Archive for April, 2013

Cavs: The Podcast 0029 – 2013 Mega Recap Extravaganza

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Annnnnd SCENE!  Just like that, the 2013 season is in the books.  We know the trials and tribulations ahead – but what about this roster?  How did it perform this year?  Who’s coming back next year?  Why was Boobie Gibson such a G-D mess?

Well, folks, we’ve gotcha covered.  On today’s second-annual end-of-year podcast, Colin, Nate, and I answer all of the above questions as we go through the roster player by player, break down their 2013 season, and predict what their situation will be next year.

As always, we’re on Soundcloud at:

Part one:  https://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0029-2013-mega-recap

Part two:  https://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0029-2013-mega-recap-1

And on iTunes at:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cavs-the-podcast/id528149843?mt=2

Links to the Present: April 20, 2013

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Mark Price: “I would definitely be interested in the job, but they have not contacted me.” [Brendan Bowers called Mark Price. I'm not sure I could be more jealous. Well done, dude.]

“Sure, Grant has four draft selections at his disposal, two of which are in the top 17, but overall youth has been a crutch for three seasons. Not helping matters is the fact that the veteran leadership presently on the roster—Luke Walton, Wayne Ellington, Boobie Gibson—are staring at free agency and may make the overall roster even younger with any sort of departure.” [Scott at WFNY]

“That could change soon. WKYC-TV 3 reported that Brown will have dinner with Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert on Sunday.” [Bob Finnan - News Herald]

“Among the teams at the bottom of the NBA that won 35 games or less this season, the Cavs are among the franchises best positioned for a turnaround.” [Jason Lloyd - Akron Beacon Journal]

–Updated– 2013 Cavaliers Coaching Search Almanac

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Note, the almanac has been updated to add profiles for Michael Curry, David Fizdale, and Mark Price in sections 1, 2, and 4, respectively. Dan Gilbert and Mike Brown may make it all moot though..

By the time you read this, Byron Scott may or may not be has been fired.  I’m really irritated that I didn’t post this a week ago, since there’s 30 of these lists up on the internet right now.  Anyway, I thought I’d give you an exhaustive a rundown on my top coaching candidates in the NBA, with a focus on experience, toughness, player development, defense, and recruiting ability.

Group 1: The Usual Suspects (AKA retreads). You’ve heard these names before, and you’ll hear them a lot more in the coming weeks.  All these guys have coached before to varying degrees of success as head coaches in the NBA.  Can they teach Kyrie Irving to guard a pick and roll?  That remains to be seen, but many of them could tell him what James Naismith was like in real life.

(more…)

Scott’s Fired

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

This happened more swiftly than I thought it would. The morning after the Cavs finished their season with a loss to the also-lowly Bobcats, Byron Scott is jobless. You know the story: three straight years deep in the lottery, rumors of locker room dissent, lots of looks similar to the one pictured above, where Scott just sort of peered out over the court as if it were an ocean, with a look of peevishness or bemusement.

There’s a sad impotency to ineffectual coaching that’s unique to the profession. The guy in a suit on the sidelines seems as if he might as well be a hundred miles away from the court. Players screw up. Not that they mean to screw up and not that the coach wants them to screw up, but they make mistakes. Over and over again. Maybe they stop listening to the guy in a suit on the sidelines because they’re frustrated or feel he’s not helping. A fissure widens. The coach’s control is revealed to be highly contingent.

There has been a lot of talk over the past few weeks that the Cavs need a firebrand who can whip the team into shape—barge through the locker room door imperiously and tell Kyrie Irving that, son, on this team we play with maximum effort. This is a gross, paternalistic strain of fandom—informed by the notion that these players in some way belong to us; they should be ideal actors because, dammit, we pay for their salaries. I think we should all do our best to avoid being that type of fan, especially in terms of this now-active coaching search. Irving will improve or stagnate according to his will; all a coach can do is advise him. You can tell all-stars what to do, but it’s up to them to listen. The Cavs should find someone who can speak to Irving, help him grow into the leadership role he needs to occupy, and not someone who will try to break him, because he probably won’t break.

I don’t know why Scott was fired, specifically, though I have a hard time believing all the losing was the primary reason. This team started the season with no bench and sub-par starters at three positions. Then Andy Varejao went down. Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters improved markedly. Chris Grant poached a respectable bench unit from salary-dumping Memphis and Washington’s scrap heap. Then more injuries. I find it hard to believe Scott was expected to do significantly better than he did, record-wise, though the record is abysmal. Coincidentally, it could land the Cavs at the very top of this upcoming draft. From what I know of Grant, he’s a pragmatist who looks long-term while keeping himself firmly rooted in the present, so even if the Cavs lost, say, ten or fifteen more games than he thought they would this season, he’ll take the high draft pick and move forward.

What I’m more inclined to believe is Scott was fired for reasons less apparent in the standings and more apparent on the court: the puzzling substitutions patterns, the lack of ingenuity on offense (especially down the stretch), the damn high-pressure defensive system that was at least partially to blame for the Cavs’ historically bad opponent shooting percentages over the past three seasons. Perhaps this group of players was too young, too disparate to achieve respectability, but Scott could never assemble them in a way where it became easy to see where the future might lead. If the rumors are true, the players might have been divided as to whether he knew what he was doing. As of this morning, I’m certain the Cavs have talent, but I’m uncertain how that talent fits together and how each players’ individual skills can best serve the team’s success. A great coach is a great sense-maker, and this team is still gibberish in motion.

I’m sure the Cavs have a list, but I wonder who will want this job and the sort of work it’s going to entail. Surely, there are more than a few out-of-work head coaches and ambitious assistants who see a young team with promise, but it’s going to take a lot of effort—and some very specific expertise—to turn this team into a winner over the next few years. C:TB’s Nate Smith has been compiling a list over the past few weeks, and he’ll be hitting you with the a batch of possible candidates tomorrow morning.

At any rate, farewell Byron Scott. Whether you did the job well and got unlucky or did the job poorly and rightfully got the boot, enduring three seasons of rough basketball isn’t good for the psyche—I know this because I endured it, too, but I’m, at the very least, a wholly inculpable fan. I’m sure you’ll catch on somewhere else. Here’s to better days for both of us.

Link to the Present: Coach Scott fired

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Looks like the rumors are now official.  No need to say much here, as my take has been discussed a few times in the last week.  Time to start seeking a new coach, hopefully one that imparts a defensive identity on the team and gets the young, individual talents to mesh into an unstoppable juggernaut.

Talk about it in the comments.

Losers

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

After probably the longest sports season I’ve ever experienced (compounded by years of bottom feeding), it’s come to this.  The supposed fork in the road has finally arrived.  For all intents and purposes, the last three years will be decided in the next twelve months.  Chris Grant’s talent evaluation abilities, the supposed ceilings of Kyrie, Tristan, Tyler, and Dion, and even Byron’s coaching ability (despite the fact that he may not even be around at that point) will all be judged and weighed against serious expectations.

The last three years haven’t been easy.  As a fan, it’s heartbreaking to watch a team you love lose night in and night out, especially, like last night, to an equally bad Bobcats team.  As a writer, examining every facet of the team, it’s taxing.  If you need proof, see the comments section, where arguments over the big picture become heated and even, at times, cruel.  I’ve seen friends and family who formerly watched the Cavs, unwavering in their dedication even in the pre-Lebron years, slowly but surely lose all interest.  Not even the emergence of Kyrie could rope them back in.  The hope is whatever is coming will.

I’ve made my views on Byron abundantly clear – last night only strengths my beliefs.  Even if Byron could’ve been the man for the job, there has to be a signifier – to the fans, to the players, and to the organization, that things are about to change.  There are only so many options available – boot Grant, dump one of the young players, or nix the coach.  It’s sad that Byron will likely be the one with the onus squarely on his shoulders, but that comes with the territory of agreeing to coach a rebuild. (Don’t feel too bad – the man made one million dollars for every 4.7 wins)  Going forward, the players have to realize it’s win or get off the pot.

I’m not going to speculate on the moves that Grant will make this off season, largely because we’ve all done enough of that as the season has progressed.  There has to be something.  Drafting Noel will not be enough, nor will adding a rookie small forward.  The team’s personality, which has been entirely absent these three years, must take shape.  That starts from the top down.  Likewise, role players have to be signed and secured as part of the future.  I don’t advocate blowing too much cap room, but stalling another year would be a massive mistake.

We’re all tired – three years and 166 losses will do that to a person.  Three years ago, after the day that shall live in infamy, this moment seemed beyond comprehension.  But sure enough, it has arrived.  The Cavaliers have youth and talent, but something is missing.  I hope, as I’m sure you all do, that whatever is lost will soon be found.  I don’t know the answer to the question of what the next few years hold.  All I know is that we’re finally at the fork – lord help us all.  We are – for hopefully the last off season – dreaming of what will be instead of what is.  The future has arrived, and boy is it scary.

Recap: Cavs, Bobcats…Grizzlies, Jazz…that will do

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

There were twelve games played simultaneously tonight; one on ESPN, and also on all ten League Pass channels.  For this Cavs fan living in Indianapolis, one game lacked broadcasting…Cleveland at Charlotte.  Clearly, this is an outrage.  Fortunately, the Memphis – Utah game looms large for the Cavs; a Grizzly win nets Cleveland the Lakers pick.  Also, Phoenix is squaring off with Denver; that could impact the number of Wine & Gold lottery chances.  How about a running diary of tonight’s NBA action?  That’s not what you wanted?  Well, it’s what you get; life isn’t fair.

Tonight's most valuable player...the Memphis Grizzlies?

8:30 – Derrick Favors scores off a Randy Foye dish, Grizzlies and Jazz end the first quarter tied at 17 – 17.

8:32 – Oy.  Scoping out the Cavs box score, it is 12 – 25 Bobcats with two minutes left in the first.  Tristan has six rebounds; the rest of the team…one.  The Bobcats have eight assists on nine field goals.  Fate hath dealt me a favor tonight.

8:34 – Andre Miller finds Anthony Randolph for a filthy slam, staking the Nuggets to an early 15 point lead…hopefully the Cavs are keeping one eye on the scoreboard.  Oh, and Andre Miller is a lot of fun…maybe he wants to end his career where he started it…didn’t he guarantee a ring or something?

8:39 – Fortunately, Memphis is still battling the Clippers for home-court advantage.  They are giving it their all tonight.  How can I tell?  Sixteen minutes in, and no sign of Jon Leuer yet.

8:40 – What the hochuli?  Cavs trail 18 to 36?!  The NBA’s 28th ranked offense is shooting 67% from the field?  The fact I can’t watch this game appears that karma is smiling on me today.

8:43 – If I’m going to sit here and be snarky, might as well get a beer.  Bells Two-Hearted in the fridge.

8:48 – Phoenix came prepared to fight for the league’s third-worst record tonight…Denver leads 49 to 27 after 17 minutes.  As expected, Grizzlies – Jazz looks like the game to watch.

8:55 – My wife came to talk to me about our daughter’s milk-drinking habits.  So, I missed some stuff, but Zach Randolph converted back-to-back to take Memphis to a 36 – 31 lead.  Finish them, Memphis, then when the Lakers lose tonight, 17th pick, come to Cleveland.

8:58 – Kyrie tallies 7 points and 2 assists in the last three minutes…Cavs claw back to 34 – 48.

9:09 – My wife wanted to chat about our son’s birthday party, so some more missed action by your intrepid reporter.  Wow!!  Kyrie with five assists over the final three minutes of the half!! That must be his quarter-of-a-quarter record for dimes!!!  Kyrie remembered that he is a 21-year old burgeoning super-star, and I missed it; how could League Pass skip-over this game?  I want a 15 assist game in November.

9:12 – Kyrie with 16 and 8 at the half.  Casspi has 6 rebounds.  He has been rebounding like a fiend lately…12 per 36 minutes over the last six-and-a-half games.  What, you’re not impressed?

9:14 – All twelve tilts are at halftime.  Grizzlies narrowly lead 40 – 38, playing their typically high-octane style of play.  Denver is running Phoenix out of the gym, attempting to outscore the combined points of Memphis and Utah.  66 to 40 at the half in Mile High City.

9:25 – Grizz vs Jazz up-and-running (?) again.  Mike Conley nets a runner in the lane, then an and-one in transition.  I wonder if he can sneak onto the second-team all-defense this year.  League-leader in steals.  Combined with his 18 PER, of all the blue-chip Ohio State recruits over the last seven years, he stands a cut-above.  Memphis leads 45 to 40.

9:27 – Someone has been honing their clutch-gene.  Mo Williams 2 of 8 from the field with 1 assist and 3 turnovers.  He missed a free throw and a three as the Jazz continue to battle from behind early in the third.

9:30 – Mo sensed my derision.  He slashes for an easy lay-up…Utah cuts the lead to two.

9:33 – Cleveland trails 56 – 67 midway through the third.  Josh McRoberts sits at 13 points on perfect shooting, with 4 rebounds.  I’ve liked McRoberts, probably more than I should, since his 2010 – 2011 season with the Pacers.  He’s actually one of the League’s better passing power forwards.  According to the Hollinger Stats Page, he is 3rd of NBA power forwards for assist ratio this year (5th in assists per minute), after finishing second last year, and fifth the year before.  Maybe he is worth a look this summer to fill the ball-moving power-forward role that Walton offered for the Herculoids?

9:38 – I got lost down a Josh McRoberts rabbit-hole for a moment there.  Zach Randolph just scored eight points in two minutes, as my Cleveland surrogate mounts an eight-point lead.

9:41 – Mo Williams missed a jumper, then passed up an open-three.

9:42 – Zach Randolph!!  Twelve points in four minutes…no question whether Zach Randolph wants the Cavs to pick 17th.

9:45 – The third quarter ends in Charlotte.  Following two A-Gee threes and a Speights bucket, the deficit was cut to three, but a small Bobcat run stretches the score to 69 – 76 heading to the fourth.

9:50 – Memphis’s defense is suffocating.  Utah’s third quarter included 13 points and 4 turnovers.  Who are their assistant coaches?  The Grizzlies carry a 65 to 51 margin to the fourth.

9:52 – Technically, the Lakers are tied with Atlanta and Chicago for wins right now.  I turned the Bulls – Wizards game on just in time to see one of my favorites, Jimmy Butler, drill a corner three.  Without knowing exactly how all the tie-breakers work, the best case scenario tonight is Jazz lose, Bulls win, Hawks win, Lakers lose.  Bulls lead 77 to 70 with ten minutes to go.

9:58 – Grizzlies lead by 20 with nine minutes to go.  It’s practically impossible to lose a 20 point lead with nine minutes to go, so it’s time to check out the Bulls game.

10:01 – Four Waiters points in thirty seconds makes it 84 – 85 in Charlotte, but a Kemba Walker three extends the Bobcat lead to four again.

10:05 - Atlanta is losing to New York, which is unfortunate as it may impact the Lakers pick slightly.  I am glad that the Bulls will not be playing the Pacers  in the first round of the playoffs though.

10:08 – Remember who I really didn’t like in 2011? Jan Vesely just picked up a foul, turns 23 next week, and his 7.5 PER is ummm…unstellar.

10:10 – My low-price guy A.J. Price drills a three for the Wizards.  Tie-game.  But then my 2011 sleeper-guy Jimmy Butler answers with a dunk.  Bulls take a two-point lead to the three-minute mark.

10:12 – Kyrie gets to 20 & 10, but the Cavs trail by five with two minutes to go.  Lottery odds, lottery odds,  lottery odds.

10:14 – Luol Deng hits a three in Chicago…simultaneously, the Cavs fall back by seven with a minute to go.  If you are tracking tonight’s impact on Cleveland’s draft position, it has been a good minute.

10:21 – Kyrie layup, Gee layup, Dion layup; Cleveland trails by three with 15 seconds to go.

10:24 – Cavs lose 98 to 105.  Kyrie finishes with 24 & 10, pacing four players in double-digits.  Charlotte is lead by Kemba Walker with 24 points and 7 assists.  Josh McRoberts finishes with 20 points and 8 rebounds.

10:25 – Bulls win.  Grizzlies lead by 18.  Orlando lost, while Charlotte won, so Cleveland gets the first and third picks in the second round.  Now, the Lakers just need to lose.  At least the night was a huge success for draft positioning.

Well, obviously I don’t know what to say about tonight’s Cavs game.   The Cavs will have the third-best lottery odds, plus the 17th-ish pick, as well as 31 and 33.  Lots of options there.   Tristan finished with 8 & 10, albeit shooting inefficiently.  Dion appeared to salvage a rough start, finishing with 16 points on 54% true shooting.  Ellington and Gee netted thirteen points each.  Ultimately, they lost to the NBA’s (now second-) worst team.  One thing that all Cavs fans agree on is that it is time for this season to end, so that visions of the draft and 2013 – 2014 can take hold.  Sweet dreams.

P.S.  In vaguely related news, Memphis ended 28 – 12 since the Leuer trade…perhaps they didn’t “lose” the trade (not that Cleveland did either).  Cleveland won the Sessions trade though, right?  I can’t wait to read all of the articles tomorrow when people acknowledge that they were wrong about that one.

L2tP

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Shaping up to be an interesting night of basketball for the Cavs’ offseason plans.  If the Cavs lose to Charlotte tonight, they will be in sole possession of the 3rd most lottery balls in the NBA.  If the Cavs win and the Suns lose, there will be a coin flip.

SBNation breaks down all the playoff and lottery situations, here… well, except for the fate of the Cavs’ draft pick.

If the Memphis (at home) beats Utah at 8:00, then the Lakers are in, and the Cavs get their draft pick.  If Utah wins, then LA can still make the playoffs by beating Houston in LA at 10:30.  Both games are on ESPN.

In the Cavs world, Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal reports that the decision on Byron, one way or another, will be made quickly after the season ends.

The Plain Dealer’s Bud Shaw defends Byron, and Terry Pluto moralizes that Kyrie “still has room to grow.”

ESPN reports that the Cavs are expected to be one of the potential suitors if Phil Jackson decides to return to coaching.

In Lloyd’s Cavaliers’ notebook, he notes that Zeller and Waiters will report to summer league along with the Cavs’ rookies, and that Tristan Thompson will have the option.

Speaking of Canadian Dynamite, Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie, has a fantastic expose on Tristan. Much of Dwyer’s work is based on this report by the WSJ’s Stu Woo.  Woo notes that Tristan was on pace to become the most blocked player in NBA history.

For most of the season, nearly 17%, or one in six, of Thompson’s shots had been blocked. That’s well above the 6.3%, or about one of 16, average for the league, according to NBA.com’s statistical website, and it threatened Danny Fortson’s 16.7% rejection rate in 1997-98, which is the highest for anyone who has attempted at least 500 field goals in a season since 1997, the earliest for which NBA.com has data.

But then Zydrunas Ilgauskus worked with TT to develop some touch and the rest was (or hopefully will be) history.  Woo adds this gem of a quote from TT.

“I got a girlfriend,” said Thompson, who added that he asked her out only once. “Most women are interested in me, because I have dimples and I’m Canadian.”

First member of the commentariat that can come up with a good dimple themed nickname for TT gets a free year’s subscription.

Finally, Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer notes that Gee and Thompson are poised to play all in 82 games this season for the Cavs, as long as they log 1 second tonight.  So they’ve got that going for them.  Which is nice.

As never before, Go Grizzlies!  Go Lakers!  It’s the final countdown!

And fade to black…

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

I enjoyed Colin’s Monday missive, metaphorically comparing the soon-finished season to unassembled clips of a movie.  I appreciated that sentiment even more while contemplating what to say myself about the year past.

Perhaps Moondog can play in Wednesday's game against Charlotte. That may be the only hope for an interesting outcome.

What did this season mean?  On the first day of winter, when Cleveland lost to Indiana, a third straight double-digit defeat, things looked bleak: Five wins and twenty-three losses; Varejao injured; Tristan struggling at the rim and Dion not driving there; a sad bench and questionable line-up decisions; Luke Walton stumbling around as the depressing and incapable back-up power forward.  We took solace in the reasons of the compressed schedule, clustered with road tilts, and Kyrie’s early injury.  By December 21st though, with a holiday break upcoming, and an easing schedule, it was time to find a few more wins; I asked for twenty. (if they win Wednesday, the team reaches that threshhold…not exactly as contemplated though.)

And then the next night, they won, and the day after Christmas, another present for the fans.  Victories started trickling in; Kyrie with 33 and Tristan with 11 & 14 against Atlanta; the same duo combining for 50 points and 17 rebounds against Portland; and eventually Irving scoring 107 points during a late-January three-game winning streak.  And things were just starting to get fun.  Tristan’s basket of tricks suddenly overflowed: running righty hooks, push shots, fancy dribble drives…in January, he averaged 15 & 11 with 53% shooting and 68% from the line.  Combined with his standard defensive effort, it was a revelation.

A trade with Memphis brought a revitalized bench, and over one five-week stretch, the team won 10 of 16 games.  The Herculoids were birthed, as Luke Walton averaged an assist every four minutes, joining Shaun Livingston, Wayne Ellington, CJ Miles and Marreese Speights for a frolicking good time.  They were an offensive force, orchestrating pretty two-man games, cutting and passing with aplomb.

Another three game winning streak ensued, first with Kyrie netting 35 against title-contending Oklahoma City, before he, Dion and Tristan tag-teamed towards 114 points on 70% true shooting over two games.  And the train kept-a-rolling, with the bench destroying all-comers, Dion averaging reasonably efficient 20 points per 36  minutes for ten weeks, and Tristan bullying opposing front-lines.  Over a thirty game stretch, the youngsters and their reinvigorated veteran brethren played glorious five-hundred basketball.

And there was Kyrie.  In January & February, he posted 24 points per night, shooting a sublime 47 / 44 / 91.  For a first-timer, he owned all-star weekend.  Breaking ankles in the Shooting Stars game, destroying scrubs in the three-point contest, and scoring fifteen with the Big Boys on Sunday.  Of course, this all occurred before his 21st birthday.

Things looked good at the Q, but then Kyrie got hurt, followed by Dion…then OH NO!!  Luke Walton!!  They were roughed up by Indiana, then lost an absolutely epic short-handed battle versus Miami.  Things unravelled quickly; a forty-point destruction at the hands of Houston; three double-digit losses to fellow-lottery teams; a historic blown-lead at Indiana; and finally a near-Norris Cole triple-double on Fan Appreciation Night.  Add it up, and the computation sums to two wins in a month, and a season ending in spectacular implosion.  To some extent, it all serves as microcosm for Byron Scott’s other head coaching stints: a rapid rise behind an elite point guard, followed by an equally accelerated and historic collapse, infused with reports of player discontent and exasperating lack of effort.

What does it all mean?  I don’t know.  We are all amateur documentarians.  I’ll still explore some preferences.  Letting Coach Scott go sounds imminent and seems right.  Moving through the next seven months with a universally acknowledged short-leash imparts detrimental effects all-around.  Find a replacement, let him start gaining the core’s confidence, and let that young group start immersing themselves in new offensive and defensive wrinkles.

For personnel, I am fine with staying the course.  Draft Noel, Oladipo, Porter…whoever the front-office likes at their top-five pick.  Maybe trade the 16th pick for a suitable bench player; shoot, Indiana got George Hill for the 15th pick in the last “weak” draft.  Oklahoma City is near the luxury tax, and would maybe consider taking the Spurs-route; 16th pick for three-and-D ace Thabo Sefolosha?  Maybe that’s not the right move, but adding experience and defense should take priority over additional rookies.  Maybe with the 2nd rounders, take a flier on a point guard & a young-big, and send them to the D-League for a year; perhaps an in-house back-up for Kyrie can be groomed.

With an added lottery pick, next year’s roster is Kyrie, Dion, Tristan, Zeller, Varejao, Miles, Gee, and top-five rookie.  Stir in some random youngsters teetering between the end of the bench and the D-League, and a minimum of four legitimate NBA bench players need added.  My preference is keeping Ellington and Livingston and finding a cheap, new big…maybe Gustavo Ayon?  And finally, as a twelfth man, another point guard…I suggested A.J. Price last year for the minimum; for today, let’s roll with that.  There still may not be enough shooting, but ironing out a lineup for next year is not what we’re here to talk about today.

With only one major shake-up, I’m very hopeful for the 2013 – 2014.  With the following things happening, I think a leap is in order next year:

  1. Kyrie plays at least 70 games and resumes his starward trajectory, and we all forget about his April shooting percentages of 35 / 28 / 90 (hey, it’s Dion Waiters from December!)  In all likelihood, if good health, offensive mastery, and defensive commitment don’t come from Kyrie, this incarnation of the Cavs never reaches the NBA pinnacle.  How is that for lofty expectations?
  2. We get 2013 Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters for a full season, and the 2012 versions disappear like shadows at night. 
  3. Alonzo Gee cannot rank second on the team in minutes for a third straight season.  I don’t know if it’s Ellington, Miles, the lottery pick, or a 3-and-D free agent, but Gee needs reigned-in towards 15 – 20 minutes per game.  The player between Waiters and Tristan must be a knock-down shooter.
  4. Over the last seven seasons Anderson Varejao averaged 1500 minutes.  Through controlling his minutes and games played, he needs to reach that threshold next year.
  5. With a lottery selection and picking-up Miles’ option, there are eight players under contract next year.  The off-season free agent haul should include four-ish players and needs to eclipse last year’s crew of Miles, Kevin Jones, Leuer, Pargo, Harangody, and Micheal Eric (those last four guys plus Manny Harris started for Miami on Monday night, right?)  I’m not advocating for a splashy move, but dole-out $10 – $12 annually to four guys on relatively short contracts (1 – 3 years).   Just make sure that the twelve guys sitting on the bench on opening night are trusted when called upon, and that they bring maturity (and some shooting and / or passing and / or defense).
  6. Find a new coach.  Next year the team starts fresh.

Personally, that relatively minimal level of improvements drive the team towards the post-season.  But maybe a huge personnel move will happen between now and October.  We’ll wait and see.  For now, thankfully 2012 – 2013 is nearly complete.  Next week, we can all dive fully into the draft.

Links to the Present: April 16, 2013

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

According to reports, Byron Scott will be fired. WFNY has the roundup.

“Scott did give the media pause after the final home game Monday night when he said, “I am going to be back to coach ’em next year.” Asked if he’d been told that, Scott said, “I’ve got a year left on my contract, that’s how I figure it. Unless I’m told differently, that’s the way I approach it.”” [Marla Ridenour - ABJ]

“But has such success as Irving has already experienced changed him? Irving treated the All-Star Game, which he reached in his second season this year, as if it were a basketball beatification ceremony.” [Bill Livingston - PD]

“Moving from left to right on the floor, a 19 point fourth quarter which began with an explosive 3 straight connections in the first 2 and a half minutes of the quarter and culminated with a backbreaking shot from the far parallel line which ended the run of success by the Pistons clinched the greatest moment in the history of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise.” [Cleveland Jackson - Stepien Rules]

“I want to personally apologize to all the Cavs fans for my actions yesterday, it was truly unfair to you guys” [Kyrie Irving Tweet]

“It came on “Fan Appreciation Night,” when Cavs fans do what they always do.  They packed the building and went crazy in support of the home team — then left disappointed.” [Sam Amico - FoxSports]

“More disturbing is young All-Star Kyrie Irving, who has played with a late-season malaise that’s reminded everyone that despite his immense talent, he is still very much a 21-year-old. He admitted earlier this season he sometimes doesn’t give his all in games, and that seems to have been an issue lately as well.” [Brian Windhorst - ESPN]