Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Flyover Fairness and Future News

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

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Just so you know, the first draft of this article was written in comic sans. When I first read Brian Windhorst’s article from last Tuesday, “Could the Cavaliers Lose Kyrie Irving?“,  I had to email my editors to discover the guidelines for responding. To say that I was irritated was an understatement. This was followed up by Amin Elhassan’s insider piece on Kyrie Irving’s options for leaving Cleveland. All that was running through my head after these was a Pacino-esque, “You’re out of order! You’re out of order! This whole trial is out of order!” knee-jerk response. Fortunately, several days has given me a little more perspective, and I think I’m capable of respectfully taking issue with Mr. Windhorst as if I was writing a non-Antonin Scalia Supreme Court dissent.

And it’s not as if I disagree with anything in the article, per se. Mr. Windhorst is undoubtedly one of the most respected NBA writers in the country, and even more undoubtedly, his knowledge of the inner workings of the Cavaliers and Kyrie Inc. surpasses ours. But the article raises three important questions. Why now? Why us? And is this even news?

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On Optimism…

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Last Thursday, the Cavs were riding high on a six game winning streak. Today, the Cavs have lost two straight and sit five games out of a playoff spot with the toughest remaining schedule in the league looming ahead. Last Thursday, the Cavs controlled four picks inside the top forty five of the deepest draft in NBA history. Today, they have Spencer Hawes, two remaining draft picks, and a five percent chance of making the playoffs.

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How the Cavs Offense Can Build on Kyrie Irving’s All-Star Performance

Friday, February 21st, 2014

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Last Sunday, Kyrie Irving put on a dazzling display of scoring and passing to become the second-youngest player in NBA history to be named MVP of the NBA All-Star Game. In seeing Irving explode for 31 points and 14 assists, Cavs fans finally got to enjoy a glimpse of the Irving they thought they’d see this year: a dynamic and efficient scorer who is also able to get his teammates theirs.

Now, of course, the All-Star Game bears only a passing resemblance to even the least defensively engaged regular season game, but it’s difficult to see the Cavaliers’ star have so much success as a distributor and not try to find ways to bottle even the tiniest flicker of that lighting as the games that count start back up again this week. For Irving to reach his potential as a player, he must do a better job getting his teammates involved. The more he does so, the less predictable any given Cavs possession will be and, arguably, the better the looks Irving will find for himself, as well.

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The Anthony Bennett Renaissance

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

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The 2013-2014 Cavaliers are a silly team. Their silliness oscillates between comical and sinister at unhealthy speeds. One month, Andrew Bynum is acting like a full-on Wes Anderson villain and indeterminately throwing objects, and the next month Anthony Bennett is teasing DeMarcus Cousins, the first post-LeBron four game winning streak has everyone smiling, and Kyrie is starting an all-star game this weekend. This season is entertaining in the same way that eating three bags of cheetos in one sitting is entertaining: fun in the moment, but it might leave you with a body ache afterwards.

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BUY BUY BUY: Ranking the Assets

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

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Real life drama is the underlying key to sports.  Whether its from the last-second big shot, hail Mary TD, the blow-out upset (lookin’ at you, Seattle), or the chaos of the BCS rankings (RIP), drama, largely, dictates our sports-watching schedules.  Sure, there’s always the intrigue of watching a guy like Boogie Cousin purely because of his talent level, but deep down inside we’re all hoping for some of his crazy to show.  Just like I said…Drama!

Yet, even with all the in-game excitement that we anticipate, none holds a candle to my favorite yearly holiday, occurring nine days from today.  The NBA trade deadline.  The intrigue!  The deceit!  What other day, mid-season, holds such potential for a complete redo?  In nine days, the scape of the NBA could look vastly different.  The possibilities are endless!

Originally this was going to be a long, wordy argument for why Kyrie Irving, the only Cavalier all star since the departure of he-who-shall-not-be-named, needs to remain well past this deadline and, hopefully, past this decade.  But why stop there?  With the Cavaliers playing well these past two games, interim GM David Griffin said the Cavs will be buyers this deadline.  Buy buyers can’t buy without something to barter with.  So who or what well the Cavs be sending out in order to improve?  Lets examine:

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Who Should Run the Cavs? Part II (The List) — Updated

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Earlier, we covered why the Cavs need a Commander-in-Chief of basketball. But who should that person be? Let’s take a look at the candidates for Cavs GM.

The Unusual Suspects

These are guys that might not come to mind immediately, but the who Cavs might want to consider — the “outside the box” people.

Jonathan Givony: President, DraftExpress.com. Jonathan runs the premiere publicly accessible website and database for the NBA Draft and pro basketball prospects around the world. He and his staff have as much knowledge as anyone when it comes to global basketball talent. He was the first person I thought of when I was thinking of unorthodox candidates who might be able to come in and take over the personnel moves for a franchise in the same way that John Hollinger went from ESPN to VP of Basketball Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies. Jonathan Givony was kind enough to respond to a few questions via email.

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Who Should Run the Cavs? Part I

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

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Who’s in charge of the Spurs?

Who’s in charge of the Heat?

Who runs the Celtics?

Who runs the Pacers?

Who saved the Corleone family?

If you’re any kind of NBA fan, you answered Greg Popovich, Pat Riley, Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, and Michael (far left) all within milliseconds of reading the questions. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind who’s in charge of those organizations.  Heck, I bet there’s only one owner you can name out of those four teams.  If I asked you two days ago, “Who’s in charge of the Cavs?” who would you have said? Chances are you would have thought about it for a minute, and said, Chris Grant, Mike Brown, or Dan Gilbert.  And therein lies the problem.

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The Trickle Down Effect of Reaching in the NBA Draft

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Anthony Bennett, Chris Grant

Over the weekend, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer discussed the sense of entitlement that often comes with just being drafted in the NBA. Pluto wrote:

“With young men drafted high in the NBA lottery, they are made to feel as if they have ‘already made it’ in the NBA before taking a dribble as a pro. Even more disturbing is how the league fuels that entitlement.

The NBA draft is a huge television show. Then comes the All-Star weekend, where there is a game between rookies and second-year pros. Nearly all of those young players have done nothing to merit being on the same stage as the real All-Stars.”

He goes on to say that by the time most high draft picks enter the league, they’ve played for so many coaches over the last handful of years and no coach for very long. This leads to high draft picks who have no idea how hard it is to win consistently at the NBA level and don’t have a history of coaching continuity that can instill a base of basketball knowledge to help them when they try.

So much for building through the draft…

I made a similar argument to a friend last week, but came at it from a different angle. We were asking a common question this year: How did we just lose to that Phoenix Suns roster?! The answer to that question involves some inevitable head scratching about how a roster full of mid-t0-late first round picks (aside from the little used Alex Len) could so thoroughly dismantle a team featuring four top-four picks (and five top-seven, if you include Deng … though I generally still remove him from the discussion when thinking about this team’s problems).

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Disappointing Easy Feeling

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

 

Every year there are teams that disappoint.

Sometimes it’s because of injuries. Last year’s Philadelphia 76ers organization thought they’d built themselves something (marginally to very) competitive, until Andrew Bynum’s knees said otherwise. This year, injuries to Derrick Rose and, to a lesser extent, Russell Westbrook have altered what NBA fans thought they were in for when they re-upped for the 2013-14 season.

Sometimes it’s because of off the court issues. In 2010, Gilbert Arenas, fresh off a season lost to injury and only a year removed from signing a massive $111 million six-year contract with the Wizards, was suspended, along with Javaris Crittenton, for the remainder of the season for bringing handguns into the team’s locker room. The suspensions caused the Wizards to officially write off the rest of what had already been a disappointing season. It was already disappointing because the team had just traded the sixth pick in the 2009 draft for Mike Miller and Randy Foye (rather than have a chance to select Steph Curry … which, don’t worry, the T-Wolves didn’t take advantage of either) to make a (final?) run at playoff success with their Arenas / Antawn Jamison core. Arenas still scored (over 22 points a game) that year, but his efficiency had been eviscerated. In 2010, Wizards fans saw a team who no longer could function on a winning level, then they saw the suspensions, then they saw the team trade Jamison to the Cavs for Zydrunas Ilgauskas (only to, then, see the Cavs get Ilgauskus back … and watch Jamison get torched by Kevin Garnett … and – well, you know the story) and they finished in full-blown tear down mode and a 26-56 record.

Sometimes it’s because of on court issues. In 2004-05, the Indiana Pacers rode the “Malice at the Palace” from a legitimate shot at the championship to 128 total games suspended for Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal. That team was still able to ride Reggie Miller’s final league go-around to 44 wins and a playoff spot, but was never again (until now, anyway) the threat to win it all that it was when 04-05 tipped off.

And sometimes teams just aren’t as good as NBA fans and pundits alike thought (or hoped) they would be. This year’s Pistons, for example, have yet to figure out how their collection of disparate pieces can work. Right now (surprise!) they don’t. And, of course, this year’s Cavaliers, for many of the same reasons.

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The Nudge

Friday, January 24th, 2014

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It’s fair to say that this Cavaliers season is not going the way anyone planned or hoped it would. Even the Master of Measured Expectations, Mike Brown, who warned everyone that things might get shakier before they started to get better, couldn’t have planned for the overall lack of mental and physical toughness displayed by his young team time and time again this year.

“You’d have thought we were down 20 points by our body language,” Kyrie Irving said following the team’s latest deflation at the hands of the Chicago Bulls. “We were only down six points.”

It’s somewhat encouraging to hear Irving, at least, admit to his team’s lack of cohesion and belief in each other. It shows that he’s watching the same games as the rest of us. Still, after the fact, it’s very easy to cop to what went wrong out on the court. What would be really encouraging is if Irving and some other Cavs were able to translate an understanding of why they’re failing into correction of said behavior. Until then it’s just more losing.

And losing is like a ticking clock on this team. Losing is the reason that Chris Grant traded for Luol Deng, not because he was “panicked,” as those who disagreed with the trade as potentially only a half-season rental argued, but because losing, we all know, begets a losing culture and makes additional losing easier to swallow for young players who come into the league used to losing, at the most, rarely.

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