Archive for June, 2010

Midnight Windhorst Rumor Dump!!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Well, one exciting thing happened at approximately 12:01 Eastern Standard Time: Brian Windhorst’s Twitter feed blew up with some Cavs rumors. Here they are, with my quick analysis in parentheses:

Sometime today the #Cavs are expected to contact Brendan Haywood. There is a chance of a double sign-and-trade to Dallas with Shaq.

(Great, great move. Cavs desperately need a defense-and-rebounding center. Heck, they desperately needed a quality defense-and-rebounding center last year. Former Wizards frontcourt for the win.)

#Cavs also expected to contact shooting guards Ray Allen, John Salmons and Mike Miller at some point on July 1.

(Love, love love Ray Allen, even after the Finals. Don’t see him leaving Boston now that Doc is coming back. Really a family over there, and CLE is a bit of a mess. Really like Mike Miller, although I do have questions about his defense. I think LeBron would be able to get Miller open looks, and convince him to actually shoot when he gets them. No thank you to Salmons.)

The Cavs obviously will have interest in Chris Bosh & Amare’ Stoudemire, but likely would not get serious unless they re-sign LeBron.

(Catch-22. I feel like Bosh doesn’t really want to come here, and we’ve been through this with Amar’e before. Still, hope is a wonderful thing.)


Your Free Agency Roundup/Open Thread

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

As of right now, here’s what we’re looking at:

-According to several sources, there is a very good chance LeBron will re-up with the Cavs after all, although some are saying the Bulls remain the clubhouse leader.

-It looks like Chris Bosh is the one who screwed a LeBron “superteam” up — Bosh wants a max deal, and isn’t willing to waver on that. That means LeBron would have to take a significant pay cut to join Bosh in Miami, and Chicago won’t have the cap space unless they can move Deng, whom the Raptors do not want in a sign-and-trade.

Part of me is sad that LeBron won’t get to play with Bosh, in Cleveland or elsewhere, but if this is what keeps LeBron in Cleveland, then God bless that crazy Predator.

-It looked like Brian Shaw was going to be the guy, but current reports say that the Cavs are looking to make a deal with Byron Scott. Right as I was starting to get excited about LeBron in the triple-post offense, too.

-The AP is saying that LeBron will meet with the Knicks on Thursday. If he does sign tonight/early Thursday morning, that would be an awkward/hilarious meeting. Maybe LeBron’s next venture will be a Punk’d-esque show.

-That’s what I’m hearing/reading for now. More updates as they come in. Have a fun night, everyone.

Cavaliers interview Brian Shaw: A candidate profile.

Monday, June 28th, 2010

The Cavaliers find themselves in a very interesting position regarding their coaching vacancy these days. After Izzo decided to remain at Michigan State, Byron Scott and Brian Shaw surfaced as the top two candidates. However, both Scott and Shaw have been rumored as top candidates for head coach in Los Angeles should Phil Jackson decide to retire this off-season. Theoretically, should Phil Jackson decide to step down, with both Scott and Shaw at the forefront of each team’s coaching search, the Cavs won’t strike out since they are left with one of the two options.

Additionally, with Byron Scott apparently interested in the Cleveland job regardless of what Phil or LeBron do, one can only assume that Shaw will mark the end of the Cavaliers’ coaching search. After tomorrow, Shaw’s second interview in as many days, it’s likely that the Cavs will offer jobs to either Scott, Shaw, or both, as it is rumored that the team is interested in introducing a new coach by Thursday. Therefore, with Brian Shaw surfacing as a serious candidate for the vacancy, here is another coaching candidate profile courtesy of Cavs: The Blog.

The Goods.

No cute Italian themed trio this time. Instead, here is a simplistic look at what Brian Shaw would bring to the table.

First, Shaw has the potential to successfully play what I believe is the most important role of any NBA coach–ego manager. Two weeks ago I claimed that “Phil Jackson may be the best example of successful ego management in NBA history.” If Phil Jackson is unattainable, then Brian Shaw, who coached under Jackson for the past six years after playing for him for four seasons, would be a terrific second option in that regard.

A blogger known as DexterFishmore recently wrote a post highlighting how Shaw would fill in as the Lakers’ head coach. He claims that the potential new coach in L.A. should have the “ability to manage the complex assortment of personalities in the Laker locker room,” like Jackson does. In this area, he feels Shaw “knows which buttons to push and which to avoid.” While he is referring specifically to the personalities of the Lakers, I believe Shaw has a Jackson-like knack for dealing with a player’s ego, a knack he most likely developed by being around Jackson for a decade.

Brian Shaw's ability to walk the line and "push the right buttons" provides Cleveland with a great foundation for re-signing LeBron James.

LeBron has never been described as “uncoachable,” but there is no denying the ego he brings to the table. Additionally, in the past there were parts of crucial games where you could tell that LeBron wasn’t buying whatever Mike Brown was selling and seemingly drowned him out altogether. There’s no way to tell for sure short of hiring him, but I would bet that this wouldn’t happen with Shaw.

In fact, there have been reports that suggest LeBron is interested in playing for a coach that used to play in the league, with the belief that he would respect someone more if they have been in his shoes. This train of thought also helps to explain the void that sometimes arose between him and Brown in games. Additionally, a rumor back in May went as far as to suggest that Shaw was being pitched around the league because LeBron was “intrigued by the triangle offense.”

Bringing in Brian Shaw as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers is a big move in and of itself due to the fact he’ll command respect. Back in 2007 Shaquille O’Neal, who may or may not be back with the team next season, said he respected Shaw more than any other teammate in his career (sorry for the wikipedia link, but the original Miami Herald link is no longer active). More recently, Shaq has shown his support for Shaw as a coaching candidate in Cleveland with some of his tweets.

Ultimately, regardless of whether or not Shaq is in town next season, there is little doubt that Brian Shaw would command respect should he be the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. That and his training in ego management under Phil Jackson makes him an attractive coaching candidate.

The Unknown.

As I mentioned earlier, LeBron believes that the triangle offense is one of the things that Brian Shaw can bring to the table. After studying the offense for the past six years under Jackson and experiencing it as a player in four seasons before that, Shaw reportedly has a great understanding of the offensive system.

However, there is no guarantee that the triangle offense would work in Cleveland. Furthermore, many experts believe that the triangle offense would take at least two seasons before it was fully implemented with a new team. Unfortunately, for the Cavaliers and LeBron James, this could be too long of a wait to experience offensive success.

Additionally, while Shaw has the reputation of a respected ego manager, he’s not the most savvy offensive coach. Dexter from Silver Screen and Roll explains that “he isn’t known as an X’s and O’s magician like John Kuester or Tom Thibodeau,” although that doesn’t make him any less appealing in Dexter’s mind.

On the other end of the ball, there are questions about how Shaw would restore the once powerful Cavaliers’ defense. I mentioned before that after allowing only 88.9 points per game in Mike Brown’s first three postseasons (2006-08), the team outgrew its elite defensive reputation, allowing 93.4 points per game in the last two playoffs. Could Brian Shaw come in and implement a strong defensive system built on player accountability?

In the six seasons that Shaw studied under Phil Jackson, the Lakers’ defense never ranked better than 9th in opponent points per game, which was just this past season. Granted, this cannot be attributed solely to Shaw, as he was only an assistant, but the fact that Los Angeles ranked behind Cleveland’s defense all six years doesn’t provide much hope that he could restore what was once a defense to be reckoned with.

In the end, however, Brian Shaw’s reputation and respected stature may be exactly what this Cavaliers team needs to whip them back into superior defensive shape.

The Potential Downfalls.

A big concern with Brian Shaw is the fact that he has never been a head coach on any level. It’s very easy for a coach to have a strong reputation for commanding respect and preaching accountability as an assistant, but that could mean next to nothing when he’s the main guy in charge. After all, Mike Brown was a highly touted assistant coach and, while he enjoyed success with the Cavaliers, he was never able to push his team to the next level or completely control the situation, often deferring to assistants in crucial breaks of the game. While rookie head coaches often go to much worse situations than the Cleveland Cavaliers (assuming LeBron James is re-signed), having to wait while a guy like Shaw learns the ropes as a head coach does present a substantial risk.

Taking the time to teach the Cavaliers the triangle offense could be a waste of a season or two, even if it is what LeBron James wants out of his next coach.

Also, not to beat a dead horse, but the implementation of the triangle offense may not be what’s best for the Cavaliers, even if it is what intrigues LeBron James. Aside from taking significant time to learn the system and terminology of the offense, it’s not known as a superior system that works everywhere. Blogger Michael Young explains that “the triangle should not be a factor regarding whether Brian Shaw should get the job. It’s not like it is the best offensive system in league and there is reason why only Phil Jackson’s teams have been successful with it.”

Additionally, Dexter adds that “the Lakers have won back-to-back titles running the Triangle offense and the strong-side trap on defense, so you want someone who knows that playbook and will continue to run it,” when considering Shaw as a Phil Jackson replacement. This makes perfect sense for the Lakers, but having the Cavaliers switch to the triangle offense could be just as confusing of a concept as weaning Los Angeles off of it. Ultimately, there is no doubt that Cleveland’s offense needs to change from the stagnant LeBron James-based isolation that it has reverted to over the years, but I’m not so sure that Shaw’s version of the triangle offense is the direction they should take.

In the end, Brian Shaw seems like a very solid candidate for the Cavaliers’ head coaching job. Additionally, the fact that the team has set what appears to be a Thursday deadline for the coaching position and has pitted Shaw against Scott, Cleveland looks to be in a position to force a decision out of him by the end of June. It’s looking more and more like whoever doesn’t wait for the Los Angeles job gets the Cavaliers’ position thrown at them.

Whether it’s Scott or Shaw, both look like good candidates. Well, at least good enough to be seriously considered as the next head coach of the back-to-back NBA champions.

Make sure to join the discussion at Numbers Don’t and Real Cavs Fans!

Is the LeBron situation really a tale of two brothers?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

***WE INTERRUPT THIS POST***

Well, about 10 minutes before I hit “publish,” Stephen A. Smith reported that he believes LeBron James is going to Miami to team up with Bosh, Wade, and Pat Riley. Not confirmed, obviously not official, but it’s foolish to assume this won’t dominate the discussion in the comments anyways.

When the Jordan/Pippen Bulls were winning championships, now-infamous Bulls GM Jerry Krause’s favorite refrain pissed off just about everybody. Krause didn’t like to give Jordan, Pippen, or Phil Jackson the lion’s share of the credit for Chicago’s six championships. Instead, Krause loved to say that organizations (meaning Krause), not players or coaches, were the ones who really won championships.

Of course, after Jordan, Pippen, and Jackson all left the Bulls, Krause promptly rendered the Bulls irrelevant with a series of ill-advised draft picks and trades, making his claims look even more foolish than they did at the time. Krause fancied himself a basketball savant whose hoops acumen was the driving force behind the Bulls’ dynasty. The truth was that Krause simply caught lightning in a bottle, and subsequently convinced himself he could control where it would strike next.

It wasn’t Krause and his organization winning those championships; Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler made that plenty clear. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Phil Jackson were the ones winning the championships. Krause was just the guy lucky enough to have them on his team.

There’s a reason I’m bringing all of this up. More than a decade after the last Bulls dynasty and seven years after Krause’s resignation as general manager of the Bulls, Chicago may be poised to start another dynasty. And this time, the organization actually will deserve most of the credit.

Regardless of how the rest of this summer plays out, there’s no doubt that the Bulls have done absolutely everything right up to this point. Thanks to patience, a series of savvy moves and picks, and more than a little bit of luck, the Bulls are in position to add LeBron James and Chris Bosh to an already-solid young core. Instead of tanking for draft picks/cap space or mortgaging their future, Chicago consistently put a quality team on the floor while leaving room for the team to improve.

Every other franchise’s team-building strategy made the summer of 2010 into either the starting point or the day of judgement. Because Bulls GM John Paxson realized that the summer of 2010 can be the middle phase of an actual long-term strategy instead of an all-or-nothing roster apocalypse, he’s looking like the smartest guy in the room right now.

Meanwhile, the Cavalier franchise is not in the best shape. Any or all of Danny Ferry’s moves can be Monday Morning Quarterbacked to death, of course. But the bottom line is that for the past few seasons, Ferry and Co. did a great job of taking the assets they had and turning them into players with a better chance of helping LeBron win. For example, were Shaq and Mo Williams perfect acquisitions? Absolutely not. But how much better could the  Cavs have done, considering they traded Damon Jones, Ben Wallace, and Sasha Pavlovic for Shaq and Mo?

Ferry’s team-building strategy has always been to surround LeBron with quality role players and veterans nearing the tail end of their productive years. That strategy can be criticized, but it was really the only legitimate option Ferry ever had. You can say Ferry should have been more patient in trying to find LeBron his Pippen or Gasol, but the truth is that any chance the Cavs ever had at building a dynasty-like team was gone before Ferry took over in the first place.

A good rebuilding process generally takes 2-3 years. Those are the years where you get lucky enough in the draft to snag a superstar and pick two or three other young players to grow with him, forming the “core” of the franchise. “Core” players are generally lottery picks, although there have been some later-draft miracles as well. (I’m thinking of San Antonio here.) Think about how Oklahoma City has built its team, Rose and Noah on the Bulls, Nelson and Howard on the Magic.

(By the way, a book could be written on this; all of the above is an admittedly rough paraphrase.  Quickly: The Kobe/Shaq Lakers were the first draft+free-agency dynasty, the Celtics turned their lottery picks into Ray Allen and KG, Shaq——>Caron Butler—>Brown’s expiring contract—>The Immaculate Salary Dump—>New Laker Dynasty)

When a rebuild is successful, the team is now in contender mode. When a team has a real chance to make a deep playoff run, they cannot afford to think in the long-term; NBA championship windows are too small. Moves can be made, even significant ones, but the chances of adding a “core” piece are extremely slim when a team doesn’t have lottery picks any more. Considering that winning a championship with only one “core” player is nearly impossible, it’s important not to screw up the chance to get some “core” guys during the rebuilding years.

Well, the Cavs screwed up their chances of building a young core around LeBron. They screwed them up very, very badly. Here’s a quick list of all the moves that destroyed the Cavs’ chances to build a bona fide young core around LeBron (note: all of these will be getting their own post)

– Trading Andre Miller for Darius Miles*

– Trading Ricky Davis at the absolute nadir of his value

– Taking Luke Jackson with the #10 pick in the 2004 draft

– Trading the #14 pick in the 2005 draft for Jiri Welsch

– The Carlos Boozer Debacle**

*May be exempt from criticism, as it helped the Cavs win the lottery

** I realize that much of said debacle was the fault of then-owner Gordon Gund.

*** Larry Hughes will get his own post as well. I have not forgotten his evil.

The Cavs made one lottery pick after drafting LeBron, and he never averaged three points per game with the team. Davis and Miles, who were supposed to be LeBron’s running mates, held LeBron back more than they helped him. Boozer left with the Cavs getting nothing in return. Those mistakes were what kept LeBron from ever having a real running mate, and may be the mistakes that drive LeBron to Chicago.

Here’s the craziest part: All of the Above Moves Were Made by John Paxson’s Brother. Who now works as a consultant for the Bulls. I’m not saying this as a conspiracy guy, although it is kind of a fun notion. (Seriously, though, I hate conspiracies.) I’m saying it as a “this is a seriously strange world we live in” guy.

There’s been plenty of talk about why LeBron will or won’t decide to stay in Cleveland. If he does leave, this might be the biggest reason: at critical junctures in the histories of their respective franchises, one Paxson brother made all the right moves while the other one made all the wrong moves.

State of The LeBron: Times are Grim

Friday, June 25th, 2010

So far this offseason, two LeBron-related realities have become clear. The first is that LeBron does not feel such a strong sense of loyalty towards Cleveland and the current Cavalier team that he has secretly planned on returning to the Cavs no matter what. If that was how he felt, one assumes he would have talked to Tom Izzo.

LeBron refusing to assure Izzo he would return to the Cavs didn’t/doesn’t guarantee that he’s leaving, but it does strongly suggest that Cleveland would need to give him a better supporting cast than any other team, or at least one nearly as good. There is now a very high likelihood that the Chicago Bulls will be able to offer LeBron a far better supporting cast than the Cleveland Cavaliers will be able to offer him. If they can’t the Miami Heat will likely be able to offer James the chance to pair with Wade and at least one other big free agent. In my heart, I can’t imagine LeBron playing for another team. But my head is telling me LeBron has likely played his last game as a Cavalier.

Assuming they can grab James and Bosh, Chicago makes perfect basketball sense for LeBron, what with Derrick Rose creating plays for LeBron to finish and Bosh and Noah finishing them. I also think people underestimate just how good of a defense Thibodeau could build around LeBron and Noah.

I thought about going in-depth on the above, but felt squicky about it. Instead, here’s how LeBron-to-Chicago could potentially get botched. (This is assuming Chicago fails to move Deng for a useful package.)

As has been noted, LeBron and Rose wouldn’t be the best pair of superstars on their own together. Bosh has let it be known he’s waiting on LeBron, and believes himself to be a centerpiece. The prospect of being a possible second/third fiddle on the Bulls might not appeal to him.

Also, remember that the Bulls don’t have quite the money to give both James and Bosh max contracts if they don’t make another move. LeBron will want the max, and so will the player’s association and the other owners. Bosh doesn’t have nearly the endorsement money that LeBron does, and not getting the max might hurt his pride. Amar’e and Boozer may be backup plans for Chicago, but Amar’e is likely going to Miami and Boozer isn’t Bosh.

Unless LeBron has heard seriously bad things about Thibodeau, is really chapped about Noah’s Cleveland comments, or doesn’t want to play in the same city Michael Jordan played in (and honestly, if it’s the latter, I regret ever having rooted for LeBron), I don’t see many other reasons why Chicago wouldn’t make sense for LeBron. (Pat Riley’s “Combine Like Voltron” pitch also has a puncher’s chance of working.)

Basically, all I really want to say in the weeks before this does or doesn’t actually happen is that it’s nobody’s fault. The front office had two good chances to win a championship, and it went for them. In this league, there’s no excuse for not going all-out when the opportunity to win a title is there.

All the cap space and patience in the world wouldn’t have gotten them a Bosh/Rose/Noah combination, because they didn’t have the draft picks. The options available to the front office were to go for the good chance the Cavs could win a championship with a team thrown together around LeBron or go for the slim chance of building an NBA 2k team around LeBron. The choice they made likely won’t pan out, but that doesn’t mean it was the wrong one.

LeBron’s always made his priorities clear: He wants to be on the team that gives him the best chance of winning championships in the near future. The Cavs made those moves, or at least what they thought those moves were. Now they have few assets or ways to improve, and there are teams that can potentially give LeBron a better chance to win a championships ever did or could.

Everyone in this organization did their best. They were contenders. Things didn’t go their way. That happens sometimes. It doesn’t mean there were any bad guys involved in the equation. I’ll always wonder what would have happened had the ball bounced a different way in games 1 and 4 of the 2009 ECF, or if anyone was prepared for the Celtics in these playoffs. This was a heck of a team. They were a contender, and that’s all you can ask a team to be. All of that is over now;  the next couple of weeks will tell just how over it is.

The Bulls may have just ended the LeBron Era

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

This is not good at all. According to Bucher, the Bulls may have just pulled off a deal with the Wizards that would send Hinrich to Washington and give the Bulls the cap space to (almost) sign two max free agents. That means they could trot out Rose/Bosh/LeBron/Noah/Deng (assuming the latter isn’t traded), with Thibodeau coaching.

It hasn’t sunk in yet, but if that team can be made, I can’t really see how that doesn’t happen. A lot could happen between now and July 8th, but the pressure is squarely on Cleveland now. This isn’t just a “market” or “legacy” thing now for LeBron. It’s a chance to go to a major market and head up one of the most talented teams ever assembled. It’s time for the Cavs front office to get cracking. I don’t know what they can do, I don’t know what assets they have to offer, but they’ve gotta do something if this deal is legit. Have fun watching the draft.

Some NBA Draft thoughts

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

-So the Cavs don’t have an NBA Draft pick. On the bright side, this means they won’t be able to draft Christian Eyenga again. I nearly swallowed my own tongue when that happened. In Eyenga’s defense, he did average nearly 4 points per game in Europe last season.

-I’m still burned that the Cavs didn’t trade and get Ty Lawson. I lusted after him for a solid two years, and on draft day the pick was rumored to be available. And Kahn traded him to a contender on draft day. I am never right about anything, and when I am it just makes me more miserable.

-Every year there’s talk about Gilbert “buying draft picks,” and it never seems to happen. Until there’s concrete news that the Cavs are getting a pick, I will assume they do not have one. I advise the rest of you to do the same.

-I can’t shake the feeling that if the Cavs had a second-round pick, they would have used it on Maverick Carter.

-IF LEBRON REALLY HAD KILLER INSTINCTZ, HE WOULD BUY A MID-20s PICK WITH HIS NIKE MONEY, DRAFT JORDAN CRAWFORD, AND DUNK ON HIM IN PRACTICE EVERY DAY UNTIL CRAWFORD CRIED AND SAW DEAD CLOWNS WHENEVER HE CLOSED HIS EYES. THEN LEBRON SHOULD HAVE MADE CRAWFORD WATCH THE TAPES BEFORE DESTROYING THEM. BY EATING THEM. #sarcasm

- Seriously, though, it would be kind of hilarious if ESPN just put “TAPE NOT FOUND” instead of Crawford’s highlights when he gets drafted.

-Draft stuff: Only Turner and Wall are locks, and both of them will need the right system to excel in. (Especially Turner.) Cousins will put up solid numbers his first few years, but I don’t know if he does enough without the ball in his hands or defensively to be the starting four on a legit playoff team. Not a Faroq-Aminu guy at all.

-If Sam Presti hadn’t picked Harden over Curry and traded French Rondo for B.J. Mullens, I would fully bow to him as the basketball Billy Beane. But he did both of those things, and now OKC doesn’t have an epic backcourt. The Beaubois/Mullens thing really stings. Everyone knew that was a terrible trade except for one of the best GMs in the league.

-Name of The Draft: Tiny Gallon.

-Probably the most important thing: If the Nets do go with Wes Johnson, that means they’ve officially given up on LeBron, right? I know I’ve said this before, but the CP3 rumor thing got me thinking about it again. For a while there, I really thought they’d snag Wall and become the front-runners.

That’s about all I have for tonight. Possible comment section discussion topic: how do you plan on making the draft interesting for yourself?

On the Cavs and the crippling inevitability of failure

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

The 2nd half of Season 3 of The Wire was recently available On Demand; hence, I ended up finishing season 3 of The Wire (for the second or third time) tonight.

(WARNING: MAJOR THE WIRE SPOILERS AHEAD. IF YOU DO NOT WATCH THE WIRE, I AM JEALOUS OF YOU. YOU WILL SOON GET TO WATCH THE WIRE FOR THE FIRST TIME. AND YES, IT IS THAT GOOD. I WOULD TELL YOU IF IT WASN’T. I’M A VERY CYNICAL PERSON. WATCH IT. WATCH IT NOW.)

Season three of The Wire is the kind of program that inspires hope even if you know things will ultimately end badly. Stringer Bell founds the Baltimore drug co-op and comes achingly close to making drug dealing a murder-free business. Bunny Colvin creates Hamsterdam, the open-air drug market that cleans up drug corners and, again, comes achingly close to making drug dealing a murder-free business. McNulty comes achingly close to actually catching Stringer Bell on the wire. Heck, the B+B Crew come achingly close to gunning down Marlowe. Season 3 of The Wire pulls off what few other “topical” pieces of entertainment ever have; not only does it make the case that a major institution is broken, but it actually lays out realistic ways to make that institution less broken. (Heck, Traffic is one of my favorite movies, and all that movie does is do the former well. And most of the Zeta-Jones scenes should have been cut. Moving on.)

But even as we see these potential solutions materialize, we know, deep down, that these solutions will not work. (For the first 3.5 seasons of The Wire, we knew that the solutions wouldn’t work because we knew that we were being given a window into how bureaucracy prevents positive change from happening. In the last 1.5 seasons of The Wire, we knew that the solutions wouldn’t work because we knew we were watching a show about how bureaucracy prevents positive change from happening.)

At its best, The Wire reminds us that we are dealing with an institution that is fundamentally broken. There are no good guys or bad guys; there is simply a city without the ability to sustain itself, and a system that promotes self-interest over trying to help a city sustain itself.

This feeling of inevitable failure brings me to the institution of the LeBron-era Cleveland Cavaliers. To clarify, I am not trying to tap into the “God hates Cleveland Sports” thing here. While that is certainly something I have felt and a reason I shout “okay, nobody do anything stupid” at the TV when the Cavs are up eight with six seconds to play, it’s not what I’m getting at right now.

The post-LeBron Cavs are, fundamentally, a broken institution. They blew their chance to add an impact player in the lottery before LeBron led them to the playoffs, they never managed their cap well enough to grab a major free agent, and they never had the assets to trade for a second All-Star. They have done what they can to put the best talent they can around LeBron, and for the most part they’ve done a wonderful job. But it’s still been LeBron and the best The Island of Misfit Toys has to offer — tell me adding Shaq to a drive-and-kick team built around defense wasn’t as outlandish a concept as Hamsterdam.

Could this all have been different? Of course. The Cavs could’ve taken somebody other than Luke Jackson with their lone post-LeBron lottery pick. They could’ve not risked giving up a lottery pick for JIRI FREAKING WELSCH. JIRI FREAKING WELSCH. They could’ve resisted giving Larry Hughes all that money. They could’ve pulled the trigger on the Shaq deal during the year they actually faced Orlando in the playoffs. Hell, maybe Phoenix could’ve kept Rajon Rondo’s draft rights instead of selling them to free up the money necessary to sign Marcus Banks. Maybe Rashard Lewis misses one of those two threes he made. Whatever it was that happened, LeBron’s Cavaliers were a fundamentally broken team who came achingly close to making it work a couple of times.

My 2nd Wire/Cavs point is this: despite the fact that the Wire is a terrifyingly depressing show on a macro level, it manages to be downright inspiring on a micro level. Every season ends with a montage of the majority of the major characters featured, and a lot of them are shown finding their own individual happy endings.

With your permission, I’m going to play this game for a second: imagine that the 09-10 Cavs weren’t a giant, fundamentally broken system whose sole goal was to win a championship and whose sole relevant agent was LeBron James. Judge them like any other team, not one who had crippling pressure put upon them all season because of one player and like a team that whose success wasn’t defined by the legacy of that one player.

If you did that, you might see things like:

– Delonte West fighting through his depression and playing nearly a full season of NBA basketball, and keeping his status as the one player on the team who never quit under any circumstances

– Anderson Varejao finally getting recognized for what his defense, rebounding, and energy has always brought to this team

– Anthony Parker going from playing in Israel to being the starting shooting guard on a 61-win NBA team

– J.J. Hickson emerging as a solid starter, intriguing athlete, and potential future star

– Antawn Jamison finally getting the chance to prove he belongs with the big boys

– Zydrunas Ilgauskas proving that NBA basketball isn’t just about the money

– Daniel Gibson never letting the fact that the Cavs didn’t ask enough of him keep him from doing what the team did ask him to do

– Leon Powe getting an ovation from a Celtics crowd that desperately wanted the Cavaliers to go down

– Jamario Moon going from Globetrotter to the man who played a huge part in helping the Cavs take a playoff game against the Bulls

– Jawad Williams proving he belongs in the NBA

There were those stories, and so many more. Those players’ job wasn’t to make sure LeBron James got his glory. It was to do the best they could to help the Cavs win, and they all did that. More than that, they all deserve the adoration that’s due to them. These are men who played great basketball and took this team pretty darn far, all things considered. They were more than LeBron’s elves. And that means something. I’m not sure what, but it does mean something. I suppose that’s all I can really say on this matter for the time being.

Links To The Present: June 22, 2010

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Ironically, LeBron James has become a political talking point despite the fact that he has kept a relatively non-controversial political profile.   Although I don’t condone politicians meddling in NBA FA affairs, I hope John Kasich realizes that many more jobs will be lost if LBJ doesn’t stay in Ohio.  The govt needs to make business attractive in Ohio, and LeBron James is night-life business in Downtown Cleveland.

“James is close friends with Paul, and the Cavs star even flew to Winston-Salem, N.C., shortly after Cleveland’s Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Boston Celtics to attend a birthday party for Paul’s son. James was joined by his business manager, Maverick Carter, who has been trying to pilfer Paul from Octagon, which represents Paul. James’ marketing company, LRMR, has wanted Paul to invest in the business and become some kind of partner, sources said.” [Adrian Wojnarowski on Pilfering Paul]

“I happen to think that James will eventually sign with the Cavs, perhaps a 3-year deal. If he does, it will make my day. He does make this town more fun, and he has generally handled himself very well given his incredible celebrity and coming into $100 million at the age of 18.But if he leaves, it really shouldn’t be something that ruins anyone’s life. The rest of the country may think we’re miserable, but we’re smarter and tougher than that.” [Terry Pluto's Words of Wisdom]

“Being a free agent after two years of shrinking salary caps isn’t most desirable situation for a star. Yet signing a long-term contract this summer is imperative because of an uncertain future linked to next year’s expiration of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.” [Brian Windhorst on the CBA]

From Brian Windhorst’s Twitter, seems Delonte a likely trade candidate over Mo Williams.

“In the end, that’s Wesley’s message. Take care of your own business, on and off the court. Get your degree. Run your affairs. Show up to practice. Make a lot of money. Players want those things, and that’s why they trust him. And that trust is why this summer the world is catching on to the idea that he may be the most important man in sports.” [Henry Abbott on World Wide Wes]

“Expect the Heat to sell LeBron on the organization itself. Micky Arison is one of the most respected owners in the league and has never been afraid to spend or make a big move.” [Chad Ford on the Miami Heat minus the last 3 years]

Nice article on Undrafted Players, highlighting J Moon

Neil Paine Breaks down the Kobe v LeBron v Boston using a Monte Carlo simulation.

Chris Paul and LeBron together? (Probably Not.)

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Well, the rumors are out there. CP3 and LeBron together. It’s a possibility, and worth dreaming about, but certainly not worth holding our collective breaths for.

Wojnarowski’s original article is here: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-paulhornets062110

My ProBasketballTalk thoughts on the rumor and William Wesley playing rain-maker are here: http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/06/wojnarowski-worldwide-wes-trying-to-sell-lebron-cp3-as-package-deal.php

Enjoy.