Tag Archives: Deandre Jordan

David Griffin ushers in a Lue era in Cleveland

The Cleveland Cavaliers have set another record this week, though it remains to be seen whether it is one to be proud of or sorry for.

David Blatt celebrates with LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on November 8, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers 101-97. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
David Blatt celebrates with LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on November 8, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers 101-97. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Around 3:55pm on Friday, the Cleveland sports world let out a collective gasp when it was broken by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the sports world’s premier NBA insider, that the Cavaliers organization had terminated Head Coach David Blatt. Not only was this news shocking and puzzling but it was simultaneously reported that Assistant Coach Tyronn Lue was being promoted to the position of Head Coach.

Lue would not assume the title of Interim Coach as is the traditional procedure when a coach is unexpectedly fired. He was immediately given the moniker of Head Coach with even some rumors of a two to three year deal already having been negotiated.

The aforementioned record that was set, is that Blatt is the first coach, since the league separated into two conferences, to ever be terminated when his team had the best win/loss record in their conference. That is not exactly what I would have hoped for in terms of a ground breaking statement, but the effectiveness of this strategy is yet to be determined.

Cavs General Manager David Griffin held a press conference Friday and alluded to the team not showing an inability to “galvanize” under Blatt’s leadership. He felt that the team was at a crossroads in terms of fixing this problem and a change needed to be made in order to continue moving towards their common goal of bringing an NBA championship to the City of Cleveland.

The primary and obvious speculation is that the decision, as many have been in the past two seasons, was influenced directly by Lebron James. Both Griffin and James have denied publicly that James had any say or that he was consulted on the final decision.

Do I think James went to Griffin and “suggested” that Lue be promoted and Blatt let go? No, I do not.

Do I think that James has had ups and downs with Blatt in terms of their coach/player relationship and that he may have known in the back of his head that this would be the end result someday? Absolutely, 100%.

It is important to note that the decision of who to name as the head coach of the Cavaliers was made BEFORE James announced his intent to return to Cleveland in July of 2014, and that while Griffin favored Lue to receive the position, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert preferred Blatt. This must have spawned an interesting conversation over at Quicken Loans Arena when the Sports Illustrated cover was revealed.

OK, Blatt is out and Lue is now the head coach of our team. The next question is, how will the team’s strategy and performance change with a coach that is rumored to be more “in touch” with the players?

Our first test of Lue’s coaching prowess would be against our Eastern Conference rival, the Chicago Bulls, on our home court. The team can only improve if Blatt was such a hinderance to their success, correct?

The final score from our matchup against the Bulls at home? A 96-83 loss where the Cavaliers looked listless and unable to execute.

Now this could be explained by the suddenness of the coaching change or from some apparent shifts in substitution patterns that Lue put into place. Whatever the reason, this team should never lose on their home court when they hold their opponent under 100 points.

All they could muster on the offensive end over 4 quarters was 83 points?!? In this particular game the lack of offense was the fault of several factors.

As a collective group, our bench players shot 3/14 for 8 points. Obviously, that is not a typical set of stats for Dellavedova, Shumpert and Tristan Thompson but this certainly contributed to the lack of scoring overall.

The second factor was that we shot just under 41% (9 for 22) from the free throw line. Essentially, the Cavaliers contracted out all of their free throw shooting for the night to Clippers forward Deandre Jordan; quite an embarrassment in my eyes.

The last factor, in my estimation, relates to offensive strategy. The Cavs took 24 three point shots against Chicago and were only able to make four.

This abysmal 16.7% from downtown means that even though we were showing that the long range shots were not going down, we still continued to take them. Is this just an example of the new coaching staff urging the players to “shoot through” their cold streak?

Listen, I was as shocked as anyone to hear of Blatt’s firing. Too often, there is a Twitter explosion (which I engaged in on a small scale right as it happened) and a rush to be the first to write an opinion piece on whether Griffin is a hero or a zero for this.

I knew that I needed time to process everything, hear all sides of the story, and even see our newly appointed coach in action for the first time before I could give my honest opinion on the matter. Now that most of that has occurred I am ready to levy a judgment!

My feeling is that the Cleveland Cavaliers, while possessing the title of best team in the East, showed that under David Blatt’s coaching, that they could not compete consistently against the best teams in the West. Seeing as the goal of management is acquiring a championship, a change needed to be made.

I applaud our GM as he has put himself into the position of being called either a genius or a goat when it is all said and done. He has certainly volunteered to put this team on the back of his decisions, as great leaders should.

Griffin’s legacy in this city is at stake now more than ever. To me, that is the very definition of ALL IN.

2015 Cavs Offseason: Haywood Gives You Wings

MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOTTI

Mo Williams is back in Cleveland four years after being traded with Jamario Moon for Baron Davis and a first round pick, who just happens to be his new teammate Kyrie Irving.

This is a cool signing for the Cavs for multiple reasons. First of all, it makes sense from a basketball standpoint. As we found out in the playoffs, the Cavs needed another guy beyond LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to run the offense. Perhaps Kevin Love will do that more from the elbow next season, but another guard to help give those two a blow was helpful.

Williams is not and has never been the most talented or gifted defender. However, the Cavs showed in the finals that they can hold their own on the defensive guys. There are players in place to help on that side of the court when Mo is in the game, namely Iman Shumpert.

It’s also a great story from a fan perspective. For the most part, Mo was very well liked around Cleveland up until the time he was traded to the Clippers. He expressed his regret when LeBron left and gave him the cold shoulder when LeBron made his first trip back to The Q as a member of the Heat. And while that seems petty now, it meant a lot to the emotional fans of Cleveland.

Now all of that’s over and we can just get back to basketball. Mo is an easy guy to root for and can flat out score at times, even going off for 50 points for the Timberwolves last year.

To sign him, the Cavs used part of their taxpayer Mid Level Exception.

This means that, even though the Cavs are/will be way over the cap, they can use that $1.3 million to sign a veteran who’s willing to take that much.

The Cavs also seem poised to bring back Matthew Dellavedova and J.R. Smith, even with the Williams signing.

Even given the Stein reports, there are no guarantees with regards to those two, even though it would be harder to replace them than people realize.

The Cavs are limited to the outside resources they can bring in, but they will and do have options.

The biggest asset the Cavs have in terms of bringing in more talent is the contract of Brendan Haywood. He signed a six-year, $55 million deal with the Mavericks in 2010, the last year of that deal being fully non-guaranteed if not trade or cut by August 1st.

Two types of teams would want this contract: any team looking to clear cap space for next summer and any team looking to use Haywood again later this month and flip him to another club.

There have been at least a few rumors involving teams that are interested in trading for Haywood to either clear space or flip his contract. Most, if not all of these teams in these rumored deals would give up a wing player, which makes sense for a couple of reasons.

First, the Cavs might have a need for another perimeter player, not much noise has been made with regards to what is going on with the Cavs and J.R., other than Stein’s report on Monday night.

Second, it seems easier for the Cavs to find a more helpful wing player via trade rather than free agency. The Cavs are extremely limited with what money they can shell out to free agents. Most perimeter free agents rumored to the Cavs are guys that are serious candidates to see Shawn Marion/Mike Miller levels of decline. Looking at you, Tayshaun Prince.

Meanwhile, the Cavs could use another big, but it probably isn’t as much of a need as a wing who can score and/or defend. While it wouldn’t be ideal to have to rely on the trio of Love/Mozgov/Thompson throughout the whole regular season, they’re more than capable.

Should the Cavs not be able to get back J.R. Smith or Delly, these are some of the players they could potentially bring on by trading Brendan Haywood’s $10 million contract.

Jamal Crawford

Crawford is a 35 year-old, 15-year veteran. He’s long been considered to have one of the best handles in the league, producing some sickening highlight videos of him crossing defenders up.

Like a lot of these players rumored to the Cavs, he’s pretty old. The Cavs were hit and (mostly) miss on their older free agents from last year. Miller (34 when he signed with the Cavs) and Marion (36) flamed out and James Jones (33) showed some admirable play when asked to play the Kevin Love role.

Crawford probably would’ve been a better acquisition a week ago when the Cavs didn’t have Mo Williams under contract. With Kyrie, LeBron, Love, and Mo as guys who can run the offense, there’s not a huge need for another player to do so. If the Cavs were to get another guard, they would preferably want one that succeeds more so off the ball, like J.R. proved he could do with the Cavs last year.

As a floor-stretcher, Crawford’s been inconsistent year-to-year. Last year he hit from deep at just a 32.7% clip. Perhaps more worrisome than his inconsistency in catch-and-shoot 3’s the last two years (35.8% in 13-14, 38.0% in 14-15) is his tendancy to pull up on the majority of his shots. Pullups made up 44.6% and 52.4% of his long-range shots the last two years. Crawford is kind of a ball stopper and that’s not exactly what the Cavs need right now.

As for the Clippers, they would be hoping to flip Haywood for another big man to help fill the void of DeAndre Jordan leaving for the Dallas Mavericks.

The only issue here is that the Clippers would have to add more salary to this deal, as Crawford’s $5.7 million is below the minimum amount the Cavs would be allowed to receive for Haywood.

J.J. Redick

Hey, look! Another Clipper.

The Clippers may be in a weird spot. On one hand, this seems like a team/organization that is pretty prideful, regardless of the embarrassing uniforms they’ve decided to put on the floor next year.

Owner Steve Ballmer and President of Basketball Ops/Head Coach Doc Rivers don’t seem like the type of guys that would essentially give up on the season, which giving up Redick for Haywood would virtually signify.

On the other hand, they’re most likely not going to do anything significant this year. Some people don’t view DeAndre Jordan the difference maker that Dallas paid him to be, but there’s no doubt he fit what the Clippers were trying to do. Losing Jordan was pretty big, even though they still have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. That’s how stacked the Western Conference is.

So if the Clips are determined to shed salary this year and save up even more for Kevin Durant next summer, trading Redick for Haywood would do that.

The reason this trade would be a cap move and dealing Crawford wouldn’t is because Crawford comes off LA’s books next year anyway. They’re going to have that space whether they make the trade or not, which is why they would look to flip Haywood in that scenario.

With a potential Redick deal, he won’t become a free agent until the summer of 2017. The Clips would still have his $7.2 million on their books next summer.

The 31 year-old fulfills exactly what the Cavs need out of their wing on the offensive side of the court. He’s a career 40.0% 3-point shooter, coming off a season where he shot a career high 43.7% from deep. And, his specialty as a shooter is spotting up. Over 50% of his shots the last two years have been of the catch-and-shoot variety, hitting 42.3% from 3 in 13-14 and 45.4% in 14-15.

Defense isn’t a strength for Redick, but aside from bringing in a defensive specialist who isn’t good on offense, he’s arguably the best mix of offense and defense the Cavs can get.

Wilson Chandler

It’s questionable whether or not the Nuggets have made Chandler available. But if so, he may need to be at the top of the Cavs’ list as far as getting someone for Haywood goes.

Chandler is the youngest out of this bunch at 28 years-old. He’s also the largest at 6’8, 220 lbs., and can play both forward positions. This position versatility alone would be enticing.

What makes Chandler a fit for the Cavs is his strengths on both sides of the floor. He’s not a knockdown shooter from deep, but his athleticism helps any deficiencies he has as a shooter. Also, Chandler had his best shooting season three years ago when he was mostly a reserve and playing 25 minutes a night, which he would do in Cleveland.

He’s a very good finisher, converting 63.1% of his shots in the restricted area last year. And while he wasn’t the greatest catch-and-shoot 3-ball player the last two years (37.2%, 34.2%), he’s at least willing. Catch-and-shoot 3’s were at least 35% of Chandler’s shots each of the last two seasons.

While Chandler is a versatile defender, he’s not elite by any means, which is okay. As stated before, there are a bunch of capable defenders on this team and Chandler is well above average.

The reason I’m leaning towards feeling he isn’t available is because a deal probably would been done by now. If Chandler’s one year, $7.2 million were attainable, I’m not sure there would be much reason for the Cavs to wait for a team to get desperate as has been reported.

My Top 5 Favorite Dunks

Last night, Deandre Jordan threw down one of the most ferocious jams I have ever seen. It lit up the Twitter world and quickly became one of the most talked about plays of the entire NBA season. If you didn’t see the dunk, you can check it out below.

If you’re wondering who it was that Deandre unleashed his fury on, it was Brandon Knight. A few of you may know, but many of you don’t, I went to high school with Brandon Knight. I know first hand what a fine young man Brandon truly is. Never forgetting his old classmates and teachers, Brandon remains loyal to those who supported him from day one. I have never seen a man with a better work ethic, a higher character, and more class than Brandon. Even as a high schooler, he showed a maturity far beyond his years and was a huge source of pride for my school as a student, an athlete, and a man. It was just unfortunate that Mr. Jordan’s play had to make Brandon the butt of so many jokes. Of course, most of it is in good fun, but Brandon deserves nothing but praise rather than the jokes that are flowing like rain through the Twitter-sphere.

Anyhow, back to the dunks. Dunks have captivated us throughout the history of basketball. They often are the most memorable plays and electrify the crowd unlike many other happenings on the basketball court. These dunks, however, are my favorite and most memorable. Not necessarily the best, but my favorite nonetheless.

Number 5: Deandre Jordan Baptizes Brandon Knight

I know that Deandre dunked over a guy I respect so much, but you have to recognize what an amazing jam it was. If it was over anybody else, this may be good enough for 3 on the list. Deandre Jordan has always been one of my favorite players as he is incredibly athletic in addition to being an amazingly large human being. I really think that Deandre could be the best dunker in the league, even over LeBron or Blake Griffin. If Deandre Jordan, LeBron, and Blake Griffin were in next year’s dunk contest, THAT would be well worth tuning in for.

Number 4: Kobe Over Dwight

Kobe Bryant is a big man, but he’s not as big as Dwight Howard. Dwight Howard is a bit of a behemoth. Shoulders like a tank, the muscles of an adonis, and the athletic ability of a man of much smaller stature, Dwight Howard isn’t accustomed to being on the other end of big dunks. Kobe, however, made Dwight look very, very small. Just leaping off of the floor as if he was jumping on a trampoline, Kobe leaped over Dwight and threw the hammer down with some authority. As they are now teammates, every now and then, I’m sure Kobe doesn’t allow Dwight Howard to forget that dirty, nasty moment.

Number 3: Blake Defies Gravity over Pau.

Many of you may not count this as a dunk. That’s fair, but that’s what I love about this jam. First of all, look at the air that Blake Griffin gets on this dunk. The push off of Gasol’s back does him some favors, and it just makes this dunk look so much crazier than any other. It’s almost as if Blake double clutches in mid air and is still able to throw the ball down. It also amazes me that this was the second time during this game that Blake abused Pau. On the first attempt, Griffin skied over Pau for a tantalizing put-back jam. It’s clear that Pau was sick of Griffin’s ownage, and got up after the play and got in his face. Everything about this dunk was amazing. From the lack of gravity to the attitude from Pau to the “not a dunk” reputation, this dunk is an all around great.

Number 2: LeBron over Damon Jones.

I was actually at this game in Miami. I was the annoying 12 year old in my LeBron Cavs jersey trolling all of the Heat fans (oxymoron) in the arena. I was sitting next to a midget (dwarf? I’m not sure of the proper terminology) who was probably extremely upset with me by the end of the night. When LeBron went up for this dunk, I think you can probably hear me on the camera. That’s how loud I was. My father was probably embarrassed to have contributed to my birth at that point, but oh well. An incredible dunk on an incredibly character, LeBron and his mask make their way to number two on my list.

Number 1: LeBron over Duncan.

This dunk will always be my personal favorite for more sentimental reasons. If you remember the situation, you will remember that it was only the second game of the young NBA season. LeBron and the Cavs were trying to prove that they belonged in the elite of the NBA after they were swept by the same Spurs just a year prior. The stakes were not necessarily high, but the game was on ESPN, giving it that luster that a normal game may not have.

Personally, I watched the game through a generator. You see, there was a hurricane that had hit South Florida pretty hard just a few days earlier and knocked out our power. The generator we had was gas powered and could only be used for hours at a time. I made sure my family knew that the generator would be used to watch the Cavaliers play the Spurs, in a game I put way too much importance on.

I love Tim Duncan, but LeBron went up and over him up and easy and I was thrilled. My dampened spirits from the lack of power were suddenly revitalized as LeBron threw the hammer down over Timmy D.

Let me know your Top 5 favorite dunks on the comments section of this page or on Twitter @H_Grove.

Some Examples of the "Right Price" for Anderson Varejao

Cleveland fans keep asking: “What is the “right deal” for Anderson Varejao?”. The debate rages on as to whether or not trading Andy is the right move, but those who say that Andy can go are all demanding “the right price”. Well, I’m going to try to find that seemingly unattainable right price.

There have been reports that the Cavs are asking for a “young All Star” for Andy, so I’ll start there. My first proposed deal:

ANDERSON VAREJAO AND BOOBIE GIBSON for MARC GASOL and a 1st Round Draft Pick. 

This may be the best option for the Cavaliers in terms of replacing Varejao. Gasol is three years younger than Varejao, but is an up and coming All Star player. He averages 15.5 ppg but is way below Varejao in the rebound department, grabbing up only 6.8 boards per contest. Gasol, offensively, may be a better option than Varejao, but Gasol still isn’t as valuable as Andy on the glass. Memphis is a contender who could definitely use both Varejao and the new and improved Gibson coming off the bench. The first rounder wouldn’t mean all that much to the Cavaliers, but replacing Varejao and getting younger at the same time would be absolutely tremendous.

ANDERSON VAREJAO for GREG MONROE and BRANDON KNIGHT.

This trade is essentially the same as the last one, however, the Cavs don’t get a valuable lottery pick from Detroit. Brandon Knight was a lottery pick from a few seasons ago and is a player whose talents have gone somewhat unnoticed while playing for the lowly Pistons. I would probably prefer a lottery pick in addition to Monroe and Knight, however, the Pistons would most likely never pull the trigger. They are a struggling group already and this trade would most likely make the Pistons worse in the long term. However, in terms of “the right price” Monroe’s talent would be ideal along with Knight.

ANDERSON VAREJAO, BOOBIE GIBSON, and a 1st Rounder for AL JEFFERSON and PAUL MILLSAP.

This is essentially the blockbuster. Jefferson and Millsap are both 27 years old, both are big, both are offensive and defensive, and both potentially All Star players. This would give the Cavs an incredible amount of depth, allowing Thompson to be on the bench rather than in the starting lineup. With Jefferson and Millsap on the floor, Thompson and Zeller could be in the second group for the long term and would make the Cavs bench infinitely better, something that needs to be done in order to compete in the future.

ANDERSON VAREJAO and TRISTAN THOMPSON for DEMARCUS COUSINS, THOMAS ROBINSON, and JIMMER FREDETTE. 

This is the most unrealistic option for both teams, but in terms of the “price tag” this would be incredible. Cousins has been a great player, even with his off of the court problems, and seems to be only getting better. At 22 years old, the Cavs add talent and get 8 years younger at the center position. While Thomas Robinson hasn’t been great thus far for the Kings, he is 21 years old and a much more offensive player than Thompson. I think Thompson and Robinson are quite comparable in terms of efficiency. Fredette would be included only to make the financial situation doable. Fredette, surprisingly, has a 23.3 efficiency rating. In this trade, the Cavs would be getting an incredible amount of talent and youth, a perfect price tag for Andy.

ANDERSON VAREJAO for DEANDRE JORDAN and ERIC BLEDSOE

Yet another stretch, this would make the Cavaliers a much better team in the long term. Bledsoe is an outstanding point guard, who could back up Kyrie and has posted a 22.3 efficiency rating at only 22 years old. Jordan is 24 and is one of the more talented centers in the NBA. Again, the Cavaliers would get more talent and more youth, increasing the bench productivity tremendously. This trade isn’t all that realistic as Bledsoe and Jordan are probably way too valuable to get rid of in return for a single player. The Cavs would more than likely have to add a draft pick, or a few, to grab these two stellar talents.

ANDERSON VAREJAO and BOOBIE GIBSON for HARRISON BARNES and DAVID LEE. 

This trade would actually not be as great a fit for the Cavaliers as it would be for Golden State. While Lee is very talented, his salary is much higher than Varejao’s. On top of that, Lee is not nearly what Varejao is on all aspects of the floor. Of course adding Harrison Barnes to an already incredibly youthful lineup of Irving, Waiters, and Thompson would definitely be intriguing, it would set the Cavs way back in the short term. By getting sent way back in the short term, they would add yet another top 5 lottery pick and the Cavs starting five for next season could involve players 22 years old and younger. Intriguing, yes. Practical, I’m not so sure. It would only add another couple of years onto the rebuilding process.

ANDERSON VAREJAO for AL HORFORD and a First Round Pick. 

The final trade would involve a former Cavalier player and General Manager, Danny Ferry, working with his old squad and making both teams better. Atlanta is trying to become a contender after parting ways with Joe Johnson but making effective use of the talent they brought in. Adding Varejao would only help the up and coming Hawks. For Cleveland, however, Horford would be a drop in talent, but the talent drop wouldn’t be as hurting when you look at the age gap between Horford and Varejao. Horford is 26 and Varejao is 30. The Cavs would get younger, and possibly more talented, with the additional first round pick. In this situation, letting Andy go, that’s all you can really ask for.

I understand that many of these trades would never work because of the goals of the other team. However, these would all be in the correct asking price of the Cavaliers for Varejao. Andy’s contributions to this basketball team are incredibly valuable and the only way to trade him would be to get equal value in return. In each situation, the Cavs would be getting better, either in the short or long term, and the value would be just about equal to Andy’s production. As I’ve said before, I’d be extremely unhappy to see Andy go, but the value of these trades would definitely ease a little bit of that pain.

So do you think I’m an idiot? Do you think I should be the next GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers when Chris Grant takes his glasses off? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section or on Twitter @H_Grove or @MTAFSports. 

 

Follow Hayden @H_Grove