Archive for June, 2013

A loooong look at the just completed draft and the upcoming free agency…

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

This post will be a dumping ground of thoughts on: the Cavs draft; other team’s selections; and free agency, which starts Monday.  By the end, you may confuse me with Tom or Nate, as this post approaches 4000 words.  But hey, I need to summarize my thoughts about a few critical formative weeks in franchise history.

Also in the next 24 hours, Robert will provide some pictures and final thoughts from his visit to the Barclays Center last Thursday, and Mallory has another podcast en route.  So come back often; maybe take the day off work.  Eh, Thursday’s a holiday…better call-in sick for the week.

Time to get started, with one man’s thoughts on the Cavs’ draft…

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Cavs: The Podcast 0034 – DRAFT FRENZY! Part 1

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Oh boy, CG did it again.

As has happened for the past two drafts, Grant managed to throw literally everyone off the scent, picking the one player most pundits hadn’t connected to the Cavaliers.

Colin, Tom, Nate and I hopped on the ole’ podcast line and talked this thing out.  We discussed (obviously) Bennett, Karasev, the second round, whether or not Chris Grant has completely turned teams off from trading with him, and the direction of this Cavaliers team.

As always, we can be found on SoundCloud at: https://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0034-draft-frenzy-part-1

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

So What’s This All Mean? Pt. 1

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Here’s just the first of what I’m sure will be many articles about how the draft has reshaped the Cavaliers’ roster.

First off, I don’t mean to neglect the Cavs’ selection of 6’6″ guard Carrick Felix out of Arizona State University with the 33rd pick. As you might have guessed, I was pulling for Jamaal Franklin at 33 (and at 31!), so I was a little thrown by this unfamiliar name. You can read all about Felix here. I know I will be.

That being said, the video montage ESPN played following the selection leads me to say this: good size, an athletic player with some explosiveness, good catch-and-shoot guy (37.4% from three). I’ll take that with the 33rd pick (even if I’d rather have Jamaal Franklin). I was convinced Chris Grant would draft someone he could stash overseas. With Felix, he might have drafted a guy he can stash in Canton, at least for next season.

Okay, on to Anthony Bennett. We all probably had something verging on Bill Simmons’ reaction, but within ten seconds it was pretty easy to talk yourself into the pick. Bennett was one of the two most talented players in this draft. It was him and Ben McLemore. They both had the most talent, the highest upside… however you want to phrase it. In that respect, it doesn’t matter that the Cavs already have Tristan Thompson — just as it wouldn’t have mattered that they already had Dion Waiter had the Cavs picked McLemore or Victor Oladipo. They now have the guy they feel was the most talented of the bunch of available guys this year.

The “glass half empty” view is that Bennett and Thompson are redundant, both undersized power forwards, so Chris Grant must have wasted one pick to get another right. There is that…

The “glass half full” view, though, is that all we’re dealing with is a similar redundancy to what we got when Grant drafted Dion Waiters, a creative, ball-handling scoring guard to pair with … well, you know, another creative, ball-handling scoring guard in Kyrie Irving. That happened and we saw the benefits of it. “Redundancy” became “flexibility” with Waiters able to handle the ball (more than) capably while Kyrie sat as well as score it while the two ran side-by-side.

That’s where Bennett’s listing of Carmelo Anthony as his favorite player during interviews yesterday was interesting to me. Anthony “found himself” in many way this past season playing the four for stretches, but has long made his home at the three. Likewise, Larry Johnson, the player who Bennett said his college coaches most compared his game with, was a burly, undersized, athletic, player who played both the three and the four during his career.

I think the Cavs embrace Bennett as a hybrid forward, while insisting that he be in good enough shape to be effective against threes on the defensive end. Bennett already brings more explosiveness and shot-making ability than any of the small forwards currently on the Cavs roster at the beginning of the night. Should he be able to play half of his minutes alongside Thompson, a front court of Bennett, a continually improving Thompson and the usually pin-balling Varejao is something to consider. It’s got size, strength, athleticism and the ability to generate baskets in a lot of different ways.

But Bennett can also slide down to the four spot and run in line-ups with the likes of Dion Waiters, Sergey Karasev, Alonzo Gee and Tyler Zeller. I don’t mind that group a bit either.

When you look at the Cavs you see a team of fluid positions. Waiters can play the two or he can handle the ball. Karasev can play the two or the three. Bennett (we’re being told) can play the three or the four. And then all of our other post players — Varejao, Thompson and Zeller — can play either the four or five, depending on the situation.

This makes for a more potent, surprising offense than if the Cavs had gone with either of the centers, Alex Len or Nerlens Noel.

So, no, I don’t think the Cavs have soured on Thompson just because they drafted Bennett. What it does make more clear, however, is that no one is especially safe until (or even after) this team starts winning. When the draft rolls around, Grant will take who he feels is best.

Too much of the best, after all, can only be good going forward.

Frequent Flyer: Cavs Draft Karasev at #19

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Sergey Karasev already knows what he can do to help the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Cleveland need shooters,” Karasev said. “And I think I’m the guy who can shoot the ball.”

He does, in fact, seem to be that guy. Karasev, the son of the coach of his Russian team, BC Triumph, and top scorer in Russia’s top league, the PBL, at 15.3 points per game, is praised for his proclivity as a shooter and his high basket ball IQ. While evaluating Karasev during this year’s Nike Hoops Summit, Matt Kamalsky of draftexpress.com said, “Shooting the ball with great range and effortless mechanics with his feet set, Karasev impressed scouts with his prolific perimeter shooting both in drills and game action to the point that it was surprising to see him miss at times. Making 38% of his 3-pointers this season, Karasev’s numbers belie his consistency from the perimeter given the defensive pressure he regularly faces.”

With Cleveland, he joins a team with a glaring offensive hole at the three and an overall lack of knock-down shooters (outside of Kyrie Irving) from either the two or three positions.

Karasev is ready to try to fill those needs right away. When asked if he planned to join the team immediately, he responded, “That’s all about them. I’m ready to come next year to play in Cleveland. If they’re going to say I need them, I come straight. I know that. I understand they need shooters. I try to help them and go as hard as possible.”

The biggest knock on Karasev coming into the draft was that he would not be able to defend his position at the NBA level. In fact, both he and top pick Anthony Bennett were considered defensive liabilities to some extent. You can expect coach Mike Brown to use Karasev’s length and intelligence to make up for what is currently a very slight frame.

Attending the draft was very important to Karasev. “Last time I’m going to shake the hand,” he said. “First and last time in my life in the draft.” It was an important stay in the states, but a short one. He arrived earlier this afternoon then left the Barclays Center to catch a return flight home to prepare for “the university games” with his team back in Russia.

“I feel very great,” Karasev said in broken, but passable English. “It’s my dream come true.”

Runnin’ Down a Dream: Cavs Take Bennett Number One

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Cavs fans should consider themselves lucky there wasn’t a consensus number one pick in the draft this year. If there were, there’s no telling if GM Chris Grant would have taken him.

Grant threw a draft day curve for the third straight year, selecting Anthony Bennett, the 6’7″ forward out of UNLV, first overall in a draft that kept everyone guessing right until David Stern capped the pause after his “A…” with”-nthony Bennett.”

But, don’t worry if this pick shocked you. You have company.

“I’m just as surprised as everybody else,” Bennett said, after being the first Canadian-born player to be chosen with the top pick in the draft. “I didn’t really have any idea who was going number one or who was going number two. I heard everything was up for grabs.”

The Cavaliers and Grant, who has long said the team would select the best available player, clearly saw something in Bennett worth grabbing. While averaging 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds as a freshman (his 12 double-doubles ranked third in the country among freshmen), Bennett couldn’t shake a comparison to a former Runnin’ Rebel and number one pick, Larry Johnson. “[T]hroughout the whole year, Coach Rice at UNLV, Stacey Augmon and Heath Schroyer, basically all said [my game and Johnson’s are] similar,” Bennett said. “So I went back… I watched UNLV play Duke and beat them by 30 in the final. It was pretty much similar. I kind of see where the comparisons are coming from.”

Some questioned the pick, as the Cavs already have a young, somewhat undersized power forward in 6’8″ Tristan Thompson. But Bennett believes it’s not an either/or between he and Thompson. “I can contribute at the four, at the three. … I think I can just fit in right away.” And he downplayed the Canadian connection between he and Thompson, saying that the second-year Cavs forward is “just a great guy. He seems real cool,” but that the two don’t speak regularly.

Bennett was always considered one of the top two talents in this draft (with Kansas’s Ben McLemore being the other), but questions about his fit with the Cavaliers, his shoulder surgery and the inconsistent defense he displayed during this past year, led most to believe the team would choose a different path. While no one asked Bennett about his shoulder injury in the press conference, a source from the Toronto Sun confirmed that, while it would not be healed in time for Summer League, Bennett expects to be ready for the start of training camp.

Bennett is considered an explosive athlete who finishes around the rim, while also having the ability to face the basket and shoot with range.

If Bennett is able to transition to playing the three at least part of the time, the Cavs may have solidified a young, dynamic starting lineup that now seems light years away from their veteran, role-player-laden post-LeBron roster. A starting five of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Bennett, Thompson and Anderson Varejao while, not without its questions, will be the most formidable … or, at least, the most intriguing one the team has fielded in some time.

“I can play with anyone,” Bennett assured. “There’s no agendas for me. I just want to be successful… win championships… and, you know, just win games. … It’s just like a longtime dream that I had since I first started playing basketball.”

A Draft Liveblog for the Paranoid and Consumed

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

So, hey, look: I’m not excited about this. After a season during which one of the running subplots was where the Cavs would end up in the draft and how the class itself was shaping up, after the lottery victory, after two solid weeks of speculation and rumors and smokescreens and interviews and profiles: I feel like Gene Hackman’s character at the end of The Conversation, just wailing away on a sax in a torn-asunder apartment, either mad or tranquil, not really able to distinguish between the two anymore. My draft board is actually just stick figure drawings and Young Jeezy lyrics. I’ll be watching the draft feeling burnt out, ready for anything at all but mostly just ready for it to be over. I’ve got two forties of Olde English and a cat asleep by my foot. I may occasionally bury my face in his belly to quell my feelings of aggravation.

But anyway, wherever you are and however shellshocked or excited or nervous you are: refresh your laptop with us while we watch the draft. I’ll be updating this post with the latest news and perhaps even some useless, knee-jerk reactions as the night progresses. Feel free to squabble and vex and kvetch and cheer in the comments. Let’s check in with some of the C:TB team:

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L2tP: The Maelstrom

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Draft rumors flying fast and furious all afternoon.  Here’s the latest.  Basically, the Cavs are linked to Len and Noel, with a trade being a high priority as well.  We likely won’t know till David Stern announces the pick.

According to Terry Pluto, Thomas Robinson is the fall back trade for the #19 pick, if the Cavs can’t package it to move up (ideally to get Karasev).

Karasev, meanwhile has been invited to the green room, will attend the draft, and then re-join his national team.  He probably won’t even be available by Dallas’ 13th pick.

Cavs.com holds their mock draft with Campy Russell, John Michael, and Fred McLeod of Fox Sports Ohio’s Cavaliers broadcast team, and the radio broadcast team.  With the top pick, they take Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, and Anthony Bennett, respectively.

Just in case you thought the world had turned upside down, here’s a Dion Waiters video of him biking through Cleveland.  Keep workin’ Dion. Just please watch the road.

Kevin’s Draft Board, #1 – 10: (or, the time I started typing nonsense (but, it was all rooted in unwritten brilliance))

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

So, the draft is here.  We finally get the answer to what crazy thing Chris Grant has plotted out.  I’m excited, and as we dive into the ecstasy that is draft day, let’s run through my top ten…

(Also, read Robert’s article immediately below this, live from the draft.  Live from the draft?  What are we, like real media or something?)

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The NBA Draft Prospect Media Availability Chamber of Doom…

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Some notes, quotes and observations from the 2013 NBA Draft Media Availability Day at the Westin Hotel Times Square in NYC…

Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel entered favoring his surgically repaired knee slightly. Though, honestly, I would not have noticed it if I hadn’t been looking for it. And he absolutely looks as skinny as advertised. He repeated that his recovery was “ahead of schedule,” but didn’t put a definite time table on when he would be able to play. He was soft-spoken and compared how he would approach the adjustment from college to the NBA the same way he dealt with his transition from high school to Kentucky, on “defense first… rebound and block shots” and then contribute more offensively as time goes on. A lot has been made of how other potential top pick, Alex Len, dominated Noel in Noel’s first game of the season. But Noel continued to develop in the months leading up to the game where he tore his ACL to the point where, if the injury had not occurred, we might not be having this “there’s no clear top pick” discussion. Noel also narrowly edged Ben McLemore for my inaugural Media Availability Day Best Dressed Award. The kid can sure rock a pocket square…

Alex Len

Alex Len confirmed that his own recovery is going well. Coming back from a stress fracture in his ankle, Len is off crutches and expects to be out of the walking boot that caused his own slight limp in three weeks. He stressed that he would, in fact, be ready for the start of training camp. When asked what his case for going first overall was, Len replied “I don’t care where I go. It’s all about fit. I think Cleveland is a great fit for me too. They have really good guards and I think it would be a great fit for me.”

(on what type of player the team who drafts him will get) “They’re gonna get a tremendous work ethic from me. I’m just gonna work my tail off. I can contribute on the defensive [end of the] floor right away and as time goes on I can be a force on the offensive end of the floor.”

CtB: “When you met with Cleveland did you get to talk to Vitaly Potapenko at all?”

AL: “Yep, definitely. Him and Ilgauskas. They both speak Russian, so it was fun.”

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Cavs: The Blog: The Mock Draft: The Version 1.0: The Picks 16 Through 33

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Okay, part two. Let’s drop any pretense that I’m (this is Colin) going to say anything useful in this opening paragraph. Let us mock, however poorly:

16.) Boston Celtics (Mallory Factor): Sergey Karasev, 6’7″, Triumph Lyubertsy, SF - The Celtics are in a tough place.  Given the whole, “Doc Rivers has made it clear he doesn’t want to be part of the future” situation, it’s assumed KG and/or Pierce are likely on the way out too.  If all of that is true, then the Celtics are left with a bevy of needs.  They’ll be in full-on rebuild.  What better way to start the process than a young Euro project?  Karasev appears to be one of the most polished shooters in this year’s draft, hitting the three at a high percentage in Europe.  Imagine the damage he could do in the catch-and-shoot game with Rondo dishing to him!  He’s decent at attacking the rim and is a good decision maker as well.  While his defense is questionable, but his youth makes him a great prospect for a team with so much missing.

17.) Atlanta Hawks (Colin McGowan): Giannis Adetokunbo, 6’9″, Basket Zaragoza (Spain), SF - So, The Greek Freak finally goes here. I wouldn’t be shocked if he climbs higher than this Hawks’ 17th/18th duo once the actual draft rolls around. Given a selection of prospects amongst which it’s hard to identify a superstar, why not take a kid who needs some work but might become quite special in a few years? The Hawks could go any number of directions this offseason, depending on what they want to do with Al Horford and where Dwight Howard ends up, but it would be hard to fault them for letting Giannis play at Zaragoza for a year or two, then seeing what they have when he enters his twenties. Even if the pick goes bust, it’s a nice pickup in the late teens.

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