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.

Wiggins, already the subject of trade rumors, finished with 21 points on 3-5 shooting. How you say? He attempted 20 free throws and made 15 of them. Wiggins was aggressive from the tip, starting with a spin move to the left from the high post that got him to the line (the only play my DVR managed to grab). I am impressed with Wiggins’ ability to change his attack very quickly. After shooting eight three attempts in his first SL game, ‘Drew put his head down and got to the line, attempting only one three-pointer. His highlight reel includes a thunderous put-back dunk and “chase down” block that reminds one of a young LeBron Raymone James. Andrew’s rapid improvement is exciting.

Unfortunately, Isaiah Canaan figured out Wiggins with 17 seconds left, when he drove left and into ‘Drew’s body and hit a layup to extend the lead to 92-87. Canaan finished with a game high 28 on 10-16 shooting. On the next play, Wiggins turned the ball over to seal the game. Anthony Bennett finished with 11 and 6 boards, and Joe Harris added 10, and went 2-2 from three, but also finished with a game low -14. Carick Felix chipped in 7 points and 7 boards in 17 minutes, including 2-4 from three and was +8 in his time on the floor. Yes. I can read a box score.

Rant

Chris Broussard jerked on the chain of Cavs fans when he reported that the Cavs are open to trading Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love, yesterday. The Cavaliers have flatly denied this, and Blatt commented after the game, “Sooner or later, in one’s career, you’re going have to deal with it [rumors]. So if he has to deal with it now, then so be it. It’s the summer league. He’s learning everything as he goes along.” For the second game in a row, Wiggins was unavailable to reporters due to “NBA commitments.” Nice job with that explanation, Cavs PR team. Ugh. The LeBron James era Mark II has already turned into a circus.

First, let’s talk about agency. There are lots of opinions on this Love deal, and we’ve discussed them ad naseum. What no one seems to be talking about is Andrew Wiggins’ opinions. If I’m Andrew Wiggins, there is no way that I want to go from being on a team with LeBron James to going to Minnesota. ‘Drew will get fifty times the exposure and tutelage playing with LeBron. ‘Drew does have the ability to exercise some agency in the situation.

If I’m Bill Duffy (‘Drew’s agent), I use the fact that the Cavs have yet to sign Andrew to my advantage, and take the Wiggins/Love decision out of both teams’ hands. I tell the Cavs brass and Flip Saunders that Wiggins is not signing his rookie deal until he receives a promise that he won’t be traded, at least through his rookie year. (Rookies need stability). Plus I threaten that if traded to Minnesota, Wiggins will refuse to sign, sit out a year, and re-enter the draft — thus reducing his value to Minnesota to zero. If I’m Duffy, I back up this threat by offering to pay Wiggins’ rookie salary myself in that scenario. Andrew Wiggins is not chattel. (I’m good at posturing with Bill Duffy’s money).

In a second bit of nutty information, the unbelievably prescient Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports have reported that, according to “front-office sources,” LeBron James has “reached out” to Love and “expressed a desire for them to play together in Cleveland.” Now let’s examine this. First, if it’s true, and LeBron did this while under contract with the Cavs, it’s tampering — plain and simple. Flip should call for an NBA investigation in this case. Realistically, this front-office source is probably just Flip Saunders who’s leaking stuff to try to start a bidding war between Golden State and Cleveland, so he can pry loose Wiggins or Klay Thompson.

LeBron isn’t that dumb. But is he that egotistical? I really hope that LeBron is gone, and in his place is a mature individual who wants to be in Northeast Ohio long term and not hold the Cavs hostage or have his run of the team. However, if it is true, and LeBron really is trying to “pull the strings” and use his leverage on his one year contract to dictate what the Cavs and the rest of the league should do, then neither he nor Dan Gilbert have learned anything from James’ first stint in Cleveland, and I’m already sick of “the return.”

– Correction. I mistakenly said the Cavs were eliminated Summer League play. Cleveland concludes tournament play tonight when they take on the Miami Heat at 10:30PM ET. Let’s hope there are no fights in the stands.

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