Anthony Parker — Solid NBA defensive player, above-average but way overrated as a lockdown guy

8. Daniel Gibson — good point guard defender, but a small point guard

9. Danny Green — question mark defensively

10. Leon Powe — not a good defender

The Cavs just lost a defensive mastermind in Mike Brown, and playing up-tempo often means taking more defensive gambles. Oh, and the best way to get wins out of a relatively untalented team is to play defense. I’m nervous about this.

Con: Delonte West should’ve been fought for.

I’m going to reserve final judgement on this until Delonte signs somewhere — for all I know, the Cavs plan to get him back, and the Wolves waiving him indicates that Delonte’s market value is less than $5 million right now. Not to put too fine a point on things, but this franchise has made it clear that it feels basketball is more than just a business. Saving money by waiving a player who played harder than anybody else, gave the Cavs huge bang for their buck in his first year with the team, fought with bipolar disorder for two seasons, struggled with his demons all season, played whatever role the team told him to without complaint, and is now the subject of The Rumor doesn’t seem to reflect a more-than-a-business philosophy. Full post coming if and when he gets signed, but right now I feel like Delonte deserved better.

Con: TELFAIR TELFAIR TELFAIR.

Family Guy isn’t my favorite corner of the zeitgeist, but a reference feels appropriate here. Remember the Christmas episode, where Peter and the kids got the family’s gifts stolen, they scorched the turkey and nearly burned down the house, and generally completely ruined Christmas, but Lois seemed completely fine? Then she asked for a paper towel, found out there weren’t any left, and then just completely lost it? That’s how I feel right now.

Team unceremoniously dumps Mike Brown, the most successful coach in franchise history? Had to be done.

LeBron leaves? I made my peace with that.

Z, one of the most beloved players in franchise history, follows him? Good for Z.

The Cavs essentially waive Delonte, my favorite remaining player on the team? I saw that coming?

But TELFAIR? They really had to go ahead and make Telfair a throw-in? Telfair was my island of happiness in this hellstorm of an offseason. Whatever happened, I could always look forward to Telfair getting real minutes in an up-tempo system. The man is a genius in the open floor, at least in flashes. He’s just been stuck in half-court systems since his sophomore season. Now he’s stuck in the triangle, not to mention 40 other point guards. I didn’t need to see Telfair live up to his potential as a great change-of-pace distributor/scorer guard in a run-and-gun system. What bothers me is that he’ll likely never get a real chance. This one really took the wind out of my sails.

Well, there you have it. Welcome to Cleveland, Ramon Sessions. Sebastain and Delonte, you will be missed.