Archive for May, 2013

I Can’t Rebuild. I’ll Rebuild.

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Mike Brown’s first hiring came with a clock. Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert, fearing his newly christened coach lacked a certain ability to grasp conceptual metaphor, was kind enough to bring an actual, physical clock to Brown’s introductory press conference. The clock, Gilbert explained, symbolized that Brown, even before he coached his first game, was “on the clock” and was expected to win immediately.

By Brown’s second hiring, Gilbert believed that we all had grown cognitively enough to interpret signs and symbols without his help. Either that or he just forgot the clock at home. There absolutely was a clock at Brown’s second press conference, though. Only this clock when it tolls, assuming that the clock had some sort of alarm function on it (and there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t because … well, Dan Gilbert can afford really nice clocks), it tolls not for Mike Brown, but for CG.

Chris Grant firmly hitched up his GMsmanship to Brown and the next two years will basically decide whether or not Grant sticks around to further rivet the girders of his Cavaliers Rebuild blueprint. If Brown instills some manner of offensive and defensive identity (preferably a good ones) into the team of young players Grant has acquired since Brown left in 2010— and if those identities lead toward better professional basketballing in Cleveland, multiple playoff appearances, contender-dom, etc.— it will be hard to not give Grant a good deal of the credit. His run is identified by controversial (but generally agreed-upon in hindsight) draft picks, largely static off-seasons, long-term salary obligations wiped away from Cavs’ spreadsheets and a cupboard now bursting with future first rounders. It’s also featured a three-year run of some pretty terrible basketball but, at least on paper, Grant seems to be a man who can GM with above-average efficiency. He’s done arguably better than expected. No Jim Paxson, he.

But what if all that still isn’t enough?

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Scouting the Playoffs: Round 1 — The West

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

The Golden State free agent situation is as important to the Cavs as any team in the league’s.  The Warriors cap situation next year is brutal.  They have $24 million committed to Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, and Brandon Rush who have ETOs they won’t exercise.  Carl Landry will probably opt out of his $4 million dollar option.  This leaves $69 million in salary commitments next year for the Warriors with the current luxury tax at $70 million.  There is a lot of speculation as to what the tax threshold will be next year.  There are estimates that NBA revenue will be up 20% this year.  The big question is, how much of this will be “basketball related income,” which is the number upon which the luxury tax is based?  A huge BRI increase would actually be devastating for the Cavs’ free agent hopes, and small market teams everywhere.  One of the theories behind the 2011 collective bargaining agreement was that the deal would help small market teams compete in luring and keeping free agents, because it would punish big market teams that overspend on player salaries.  But if the NBA revenue pool increases faster than salaries, those teams won’t hit that limit.  If this happens, teams like the Thunder will definitely kick themselves, as they would have easily been able to keep Harden.

With the luxury tax threshold higher, teams will be able to throw around some crazy money at NBA free agents, and the theory that the Cavs could pay more because teams would be reticent to wander into luxury tax territory will be blown out of the water if teams suddenly have $14 million more to spend to be under the tax.  Suddenly Miami will have an easier time keeping the axis of ego together…  *(correction: the Warriors wasted their Amnesty on Charlie Bell.  If the tax threshold goes up, $14 million should still be enough to sign Jack, Landry and a rookie). Someone smarter than me needs to investigate this.

Now that that pessimism over optimism is over, let’s get to the talent.  Yesterday, we covered the pending free agents and trade targets in the first round of the eastern conference playoffs.  The available talent in the western conference is clearly superior.

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Scouting the Playoffs: Round 1 — The East

Monday, May 6th, 2013

An entertaining first round of the NBA playoffs concluded this last weekend.  How does this concern the Cavs?  Uh…

…Oh.  Right.  There’s quite a few players in the playoffs right now who will be free agents in the offseason.  In addition there’s several players who played who’ll be tempting trade targets.  Let’s look at some.

Miami Vs. Milwaukee: Miami won this one handily.  Miami’s free agents are Ray Allen, Chris Anderson, Mario Chalmers, Juwan Howard, James Jones, and Rashard Lewis.  None of those guys are probably on the radar for the Cavs.  Mario Chalmers and James Jones might be interesting pickups, but James Jones played only 5 minutes.  Hailing from my home town of Anchorage, Alaska, Mario Chalmers would allow the Cavs to have employed every single Alaskan to play in the NBA, joining prestigious Cavs alums Trajan Langdon and Carlos Boozer.  However, he had a particularly meh first round averaging 6.5 points off of .517 true shooting and 4.5 assists per game.  Tough to grade anyone on Miami.  This series was like a butterfly hitting a Buick.  I admit, I didn’t watch a game.

In looking to fill the Anthony Parker/Luke Walton role of seasoned veteran who plays too many minutes, the Cavs could do a lot worse than Mike Dunleavy, who at least offensively acquitted himself well, scoring 19.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per 36 minutes, with shooting splits of .567/.438/.889.  Just don’t ask him to guard LeBron though.  And if you come to Cleveland, Mike, please rock the ‘stache.

Honorable mention: Samuel Dalembert who might be a decent 4th big, only got to play 9 minutes, continuing his career trend of massively underplaying his contract.  Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings got torched by Miami’s guards, but aren’t realistic options anyway.

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Did anyone read my stuff at Hardwood Paroxysm?

Friday, May 3rd, 2013
 

I looked at 1500+ different player-seasons in this study. Jason Collins posted the fifth best defensive campaign. I wonder what ever happened to that guy.

(I posted the first two parts of this series at Cavs:the Blog in November, before moving to Hardwood Paroxysm.  As the draft approaches, the information seemed Cavs-relevant enough to bring home.  This is the second-to-last of fourteen articles.)

As I continue wading through a summary of my findings, it seems again worth clarifying what this study is good for.  As a general rule, it is not intended as some code-cracking draft algorithm.  Speedy point guards frequently thriving doesn’t mean to ignore Damian Lillard, who posted a slow sprint speed.  The value it can provide is in separating a group of closely-spaced prospects; if there are five guys you like similarly, pick the one with the commonly successful athletic traits.  It also provides some insights into unearthing late-draft value, or conversely, avoiding rarely successful player types with a second-round flier.   Finally, and overwhelming, the primary outcome is to not overvalue any of the pre-draft measurements.  But more on that later.

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Looking Toward Free Agency: Aaaaaannnd Here’s Where It Gets Dicey

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Okay, over the last three seasons, we’ve learned a thing or two. For instance, we’ve learned that a team with a starting five of Ramon Sessions, Anthony Parker, Alonzo Gee, Antawn Jamison and whoever is getting Anderson Varejao’s post-injury minutes is, especially with cap-stretching salaries and a dearth of draft picks, a bummer to watch. On the flip, we’ve also learned that a team with a starting five of (the NBA’s youngest All-Star) Kyrie Irving, (he of a very promising February) Dion Waiters, (sigh) Alonzo Gee, (an absolute god-send of player development) Tristan Thompson and whoever is getting Anderson Varejao’s post-injury minutes is, even given relatively favorable salaries and an excess of future draft picks, still often a bummer to watch.

The lumps that we, the people following the Cleveland Cavaliers, took were lumps we knew we would take, and gladly take, favoring player development and a general bottoming out over a Milwaukee Bucks-ish eternal eight or nine seed. But, now, Mike Brown stands before us and says things about defense and about competing and we viewers, along with the Cavs organization, have to hope that the biggest lumps have ended. In order for that to be true, though, in order for the type of play that marred most of this season to be, by and large, in the rearview, we’ll need to be very selective (and lucky) in choosing the complementary pieces to this young and developing roster.

By all accounts, the Cavs want to keep Wayne Ellington, a restricted free agent. Marreese Speights is likely gone (and probably isn’t as good of a fit with this team as we thought during our brief Marreese Speight love-in when he first arrived). Livingston could stay or go and Miles could stay or be dropped. So, who else is out there? It won’t be Josh Smith or Dwight Howard, but I fully expect the Cavs to be aggressive in getting value players that will help them win (more) next season. So who?

(long sigh)

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Turn on the Lights

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

So, Robert Attenweiler is our newest Cavs: The Blog staffer. You’ll get to call him a know-nothing gasbag in the comments section soon enough, but let me introduce the dude first. He and his writing partner Scott Henkle wrote Our Greatest Year, a play about a young couple living out the 2007 Cleveland sports calendar. You might remember he was a guest on Cavs: The Podcast some months ago, talking about said play. He has also written a couple things for our friends over at The Classical. I was concerned, when I started this search, that I would have to grit my teeth and hire the least-bad clip file that landed in my inbox, but I’m pleased to say that Robert is now part of our staff. I think he’s a very thoughtful writer, and I’m looking forward to reading and editing him.

Even if Robert hadn’t inquired, I would have had a solid stable of writers to choose from. I want to thank everyone who applied. I appreciate your enthusiasm immensely. I know I can get sort of down in the dumps—turn this space into my personal misanthropy bin—but it was heartening to see how many readers like the blog and aspire to write for it. Cavs fandom over the past little while—hell, over the course of the team’s entire history—has been the chore of self-flagellators and sad-sacks in much the same manner writing is. To marry the two practices is perhaps hazardous to one’s health. But good on you, and thank you for reading.

Anyway, Robert will have a post up tomorrow morning, so you’ll get to know him presently. Please make him feel at home.