UPDATE (7:15 EST)”Dan Gilbert already seemed to pull the sword from the stone once when he got Ohio to approve casinos after numerous failed attempts. He just may be on the verge of doing it again.” [Brian Windhorst]
“Clearly upset with stories in the national media speculating on James’ lording over the Cavs’ decisions, Gilbert sought to send out a message that he and Grant are the ones in charge.” [Brian Windhorst]
“The promotion of Grant was overwhelmed by all the Izzo rumors, and that seemed to have them off message. They could have done a better job of explaining what Grant will do in his new position.” [Terry Pluto]
“Is he the right coach for the Cavs? An NBA executive told me, “If you have to pick between Mo Cheeks, Monty Williams, Jeff Van Gundy, Byron Scott, some inexperienced NBA assistants — or Izzo — you may go with Tom. But he has to be fully committed. Also, he has to have LeBron James, or why do it?”” [Terry Pluto on Tom Izzo]
“”It’s hard to put a percentage on which way coach will go,” Peterson said. “I mean, MSU has a chance at something special next year. They could win the national championship. So with that in mind, it would take something really special for him to leave. I don’t see coach leaving Michigan State unless LeBron stays.”” [Mo Pete from Branson Wright's Article]
Meanwhile, Joel Ferguson, the chairman of the Michigan State Board of Trustees, said Izzo already turned down an offer from the Chicago Bulls this offseason, The Detroit News reported. “Chicago made an offer to him,” Ferguson said, according to the report. “Tom didn’t run and say ‘[Chicago] made an offer, [so MSU] has to up the ante.’ ” [ESPN]
“The Post reported that Geffen has been chasing the Clippers “for quite some time” and told Sterling at a dinner last Friday that “he can deliver LeBron as long as he’s calling the shots.”” [ESPN Los Angeles]
“”He’s my friend,” Calipari said of James. “I’ve gotten to know him over the years. He’s one of the neatest guys because he’s loyal to his friends and if anybody knows me, being Italian, it’s about family and friends and being loyal to each other. He’s as loyal as I’ve ever seen. But he holds people accountable around him.” [John Calipari on LBJ from Andy Katz' Article]
-According to Windhorst, the Globetrotters have made LeBron and D-Wade offers to play with the team. So there’s that. Fun fact: Wilt Chamberlain, whose career path is looking way too similar to LeBron’s, actually did start his pro career with the Globetrotters. Times have changed.
-Finals stuff: Kobe double standard something something, redux. Yes, I got a little frustrated when talk about the differences in LeBron and Kobe’s play centered around “Kobe is, deep down, a superior version of basketball human than LeBron is” and not “Let’s look at the differences between how the Jazz and Celtics play defense.” Forget Cavs/Lakers or LeBron/Kobe. It’s talking about basketball vs. cheap armchair psychology. My allegiance to the former is much, much more powerful than my allegiance to any team or player, as passionate as I can get about the latter.
-But you know what? The Lakers won. Good for them. At halftime of game six, when LeBron was quiet again and Mo had carried the team to a lead, I thought to myself “You know how I would feel if LeBron got completely bailed out in this game? Awesome.” The goal is to win the game, and the Lakers did that tonight.
-Derek Fisher’s stats against the Celtics in the finals are slightly worse than Mo’s were in the conference semis. But I did have to check.
-Ray Allen: maybe available for the MLE again! And between Allen going 0-13 and Kobe going 5-22 from outside the paint, can we maybe put the “any player who struggles from outside against a really good defense has a horrible jumper and is failing because he did that one commercial instead of working on it” stuff to rest?
-I know it’s baseball, but good lord, Strasburg. That was something else entirely. Wow. A million times wow. I will go here: I haven’t had those type of debut tingles since LeBron’s first game. There was the hype, then there was the “oh, this guy’s going to be really good sooner than we thought” moment (summer league/the minors), then there was the “Holy living, breathing, Jesus” moment when they made their big-league debuts.
Seriously, two strikeouts PER INNING? And his only runs were given up on a cheap fly-ball homer thanks to the batter guessing changeup on a 1-0 count? Freaky, freaky stuff. Video-game stuff.
Here’s my best LeBron/Strasburg comparison:
-LeBron’s size and speed combination are Strasburg’s fastball/curveball combination
-LeBron’s court vision is Strasburg’s ability to change speeds and mix up his three pitches, including a filthy change
-LeBron’s “weakness,” his outside shooting, is the same as Strasburg’s “weakness”: he doesn’t really have pinpoint control like a Mark Prior did. I know he didn’t walk anyone, and he throws a lot of strikes, but a lot of that is because Strasburg’s stuff is so nasty he can just fire it to the middle of the zone when he falls behind, and won’t give up hits if he misses his spot when he’s ahead. He was able to get away with it against Pittsburgh (how about that time he blew three fastballs by the guy after falling behind 3-0?), but he’ll have to work ahead more and be a little bit more fine to dominate better teams.
Of course, Strasburg’s “lack of control” has the same caveat to it as LeBron’s “lack of a jumper does”: they both have good control/a good jumper, but Strasburg shouldn’t be nibbling and LeBron shouldn’t be settling for jumpers.
And to all of our D.C. area readers, I am aware that the vast majority of you do not like LeBron. I still plan on enjoying watching Strasburg pitch. Sue me.
All I’ll say before I end this unwelcome tangent is that I would be remiss not to mention that Ubaldo Jimenez is getting a very raw deal this year. He has a sub-1 ERA with the Rockies, his fastball is just as impressive as Strasburg’s, and he has that same video-game array of secondary pitches, including a wicked two-plane slurve and fading split/change.
Sorry about all of that. Strasburg just reminded me of when the entire basketball world truly and genuinely liked LeBron. That was a magical time. Actually, most people said he was overhyped and that Carmelo was better. There has never been peace. Someday, the Pax LeBrona (hat tip to Joey of Straight Bangin‘) will come.
-Benefits of insomnia: getting to be the first person (I hope) to link to Kevin Arnovitz’s video breakdowns. Here’s on on Ray Allen’s horrific night.
-Alright, that’s all for tonight. After the finals, I promise to get back to writing real posts instead of things that pop into my head at 3:40 in the AM. Until then, please read me over on NBC. I work very hard over there.
-So, Tom Izzo. This is the part where I again have to admit that I don’t really watch college basketball. My friends who do are almost unanimously huge fans, though. And lord knows the Cavs could have used one of his infamous rebounding drills during the playoffs this year. (Yes, I just learned about those drills from Wikipedia.)
I will say that I’m a little disturbed that the only common denominator among the potential candidates seems to be name recognition. I realize that a big-name coach gives the Cavs the best chance of keeping LeBron, and that keeping LeBron is priority 1-2,684 this off-season, but I’d really like to see that the Cavs are looking for a coach who will fulfill their basketball-related needs first and foremost.
-On another note, the head coaching candidate who has actually been coaching NBA players, and well, in the recent future just signed with the Bulls. Did anyone see the defensive schemes the Celtics broke out tonight to keep Kobe contained? 11 of his last 12 games he’s scored 30 or more, and all of a sudden he can’t cough without three Celtic defenders getting germs on them. Thibodeau’s going to build one heck of a defense around Noah.
-NBA Finals notes: I seriously, seriously doubt that Ray Allen is going to be available for the mid-level exception this off-season. My Allen-to-the-Cavs pipe dream is holding on by the thinnest possible thread.
-Kobe’s the most complete offensive player in the league, but Ray Allen is in the yearbook picture. Sometimes games like this actually underrate him, because people think he’s just a shooter. He’s the best three-point shooter of all time, but he’s also so much more. When he comes off that screen, he can make the pocket pass so well, he can get to the rim, he can pull up, and he’s confident in his shot from anywhere on the floor, something a lot of great spot-up shooters aren’t. I love watching Ray Allen when he’s on. And not playing the Cavs.
-Kobe subpar game against the Celtics double standard something something. I’ve stopped caring. Plus, he’s probably going to go off and win at least one of those games in Boston by himself.
-Rasheed Wallace was a +15 in 18 minutes tonight. I’m too confused and fascinated to remember that I really don’t like Rasheed Wallace. At some point, the science takes precedence over emotion. We must learn how Rasheed Wallace can conserve energy like he did this regular season without atrophying his game. It could be the key to a manned Mars voyage.
“Gilbert had a clear succession plan in place and quickly named assistant general manager Chris Grant as Ferry’s replacement. Grant and Gilbert will oversee the hiring of Brown’s replacement, a process Ferry didn’t think could start until his own status was resolved.” [Brian Windhorst on Danny Ferry's Resignation]
“When Ferry took the job he pushed to have full personnel control in his contract, even walking away from the table at one point during negotiations. With another contract on the horizon and the uncertainty over LeBron James’ future with the team weighing on the franchise, it isn’t clear whether Gilbert was ready to cede as much control this time around.” [Brian Windhorst videocast on Ferry's Resignation]
“Ferry didn’t say this. He was gracious and thankful to Gilbert for the chance to be a general manager. But something went wrong. Ferry has made millions in his career as a player and executive, and he has five children. He really doesn’t need to compromise to keep a job. He is extremely confident in Chris Grant, his replacement.” [Terry Pluto on Ferry]
“Over the past 10 days it has been Grant doing the homework on some of the Cavs’ candidates to replace fired coach Mike Brown. Not because the change was anticipated but also because that is the sort of work Grant has been doing for the Cavs for several years now.” [Brian Windhorst on Cavs New GM Chris Grant]
“Also, very significantly, the Gilbert-owned gambling casino downtown could open as soon as next year, by some forecasts. The owner needs 20,562 fans pouring out of The Q on a regular basis and heading for his wagering emporium, either looking to celebrate or to forget their troubles.” [Bill Livingston on The Stakes]
“The righteous indignation is at a fever pitch. Only this is a lot like Shoe-Gate. It’s a mirage that’s completely beyond LeBron’s control. Both the “Jimmy Kimmel” bit and the “Nightline” interview were reruns that were taped and aired months ago. The “Nightline” interview took place on April 5, the day after Easter, when the Cavaliers looked to be buzzing toward the NBA Finals. The introductions to the spots were changed and infused with free-agent talk to make them seem up-to-date, but to use them as evidence that LeBron’s trying to outshine the Finals is to misplace the blame.” [Chris Broussard on The Circus]
“Nike has a lot at stake in this free agent conversation. But does that mean they’re participating in it? A spokesperson for the company would neither confirm, deny, nor comment.” [Henry Abbott on Nike's Stake in FA2010]
“Who says Cleveland can’t win a championship? The long-suffering sports city — which can’t seem to win a trophy on a court or a field — captured one in a hotel ballroom Friday night when 14-year-old Anamika Veeramani took first prize at the 83rd Scripps National Spelling Bee. “Go Cavs!” Anamika said, shortly after accepting the winner’s trophy, which also comes with more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.” [AP on Anamika Veeramani]
Here’s the report from Windhorst. My gut reaction is that Ferry did the best he could with the resources he had (the man turned Damon Jones into Mo Williams), but ultimately the Cavs didn’t reach their goal. I think Ferry did a great job and could easily be the GM of a championship team, but sometimes there is no try in this business. More on this later.
Some events require a measured response. Other need a free-flowing essay. Others need a poem of some kind or something. Clearly, the events of the past couple of days require that I interview myself.
Good Evening, Mr. Krolik.
Good evening, you.
So, LeBron will be appearing on “Larry King Live” on Friday night.
That’s what they tell me.
In person, around the blogosphere, or on Twitter, have you seen anyone whose opinion on said appearance is along the lines of “Oh boy, I’m so glad LeBron is going to be on Larry King?”
Is everyone of the opinion that this is an annoying diversion from the NBA Finals and further evidence of LeBron’s egomania?
Why do you think people have those opinions?
Well, because it is an annoying diversion from the finals and further evidence of LeBron’s egomania.
Well, it’s no great secret that LeBron has enjoyed milking this free agency situation for all it’s worth. This is nothing new for people that have been following the Cavs for a few years. He loves this stuff.
And why do you think that is?
Well, remember that many, many people who are not LeBron James have believed that LeBron James is the best player in the world for a number of years now. Yes, John, I realize that we are about a week away from Kobe claiming the unofficial title of the undisputed best player in the league. Still, the fact is that LeBron was playing on a completely different level than the rest of the league was for the past 162 regular season games, had three amazing individual series performances in 2009…
Wait, three great individual series performances? They lost in the third round against the Magic.
Look at what LeBron did in that series, Krolik. His numbers were off the charts, he made a game-winning buzzer-beating three, and he scored or assisted on something like 25 of the Cavs’ final points in their other victory in the series.
I appreciate you giving me permission, buddy. So anyways, LeBron’s looked like the best player in the league for the last two years, with the exception of that Celtics series. (I acknowledge that the majority of the populace believes that Celtics series proves that he is not the best player in the planet. Let me continue.) I think that LeBron firmly believes he is the best player in the world, and one of the best ever. I’d be disturbed if he didn’t think that.
Everyone else is going to count championships, but LeBron is very aware of what he’s done on a night-in, night-out basis. If there’s a key takeaway here, it’s this: LeBron does not evaluate himself the same way everyone else evaluates him. That is probably a good thing, in some ways.
So anyways, LeBron believes that this is a fairly unprecedented event: the best player in the NBA, maybe one of the best players ever, searching for a coach and supporting cast capable of making the most of his talents and getting him a championship.
A capable supporting cast? Cleveland won 61 games this year, you short jackass.
Yes, and LeBron accounted for 11 more (estimated) wins than any other player on a contending team. Circular logic is fun, though. You travel-sized jerk.
The best player, and inarguably the most talented player, searching for a good supporting cast for a decade. Is there any precedent for that?
Well, there’s Wilt. LeBron’s more flexible and less self-centered than Wilt was, but I’m getting way more Wilt vibes from LeBron’s career than I’m comfortable with. That combination of impossible situations and tough breaks (Frank Selvy) just seems ominous.
In a leaked excerpt from the interview, LeBron said that Cleveland has an “edge” in signing him this off-season. Does LeBron genuinely acknowledge his Cleveland roots and appreciate what the Cavalier organization has done for him over the past seven years, or is he just covering his bases in case he does decide to leave?
So, in your opinion, why does pretty much everybody hate LeBron right now?
It comes back to that Bull Durham thing, Krolik. Remember that part where Crash is telling Nuke to clean the mold off his shower sandals? Win 20 in the show, you’re quirky. As long as you’re in the minor leagues, clean your sandals.
That’s how it is with LeBron and the championship. Win a championship, and going on Larry King is fun. Doing a scripted movie is fun. Acknowledging that the basketball world is drooling over the possibility of signing you is fun. Dancing on the court is fun. Hosting the ESPYs is fun. You have the perceived right to play GM. A championship ring makes everything that you do a thing that Champions do.
Without a championship ring, everything you do is something that losers do. Every hour you spend having a life or pursuing other interests is an hour that might have cost your team the championship, the thinking goes. Which is why LeBron should have waited until he got a ring to do this stupid movie.
So you’re saying that if you win a championship (and maybe two) as the best player on your team, people will forget that you demanded a trade, criticized moves the front office made, and may have refused to re-up with your team until they traded away a hall-of-fame center?
I hope you’re not talking about Kobe and Shaq. They traded him away because he wanted an extension. THERE IS NOTHING MORE TO THAT STORY. Never mind what Phil Jackson said in his book. I’m sure he was just in a bad mood.
Would this be a good time to mention that Kobe made a rap album?
Is there ever a bad one?
Now you’re just being mean to Kobe.
No, I’m using him to defend LeBron. Kobe managed to play GM for a few years, get Shaq out of town, be a superstar, and produce a rap album over the course of a career that got him five championships. That’s great for him. In hindsight, there’s nothing he should have done differently. Where I have a problem is when people say Kobe’s won these championships because he’s a borderline sociopath basketball robot who doesn’t do anything else. Kobe’s such a great player. I don’t understand why fans have to make him into something he’s not in order to appreciate him.
Kobe’s a workaholic, but he’s also a human being who does things other than basketball. For that matter, so was MJ. (WHO BECAME A BRAND AND STARRED IN A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE. AND RETIRED FOR TWO FREAKING YEARS TO PLAY BASEBALL. AND STARTED GOLFING IN COLLEGE AND WAS A SCRATCH GOLFER BY THE TIME HE RETIRED. AND IS A FULL-ON GAMBLING ADDICT. ALSO, SECRET FAMILY.) While we’re on the subject, Tiger Woods was the hardest-working golfer on the planet, bar none, while juggling like 12 mistresses. Players can work very hard at their craft and work very hard in their personal lives. In fact, the two qualities often go hand in hand.
How can LeBron change public opinion about him?
LeBron will become a changed, humbled man .0000001 seconds after his team wins an NBA Championship. If doing well at the Masters can “humble” Tiger for some reason, clearly the magic healing powers of winning playoff games will help LeBron.
Are you finding it hard to root against Ron Artest, in spite of everything?
Extremely hard. I can’t remember a post-Gasol Laker with legitimate cult/underdog appeal. Well, except for Odom. (Do NOT try to sell me Shannon Brown.) Say Queensbridge.
Do you wish you were recapping an NBA Finals game right now instead of discussing LeBron appearing on a talk show?
“LeBron shames. That’s what Cleveland fans have been thinking about LeBron James ever since he disappeared and his Cavaliers collapsed in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Around here, win or lose, fans desperate to sip championship champagne once in their lives have always treated James royally. Just not now.” [Tom Withers]
“In so many ways, he’s a young Alex Rodriguez, so insecure with himself and his MVP awards, so desperate to find validation in the courtship of free agency. “He seems more enthusiastic about this than he did trying to beat the Celtics,” said one Western Conference GM. “I mean, who goes on Larry King to talk about ‘when I become a free agent’?” [Adrian Wojnarowski]
“Bryant is wired so differently. To listen to LeBron James talk about wanting a global platform, wanting to be as much Jay-Z as Jordan, you have to wonder whether he’ll ever have that consuming need to be a champion again and again. Eventually, LeBron will win his title, but will he evolve his game like Bryant and Jordan, push past the athletic gifts to develop something that can sustain him into his 30s. I asked Bryant: Can you want all those outside things, chase them all, and still win championship after championship? He thought for a moment, and then gave a big, big smile. “I’m going to say … ‘Yes.’ ” He was trying to be polite, but he doesn’t believe it.” [Adrian Wojnarowski]
“That’s probably why everyone from “The Real Housewives of New York City” to President Barack Obama are chiming in on where LeBron should go. And while Clevelanders are preparing for the worst and already claiming that if LeBron were to leave he “could replace Art Modell as the most hated person in Cleveland,” they have to be pretty happy he said the Cavs have an edge, even if it’s minute. Then again, are Clevelanders ever happy? They are in Cleveland, after all. I’ve heard there’s nothing to do there.” [Trey Kerby - BDL]
“Making sure to qualify his comments that he was speaking in generalities and not as a potential candidate, Van Gundy praised both owner Dan Gilbert and General Manager Danny Ferry. “Danny Ferry and their ownership have proven they care deeply about winning and about people,” Van Gundy said. “That is a winning combination to sell.”” [Brian Windhorst]
“However, if it’s an extension of the mini-max — an attempt to whip front offices into shape and fight the assumption that a James or Wade can be bought indefinitely — then what’s so bad about continuing to put pressure on teams? Maybe it’s LeBron’s fault that the Cavs came up short. Still, he shouldn’t be the one dealing with inertia. If he has limitations, he needs teammates, and an organization, that gloss over those.” [Bethlehem Shoals]
“Instead, Shaq proved he was justified in leaving that second-tier town for Hollywood. He not only made movies and music, but won three championships for the Lakers in Los Angeles. So in the end, pass on the King interview, because we’ve heard it all before — nothing.” [Rob Parker ESPNNewYork]
“Bryant can have the month of June. But in July, while Bryant is creating room in his trophy case, James plans to hold the NBA hostage. That means teams, coaches, and other free agents. He loves the attention and the drama.” [Frank Isola]
Before the finals start, it’s probably for the best to do a re-assessment of this Cavalier team after watching the Celtics take six games to completely dismantle the Orlando Magic and become the Eastern Conference Champions. After the conference semis, Cleveland’s performance against the Celtics looked like a completely inexplicable collapse; now it looks like a more explicable collapse. Here’s some of what we now know:
-Rashard Lewis’ performance in the conference finals should take some of the heat off of Mo’s performance in the conference semis. I’m not saying that Mo didn’t suck for the vast majority of the conference semis, because he did.
What I am saying is that it’s not fair to say that Mo dogged it or was off his game in the conference semis. Mo, like Rashard Lewis, is a player who lives off of open catch-and-shoot threes. Boston does a fantastic job of rotating out to the perimeter to prevent drive-and-kick threes, and Cleveland wasn’t able to execute their back-screen sets that gave Mo open looks in the regular season against Boston either.
You can blame Mo for not working harder to create easy shots for himself, but 88% of Mo’s shots during the regular season were jumpers. During Mo’s brief flashes of competent play during the Boston series, he was forced far more aggressive driving to the basket than he was at any point in the regular season.
This has been said about Lewis’ performance against Boston, and it should be said for Mo’s performance as well: Mo’s problems during the Boston series were as much a symptom of Cleveland’s problems as they were a cause of those problems. When the offense is working, Mo gets easy shots. Against Boston, it wasn’t and he didn’t.
-After watching KG shut down Lewis on defense and have very little success against him on offense, Antawn Jamison’s offensive series looks pretty good in retrospect. His defense on Garnett does not.
-If the Cavs had made it to the Magic, Shaq would have looked like a very good acquisition. Having a player capable of guarding Howard straight-up changes the way that entire team works.
-Kobe looks like a house of fire right now. That much cannot be denied. About the only caveat left is that he’s been carving up the Jazz and the Suns, both of whom were below-average defensive teams this season. This Celtics defense is just a different animal. It’s swallowed up Wade, LeBron, and Dwight Howard: now it’s Kobe’s turn to take a crack at pulling the sword from the stone.
If he can have success against that Celtics defense and lead the Lakers to another ring, this is officially the Kobe era. There are arguments to be made, I’ve made a lot of them, and a lot of them are valid in their own way.
However, the crushing fact is that the Lakers are 10-1 in playoff series since they got Gasol. The Cavs are 3-2 in playoff series since they got Mo Williams and starting winning 60 games in the regular season. Right or wrong, that’s going to be an argument-ender for 95% of the populous. Prepare yourselves.
-Rajon Rondo is a terrifying, terrifying player who seems to only thrive when the other team makes mistakes. He’s good in the half-court, but where he really shines is when he can pray on the sloppiness of his opponents. You know those horror movies where the killer is scary, omniscient, and immortal, but the only people he kills are the ones that make little mistakes like getting separated from the group? That’s Rajon Rondo.
-With Paul Pierce looking like himself again against the Magic, it might be time to give LeBron some credit for making him a complete non-factor during the semis.
-The final ruling on the Barnes/Moon conundrum: The Cavs probably would’ve been screwed either way. Enjoy your Wednesdays, everyone.
“League sources have indicated that Gilbert and Ferry’s season-ending meetings were intense and in-depth, but that both men eventually walked away on the same page and with a stronger relationship.” [Brian Windhorst]
Nate Smith is an Associate Editor. He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and moved to NE Ohio in 2000. He adopted the Cavs in 2003 and graduated from Kent State in 2009 with a BA in English. He can be contacted at email@example.com or @oldseaminer on Twitter.
Tom Pestak is an Associate Editor. He's from the west side of Cleveland and lives and (mostly) dies by the success and (mostly) failures of his beloved teams. You can watch his fanaticism during Cavs games @tompestak.
Robert Attenweiler is a Staff Writer. Originally from OH, he's long made his home in NYC where he writes plays and screenplays (www.disgracedproductions.com) some of which end up being about Ohio, basketball or both. He has also written for The Classical and the blog Raising the Cadavalier. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @cadavalier.
Benjamin Werth is a Staff Writer. He was born in Cleveland and raised in Mentor, OH. He now lives in Germany where he is an opera singer and actor. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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John Krolik is the Editor Emeritus of Cavs: The Blog. At present, he is pursuing a law degree at Tulane University. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @johnkrolik.
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