Archive for July, 2013

Recap: Team White 128, Team Blue, 106 (or Kyrie Irving is the best 21 year old baller in the world)

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Here are the starting lineups for the USA Select team scrimmage from the Thomas And Mack Center in Las Vegas:

Team Blue

Guard, Damian Lillard; Guard, Dion Waiters; Forward, Gordon Hayward; Forward, Anthony Davis; Center, Greg Monroe; Coach, Tom Thibideau

Bench: Harrison Barnes, John Wall, Klay Thompson, DeMar DeRozan, Kemba Walker, Derrick Favors,

Team White

Guard, Kyrie Irving; Guard, Jrue Holiday; Guard, Paul George; Forward Kenneth Faried; Center, DeAndre Jordan; Coach, Monty Williams

Bench: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ryan Anderson, Tyler Zeller, Mike Conley, DeAndre Jordan, Ty Lawson, Chandler Parsons, Andre Drummond

Editors Note: I am going to preface this by saying that it’s been impossible to find a box score for this game to give you a complete list of the benches for each team.  Running diary format tonight.

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Links to the Present: National Teams Edition

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Suddenly, the Cavs are rife with national team players.

The Plain Dealer kicked off the coverage of the USA Basketball mini-camp, where the Cavs top every NBA team with three invitees, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Tyler Zeller, who are hoping to use the experience as a stepping stone to regular season success.

More coverage: Check out the 50 second mark of this video to see Dion throw down a nasty between the legs slam during “dunk practice,” at the mini-camp (oh yeah, there are about a dozen other sick dunks on there too — it cannot be overstated how athletic these guys are).

Tuesday, Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal profiled Kyrie Irving in Las vegas and, his “growing up” this summer after a rough end to last season. Lloyd included this little tidbit: according to anonymous sources, “Irving is nearly a lock to be part of the 2014 FIBA World Cup team that will compete in Spain next summer.”

In other national team news, Team Canada’s training camp starts next week, and the roster has yet to be finalized, but Tristan Thompson certainly is a lock to be involved.  He’s front and center on the poster for the culmination of team Canada basketball activities, the Jack Donahue International Classic featuring Team Canada versus Team Jamaica  on August 8th and 10th.  Anthony Benett won’t play or practice because of his shoulder injury, but he may still be on hand.

Speaking of Bennett, CavsTV on Cavs.com has a lot of good stuff, including the newest web series, “getting to know Anthony Bennett,” which debuted yesterday and continues today.  Who knew UNLV had such a nice locker room?

Sergey Karasev will represent team Russia in EuroBasket in Slovenia from Sept. 4th-22nd.  Rick Noland of the Chronicle-Telegram profiled Karasev yesterday after his introductory press conference by the Cavs. Bob Finnan of the News-Herald had a nice writeup on Karasev, Tuesday.  The Manu Ginobili comparisons are as thick as the hair on Wild Thing wig night.

In essence, the Cavs have a realistic shot of having 6 players in international play next September at the inaugural World Cup of Basketball: KI, Dion, Karasev, TT, Anthony Bennett, and Andy.  That doesn’t even include who they may draft or sign next offseason…  In honor of that, and in the hopes of keeping Andy healthy through next summer, I just bought this, and will be wearing it during every Cavs game in the coming season.  I can’t wait to get all of the Cavs’ players’ international jerseys.

Checking in with Dion, take a gaze at this pic of Waiters chuckling with Kevin Durant.  Also, Dion’s tweeting about out one of his many offseason endeavors, the “Dream Chasers Sports and Entertainment Summit,” which endeavors to “bring together some of the biggest names in both sports and entertainment to discuss everything from chasing dreams successfully to what it takes to make it in the industry as an athlete, musician, entrepreneur and business executive.”  The summit is August 30th, from noon to 7:00 in Philly.  Dion Waiters does not lack ambition.  There’s even a rumor that Waiters played for the Reds in ’91.

Wrapping it all up, the intra-squad scrimmage for team USA, “the Blue and White game,” is tonight at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas at 6:00 PM Pacific.  Click here for tickets (notice the ad with Kyrie front and center)… NBATV kicks off their coverage of the national team at 7:00 Eastern, and then will show the game, live, at 9:00 Eastern, with a repeat at 11:30.

Talking with… Tyler Zeller

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

I wrote about this a lot in the Summer League recaps: the Cavs’ team defense, save some lapses and that forgettable final game, was refreshingly effective. And while many fans liked to pick at Tyler Zeller lack of sheer brutishness, but the effect of his experience (he’s going into his second year in the league, but played four years of big time college at North Carolina) and intelligence on the rest of the team was apparent.

Zeller was always talking, telling the younger guys, like Carrick Felix, where to go, what position to be in, etc. Zeller points out in the video below (however vaguely … players don’t really like to talk about schemes, it turns out … especially when they’re being asked about them in vague ways) that a lot of the difference between good defense and bad defense is trusting that your teammates will be where they’re supposed to be.

Mike Brown talks about this in terms of the heavy lifting of establishing the defensive culture. Dion Waiters echoed this idea saying that we all saw him last year with his head constantly swiveling around trying to follow the ball or track the action and that wasn’t effective. Effective team play, he said, comes when, say, he doesn’t have to look to see if the pick’s coming — a teammate knows to call it out and Waiters trusts that he will.

I touched on this subject with Zeller and got to ask him about watching his brother, Cody, play for the Bobcats in the same Summer League.

(One thing that was not vague in this interview: I am not a legit seven-footer, no matter what the Cavs: The Blog media guide says…)

Talking with… Carrick Felix

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Many Cavs fans (myself included) fell hard when they were introduced to Carrick Felix back on July 12. That was the Cavaliers’ first game of the Las Vegas Summer League and Felix tipped his hat in our general direction then went out and tallied 14 points on 5-9 shooting (2-3 from three) to go along with six rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Now that, one says to one’s self, is what you like to see from your second round pick.

But Felix’s production tapered off after that and his final game saw him scoring two points and grabbing just one rebound in 20 minutes in a loss to the Miami Heat.

Still, most people I talked to during my time at Summer League were impressed by Felix. He talks about wanting to play defense and he’s built for it: long, athletic and quick. He’s shown that it is at least theoretically possible for him to hit open threes. But his ball handling has still got a long way to go, which currently limits even the eventual effectiveness he’ll have as a finisher in transition.

The best thing about Felix, though, may be his attitude. He’s got an easy smile and comes across as genuinely enthusiastic to being in the position to make an NBA roster (I know, I know… Who wouldn’t be?).

I caught up with him after a game in Vegas:

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Recap: Cavs 76, Heat 82 (Or most of these guys aren’t on regular season rosters for a reason)

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

We thought that the inaugural Summer League Tournament would add a bit more excitement to the mid-off-season classic, encouraging teams to play their bigger names for more than just a couple of games. But as the Vegas minutes started to pile up for some of these guys, teams are wisely deciding that a Summer League tournament banner is not worth any long-term wear on their investments.

So, it’s with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to Dion Waiters’s 2013 Summer League and, consequently, that of the rest of the Cavaliers as well. The wine and gold dropped their quarterfinal game against the Miami Heat 82-76 to finish up at 3-2 in Summer League action.

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Links to the Present – July 20, 2013: Andrew Bynum is Joe Namath edition

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

We are a day late on this news, but the Cavs introduced Andrew Bynum yesterday. He said “this is definitely a playoff team”; a guarantee the new big man is now obliged to follow through on.  One day into his official employment with the Cavaliers, so far, so good; Bynum is spending a lot of time with the doctors and in the gym.

Real GM reports (via Jason Lloyd / Akron Beacon Journal) that Mike Brown wants Dion Waiters to strictly play shooting guard.  This is completely rational, assuming the back-up point guard option is not Donald Sloan.  Fortunately, Jarrett Jack is not Donald Sloan.  Coach Brown seems to be stressing defense with Dion, and from reports, the young protege is listening.  Dion possesses potential to be an impactful player at that end of the court, and hopefully he gets there.

Finally, according to Jason Lloyd, Tyler Zeller will miss the remainder of Summer League; he requires stitches on his left ring finger.  The injury is not serious, and he was likely to sit out the remaining games regardless.  He will participate in next week’s USA Basketball Mini-camp.  Glad to hear that Tyler is okay, but this shocking blow may derail the team’s ongoing Summer League championship aspirations.  Losing his 10 point, 8 rebound averages requires a Herculean effort from Kenny Kadji in order to hoist the Cavs into the final four.  Their quarter-final appearance starts at 4 pm EST against Miami.  Come on, Cleveland Cavaliers Summer League Team!!  Avenge the blown 27-point lead from March!!  Beat the Heat!!

On a more serious note, it would be cool if the team won and Dion, Carrick Felix, etc, kicked butt.  Possibly this has been reported somewhere already, but Dion is probably not much longer for summer league either though.

Recap: Cavs 72, Spurs 66 (Or Dion is too Good for Summer League)

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Kudos to the NBA.  They’ve NBA done a fantastic job of finally making the summer league watchable.  Higher production values on NBATV, live streaming, and a tournament based format that gives players something to play for have changed the summer league from an after season yawn to a must watch for hard core NBA junkies.  This is where to tune in to see those end of the roster guys who might have more game than you thought, and the place to go to see future stars rounding their game into form.  Also, all these guys seem like they’re in fantastic shape.  Maybe it’s the unis, but everyone seems chiseled and fast.  Another plus, with the majority of these guys playing for a roster spot, there’s no discernible room for knuckleheads.  Furthermore, the NBA has given fans and the press an unbelievable amount of access to teams and players. For example, see Robert’s fantastic pieces from earlier this week.  If the Las Vegas summer league keeps coming off this well, look for every team in the league to participate in the coming years.

Instead of a quarter by quarter recap, lets look at the players, most specifically the ones who have a chance to make an NBA roster. (more…)

Talking with… Anthony Bennett

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

I was alongside a couple of local Vegas television crews as they chatted up Anthony Bennett on Tuesday afternoon at Summer League.

A lot of the local questions tilt toward UNLV, but there’s a great one where Bennett describes walking up to the podium on draft night and what David Stern said to him. I come in at 5:07 and hit a home run (of course).

Bennett seems like a nice, humble guy who really wants to get back on the court and play. That is also something that I want.

Thanks to Varsity Tape’s Adam Dew for the fine camera work.

Talking with… Dion Waiters

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

I had a chance to catch up with Dion Waiters following the Cavs’ 69-58 win over the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday night in the Las Vegas Summer League. We talked about taking his game up in the fourth quarter, his off-season workout and talking with the refs.

CtB: In the fourth quarter, you really took up your aggressiveness. How important was it for you to take control of the game, get those shots to start falling and to get a win?

Waiters: I’m really just trying to get my legs back. I’m trying to go so hard just to get back into playing rhythm. I’ve been working out, but there’s a difference from running up and down. That’s why I’m out here. I just wanted to be aggressive in the fourth. I had some good looks. I was shortening my shot, not following through… off-balance. So, I told myself I gotta be aggressive. If my shots aren’t falling, I gotta get to the rack.

CtB: What’s your off-season workout? What have you been doing?

(At this point, we picked up some video of the conversation. It follows — and a transcript of those Qs and As follows that.)

Waiters: Everything, man. Riding bikes for 50 miles. Weight room. Gym two, three times a day. I’m just working, man. Swimming pool. Everything. Everything.

CtB: I saw a little conversation between you and the refs, especially early on in the game. What’s a conversation like that go like?

Waiters: Oh, I just told the ref, “Can we play a little bit?” You know, some calls, you’re not going to get those calls in the NBA, so I was trying to tell him that. I don’t know what they called. I think they called, like, 60 calls today. Man, it was crazy. Every time you tried to get into a rhythm, you hear a whistle. But, you know… They’re doing their job, I guess.

The next day, following the Cavs’ 62-66 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, I found Waiters again. This time, I wanted to talk about the smack-down he put on an Austin Rivers shot attempt in the third quarter. I talk more about the block in the recap and here’s what Waiters had to say:

CtB: You had one play that really stood out. It was that really demonstrative, big block on Austin Rivers. How much do you enjoy bringing that swagger, that on-court talking to the game.

Waiters: I do, man. I do. That’s what the game is about. Having fun. Being competitive.

CtB: Get inside your opponents head a little bit?

Waiters: Yeah, just a little bit. It ain’t like that, though. [It’s just fun.] It is what it is.

Links to the Present: Mike Miller edition

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Rounding up the news from the last few days…

In the biggest news of the day for Cleveland fans, the Cavs are rumored to be delaying the signing and introduction of Andrew Bynum in order to make an amnesty bid on Mike Miller.  Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer has the story, here. CBS Sports counters with the rumor that Miller is considering back surgery for a bulging disk, which may cause teams to balk.  Personally, I don’t believe it. The revelation continues the string of would be amnesty candidates saying crazy stuff so that no one will place a claim on them and they can then go where they want (*cough* *cough*, Metta World Peace).

The Cavs are delaying the Bynum signing so that they can clear room for Miller by waiving the contracts of Quinn, Kevin Jones, and/or C.J. Miles, if necessary.  Those contracts are not guaranteed for the coming season.  If Cleveland signed Bynum first, they’d have to waive those contracts before they bid on Miller.  In a vacuum, I’d rather have C.J. Miles , but the chance to add Miller as a locker room presence and as a +1 for recruiting LBJ next summer probably pushes Miller ahead of Calvin Andre.  The deadline for amnesty claims is 5 PM this evening.

Speaking of this evening, the Cavs summer league team plays their first Las Vegas Summer League playoff game at 4:00 EST versus the Spurs summer league team on NBATV.  You can get the App to watch it live for $4.99, and have access to all the other summer league games, here.  There are also less reputable sites on the internet for streaming in case you want to add your computer to a Chinese botnet.

The summer Cavs have added Scoop Jardin, formerly of Syracuse, to their squad since Kevin Jones and Chris Quinn have concussions.

Not on the Summer League squad, but still doing yeoman’s work, Sergey Karasev led a stacked Russian team to a gold medal over Australia in the World University Games on Wednesday.  In the gold medal game, Karasev played 32 minutes, and posted a Dion like line of 4-12 from the floor, 1-5 from three, 6-8 from the line, for 15 points, 6 boards, 3 dimes, 3 turnovers, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.  Way to fill up that box score , Sergey.  Karasev was possibly the best player in the tournament with a 19/5.8/4 (points/rebounds/assists) per game average in 24.8 minutes with .567/.455/.759 shooting splits.  Whoa. Karasev is scheduled to play with the Russian Euro Championship team in September.

There’s all sorts of fun stuff over on cavs.com, including interviews with Cavs summer leaguers.  Meet Carrick Felix in this interview.  Also, check out Carrick’s summer league blog, here.

Conrad Kaczmarek over at FearTheSword has a couple of interesting tidbits, including an interview with Anthony Bennett’s UNLV coach, Dave Rice, and summer tales of Tristan Thompson practicing jumpers right handed.

Let’s wrap up by checking in with the always entertaining Dion Waiters twitter page…  First, Saint Weirdo’s scaring the crap out of someone in a video on instragram (warning PG-13).  Second, he’s pushing his August 4th Basketbowl fundraiser on August 4th at the Corner Alley on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.  Tickets  and details here.  Awesome poster, here: