Tag Archives: Cleveland

Cavaliers face tough "Tour of Texas"

What a fun couple of weeks to be a Cavs fan!

The Cavaliers have won seven straight games dating back to 12/26 which means they are undefeated so far in 2016! We are quickly approaching the anniversary of last season’s turning point also.

Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat dribbles the ball during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at American Airlines Arena on December 5, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat dribbles the ball during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at American Airlines Arena on December 5, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Last January, our team was a disappointing 19-20 in mid January. The addition of Lebron James and Kevin Love was not paying dividends and the team looked average at best.

As soon as David Griffin made the deals that brought JR Smith and Iman Shumpert from the Knicks and unloaded Dion Waiters to OKC for Timofey Mozgov, the Cavaliers caught fire.

This year we have many more encouraging results and outcomes to show in the first two and a half months of the regular season. 26 wins and nine losses is a hell of an improvement in my book.

Now having said all of that, our next four games are maybe the most critical stretch of the whole season up to this point. The teams that we are facing over the next four have a combined record of 108-43.

During our “Tour of Texas”, as I have dubbed it, we are facing the 22-16 Dallas Mavericks, 32-6 San Antonio Spurs and the 19-19 Houston Rockets. Houston looks like easy pickings with that record but they ALWAYS play the Cavaliers tough.

Look at the tough game that the 4-35 Philadelphia 76ers gave the Cavaliers last night. Teams always seem to be at their best when playing the Cavs.

I expect all of those games to be extremely difficult and will go a long way to determining our progress in developing a championship attitude and resolve for this season. I would be pleased with one win out of those three games as long as we play hard and show heart.

No one is talking much about San Antonio even though they have only registered six losses this season. They have always been a dangerous team and this year is certainly no exception.

The Spurs remain in the shadow of Golden State in the Western Conference and I am certain they prefer it that way. Speaking of our arch nemesis, the Warriors will be waiting for us at home after out Texas road trip to see if there is anything left of us.

We only have one of our nine losses at home this year. After losing to the Warriors on Christmas Day, it sure would be satisfying to defend our home court successfully against them on 1/18.

In grammar news, Kyrie-diculous has officially entered the vocabulary of Cleveland fans and announcers alike. It is truly amazing how quickly he has returned to championship form when it comes to finishing.

The only piece of his game that I feel he is still trying to find is his three point shot. Otherwise, I truly believe that he is, even though he has only been back a few weeks, the best player in the league at the rim.

We cannot ignore the leadership and contributions of James either. He has averaged 26.6 points over the last five games and has also improved his finishing from earlier in the regular season.

He has most definitely been taking the ball to the hoop more consistently than even last season and seems to still be improving. This accomplishes two things from my perspective.

It not only puts teams on the defensive if they are expecting a physical drive but it also racks up personal fouls and creates opportunities from beyond the three point arc for his teammates.

This is a tried and true characteristic of ALL championship caliber teams. This week I am very interested to see if they can couple that with a “win at all costs” mentality and toughness while they visit the Lone Star state.

Christmas in Cleveland – Cavaliers Style

I know that there is a Cavaliers game tonight against the Knicks at The Q but I am not going to discuss that matchup. I would like to delve into the Cavs most important game of the year so far which occurs on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors.

Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images
Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images

On Friday, it will have been 92 days since the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in Game six of the 2015 NBA Finals. This will be the first meeting of the teams since June 16th.

A lot of things have transpired on each respective team in that time span. Some were good and some were bad.

Let us catch up with the Golden State Warriors. They are currently touting the best record in the NBA at 26-1 going into their Wednesday matchup against the Utah Jazz.  It is a good bet that their record will be 27-1 when they host our Cavs on Christmas afternoon.

They had a 28-game winning streak dating back to last year’s regular season that was spoiled by the Milwaukee Bucks a couple of weeks ago.

Stephen Curry has played like an MVP again this year, leading the league in points scored per game. It is amazing to me how many shots that kid can make, seemingly, whenever he decides to.

The Warriors have overcome some adversity though this season as well. Klay Thompson has not been 100% healthy, but the largest obstacle for them was losing head coach Steve Kerr. Kerr is rehabilitating some back injuries and has taken a leave of absence to heal more efficiently. Luke Walton (son of NBA great Bill Walton) has taken over as interim coach and obviously has done quite a good job of it.

Meanwhile, back in Cleveland, Lebron James and the Cavaliers have been eyeing Christmas Day as their day for redemption. To be honest, I think that in terms of basketball, this entire city has had December 25th circled for months and it has nothing to do with Santa Claus.

Kyrie Irving returned to the Cavaliers lineup last Sunday and played 17 minutes. He contributed 12 points, one rebound and four assists. This was not a representation of what Irving is capable of, nor was it intended to be.

He is being eased into his return, and for good reason, as the Cavs will need his skill set immensely come playoff time. I know that he has had Christmas on his mind since the NBA schedule was announced. After all, his knee injury occurred in Game one of the Finals against Golden State.

On Friday, Irving returns to the “scene of the crime” in California and is eager to replace the memory of the injury with SportsCenter highlights of the Cavaliers handing the Warrior their second defeat of the season.

Millions of families celebrating the holiday will be sitting together watching this game. What a stage for a story of redemption!

I expect our team to remind, not only Curry and company, but the whole NBA, the level of defense you can expect from the Cavs. As it was in the Finals, I believe that the Cavs need to hold Golden State under 100 points in order to win.

This is no easy task against the most prolific offense in the NBA but I feel that we are up to the challenge. My team has always played better when they are a clear underdog.

That is what needs to be tapped into in this city we call home. There is no greater feeling than accomplishing something that no one thinks you are capable of accomplishing.

After all of the Christmas music is replaced with Auld Lang Syne, and the trash bags sit on the curb stuffed with shredded wrapping paper, Cleveland will know where we stand amongst the NBA elite. Cleveland may just get one of the best gifts it has received in years.
I predict a Cavaliers 98-93 victory which would light a flame in this city that shines just as bright as the one on the first Christmas.

Job Security, Health, and Midges Dominate Cleveland

Welcome back to my little corner of More Than a Fan. I took last week off from the column for the holidays, but don’t worry, my terrible record of picking games this season kept right on chugging.

On Johnny ManzielHis time in Cleveland is through. Maybe he’ll end up on the field in a Browns uniform at some point to finish out 2015, but I can’t see any plausible scenario in which Johnny sticks around, regardless of anything at all that takes place on the football field…

…Unless Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer get fired. I have flip-flopped on my opinion of whether these two should get canned, whether only one of them should be shown the door, and, if one of the other, I can’t decide which should get the pink slip1Get fired. Terminated. Shit-canned..

[Read – The Browns Broke Me – by Jeff Rich]

Sometimes I think that Pettine really has the veterans in the locker room. That he gets their respect because he holds players accountable and rewards guys who work hard. The flip side of that coin is the perception2/pərˈsepSH(ə)n/ noun – the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. that Pettine won’t play Farmer’s guys out of spite, because the two can’t get on the same page.

Oh, there’s also the terrible clock management, his buddy Jim’s terrible defense, and the offensive coordinator doing everything he can to not pass the buck while passing the buck.

Let’s also not forget that this headline happened today; “Browns coach Mike Pettine acknowledges discussion about his future could be in Jimmy Haslam’s plans.3This is also by Nate Ulrich. Not on purpose, but dude was first on my feed today.

Ray Farmer is terrible at picking players, and considering that’s his most important job, things aren’t looking good the former prodigy. No, Bernie Kosar could not be the GM of a football team. I would love to see him working with scouts, though.

[Subscribe – Railbird’s Nest Podcast. Recent guests include Ken Carman, Hayden Grove, and Tony Mazur.]

Someday the Cavs will be healthy. With health will come more meaningful rest for LeBron James, Love, and the back court crew that started the season playing heavier than normal minutes due to Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert‘s injuries.

When isn’t important. There are plenty of things that happen in losses that can be pointed to and harped on for improvement, and the Cavs five losses so far this year are no exceptions to that rule4Although, I would really only call this most recent loss to the Wizards a stinker.. The Cavs are NOT a perfect team that sometimes takes a loss just because. Yes, there is real room for improvement.

That improvement will come. The players and coaching staff will settle in more each week, especially as the team’s health starts to improve. Glorious revenge will be ours.

Alright. Maybe I’m getting carried away.

I think Timofey Mozgov‘s knee is still messed up. This is a completely unsubstantiated opinion based on nothing but the fact that I’ve wasted thousands of hours watching basketball games. Maybe Mozzy’s knee is fine, but I remember trying to tell people Kevin Love looked like an old man with a back issue last season, and it turned out he was. 

The Indians signed Joba Chamberlain.  There’s no punchline.

Mark Shapiro lured Indians VP of Player Personnel Ross Atkins away to become the General Manager in Toronto. This is a cool promotion for Atkins, who gets to put GM in front of his name, and work with a colleague with whom he’s comfortable in the process.

This looks like bad news for Blue Jays fans. Don’t believe me?

“But increasingly, front-office executives with GM experience, like Shapiro, are hiring GMs who function, in many ways, like an assistant would in the old model.” – Brendan Kennedy Toronto Star

Mark Shapiro, the not-GM who will act like a GM, even though he hired a GM.

I’m sorry, Canada.

Picks

Packers @Lions
Jets @Giants
Cardinals @Rams
Falcons @Buccaneers
Panthers @Saints
Seahawks @Vikings
Texans @Bills
Ravens @Dolphins
Bengals @Browns
Jaguars @Titans
49ers @Bears
Broncos @Chargers
Chiefs @Raiders
Eagles @Patriots
Colts @Steelers
Cowboys @Redskins

 

   [ + ]

1. Get fired. Terminated. Shit-canned.
2. /pərˈsepSH(ə)n/ noun – the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
3. This is also by Nate Ulrich. Not on purpose, but dude was first on my feed today.
4. Although, I would really only call this most recent loss to the Wizards a stinker.

Questioning Fanhood

Sometimes, I wonder if I am, indeed, more than a fan. After all, I moved away from the city where all most of my teams reside.

The more I do this stuff, the pods, the writing, the live radio show, I wonder if it actually makes me less than a fan. After all, I’m taking on a stance of less subjectivity. In fact, if all the dysfunction and failure to see my teams reach the pinnacle doesn’t take away from my fanhood1You know, of the Cleveland teams., I’m not sure what will. I’ve come the conclusion that only an obligation, by way of occupation, the whole “no cheering in the press box” will deter me from the tears of joy. Who am I kidding? Cleveland only offers tears of agony.

My father once watched a childish demonstration2I’m not proud to admit he’s witnessed many of these immature displays, mostly when I was an actual child., and in the interest of full disclosure, it wasn’t that long ago that I pouted over a Phil Taylor offsides penalty that reduced the Browns chances of victory from slim to none against the Ravens, that begged the question, “I don’t know why he still cares so much”. I do care, and sometimes it brings me shame to show that, but it always defines my character. We see it so much, why do we settle for this shit show that is the Browns? My answer is simple…I ain’t got no place else to go. Could I shut down shop, and just root for the local Cardinals? Of course, I could, but it’s my decision not to. I don’t want to show my middle finger to my friends and family back home; I’d rather poke my own eye out3In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal I like the Cardinals.  Living vicariously through my local friends, I’m thrilled with their current success.

I could take the cop out, you know, that the “real” Browns left in 1995 and they aren’t coming back. Had I left before this ridiculous knock-off stepped onto the scene, maybe I’d have grounds to do that, not for the approval of others, but for inner-peace, but I don’t go that route.

Putting the Browns on the back-burner for a moment, they’re only a fraction of the agony of my fanhood. I have more history with the Indians, and I marry myself to them more than I probably should. I remember taking on the unfathomable plan of what exactly it was that I would do when they finished the job in 2007. It wasn’t even a matter of “if”, and that was before they’d put away the Yankees in a best-of-5, even before they took a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead over Boston in the best-of-7 in the American League Championship Series, where actuality revealed a much crueler fate for the Sons of Geronimo. I’d gotten married that summer4Ironically, it was on a weekend that saw the Tribe swept by the very Yankees they took down in the playoffs, but I spent more time thinking about renting the tuxedos and limousines to celebrate the Indians’ first World Series win since 1948 than for any of the particulars of my own wedding. There was going to be champagne, and there wasn’t going to be any concern for sustaining employment. I don’t know if it’s accurate to say a state of depression followed, but I promise a very un-Christian period of hatred for all-things-Boston culminated from that point. I have a very dear friend from Cape Cod, and quite frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t kick my ass to the curb in the aftermath of that ALCS and subsequent Red Sox sweep of the Rockies in that World Series, but he’s a fan too, so I’m pretty sure got it/gets it.

If you think it’s just Cleveland, you’d be wrong. I’ve grown an affinity for a few of my new home’s local teams, specifically the Phoenix-turned-Arizona Coyotes. After Game 7 of the NHL’s 2010 Western Conference Quarterfinals, things got weird with me and Detroit. I was a little more numb when the Winged CCCP swept my Desert Dogs out of the 2011 Stanley Cup Tournament, but when my hockey team actually started advancing in the playoffs, my hate, and I don’t use that word lightly, shifted to the Kings of Los Angeles. Phoenix had grown on me.

By 2013, I was a partial-season ticket holder with the Arizona Diamondbacks and a full-fledged Arizona State Sun Devil Football season ticket holder. That was the summer that Ian Kennedy put a pitch in Yasiel Puig’s earhole, which included a subsequent brawl that was the flashpoint for the Dodger ascent and Arizona’s fall to the bottom of the pack, a fall they’ve yet to fully recover from.

By the time the Dodgers clinched the National League West at Chase Field that September, I had such a low opinion of that organization, and all of Los Angeles, that the news/rumor of a few Dodgers players draining the main vein in the center field pool had me feeling like Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

I guess the point is, I don’t know how to do casual. I’ve adopted my wife’s Northern Illinois Huskies, and I sometimes feel guilty about not being all-in, not hating Toledo and Western Michigan head coach PJ Fleck5Fleck was a great receiver at NIU when they first stepped on to the national scene, behind the great running Michael “The Burner” Turner, earlier this millennium.. I guess I’m getting there, but I’m pretty far in for a guy that spent the early part of his adulthood just paces away from Kent State, with friends at MAC schools in every part of Ohio.

I think leaving Ohio is as much to blame for my passion as being from there is. I feel like I have some sort of obligation to serve as an ambassador, while 2500 miles from the place I called home for so long. I don’t know how to be anything other than passionate and loyal; while it destroys any hope for normalcy in my life, I feel it can be quite the virtue. If I’m a genuine sports fan, but fake at the other things I do in life, I’m exposed as a fraud.

With Yours Truly, there isn’t anything fraudulent to be revealed. I’m the genuine article, even if it means admitting that I’m not proud. Browns fan? Duh. Tribe fan? You know it. Cavs fan? With or without LeBron, you know I am, and I’m unapologetic for being so against him and the possibility of a return for four years, until it happened. If I want to leave a legacy of any sort, it’s that I root for the home team, just like my father in my love life. He says, if you like her, I like her.

It’s a front of the jersey thing. It says Cleveland, Phoenix, Arizona, or whatever’s important to me, I’m on board. Being a fan is cool; never be ashamed.

I never claimed to be brilliant, but I think that’s a principle that gets you through life, whether that concept is subject to scrutiny or not.

   [ + ]

1. You know, of the Cleveland teams.
2. I’m not proud to admit he’s witnessed many of these immature displays, mostly when I was an actual child.
3. In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal I like the Cardinals.  Living vicariously through my local friends, I’m thrilled with their current success
4. Ironically, it was on a weekend that saw the Tribe swept by the very Yankees they took down in the playoffs
5. Fleck was a great receiver at NIU when they first stepped on to the national scene, behind the great running Michael “The Burner” Turner, earlier this millennium.

Josh’s NFL Picks Week Eight: Sort Of

Congratulations on clicking on an experiment here at More Than a Fan. Before you flip out because you unknowingly clicked on some sort of internet test, don’t worry. We’re not the Stanford Psychology Department. We don’t do crazy things like follow the scientific method or set up control groups to test variables. We yell into the internet until enough of you listen. That’s how we set the volume around here, and we’re in the middle of finding the right level.

If you came for my NFL picks, they’re still here! Somewhere. Probably way down at the bottom, which means you have to read the rest of this stuff. The rest of the stuff here that you’re probably not used to yet is some Friday morning riffing on Cleveland sports. I haven’t quite decided on the best format for doing this on a weekly basis, but I’m sure I’ll be on solid ground by the time football season is over and there aren’t any more picks to make.

I’ll probably change the title structure of these columns, too, but too much change at once might break the internet.

The Cavs are good. Like, really good. David Blatt’s crew is merely 1-1 at this point, after a close loss to open the season in Chicago and a trip to Memphis to crush the Grizzlies, but this Cavs team is different from any other team we’ve seen here in Cleveland. Even different than last seasons’ second first season with LeBron.

You won’t hear any Mike Miller or Shawn Marion hate here1Okay, you MIGHT. But not right now., but Richard Jefferson and Mo Williams bring depth to the Cavs roster that didn’t exist last season, even during the 34-9 run that turned around a sub-.500 start.

An early season word of caution to Cavs fans: we’re not going to see the Cavs trouncing through the regular season, eviscerating teams and winning 65 games. Or 60 games. Or 56.5 games2Cavs over/under for 2015-16. David Blatt’s first priority is keeping LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving healthy and rested. Williams, Jefferson, Tristan Thompson, and the rest of the bench are going to allow Blatt to go to the bench early and often during this season. So, don’t lose your mind over losses. There will probably always be fair criticism after bad games, but 16 wins in May and June matter far more than playing the starters heavy minutes against the Knicks in December. Let Carmelo try out for the Celtics3Carmelo should get traded this season. Not as hard as Boogie Cousins should get traded, but it’s close.

Allowing Mark Shapiro to go to Toronto may have actually been a savvy move by the Cleveland Indians ownership, as the first big thing to happen under his watch is the resignation of 2015 GM of the Year Alex Anthopoulos. You heard that right. The man who JUST WON GM OF THE YEAR saw Mark Shapiro coming and bailed, without even having another GM job in his sights. It looks like the Blue Jays needed to go cheap, and Shapiro is the perfect man for the job.

Francisco Lindor got jobbed. Not snubbed, but jobbed. Major League Baseball’s Gold Glove eligibility rules are… I don’t know. Unexplainable? Confusing?

HIS DELAYED CALLUP!

via GIPHY

Don’t make me talk about the Browns. Just get to the picks already. I don’t have anything nice to say about the Browns. Except, I’m apparently the only person in Cleveland who doesn’t hate the 2015 uniforms.

Some Picks Notes: The proof of my Thursday night picks are always on Twitter. If you don’t follow me there, you’re missing out.

One of the Tie-breakers in the #NomPickem League is which team will score the most and fewest points. I chose Seahawks for most and Cowboys for fewest. I really think this one will blow the roof off of Jerry World.

The Packers will be the team that finally exposes Peyton Manning‘s noodle arm, and the fact that Gary Kubiak is making a mistake trying to shoehorn an offensive system onto the golden years of the most cerebral quarterback who’s ever played the game. Manning is still more Peyton than Eli, but only when he’s running the place.

Cam Newton will continue to be an MVP candidate against the Colts. I just can’t wait to see what this week’s Andrew Luck “Dearest Martha” memes will be like.

Dolphins @Patriots
Lions @Chiefs
Buccaneers @Falcons
Cardinals @Browns
49ers @Rams
Giants @Saints
Vikings @Bears
Chargers @Ravens
Bengals @Steelers
Titans @Texans
Jets @Raiders
Seahawks @Cowboys
Packers @Broncos
Colts @Panthers

Follow me on Twitter @RailbirdJ for more senseless sports talk and occasional conversations about being a new dad. Tweet about this using #MTAFPicks and #NomPickem to talk trash to me, the rest of the MTAF NFL crew, and all of the sad sacks who got suckered into @Sportsnom‘s shady pick’em league

   [ + ]

1. Okay, you MIGHT. But not right now.
2. Cavs over/under for 2015-16
3. Carmelo should get traded this season. Not as hard as Boogie Cousins should get traded, but it’s close.

The Proposed Joe Johnson Trade Isn't Easy for the Cavs

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 10.17.05 PMThe Cavs were a really good team for the majority of last season. They went 43-9 between January 15 and the end of the season. Of those 9 losses, Kevin Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving only played in three of them.

The Cavs do not theoretically need to do a lot to contend for a championship in 2016. The best thing for them would to remain healthy. Realistically, the Cavs can get away with bringing back every player and making a small tweak here or there and they would be in good shape for the following season.

That’s not how Dan Gilbert operates and I love it.

It’s not enough for the Cavs to commit big money to LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert. According to Brian Windhorst, there are rumors that the Cavs may be making a trade for Joe Johnson with the Brooklyn Nets.

This trade could realistically be Brendan Haywood and Anderson Varejao for Joe Johnson. The aforementioned trade works on the ESPN Trade Machine and makes some sense for both sides.

For the Nets, they would be shedding their salary of $24.8 million. At this point in his career, Joe Johnson is not worthy of being the second highest paid player in the NBA. He has very little use to a Brooklyn Nets team that is not a championship contender that has a $93 million salary due to its players in the 2015-2016 season. Making this trade will save the Nets approximately $15 million after they cut Brendan Haywood’s non-guaranteed contract. They would be on the books for the remainder of Anderson Varejao’s contract, but they are significantly under the salary cap for the 2016-2017 season at the moment. In other words, it would help them get closer to the salary floor without affecting their long-term flexibility moving forward.

The rumored trade makes the rumored David West acquisition make a lot more sense. His role on the Cavs seemed dubious at best when taking into consideration that Cleveland has Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao all making big money next year. Using the mini-MLE on David West when there are bigger needs on the team seemed like a bad idea.

An added wrinkle to the rumored trade is the human element of Anderson Varejao. He was a big fan favorite for many years, but the contract extension he received in October has many fans soured on him as a player. It is unfortunate that many people are excited at ridding the team of Varejao. Doing so makes a lot of business sense. He is going to be 33 years old when the season begins and is coming off the most difficult injury for athletes to recover from. There is very little chance that Varejao, who had a disappointing season last year, will be able to live up to his $10 million salary next year.

Varejao professed his love for Cleveland fans with tears in his eyes on the night that the Cavs clinched the Finals. It would be hard to say goodbye to Varejao, but the Cavs have to do what is best for the franchise and they do not have a lot of assets available to improve the team with. They do not have many draft picks at their disposal and they do not have any cap space. The team’s ability to improve are few and far between. The Cavs are going to have to use the $3.5 million mini-MLE and the Brendan Haywood contract to improve the team. If an opportunity arises to trade Varejao and it is one that will produce more wins, then it is an unfortunate truth that they will have to do it.

Trading Anderson Varejao will not be easy. He gave his all for the team for his whole career. Varejao has suffered many injuries while wearing Cleveland jerseys and even almost lost his life due to a pulmonary embolism in 2012. Varejao worked his way up as an energy big man who came off the bench and became a fan favorite. It is important for Cleveland fans to remember his career arc when discussing his potential exodus from the team. In the end, doing what is best for the franchise will probably take for David Griffin to be cold and calculating. That does not mean that doing so will not be bittersweet.

The Dwyane Wade Connection to the Cavs is Real

lebron-james-dwyane-wadeDwyane Wade probably isn’t going to be playing in Cleveland next year.

That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to.

Dwyane Wade’s future with the Miami Heat is murky. The most likely scenario is that his camp and the Miami Heat will come to terms on a contract extension. This is a franchise that prides itself on having a “family-like” atmosphere and they have been marketing the term “Heat Lifer” extensively ever since LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland last July. What kind of message would it send if Pat Riley played hardball with the best Heat player in franchise history? Especially when that player has helped deliver the franchise its only three championships and has done so by taking pay cuts along the way.

There is a lot of noise that Wade wants out and the obvious destination is in Cleveland. There is the infamous “when I was in Miami” nationally-televised gaffe and his dad has been seen gallivanting around wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers T-Shirt. There is also the Christmas day comment about Wade and James reuniting and doing “bigger and better things.”

Dwyane Wade, his camp and his family can want him to play in Cleveland more than anything in the world, but it doesn’t mean that it is likely. Because of the Cavs’ salary situation, they are going to be severely hamstrung in regards to options to bring Wade to Cleveland. A sign-and-trade is not possible because they are going to be over the luxury tax apron. In addition, it is very hard to imagine Pat Riley agreeing to a sign-and-trade with Wade to Cleveland given the rocky history the two franchises have.

Bringing Wade to Cleveland will have to happen in one of three ways: The first is with Wade opting in to his $16 million dollar contract for the 2015-2016 season and the Heat agreeing to trade Wade to the Cavs. The second way is for Wade to opt out of his contract and to take the mini-MLE of about $3.3 million from the Cavs. The last (and least likely) method is for him to sign with the veteran’s minimum from the Cavs, which would pay him about $1.5 million.

In other words, Wade would either have to come to Cleveland with cooperation from Pat Riley or take unprecedented pay cuts.

Dwyane Wade probably isn’t coming to play for the Cavs, but this is a great situation to be in for Cleveland. The primary reason is that the speculation is incredibly fun. I know that it is incredibly difficult to pull this off, but the fact that there is even speculation is a lot of fun. It also sends the message to Cleveland fans that this is a destination franchise for players. After watching so many desirable players pass on signing with Cleveland from 2003-2010, it is interesting to see players who want to play in Cleveland.

The most realistic reason for excitement is the most pragmatic. It is most likely that Dwyane Wade and his camp are using the Cavs as leverage to get what they want from the Heat. In the process, we get to see Heat fans completely lose their mind and turn on a guy that they held on a pedestal because he was “one of them.”

Sound familiar?

Switching places with the all-mighty Heat and Pat Riley is beyond entertaining. Every petty comment Riley makes in the media brings me more joy than the last.

The Heat will probably cave and pay Wade above market value and the threat of him taking a huge pay cut with the Cavs will have a lot to do with that. The Heat are going to be in a catch-22. They cannot market the family-like atmosphere and “Heat Lifers” and then mistreat their most beloved player in franchise history.

Think of what the Kobe Bryant contract is doing to the Lakers and take solace in the fact that this will probably be the Heat in a few years. Considering that the Heat fans are excited about the long-term “vision” of the increased salary cap in 2016, this could be felt for years in Miami.

The Cavs May Lose, but They Ultimately Won

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 11.16.46 PMKevin Love and Kyrie Irving went down for the playoffs. The mere fact that the Cavs were able to win at least two games against the potentially historically great Golden State Warriors is beyond impressive. The team’s “next man up” mentality is one that the fan base can rally behind and that has made a less-than-ideal situation riveting.

As Cavs fans, should we be satisfied with the team losing this series?

An argument can be made for that being the case.

If the Cavs were to hypothetically win the Finals this year, it would go down in history as one of the all-time greatest accomplishments in the history of not only the NBA, but North American professional sports. There’s a reason for that and that is because the team is severely undermanned and they should not be in the position that they are in

The fact that such an achievement would go down as one of the best of all time should minimize the string of losing the series. The Cavs are in a 3-2 deficit and would need to win two straight against a healthy and hungry Golden State Warriors team that would be playing game 7 at home.

There isn’t any satisfaction in losing a series; not when Cleveland hasn’t won in 51 years. Every time a new franchise wins a championship, it is difficult for me to not feel resentment. How can a Cleveland fan, who has the burden of 51 years, feel any sort of happiness that a team won a title for the first time since 1975? In that time, the Bay Area has won 14 titles since 1964?

It’s impossible.

The Cavs will have played their hearts out. The whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. The Cavs found out that they can play at an elite level despite the absence of their second and third best players. Imagine the Michael Jordan Bulls winning a title without Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman or the Miami Heat winning without Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Hell, try and imagine them winning two games against the Spurs in 2013.

There is an unprecedented level of bad luck that the Cavs have faced this post season and they are giving it all they have. This is a collection of men that are fun to root for. There is not any shame in pulling for this squad and being emotionally invested in them. They may not win the championship this year, but they have demonstrated that they have what it takes to get there.

The Cavs certainly faced more than their share of bad luck this post season. Golden State didn’t. That may very well be the difference in who hoists the Larry O’Brien trophy.

There has been bad luck, but the Cavs are in a good position moving forward. They will hopefully bring the same team back and make roster improvements so they do not rely on guys like Mike Miller and Shawn Marion. Matthew Dellavedova, when he is playing well, is a fine player. But he is not someone that you want count on every night.

Things may seem dire right now, but it could be worse. The Cavs have LeBron James on their side and Kyrie Irving. Kevin Love should return and Tristan Thompson is developing into a very good backup power forward. The roster has some holes, but they can be addressed. As of writing this, the Cavs are 2 wins away from winning a championship and they are doing this with a badly-injured roster.

There are worse teams to be a fan of. It will be fun to see what this team looks like next year.

Double Update: Tribe Time Now Extra Innings #3 and Weekend Update #8

To save time, space, and effort – we’ve got TWO Tribe Time Now podcast updates below:

Tribe Time Now Extra Innings #3: Somebody’s Gonna Get Hurt

Topics:

  • AL Central overview
  • The Minnesota Twins (?)
  • The Houston Astros (?)
  • Looking ahead to June: Probable wins and tough matchups
  • Continuing the Conversation of Replacing JRam and Bourn
  • The real cost of Johnny Cueto to the Indians

And,

Tribe Time Now Weekend Update #8: Not Every Prospect Can Be The Next Andy Marte

Topics:

  • Week in review
  • What to do with Ramirez/Lindor
  • Should the Indians DFA Michael Bourn? Part II
  • How to evaluate prospects

Links:

 

Don’t forget to join the Tribe Time Now crew and Affiliate Hosts Saturday, July 11th at 5 PM at Hoopples Riverbed Cafe for our first tweet up.

Information on the Tweet-Up can be found here.

 

Additionally:

Please consider attending a special presentation on “Integrating Cleveland Baseball: Media Activism, the Integration of the Indians, and the Demise of the Negro League Buckeyes” by author and It’s Pronounced “Lajaway” co-owner/editor, Stephanie Liscio on June 17th at 7 PM at the Maltz Museum in Cleveland, OH.

Admission is $12 ($6 if you’re a SABR member/member of the museum) and gets you into Stephanie’s talk AND to the Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming America exhibit which is only at the museum for the summer.

Information and pre-registration information can be found here.

Tristan Thompson is Panning Out for the Cavs

“With the fourth pick in the 2011 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Tristan Thompson from Toronto, Canada and the University of Texas.”

Tristan-ThompsonThat sentence was said by David Stern on June 23, 2011. What followed after it was years of debates on the merit of the pick.

There were plenty of ups and downs in the first three years of Thompson’s career. To be fair, there were more downs than not. Thompson’s rookie year had its fair share of promise if you could look past the 43.9% shooting from a power forward. Thompson wasn’t an incredible rebounder at that time, but he was pulling down 3.1 offensive rebounds in only 23.7 minutes per game.

It is possible that Thompson took unnecessary heat because of how high he was drafted. Being taken only three selections after rookie phenom Kyrie Irving probably set expectations way too high for a raw rookie big man with upside.

A look at the shooting of Thompson throughout his career shows an upward trend. His rookie year was atrocious offensively. A big man who takes 70.1% of his shots from less than 5 feet from the basket who only converts on 49.4% of them and who shoots 43.9% overall is the definition of raw.

Tristan Thompson's rookie year was less than idea;.
Tristan Thompson’s rookie year was less than ideal.

Despite his early years, there has been a steady display of offensive improvement that is promising. Thompson switched shooting hands in a well-documented offseason move in 2013. The results did not improve his offense exponentially, but the fact that he successfully did it is not only unprecedented, but gave reason for hope.

Tristan Thompson has always made a career out of doing the dirty work. He was never drafted into the NBA to be an elite scorer, playmaker or to be a star who a team can depend on to make big plays on offense. He was drafted because of his motor, work ethic, offensive rebounding ability and because he is willing to do that non-glamorous things that championship contenders need. It was hard to see that when he was drafted by a 19 win team who needed as much star power as possible. It was difficult to see the big picture and it is coming to fruition now. Playoff teams are double-teaming him so he doesn’t get an offensive rebound. I have been watching basketball for a long time and I have never seen that happen as regularly as it is with Thompson. His mere presence on the court in late-game situations where he is being double-teamed off the ball can wreak havoc on offense and he isn’t even touching the ball.

Thompson's shot chart is much improved in the playoffs.
Thompson’s shot chart is much improved in the playoffs.

Thompson’s stats have drastically improved even though he’s not on the team to produce numbers. For example, in 2011-2012, Thompson’s rebounding was not having much of a positive effect on the Cavs. The Cavs pulled down 50.9% of all available rebounds with Thompson on the court. With him on the bench, it was 50.4%. A net difference of only 0.4% is not as impressive as one would want from a fourth overall selection when rebounding is what they hang their hat on. In the most recent season, the Cavs are securing 52.1% of all available rebounds with Thompson on the court and 50.1% without him. A net difference of +2.1% is much more respectable. Offensive rebounds have always been where Thompson does most of his work. The Cavs secure 32.2% of all offensive rebounds with Thompson playing. That is at +5.4% better than the 26.9% with him on the bench.

Dwight Howard led the NBA in rebounds at 14.0 per game, which is a lot more than Thompson’s 8.0. The raw numbers for Thompson are not that impressive, but the Cavs simply play better with Thompson than without him. To put it into perspective, the Houston Rockets secured 51.4% of all rebounds with Howard on the court and 48.8% without him. In other words, the Cavs rebounded better with Thompson than the Rockets did with Dwight Howard (who was supposedly the best rebounder in the NBA last season).

It wasn’t always pretty. Thompson’s struggles from under the basket in his first few years were well-documented. He had almost 17% of his own shots blocked in his sophomore year, which was an all-time NBA worst. None of that seems to matter now. Thompson is contributing big for the Cavs and the national perspective has changed on that draft pick.