The Point Four-ward: Love and Loveless Edition

July 24th, 2014 by Robert Attenweiler

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) There’s a reason that the two sides of the Kevin Love/Andrew Wiggins debate are so equally passionate about the other side being horribly misguided. This is not necessarily an argument about the personnel moves made by a basketball team so much as it is a larger struggle between Reason and Imagination. Love, supporters of the trade that would send Minnesota a package headlined by the Cavs’ recent number one pick say, immediately makes this Cavs team a contender (at least in the East) and, still only 25, would keep the Cavs championship window open well through LeBron’s prime, the new extension on Kyrie Irving’s contract, as well as whatever new contract the Cavs cadre (Lake Erie’s new answer to the Miami mafia) convinces him is worth the signature either prior to or just after the 2014-15 season.

They are, of course, entirely right. If the only thing we can be sure of in professional sports is what we already know, then Love is a no-brainer. Whenever you have the assets to nab a top-12 player who has yet to enter his prime (which is really the scariest thought here) while still keeping the middle of your batting order together, you do it. You do not think about Anthony Bennett, reason says. You do not think about the type of player Andrew Wiggins might develop into.

Except thinking about the type of player Andre Wiggins might develop into is exactly what one does with a head already packed full with too much sports detritus, much of it now out of date and worth about as much as a Michael Olowokandi rookie card. Wiggins offers that spark to a Cavs fan’s imagination: that talent to watch blossom while wearing wine and gold; to watch explode through space with an athleticism that seems such a clear distillation of what is most exciting about watching professional basketball. Even Bill Simmons, who has long lauded his own sports common sense (Celtics notwithstanding), has called for the Cavs to give us even half a year of seeing what a LeBron/Wiggins team might look like before making the trade that makes the team make more sense. Let us have our look into what we imagine the future might look like even if what the future actually will be might be the better choice. Let us see two amazing NBA wing athletes (who would double as their team’s best rim protectors) turn opposing passing lanes into a human version of Whack-a-Mole, appearing as if from nowhere to change out dimes into pennies from heaven. Just give us a taste of the candy; we promise we’ll finish our boneless/skinless and our broccoli all in due measure.

But, of course, the league doesn’t operate like that. This is the NBA. This is serious business. And so the Cavaliers pursuit of acquiring just the right assets to land Love continues on.

2.) I wondered during Summer League if Carrick Felix had much of a future with this team. He was brought in by the Grant/Brown regime as a long wing defender whose shot was capable enough that he might be an adequate 3-and-D guy down the line. But with David Griffin stressing shooting so much, Felix didn’t seem quite knock-down enough to survive the ever-crowding roster. He had some moments in summer league, but he’s really a hustle guy who has not yet developed enough of a shot to make sense on this team. I’ll always be a Felix supporter after I got a chance to chat with him at summer league last year and I hope he finds a fit somewhere in the league.

3.) Tuesday’s trade that brought the non-guaranteed contracts of John Lucas III, Erik Murphy and Malcolm Thomas to the Cavs in exchange for Felix and a future second rounder is a clear indication that Griffin is putting foot to pedal on trying to trade for Love. But it’s far from meaning that the trade is a lock.

Remember, Griffin pulled the trigger on the deal that sent Jarrett Jack to the Nets well in advance of knowing that Northeast Ohio would be the winner of LeBron Lotto 2014. He still moved Jack, though, believing that getting out from under Jack’s contract would increase the team’s ability to make other moves to improve the team had the best player in the world not agreed to play on the roster he’s tasked with constructing.

Griffin has been incredibly proactive in making deals to put the team in just the right position to do what he wants to do. Imagine if the Chicago Bulls had moved enough salary around at the start of free agency to offer Carmelo Anthony a Max deal. Do you think that may have shown Anthony a level of seriousness in him that even the Knicks hadn’t shown? It would have, at the very least, been a hell of a bluff. And it may have been bluff enough to tip the scales Chicago’s way.

These are the type of little deals Griffin has been making because he knows even if LeBron falls through or Love falls through he’s given the team assets to immediately get things done. Eventually, one runs out of extra first or second round picks to sweeten the deal but, so long as Griffin is gambling with Chris Grant’s house money, these are moves he is wise to make.

In the short term — and, make no mistake, the short term is now the Cavs dominant term — non-guaranteed deals will always be of more immediate value to another team than a second round pick who wouldn’t have seen his way north of Canton for the Cavs this year.

4.) Now Sam Amico is reporting that the Philadelphia 76ers are interested in helping to “facilitate” a Love trade and covet Dion Waiters in return.

[Sigh]

If the Cavs trade Wiggins AND Waiters, they immediately become very suspect on the wing with their best option suddenly being begging Minnesota to include Kevin Martin’s bad contract in the deal (which, of course, they absolutely want to). Otherwise, you’re rolling out Mike Miller, James Jones, Ray Allen, Anthony Parker, Reggie Miller and Rick Barry at the two.

It will be interesting to see at what point in this deal-making process the Cavs channel their inner Popeye and say “I can’t stands no more!”

Links to the Present: Different Looks Edition

July 22nd, 2014 by David Wood

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Summer league is over and the Cavs have added some additional players to round out the roster, so it is officially time to start speculating about what the starting lineup may look like.  Mike Mayer of Fear the Sword has kicked off the discussion.  His predicted lineup looks like it would be Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson, and Andy Varejao.  He argues for Waiters over Wiggins from the standpoint that Wiggins is a rookie.

Defensively, Wiggins projects to be very good, but as a rookie, it’s unlikely that he would actually be any better than Waiters. At least not from day one.

So while Wiggins may be a better fit for this spot in theory, I would actually be pretty surprised if he starts over Waiters on opening night.

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Cavs: the Podcast, Episode 53: Summer League Review, LeBron, and the Madness of Love

July 21st, 2014 by Nate Smith

Tom and I attempted to keep this podcast svelt, like a slimmed down Anthony Bennett. Sadly, we failed. This pod was trip to a Las Vegas buffet — we just couldn’t help ourselves: discussing the Summer League, LeBron, Aaron Craft, the melancholy of the the new Cavs era, what’s driving us nuts about Kevin Love trade talk, and so much more. You can listen in on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/ctb-5/summer-league-review-lebron … enjoy.

Not a (Summer League) Recap: Houston 96, Cleveland 90 (or, Let’s Rant)

July 18th, 2014 by Nate Smith

After spending a lovely evening watching the Akron Rubber Ducks dispatch the Erie Seawolves at Canal Park, I returned home to discover my DVR had eaten the Cavs game.  So no formal recap, sadly. Houston eliminated beat the Cavs in Summer League play in a game in which Cleveland was without Matthew Dellavedova who’d been excused to join the Australian national team. Will Cherry started in his place and did not disappoint, finishing with 21 points, three dimes, and four boards on 8-14 shooting. His strong play has earned the attention of NBA and Euro scouts.  But let’s not kid ourselves, this game was all about Andrew Wiggins.

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All You Need is Love?

July 17th, 2014 by Nate Smith

Was John Lennon full of it? There’s been a lot of debate of late on whether the Cavs should parlay some of their good draft fortune over the last three years into an elite, “win now” NBA talent. The trade target most emblematic of that “win now” ethos: Kevin Love. The below look at the Cavs salary cap, as of Thursday morning, is courtesy of Basketball Insiders. To make this a complete roster, the Cavs have several players to add, and not a lot of cap room to do it.  The cap is set to $63.065 million, which leaves the Cavs approximately $2.44 million under the cap. (As I understand it*, the “room exception” that the Cavs have offered to Mike Miller will only be in effect after the Cavs reach the salary cap. Miller — and now James Jones on a league minimum– won’t sign a contract till after that.) Given those constraints, let’s examine how Kevin Love would fit on the Cavs.

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Links to the Present: Chicken Edition

July 16th, 2014 by David Wood

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The Cavs landed veteran free agent Mike Miller yesterday to begin the process of filling out the roster.  It’s a move that will surely give the team some added depth.  The Cavs are still looking at a trade for Kevin Love to add a final piece to contend for titles with; however, the Wolves and Cavs seem to be playing a game of chicken, where a crash is inevitable if Andrew Wiggins isn’t in one of the cars headed to the trade zone.

Sam Amico of Fox Sports breaks down some of the points on why the two teams can’t agree.

Right now, it appears the Cavs and Timberwolves have drawn their lines in the sand. “No Wiggins, no Love,” the T-Wolves seem to be saying. “You’re not getting Wiggins, period,” the Cavs seem to respond. Again, each stance makes perfect sense — for now.

Amico counters that the Cavs have all the power here.

But the Cavs probably have the actual advantage here. Love won’t be signing a contract extension with the Timberwolves. So that means the T-Wolves stand a chance to lose him for nothing. The Cavs, however, are willing to offer them something. Just not Wiggins. Not now. And frankly, why should they?

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Breaking: Cavs to sign Mike Miller

July 15th, 2014 by Nate Smith

The indefatigable Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Cavs will sign Mike Miller with their room exception. Miller posted 3.9 wins shares, a .111 WS/48, a PER of 12.5 and a true shooting percentage of .619 last year. His RAPM was an underwhelming -2.31, due to a DRAPM of -3.39. He posted a SWaGR of only 1 win. Mile Miller is a very good spot up shooter, but he is a role player at this point in his career. Still, he’s probably going to be a solid locker room player for the Cavs.

Summer League Recap: Cleveland 86, Philadelphia 77 (or, Did You See That Dunk?!?)

July 15th, 2014 by Ben Werth

The Cavaliers remain unbeaten in Las Vegas Summer League play as they defeated a Sixers team featuring Nerlens Noel and 2014 Draft pick, KJ McDaniels. The Cavs, led by Mathew Dellavedova, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins took a lead on the game’s fourth possession that they wouldn’t relinquish. After a relatively even first quarter, Cleveland closed the the first half on a 10-2 run. The Sixers were limited to nine for 29 shooting at the break. The lead swelled to as many as 21 before the Sixers’ full court pressure ignited a 16-2 run spanning the end of the third quarter to the middle of the fourth. But some steady play and a parade of free throws pushed the Cavs to a 3-0 Summer League record.

Heading into the contest there were many questions: How would Wiggins match-up against KJ McDaniels? Will Grant Hill’s pleasant baritone sustain us in his new color commentator role? But really most Cavs fans were focused on Noel vs Bennett and the 2013 Draft debate.

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Links to the Present: Follow Up Edition

July 14th, 2014 by David Wood

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LeBron James is officially a Cleveland Cavalier, since he has signed a contract for $42.1 million that has an opt out option after only one season.  There’s no reason to fear he is going to leave though.  Like many decisions in life, this one was all about the money.

Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer explains why LeBron structured the contract with an opt out option.

The salary cap rises 7-10 percent most seasons. The moment you sign a long-term deal, you are locked into that deal. Those close to James estimate that the starting salary for the maximum deal next season could be at least $22 million. So they want to keep their options open when it comes to the contract.

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Summer League Recap: Cleveland 82, San Antonio 70 (or I’m your Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb)

July 14th, 2014 by Robert Attenweiler

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The Cavaliers summertime instructional team raced out to a quick lead over the San Antonio Spurs, building leads of 25-11 after one and 41-23 at the half before fending of a Spurs second-half run to notch an 82-70 victory in Las Vegas, Sunday afternoon. In what will, no doubt, come to be known as the “Crystal Ball Game” sometime around next June when the Cavs’ varsity unit puts a similar smacking on the Spurs’ A-team to win the 2015 NBA Finals and… and…

[experiences shortness of breath ... light-headedness ... reminds self of "marathon, not sprint"... counts to 10... okay, I'm back]

The Cavs Summer League team looked pretty impressive in upping their record to 2-0 in the Sunbaked Classic.

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