Links to the Present: “Where’s Daniel?” and the Rust Belt Edition

April 24th, 2014 by Nate Smith

"Cleveland in the Distance" +DG, Martin Gonzalez via the Creative Commons license

Kicking off Thursday, Marla Ridenour of Ohio.com/The Beacon Journal fills in for the convalescing Jason Lloyd, and asks the same question that everyone who follows the Cavs is asking right now, “Where’s Dan Gilbert?”  Gilbert was conspicuously absent from the Cavs Tuesday press conference.  The title of Marla’s piece, the “Underlying vibe doesn’t bode well for Cavaliers coach Mike Brown,” says it all.

Gilbert did not attend Tuesday’s gathering. He was off “trying to make us better,” Griffin said. That probably means Gilbert is contacting candidates for the roles of coach, general manager and/or president, a new layer he’s considering adding. It remains to be seen whether anyone wants to work with the Cavs’ collection of misfits and for an impulsive owner who fired General Manager Chris Grant on Feb. 6 without a long-term plan.

I know Tony Rizzo has been asking, “Where’s Gilbert?” all week on the Really Big show — well, when he’s not talking about Johnny Football and Bernie Kosar. Bill Livingston of the Plain Dealer wondered the same thing, when he questioned Gilbert’s Lerner-esque media ducking and lack of accountability, yesterday.

If the GM expects accountability, in turn, where does that leave coach Mike Brown? He seldom used the coach’s ultimate weapon, control of playing time…

Griffin’s remarks could be interpreted as an indication of dissatisfaction with Brown, for how would it be possible to expect anything else after such a disappointing season?

How far that extends to the owner is unclear, and that is the problem.

The owner is always unaccountable, except to the turnstiles. Presumably, Gilbert will eventually share his thoughts. The seat the owner finally sits in will be a hot one.

Livingston’s being a little hard on Gilbert, and I give Rizzo his props.  Rizz always praises Dan’s willingness to spend, which, when compared to the Dolans, is not an insignificant thing.  Ultimately, I’d rather have an engaged, possibly sometimes over-meddling owner who spends and cares than a distant owner who views the team merely as a revenue generating asset.

My bet is that the reason we haven’t heard a lot about Dan or Mike Brown’s fate, is that Mr. Gilbert is waiting for the first round of the playoffs to play out. There have been rumors of Terry Stotts being on the hot seat, and rumors that Frank Vogel is “coaching for his job.” Dan would probably go after both of those guys in a heartbeat, because they’ve done what he wants done: turned mediocre young teams into contenders. And if you don’t think Portland is a contender, then you didn’t watch LaMarcus Aldridge’s moneyball destroying 89 points in the last two games against Daryl Morey’s Rockets. Is Dan plotting like Tywin Lanister to go after David Morway?  Morway assembled this Pacers team before Larry Bird canned him. And could Gilbert then go after coach Vogel? Will Tywin Danister leave Bird holding the bag?  I hope so.

While you’re contemplating all that, sign up for Kyrie Irving’s basketball youth camp for kids grades 1-12, in Cleveland, in July. Also check out this piece by CtB’s own Patrick Redford at The Classical, entitled, “Watching and not Watching Dirk Nowitzki.

Speaking of the Classical, long time Editor there, Pete Beatty, is returning to Cleveland to be the Editorial Director for Belt Magazine. “Belt is an online magazine devoted to long-form journalism, essay, and commentary with a distinctly Rust Belt sensibility.”  Based in Cleveland, they “strive to bring in voices from all over the Rust Belt.” Today, Belt’s Laura Putre published a fascinating History of Rust Belt Alt-Weeklies, and on Tuesday, Pete Beatty, who grew up in Berea, wrote a beautiful editorial on returning to Cleveland and the Rust Belt called, “Boomerang.” I’ll leave you with a couple of my favorite paragraphs.

I have to explain what “Cleveland” meant to me then, and what it means now. Like a lot of people from the suburbs, my sense of what, where, and how a city was came from extremely basic data. Big cities were where the tall buildings and pro sports teams were. Cleveland was my designated big city, my regional capital, my great and wonderful Oz, because it had the Indians, Browns, and Cavaliers, plus a modest collection of skyscrapers…

I also didn’t know that there are thousands of Clevelands across America and around the globe, little galaxies half-finished and half-undone, the Rust Belt of the world. We rushed to build up these places, and rushed just as fast to empty them out. Every single one of these places has stories and songs. But I didn’t know any of that. My idea of Cleveland was an blank spot, surrounded by a desert of tract houses, SUVs that never got dirty, and a lifetime of joyless commercial pilgrimages to malls and big box stores.

Links to the Present: Matty Dellavedova edition — Updated with Xtra awards and @dg_riff

April 23rd, 2014 by David Wood

Matt D Cover CC Keith Allison

Matthew Dellavedova has been referred to by Cavs: The Bloggers as Delly and Matty SuperDova.  I call him Matty D sometimes.  He’s been a little ball of constant effort, and in almost every season review article coming out about the Cavs, he has received high praise.

As of yesterday, the world needs start calling him the Gotbuckets.com Rookie of the Year.  Cavs: The Blog writer Kevin Hetrick crowned Delly with the award.

 Dellavedova did some nice point-guardy things, posting true shooting of 54% with a 3.1 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio.  More than anything though, he was energy.  On offense, he always pushed the ball.  On defense, he was a nuisance.  The first time the NBA really experienced Matty SuperDova, they weren’t ready for his Delly*.  In back to back games against Washington in mid-November with the Cavs looking lethargic and disinterested, in stepped the undrafted rookie.  And he was the sun, a beaming ray of light on the otherwise morose Cavaliers.  To Brad Beal, he was like a fly on flypaper, white on rice, impossible to shake…I think Randy Wittman tried handing Beal a taser during one timeout.  Things started happening when Dellavedova was on the court, good things for the Cavaliers.  In those two games, Cleveland was -39 in the 44 minutes he sat and a glorious +39 in the 57 minutes he played.   And it stayed that way much of the season, with the Cavs being outscored by 7 points per 100 possessions during the 2700 minutes he sat, but torching opponents by 4 pp100p for the 1300 minutes he played.

And for all of that, Matthew Dellavedova, you win the very prestigious, yet largely ignored, inaugural gotbuckets.com Rookie of the Year.  Congratulations!

I hope Anthony Bennet doesn’t get too jealous of the flourishing point guard.

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Recap: David Griffin Post-Season Press Conference

April 22nd, 2014 by Robert Attenweiler

David Griffin

David Griffin is still just the acting General Manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get to do all the fun stuff that real, fully named GMs get to do. One such perk of wearing the GM’s hat— right up there with thanklessly working one’s self into the ground— is the annual gala known as the end-of-season press conference. Griffin took a seat in front of the Cleveland press today. He was short on definitives (still no word on his long-term job status with the Cavaliers… same for the status of head coach, Mike Brown) but was long on just about everything else you’d want to hear from the man tasked with putting together the players on a professional basketball team. Griffin showed passion and smarts. He tipped his hat to the work of the previous regime (of which, admittedly, he was a part) while staking claim to a very different vision for the ball club going forward. All told, it was the kind of end-of-season presser that could make one hope that this wasn’t Griffin’s last.

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Links to the Present: It’s All Okay Edition

April 21st, 2014 by David Wood

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The long disappointing Cavs season is finally over.  People are trying to figure out what went wrong with the team, and one positive thought has emerged.  The team has the same problems as last year and no new ones.  Is Mike Brown the right coach? Can Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters play together?  Will Tristan Thompson finally become a quality starter?  Can the team stay healthy?

Dan Gilbert’s press conference about this season and his plans for the off-season is Tuesday, so he will hopefully answer a lot of those questions then.  Until then, we can look at the news that has come out since the Brooklyn win and be happy that there has been no drama. Read the rest of this entry »

5 on 5: The “Season of Huh?”

April 20th, 2014 by Nate Smith

This week, we’re looking back on this bizarre Cavs season, and looking forward to the future.  Five of our writers sat down for some serious pondering on five critical questions.

1. In a word, what’s your attitude regarding the Cavs now that this season’s over?

David Wood: Ambiguous. Some nights the ball is flying around, Dion and Kyrie are trying to include each other, and players are running around without the ball. Other nights, there are four guys watching Kyrie or Dion, and Matty D runs more than the whole team combined in just a few plays. Who are the Cavs?

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Get Your Motor Running (for next year)…

April 18th, 2014 by Robert Attenweiler

700aDion-Waiters-listens-intently.-Getty-Images

Momentum: the greased-up pig of professional sports. It’s the one thing losing teams can look to for signs that next year might turn out better. It’s the one thing the Cavaliers have had to play for since being eliminated from the playoff race last week. And it’s the one thing that has, with every swipe, slipped through the Cavs fingers.

Looking past overall team success, though (and, really, why would that matter in a team sport), there are some bright spots – bright, forward-moving, momentum-fueled spots on this roster that should give the team and its fans some crumbles of hope heading into a fourth straight off-season of lose … lottery… repeat.

So, who in this organization is good at putting one foot firmly in front of the other and who is standing in place?

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Podcast Recap: Cleveland 114, Brooklyn 85 (or the pre-postseason)

April 17th, 2014 by Nate Smith

Podcast time! After this blowout, Tom and I hopped in the podcast booth to see what this game means (if anything), and what stories it told about the season and the future of this team and its players.  Listen at Mixcloud, http://www.mixcloud.com/oldseaminer/ctbpodcastepisode46/.

Cleveland won handily against a Brooklyn team that was, frankly, trying to lose.  Brooklyn was angling to play Toronto in the first round of the playoffs instead of Chicago, and the loss ensured the Nets a sixth seed instead of a seventh. The final appearance for the 2013-2014 incarnation of the Cavs looked good against the collection of backups that the Nets trotted out. Tyler Zeller was sharp with 22 points and 11 rebounds on 9-11 shooting, and Dion Waiters added 19.  Kyrie Irving finished with 15 points and five assists. Tristan chipped in a double double with 11 and 10, and no one played more than 27 minutes for Cleveland. For the men in black, Marcus Thornton and Andre Blatche threw up a combined 37 shots, including 16 threes, to notch 40 points between them. Coming off the bench, Anthony Bennett and Carrick Felix made their first appearances in months for Cleveland, and both had thunderous dunks and decent showings: Felix had 10 points and three dimes in 12 minutes, and Bennett got seven points and seven boards in 15.

This was the last time we’ll see some of these players in a Cavs uniform, and to that, I say: thanks for the memories, and via con Dios.

Cavalier Combos – Searching for Synergy with Plus Minus Data

April 15th, 2014 by Tom Pestak

The value of individual basketball players is coming into focus, and while individual player metrics are the holy grail of baseball, there needs to be a somewhat more holistic approach to team building in the NBA than the “moneyball” approach of maximizing the value of contracts by more rigorously modeling that which leads to winning.  I’m not sure how much GMs worry about chemistry in major league baseball.  Does it really matter if your center fielder and left-handed relief pitcher (that throws two pitches) get along?  There is very little on-field chemistry in baseball.  Obviously, the chemistry between pitchers and catchers is supremely important, but after that, your middle infielders should probably practice together?  (Right?)

Basketball is different, because players aren’t confined to specific roles in space and time.  In baseball, team-building from a positional standpoint and managing player roles is fairly obvious.  (I’m not implying that team-building or managing is simple – I’m saying that it’s easy to fill a hole at catcher.  You sign the best catcher you can afford and position him behind the plate.  You don’t really have to take the other guys on the field into consideration.)  Even if that lefty with two pitches is absolutely dominant, most managers know not to immediately promote him to starter and no GM is going to give him a 10 year 300 million dollar deal, even if he has a mind blowing BABIP.  He’ll probably mostly face lefties and bottom of the lineup righties.  Teams have figured this stuff out.

Basketball, in some cases, is losing the structure of traditional position roles.  Rule changes have morphed the game from an inside-outside attack to hyper-athletic guards initiating offense with dribble penetration and kicking out to spot-up shooters.  Stretch 4s and 5s are more common than back to the basket big men.  The most successful franchise of the past 15 years, the Spurs, more closely resembles a shape-shifting amoeba than a traditional box-and-1, house-shaped offense.  These changes necessitate a better understanding of chemistry and fit.  Assembling the greatest collection of individual talent does not guarantee greatness in the NBA, the 2012-2013 Lakers being the most recent example of this.

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Links to the Present: Accepting Blame Edition

April 15th, 2014 by David Wood

Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets

The Cavs season comes to a much needed end tomorrow against the Brooklyn Nets;  the team has looked sluggish the past two games against the Bucks and Celtics.  The amount of effort exhibited by Kyrie Irving and the team as a whole has me wondering about the future.  Maybe, the Cavs are still another season away from the playoffs if effort has anything to do with results.

Kyrie Irving has been very truthful about his effort.  Bob Finnan of The News-Herald & The Morning Journal has some of Irving’s quote on the topic.

“It’s disappointing based on our effort,” Irving said. “Our fans definitely don’t deserve it, especially at the end of the season. We preached it and said we wanted to finish strong, but teams are just getting the best of us. Just our effort level wasn’t there. It’s disappointing, and we have to be disappointed in ourselves. The last two games, the fans don’t deserve it.”

The type of effort being displayed scares me, especially when it is from the Cavs’ supposed star.  However, it’s refreshing to see him own up to and address the topic.

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Mailing it In: Anger Management Edition

April 14th, 2014 by Nate Smith

No great and groundbreaking work from the C:tB staff this morning, though Tom Pestak might have something a little later today. Instead, we thought we’d give you an open forum. This season, more than any since the LeBrocalypse, has been frustrating. So what are you frustrated about? Kyrie Irving’s ability to put the brakes on competitiveness at a moment’s notice? The media? Mike Brown’s defensive schemes, and lack of — you know — plays? Andy’s Mustache? Spencer Hawes’ facial hair homage to Hugh Jackman? Our lack of Charge coverage? The 99.9% Sergey free 2014? Tristan’s stunted development? The haphazard way this team completely changed four times in a season?

Let it all out. We all need catharsis, and we want to know. We’d change the font to Comic Sans if we could. Conversely, if you’re one of those annoying, “positive,” glass-half-full people who doesn’t enjoy a good b***h fest, tell us what you’re looking forward to in the off-season, the summer, and next fall, so we can laugh at you. (I kid. We probably won’t laugh — just snarl begrudgingly — jealous of your ability to keep perspective.)