Archive for July, 2012

Link to the Present: July 29, 2012

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Amin Vafa from fellow True Hoop Network site Hardwood Paroxysm provides an interesting look at Dion Waiters Summer League Performance.  I agree with not worrying; it is hard to discount his high quality NCAA performance, on offense and defense, as a sophomore, frequently in front of thousands of screaming college kids, based on the results of 90 minutes of loosely organized basketball on a tender knee.

Let’s get to training camp, have Coach Scott put the team through the ringer, give Waiters a season to learn NBA defense…then rejoice at the young and talented squad in front of us.

Free Agent Wing Options

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

The Alonzo Gee saga carries on, as his agent says the wait could last through September. Certainly a high-stakes game for a formerly undrafted player, Gee continues to keep an option to sign a $2.7 million qualifying offer, before becoming an unrestricted free agent after next season.  Without picking up Gibson’s option yet, or guaranteeing Azubuike’s 2012 – 2013 season; Cleveland’s set-in-stone, rostered wings stand at Dion Waiters and Omri Casspi.  One way or another, the team probably needs more than that.  Let’s assume, for a variety of reasons, that one of the three “loose ends” plays for another squad next year.  How do we feel about the remaining free agent options?

I'm not enough?

Currently, in the search for wing help, Cleveland brought C.J. Miles in for a two day workout.  As one of the last players to make the high-school-to-NBA transition, he enters an eighth professional season as a 25 year old.  An abysmal rebounder; according to ESPN’s Hollinger stats pages, of 63 small forwards last year who played 500 minutes, he procured the second-worst rebounding rate.  Three years ago, he ended eighth-worst of seventy players.  He also does not shoot particularly well, with career marks around 33% from three and 35% on long twos.  He is solid enough though, that he annually deserves to be one of the NBA’s 450 players.  Decent size and reasonable skill level let him function as a second-string-offense-producer, where he peaked at 18 points per 36 minutes in 2010 – 2011.  His true shooting percentage has decreased four years in a row, but short-term and at a low cost, Miles serves as a decent dice-roll to provide wing help where Cleveland most lacks: size and scoring.

The next two players have not been linked to Cleveland, other than writers basically saying, “Cleveland needs wings…they have cap space…so, that’s a possible destination.”

Carlos Delfino turns thirty before next season.  He is a solid, but non-spectacular offensive player.  His annual 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio rates amongst the best swingmen, and while jacking a couple of threes per quarter, he converted 37% over the last few years.  As a player specializing in ball-movement & shooting, he compliments the skill-sets of Kyrie and D-Wait very well.  Defensively, despite plummeting last year to allow an opponent PER of 17, he typically performs admirably.  Though not remotely linked to Cleveland; as a low-cost option, his combination of size, shooting & experience would supplement the Waiters, Gee, Gibson rotation sufficiently for a couple of years.

When I wrote my initial free agency article on July 1st, Jodie Meeks did not really register.  Not because I don’t like him, but because I was searching for short-contract, small-dollar options.  At that time, discussion about Alonzo Gee focused on 4 years, $16 million; I put Meeks at least in that ball-park.  As a starter on two consecutive playoff teams, Meeks sports a career 37% three-point mark and stellar 56% true shooting while rarely turning the ball over.  In each of the last two seasons, he held his opponent to a lower PER than himself.  Take a quick look at this assortment of advanced statistical metrics.  All numbers are combined totals from the 2010 – 2011 and 2011 – 2012 seasons, unless noted otherwise.

  • At age 23 & 24, “Young Wing A” played 3706 regular season minutes and 227 playoff minutes.  At age 22 & 23, “Young Wing B” notched 4313 regular season minutes, with 151 in the playoffs.
  • Based on Basketball-reference.com, their Win Shares over the last two seasons are 9.2 and 11.4, respectively.
  • John Hollinger’s Extra Wins Added comes in at 2.4 for Player A and 11.6 for Player B, while wagesofwins.com awarded the former with 6.28 Wins Produced in 2010 – 2011, compared to 5.86 for the latter (no numbers available for 2011 – 2012).
  • According to adjusted-plus-minus, player A provided 6.5 points per 100 possessions more value than Player B.

Pretty similar, right?  Swingmen entering their primes, playing major minutes for borderline playoffs team, with each receiving significant support from one metric, while posing as equals according to two others.

Player A is Jodie Meeks and Player B is Nic Batum, sitting pretty with ink newly dried on a $45 million contract.  I understand these two players are different; Batum is slightly younger and big for his position, while Meeks is undersized.  Batum certainly possesses higher “upside” and deserves a larger contract, but there are other takeaways here.  First, the consensus of the above numbers shows Batum’s worth at six wins per season.  When a team spends one-sixth of their luxury tax space on that, they either expect lots of improvement, or the money is not efficiently spent.  Second, if  a team can snag Jodie Meeks for 3 years and $10 million, that serves as fine value, no improvement needed.  If this option presents itself to the Cavs; I say take it.  To avoid employing three 6’ – 4” and under shooting guards though, the team may need to pass on Gibson’s option.  Additional size and athleticism can come in the form of…

Derrick Brown!  Although viewed as a tweener, he spent much of his time at the three last year, where he out-produced his small forward opponents with a PER of 15.4 compared to their 12.3 (numbers from 82games.com).  Limited minutes from his prior two seasons tell a similar story.  For a Cavs team routinely poisoned by a lack of size and athleticism on the wings, Brown is the antidote.  At 6’ – 8” with great speed and a penchant for electric dunks, he would look great on a Cavs team looking to run.  He offers nothing for floor spacing, but I am not too concerned about that.  For their careers, Gibson shoots 42% from deep, Kyrie sits at 40%, Casspi – 36%, and Gee – 35%.  Waiters flashed NBA range at Syracuse and Cleveland added floor stretching bigs in Zeller and Leuer.  Each of the metrics used in the Meeks / Batum comparison consider Brown a completely fine NBA player.  A big, athletic and reasonably productive small forward for cheap?!?  What am I missing here?!?  Sign him up for 2 years and $5 million!!

Summary: At some point, I lost track of the purpose of this article, but I am pretty sure it ended with a Waiters, Gee, Meeks, Brown and Casspi wing rotation for 2012 – 2013.  And honestly, I’m excited about it.

NBA releases 2012 – 2013 schedule

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Here is Cleveland’s schedule for the upcoming season.  They actually play the very first game of the NBA season, in Cleveland, against Washington on October 30th.  Obviously though,  everyone is looking for one opponent when scoping out the Cavs’ slate of games…

yep, on December 11th, Antawn Jamison returns to Cleveland.  Mark your calendars.

Cavs trade for Jeremy Pargo

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Pretty sick dunk here...Look up "Jeremy Pargo Kevin Seraphin" on youtube.

Cleveland and Memphis completed a trade where the Cavs receive 26 year-old point guard Jeremy Pargo and a 2014 second round pick for D.J. Kennedy.

Pargo finished his NCAA career at Gonzaga in 2009, before playing in Isreal for a while, then making his NBA debut last year.  He was not very good in Memphis, finishing with a PER of 4.  Long story short; an aggressive and athletic driver, he struggles with turnovers and shooting.

The Cavs apparent philosophy here is, “We have cap space.  We don’t have a back-up point guard.  What the heck, let’s buy a 2nd round draft pick.”  Memphis appears to be thinking “with Pargo, we own 11 contracts for $66.5 million next year.  The luxury tax is $70.3M.  Josh Selby was awesome this summer, and we just drafted Tony Wroten.  He’s kind of a point guard too, right?  Can we get someone to take Pargo’s guaranteed $1 million off our hands?  Cleveland’s offering DJ Kennedy?  Is his contract guaranteed?  No?  Tell them we have a deal.”

This trade is inconsequential enough that I do not have much of an opinion on it.  Apparently a decent back-up point guard may still be at least one year away .  Does this mean, so long, Donald Sloan?  With Leuer, Kevin Jones, and Pargo on board, a lot of roster spots are taken.  One thing is certain; I will need to give up on Jordan Taylor.

Who is Micheal Eric?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Maybe the readers can provide an answer.

After Eric played 63 minutes for the Cavs Summer League team, Byron Scott said to the Akron Beacon Journal: “He has to look at himself as Ibaka, a guy that came in who was raw, but defensively was a great help defender and a great one-on-one defender, then your offensive game kind of comes.  That’s how Ibaka has developed and I think he [Eric] has the same type of potential. It’s a hell of a comparison, and it’s a good comparison because I think with his athleticism and the way he jumps and blocks shots, he can be on that level.  I don’t know if he can get to where Ibaka is because Ibaka is pretty damn good, but he can be somewhere near that level.”

A quick glance of some handy, dandy references tells me that Ibaka is a 22-year-old member of the NBA all-defense first-team.  Our diamond-in-the-rough is a 24 year old, that through four years at Temple never warranted a write-up from draftexpress or ESPN.

The son of a Nigerian soccer player, a brief search turned up at least one more decent article on Eric, via the Detroit Free Press.   His work on the boards improved every year with the Owls, and he finished his college career as both a high quality rebounder and shot blocker.  Turnover prone, he also struggled with free throws to the tune of 55% makes.

What do you think, Cavs fans?  Had B-Scott been staying out to late in Vegas, or can Micheal Eric play?

Summer League Epilogue

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Cleveland’s run in the Las Vegas Summer League is complete, and while Kyrie’s injury kept the team from complete dominance, they finished with an admirable 3 wins against 2 losses.

In their first game, playing against Charlotte’s full NBA roster (possibly not true), Cleveland lead most of the game before squandering the victory at the end.  Tyler Zeller paced the team with 14 points and 5 rebounds on 63% true shooting.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did not play, listed in the box score as “DNP – depression, drafted by Bobcats”.

In Cleveland’s second game, they edged a determined D-League Select group by a final score of 94 to 88.  Samardo and T-Zell combined for 30 points and 14 rebounds, and dynamo Donald Sloan torched the second-leaguers for 19 points on 77% true shooting.

Next up, Cleveland disposed of a Phoenix Suns team that featured lottery picks from the last two years.  The Cav bigs could not hold Markieff Morris in check, as he tallied 24 points and 17 rebounds.  On the bright side, the young Cleveland big men were not reigned in either; Zeller rolled to a double-double, and Samuels netted 17 points while hitting all nine of his free throws.  Through three games, the team posted a +41 while the slimmed-down third-year man played, versus a minus-24 while he sat.

In games four and five, Dion Waiters rested due to a minor knee injury.  Against Minnesota, Kyrie missed a golden opportunity to remind everyone that he is the darling of the 2011 draft class.  Derrick Williams lit Cleveland up for 23 points and Coby Karl got vengeance for Cleveland cutting him in 2009, by scoring eighteen.  The Wolves won 78 to 65, as only Tristan and Samuels thrived, posting 30 combined points on 13 of 20 shooting.

Summer League ended with Cleveland dusting an overmatched Knicks team, 98 to 64.  TT and TZ scored 25 total points in only 25 combined minutes, while Justin Holliday, Jrue’s older brother, chipped-in 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 16 minutes.

So…three wins, two losses, and Samardo Samuels narrowly edges rookie Zeller for my team MVP vote…what does it all mean?  It is folly to overvalue these summer league games, but here are a few thoughts:

Point Guard

Donald Sloan scored relatively frequently, and his twenty free throw attempts aided his 54% true shooting, but his nine assists and nine turnovers were not very point guard-ish.  While still in the driver’s seat for 2012 – 2013 back-up duties; I hope Cleveland brings in some competition.  Forty-four percent field goal shooting and a 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in Summer League does not cause me to forget that his PER was 9 last year.  I still have my eye on undrafted University of Wisconsin rookie Jordan Taylor.  He also shot poorly in Vegas, but racked up 14 assists and 4 turnovers, while Atlanta ended plus-13 with him running the show and minus-17 otherwise.

Wings

The Wine & Gold gave a little run to Garrett Temple and DJ Kennedy, the latter whom also briefly suited up during tank-a-palooza 2012.  Neither shot better than 30% or seems likely to provide anything meaningful in real games.

Prior to injury, Dion Waiters paced the team in scoring and assists.  He also shot 30% from the field, struggling with converting from all ranges while racking up several turnovers.  I am not going to think too much into the successes or failures of any of these players during Summer League.  Mr. Waiters surely relishes the opportunity to start proving himself in November.  Plus, Baron Davis was impressed with Dion’s game, and there is no higher praise than that.

Justin Holiday garnered much positive press in Vegas, playing high intensity defense, leading the squad in steals, and knocking down 36% of his threes.  Similar to Sloan though, I do not know if he did anything to disprove the prior knocks on his game; an inconsistent shooter, he also struggles to otherwise score, and his slight frame limits his ability as a defensive stopper.  At 23 years old now, prior to his 6 points and 2 rebounds in 17 minutes per game this summer; in 45 games last season in Belgium, he averaged 7 points on 42% shooting, with 3 rebounds in 23 minutes per game.  What do I know though…one year ago, I figured Alonzo Gee for a respectable, yet non-spectacular European career.

The Bobcats rescinded their qualifying offer to Derrick Brown on Wednesday…just saying.

Bigs

Certainly the strength of the Summer League team, the young trees presented themselves well.  Tacking up pretty similar stat lines, in 43 combined minutes per game, Zeller and Samuels averaged 24 points and 14 rebounds on 59% true shooting.   Samuels served as the major revelation, dropping lots of weight and looking significantly beefed up.  Seeing Cleveland extend Harangody a qualifying offer but not himself, might have offered a wake-up call.

There is genuine excitement for the team’s big man rotation next year.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not, “55 wins – here we come” excitement, but more like “wow – we get to watch a roster of legitimate NBA players”.  Varejao returns to health.  The Cavs viewed Zeller as top-ten talent (and I agree).  Tristan will be improved.  Jon Leuer poses as a completely respectable fourth big man, and same story for Samuels in the five-slot.  Kevin Jones may be a sleeper and Luke Harangody…well, he waves a mean towel.

Summary

One hundred more days until the regular season starts.  Based on all accounts, Kyrie looked amazing working out with the Olympic team this summer.  The roster includes a legitimate NBA big man rotation.  Waiters, Gee, Gibson, Casspi and Walton…OK, the wings still need work, but next year continues to look like another step forward for Ohio’s favorite NBA team.

Cavs claim Jon Leuer off waivers

Friday, July 20th, 2012

In a move significant only to me, the Cavs snagged Jon Leuer off the waiver wire. Leuer is a guy that I ranked 24th in the 2011 draft class and advocated for Cleveland to draft at #32 last year.  As one of three rookies last year to rate above average in PER, win shares per forty-eight minutes, and adjusted plus-minus…I ranked him as the eighth most effective rookie of 2011 – 2012.

Jon Leuer does work and probably dominates his draft mate

I recall liking him as a hard working, deceptively skilled, passably rebounding, solid shooting big guy.  Not sure exactly where he fits in Cleveland’s crowded front court; but I would not be shocked to see him emerge as the Cavs fourth big man next year.  His shooting should provide a capable pick-and-pop partner with Kyrie or Dion Waiters and a Leuer – Varejao front court could pair nicely opposite the Zeller – Thompson duo.

Andrew Bynum Trade Machine Fun

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

So, I’ve been toying around with the NBA Trade Machine over on ESPN for the past couple of hours trying to figure out what a Lakers/Magic/Cavs deal would look like, which has been edifying in a couple of ways that I’ll get to in a minute. First, let me present to you a handful of trades that work:

Trade A

Lakers get: Dwight Howard and Jason Richardson
Magic get:  Andy Varejao, Luke Walton, Josh McRoberts, Omri Casspi, Christian Eyenga, and Cavs’ 2013 first-rounder
Cavs get: Andrew Bynum, Quentin Richardson, Glen Davis, and Chris Duhon

The Cavs get their man (Bynum), the Lakers get theirs (Howard), and the Magic get a clean slate by offloading nearly all their bad contracts for expiring ones. They’ll be terrible next year and have a decent shot at the number one pick, and they will have tens of millions of dollars of cap space once the 2012-13 season ends. The one thing that doesn’t make much sense to me is why the Magic would want a thirty year-old defensive big man, but according to Ric Bucher, the framework of the deal involves Varejao-to-Orlando, so I’ll just assume they covet him for whatever reason.

Jason Richardson is overpaid, but it’s not like the Lakers can sign any more free agents, so that point is moot. He played poorly last season (shot 40.8% from the field; he’s a career 44.1% shooter), but he’s only 31 and could be a good bench scorer, especially if he gets a steady diet of open threes when defenses collapse on Howard and/or Gasol. He would also be sharing some court time with Steve Nash, which never hurts one’s offensive game.

Glen Davis shouldn’t make upwards of six million dollars a year, but he would be similarly useful for the Cavs, who don’t have a PF who can knock down an open 13-footer. Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson are dead weight, but that’s the cost of doing business.

You could also sell me on a variant of this trade where the Cavs also give up the Heat/Lakers pick they have in the 2013 draft. If they’re going to roll the dice on a super-talented injury risk with attitude issues, it’s not like the 24th pick in the 2013 draft should be the stumbling point.

(To anyone saying, “Why wouldn’t LA make a play for Andy V?”: it’s a cap thing. The Lakers are paying Kobe/Gasol/Nash a combined $56 million next season and are well over the soft cap, so they can’t take on Howard and Varejao without moving Gasol.)

Trade B

Lakers get: Howard and Richardson
Magic get: Varejao, Walton, Boobie Gibson, McRoberts, Casspi, and Eyenga
Cavs get: Bynum, Hedo Turkoglu, Duhon, and Davis

By offloading that egregious Hedo deal that pays him $11.4 mil and $12.2 mil in 2012-13 and 2013-14, respectively, the Magic get rid of their worst contract. They also dump Davis, J-Rich, and Duhon. The only bad contract they keep is Quentin Richardson’s, which pays him a little under $6 mil over the next two seasons. Every player they acquire has either a team option for next year or is off the books entirely. I didn’t include a draft pick in this scenario because the Magic shed a ton of salary, but if the Cavs were to throw in a first-rounder, I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.

Trade C

Lakers get: Howard and Turkoglu
Magic get: Varejao, Walton, Gibson, McRoberts, Casspi, Eyenga, and Andrew Goudelock
Cavs get: Bynum, Davis, J. Richardson, Steve Blake, Q. Richardson, and Duhon

Again, a hunk of expirings for Orlando (give or take a draft pick), but this time Turkoglu goes to the Lakers and the Cavs absorb a cornucopia of bad contracts. The difference between the abominable contract amalgam of Q Richardson, Duhon, and Blake and the singular abominable contract of Turkoglu is negligible, since both Quentin Duhon-Blake and Turkoglu make about the same amount of money and their contracts expire in two years. (Technically, Turk’s got a player option for the 2013-14 season, but who wouldn’t cash in a season of mediocre basketball for $12.2 mil?) But the J-Rich and Davis deals run for the next three years, paying those guys a combined $38 million over that time period. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, because those guys are legitimate NBA players, and it’s not like the Cavs have a phenomenal bench, but if the Magic ask for a pick in this scenario, they had better ask the Lakers, because the Cavs are going to be tied down with salaries and will need their draft picks to help fill out their roster over the next couple of years.

Trade D

Lakers get: Howard, Turkoglu, Richardson, and Duhon
Magic get: Varejao, Tristan Thompson, McRoberts, Eyenga, and Andrew Goudelock
Cavs get: Bynum, Metta World Peace, and Steve Blake

so much depends
upon

long tristan
thompson

dazed in wine
golden

beside the black
bench

(But seriously, your opinion of this trade revolves entirely around whether or not you like Tristan Thompson. Also, I apologize to William Carlos Williams. Remember when you used the phrase “penniless rumsoak,” and I swooned? I’m so sorry.)

What Does It All Mean?

Nothing right now. We have no idea how close this thing is to fruition or who the principals are outside of—again, I’m leaning on Bucher here—Howard, Bynum, and Varejao. What’s clear is: a.) the Magic want to get rid of some bad contracts, b.) the Lakers are aggressively pursuing Howard, and c.) the Cavs have lots of cap space and expiring contracts. The trade, if it happens, will look something like the ones mentioned above. These deals and very similar variants are the only ones that work cap-wise unless you start getting crazy and throwing Gasol into the mix.

A bit of experimenting leads me to this conclusion: the Cavs’ cap/expiring contract situation makes them an ideal facilitator for this sort of trade, and they can pretty much dictate their terms. While the Magic are desperate to get a fresh start out of the impending departure of their best player and the Lakers are fervently pursuing Howard, the Cavs can be dispassionate about this deal. If they don’t want to take an additional bad contract or give up another first-rounder, they can always pass. They’re not desperate to acquire Bynum, and, if the swap falls apart, they can return to their original plan of building through the draft.

What throws a wrench in this whole thing is the presence of the Houston Rockets, who have a bunch of young players and picks. I’m mildly perplexed about why they think Bynum would put them over the top. Bynum-Irving is a lot more appetizing prospect than Bynum-Lin, but then, they’re in Houston, which is a more desirable free agent destination than Cleveland. Regardless, they’re very capable of facilitating a Howard’s departure for LA, and they would be more able than the Cavs to provide the Magic with decent draft picks (they shipped out Kyle Lowry for a Toronto first-rounder) and recent draftees (Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb, and Royce White).

No matter what happens or doesn’t happen on the Bynum-to-Cleveland trade front, this is the first great example of what valuing cap flexibility and acquiring tradable assets can do for a rebuilding team. By carefully managing the cap and his assets over the past couple of years, Chris Grant has put the Cavs in a situation where they might be able to acquire an excellent player because they’re one of the only teams in the league that can help the Lakers land Howard and the Magic push the reset button on their franchise.

Andrew Bynum Talks Heating Up Again

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

From Ric Bucher:

The Cavaliers would land Lakers center Andrew Bynum for a package of draft picks and veteran power forward Anderson Varejao, according to one league source. The Lakers would receive Howard for Bynum. Orlando would get Varejao and draft picks. The source said this was merely the framework of a deal being discussed.

This rumor popped up about a week ago, and the fact that Ric Bucher’s reporting it indicates it may have some legs. It’s the same Bynum to CLE, Howard to LA, Varejao and picks to ORL scenario we’ve been hearing for awhile now. It’s not like this trade is imminent, but I thought I would solicit your guys’ opinions on this, since Bynum is one of those players that an economics professor would love. On the one hand, he’s the best post scorer in the league; on the other, he might get hurt. On the one hand, he’s an All-Star; on the other hand, he’s a headcase.

I would do the deal—provided the Cavs don’t give up, like, eight first-rounders or whatever—for the following reasons: a.) Cleveland is Cleveland, and if Bynum wants to re-up on his contract, he’s probably better than any other free agent the Cavs could sign; b.) there’s a 99% chance the Cavs won’t find a better center in the draft than Bynum; c.) Bynum fits nicely next to Tristan Thompson and allows TT to focus on becoming a defender, rebounder, and garbage bucket specialist; and d.) Irving and Bynum is a pretty great top two, no? Plus, it takes some of the pressure off Dion Waiters, who doesn’t have to shoulder the burden of being the Cavaliers’ second-best scorer on day one.

Your move, commenters.

“You think you’re playing ‘Lil Bow Wow?!”

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Uncle Drew vs The Black Mamba?

YES PLEASE

http://www.iamagm.com/article/kyrie-irving-and-kobe-bryant-trash-talking-to-play-oneonone-for-50000#.UAA3xvVnj3A