Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

The Hinkie Letters — Part I: “The Process”

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

First off, check out Cory’s extremely entertaining recap of an extremely underwhelming Cavs loss last night. Second, over the past few weeks, Tom Pestak and I have been exchanging letters with long time reader/commenter, Mac. The conversation started in the comment section of the Reader 5 on 5, as a reaction to this piece in ESPN the Magazine on Sam Hinkie and the Sixer’s “Plan to win (yes, really).” The whole piece struck Mac and I as naive at best, or as Mac said.. “The things they [the Sixers] are doing and saying about how the short term pain is all for long term gain are the things PE/finance guys do and say whether they intend to save your company or bleed it dry and leave other people to bury the corpse.” Mac expounded.

I am really sick of people patting themselves on the back for not being archaic dinosaurs like Jeanie Buss or Russ Granick and understanding what the Sixers are doing is really smart. Tanking and being a free rider while other people try to be good sports because the league doesn’t really work without a good faith effort to not mail it in unless you are a top five team is really smart, in the way that putting your money in tax shelters in the Bahamas and not paying your share of taxes is smart. It is smart in the way that forming a corporation and putting your assets in it and making your kids shareholders so you don’t have to pay estate tax is smart. It is smart in the way that rich people living in economically segregated neighborhoods so their kids can go to the best possible public schools funded by local property taxes is smart. It is smart and worthy of praise if maximizing self-interest is the epitome of human intelligence and achievement. It is strange to me that millenials, who in many ways seem much more progressive and empathetic than my generation, seem to so easily accept the premise that as long as it is legal, screwing over the common good just to get every last squeeze out of the orange for yourself isn’t merely acceptable, but the only rational thing to do.

If you haven’t checked out the comment section of that piece, I recommend you do so.  It’s one of my faves, and Mac, Ross, C6H12O6, and CLF all contributed to an enlightening conversation. We went deep down the rabbit hole. Naturally, this sparked an offline conversation about the state of team-building in the NBA between Mac, our resident cynical skeptic (me), and our defender of capitalism, Mom, America, and Apple Pie (Tom Pestak). We’re sharing it with you in a two part series that will run this week. Enjoy.

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The Point Four-ward: Just The Most Recent One

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Professional athletes have a fickle relationship with the term “statement game.” They don’t like it.

Well, that is, they don’t like it unless they do.

Most of the time, players will give statements like this one by LeBron James following the Cavs 127-94 victory over the Dallas Mavericks:

“It’s just the most recent [game]. Obviously, we played a great game. The best thing about tonight is we played a complete, 48-minute game. We pushed the tempo, we shared the ball, we defended, it was a great game for us.”

Just the most recent game.

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Uniformity: Dressing for Success

Friday, March 6th, 2015
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Yay?

USP NBA: NEW YORK KNICKS AT CLEVELAND CAVALIERS S BKN USA OH

…or, Nay?

The Cavs are looking sharper in the alt blue unis…but are they lucky?

Though seemingly mothballed after the home loss to the New York Knicks for what could only have been karmic reasons, we’ve seen a recent resurgence of the Cavs alternate blue uniforms. Since their unfortunate debut, the Cavs have evened up their record in the alt unis to 2-2. It remains to be seen if this positive trend continues, but for now it appears that the blue will factor more heavily in the mix.

However, this seems like all the uniform experimentation we can expect as Cavs fans this season (not including the forgettable special “first name” X-Mas jerseys). We’re seeing a plethora of new designs and color schemes being used around the NBA this year, and it’s curious that the Cavs aren’t at the forefront of that… especially given the connections two certain all-stars have with a certain major shoe and athletic apparel company.

So, how did we get here? (more…)

The Point Four-ward: MVP! MVP?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

First, if you haven’t read David’s excellent recap of last night’s win over the Celtics, do that first. Then, continue on to—

Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) All of the MVP talk that sprouted up around James following the Cavs brilliant performance against the Golden State Warriors last Thursday got me to thinking: what is the most number of games a player has missed in a season and still won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award?

In two games this past week, James came out with guns blazing against the current MVP front-runners, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Stephen Curry of the Warriors. Against the Warriors, James was magnificent, scoring 42 points on 15-25 shooting in what turned into a relatively easy victory against the team with (at the time) the league’s best record. Against Houston, James shot poorly (15-25 from the floor, 3-11 from the free throw line) but played as spirited and springy on defense as he has in a very long time. Regardless of how it ended, put his team in the position to win a game on the road against one of the league’s best teams without the help of the team’s all-star point guard.

Did James do enough in those two games to convince me that he’s still the game’s best player?

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The Point Four-ward: The Unofficial Stretch Run

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers as they pick back up after the All-Star break…

1.) You may have read the following comment from LeBron James following Sunday’s All-Star Game and raised your eyebrows just a bit.

Asked about his aggressive first quarter of the showcase game (in which he scored 15 points on 6-9 shooting in eight-plus minutes) James said:

It’s my obligation and my responsibility to go out there, if I’m feeling 80 percent or 85 percent or 90, to go out there and give my fans something. Give my fans what they wanted to see. And hopefully I did that.

The good news is that James viewed himself at somewhere between 80-90 percent on a day where he was still looking at several days off before picking the season back up again on Friday night. He also threw out those percentages after he’d scored 30 points on 11-21 shooting with five rebounds and seven assists in a performance that would have surely netted James the game MVP award had the East not fallen to the West 163-158.

So, 80-90 percent of LeBron James is still pretty darned good.

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All-Star Roundup, and who Would Help the Cavs? — w/ a Haywood Contract Update

Monday, February 16th, 2015

LeBron moved into second place all time in All-Star game scoring with 30 points last night– including 15 in the first eight minutes — but he missed his third MVP trophy when Russell Westbrook went off for 41 points to lead the West to an All-Star game victory last night.

There was a flurry of fluff over the weekend, and it’s impossible to list every interview or soundbite, but one thing of note, LeBron James was elected Vice President of the NBPA, joining president Chris Paul as the top players in the union power hierarchy. Count me in the group that thinks having two max players at the top is bad for the rank and file NBA guys. Their focus is going to on improving contracts for the guys at the top of the salary structure, not the middle or the bottom. Of course, I’m an old school prole. I’m always wary of the rich. If there’s one guy who knows how to leverage his image for gain, it’s James. For all the LeBron news about him holding court at the All-Star game, click here.

J.R. Smith provided my highlight of the weekend (above), by participating in the NBA All Star Weekend fashion show, SI reports.

With the All-Star game in the books, the talk now turns to the NBA trade deadline, which is Thursday the 19th at 3PM. The Cavs are in the middle of a few rumors, but nothing is really concrete. Let’s take a look at who’s out there in trade or as a free agent, and who could help the Cavs. While the Cavs’ biggest needs are probably another big and another guard, they’d add a wing if the price was right.

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The Point Four-ward: Fit In, Fit On, Fit Out

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

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Four things I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) LeBron James loves his teammates.

Sorry… change that. LeBron James loves to love his teammates.

From his days playing at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary with Dru Joyce III, Sian Cotton, Willie McGee and Romeo Travis, to his days as a Cavalier and thier elaborate choreographed pre-game introductions, James has always seemed most comfortable when his team exudes a family atmosphere. When they’re close. When everybody fits in.

So, it wasn’t shocking to see that this weekend, as his new version of the Cavaliers continues to round into form, that James would address what he saw as the team’s squeakiest wheel going forward: power forward, Kevin Love.

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The Point Four-ward: Keep Streak Alive!

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

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Four things I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Thursday’s game against the Clippers will be a good measuring stick for these Cavs — and it comes at just the right time. The Cavs just played three of the worst teams in the league in the Sixers, Wolves and Kings and, while it would be unfair to say that the team has gotten bored of Avenge-a-palooza 2015, serving steaming piles of roundball comeuppance to a rogues gallery of disheartening losses, finally seeing a team that also plans to be playing deep into May and June (and one looking to avenge its own disheartening loss, a 126-121 Cavs win in L.A. on January 16th) is exactly what the Cavs need to resharpen their focus and keep this winning streak going.

Thus far, the Cavs have had some trouble piling it on against lesser 0pponents. Last Friday against Sacramento, the Cavs managed only 15 points in the fourth quarter, letting the Kings back into a game that should have been well out of reach. The next night in Minnesota, the young Wolves team (sporting the league’s worst defense) were actually leading the Cavs in the second half, before the Cavs defense (still sporting its new car smell) put the strangle hold on in the fourth. Then Monday night, those scrappy Sixers, got within two points in the fourth before Matthew Dellavedova stepped in to blow their candles out.

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The Point Four-ward: How Buddy Ball Won Out

Friday, January 30th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) This time last season, I couldn’t have expected I’d be uttering the following statement: the two Cavaliers players I most enjoy watching this season are Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.

Now, sure, even before Wednesday night’s Kyrie-a-thon, that’s not the craziest thing in the world to say. It’s not like saying I’m tuning in just for the chance to see three glorious minutes of Mike Miller or James Jones. But this time last year, I was firmly on Team Dion and was more than open to criticizing the highly-susceptible-to-criticism play of Irving and Thompson, a.k.a. Team Buddy Ball.

But here we are now…

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Resisting the Urge

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

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The Cavs have been linked to quite a few different players of late, from the recently released Nate Robinson and Jordan Farmar to China’s Bobby Brown and Will Bynum. Heck, there’s even been talk about bringing in Golden Buckeye candidates, Tayshaun Prince and Ray Allen. The Cavs, though, should resist any temptation to mess with the roster right now. I know, I know. This from the guy who said about a dozen times that you can never have too many “bullets in the gun,” but after my lamentations about roster construction earlier this year, David Griffin went out and brought in three rotation players that have markedly changed the talent level of the starting lineup and the bench. Those moves worked, LeBron got healthy, and now the team is winning. So don’t screw it up! The Cavs brass should resist the urge to mess with the roster. They should respect the streak, learn from team history, and not sacrifice the team’s future.

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