Shaq may be in Cavaliers uniform soon

Written June 14th, 2009 by Jeff

The Cleveland Cavaliers may be making a trade very soon, and the deal would be huge.  The Cavs are in talks with Phoenix to trade for Shaquille O’Neal in exchange for Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic.  ESPN News has been all over this story today, with a few twists to it.

Executives from both teams are claiming that the deal is “not imminent”, but any long-term talks for trades will eventually find the exact same comments from front-office people.  This trade is the same trade that was being discussed before the trading deadline, and the weaknesses that were exposed by Dwight Howard resurfaced talks with the Suns.

If this trade happens, it will be extraordinary, enough to push Kobe Bryant into a headline-sharing day of events.  Furthermore, it will not harm our salary situation.  Shaq makes 20 million dollars next year, and Wallace and Pavs combine for 19 million next year.

So do you make the deal for a guy who averaged 17.8 points per game this season and give up two bench players? That’s a no-brainer. Make the deal and stop bluffing with the other GMs. Though the NBA is somewhat similar to elite poker in many ways, making the most out of the free agency period plays a key role in winning the championship.

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Additional point #1 – If we make the push and get the championship next year, expect Laker fans to bombard us with “LeBron can’t win a ring without Shaq” taunts, turning the tables on us.

Yeah, who cares.  If this city gets a ring, let the Laker haters say anything they want.

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Additional point #2 – If this trade happens, thank former GM Wayne Embry for it.  Embry made the move which brought Danny Ferry to the Cleveland Cavaliers as a player in the 80s.  While here, Ferry made good friends with one of the Cavs’ guards, Steve Kerr.

Their friendship continues strong today, and this trade will have been made easier considering Kerr is now the GM of the Phoenix Suns and Ferry is the Cavs’ GM.

Hell, yeah.

Well…..dammit. Now what?

Written June 2nd, 2009 by Jeff

Yeah, I’ve been avoiding writing this because I was just too irritated, but the time has come to sit down and begin planning for the ’09-’10 Cavaliers season (and beyond).

Frankly, the discussion about Game 6 has been played out already.  We had our runs at it and Orlando just had everything working for them (including getting the calls when Anderson Varejao touches Howard’s back, but not when LeBron gets tackled on his way to the basket).  But whose fault is it?  It’s everybody’s fault.  Nobody had a full game Saturday night and as a result, everybody has the summer off.

Now for the good news.

After his brief hiatus from the media, LeBron James stepped forward and discussed his satisfaction with the Cleveland Cavaliers, including their front office and the direction of the team. Contrary to popular belief, LeBron has NEVER said that he wanted to leave this city (that’s the product of a frenzied media and several thousand internet trolls).  What he DID say was that he wanted to stay in Cleveland as long as the Cavaliers continue building towards success and keep him happy.

Monday’s press conference with LeBron brought some sighs of relief to a city.

“I’m great. I feel great about this situation that’s going on.  You want to continue to get better, that’s all you can ask. We got better and I feel this team will be better next season. You don’t want to take a step backward. I think we went forward from the Boston series last year.  Hopefully we can go forward next year.”

Upon being immediately deluged with claims of LeBron going to New York after the Eastern Finals loss, this was a welcome sound for Cavalier fans worldwide.

Now, LeBron did NOT say he was going to re-sign with the Cavs, but this was a STRONG step towards that inevitable conclusion.  The facts are laid out before him, he knows it, and everybody with half a brain knows it too.

The Cavaliers are the only team that can offer him everything he wants and needs, and his family is here.  No major city, especially one that is in a rebuilding phase of it’s own, can give him anything more except money…..and the Cavaliers just got a HUGE infusion of cash to offer James.  The news of a Chinese investment group offering to buy 15% of the Cavs will all but seal the deal to keep LBJ in wine and gold.  With that move, LeBron can successfully market himself, his shoes, his jerseys, and anything else he wants to a billion chinese people who are starved for NBA stars.  The Chinese government doesn’t allow an open and free market as much as we do, but with part-ownership in the team, expect to see Hu Jintao open the gates for anything with LeBron’s name on it.

But that won’t happen if LeBron leaves the Cavs….because the Chinese ownership is NOT of LeBron, it’s of the Cavs.  Sucks to be you, Knicks.

Here’s our current money situation, seen through the eyes of an optimist like me;

  • Currently, LeBron makes 14.4 million dollars, and he’ll want to sign for more before the next season begins.  We can lock him up for a long-term deal at around 20 million a year plus bonuses that do not count towards the salary cap.
  • Wally Szczerbiak has played his last game as a Cavalier.  His contract is up, and we will not sign him again….making 13.8 million per year to be a bench player is not what we want or need.  We loved you, Wally….but sorry.
  • Joe Smith’s contract is also up, but he’s making 1.2 million.  Give him more if he needs it, he’s a big part of this team’s chemistry and he’s inexpensive to boot.  If he wants to break the bank though, we’ll have to let him go.
  • Ben Wallace is talking retirement and he might want a buyout of his final year.  Hell, we KNOW he’ll want a buyout.  Anything we spend on the buyout also does not count towards the salary cap, so we should offer him that and wish him well.  It’ll add to our coffers, as Ben was making nearly 15 million this year.  Again, Ben…we loved you, thanks for your dedication and spirit.
  • Anderson Varejao will be looking for more money.  Again.  His current 5.8 million dollar contract is not going to be enough to keep him, and we’re going to have to up that to 9 or 10 million per season.  There’s very little question about that right now, especially with the possibility of losing Wallace and Smith.  Also, Z’s age doesn’t make anybody comfortable in C-town.

This all adds up to good fortune for the Cavs.  We’ll have to add 10-12 million a year to LeBron, Smith and Varejao’s contracts, but we save about 19 million with the losses of Wally and Big Ben.  That leaves us with 7-9 million dollars left to grab a strong player to add to LeBron’s arsenal, and that’s only if we want to keep the same salary as 2008-09.  We can go over the limit and pay a luxury tax to the NBA since we have that money to spend (hello, China!).

Translation – relax, Cavs fans.  LeBron will stay, and with the mastermind known as Danny Ferry at the helm, we will get everything we need and start fresh again in October.

Victory! Shifting the pressure

Written May 29th, 2009 by Jeff

The Cleveland Cavaliers finally figured out how to beat Orlando last night.

A swarming perimeter defense and keeping Dwight Howard off the glass were both key elements early and late as the Cavaliers won by double-digits 112-102 Thursday night.

Oh, and getting a triple-double from a guy named LeBron.  That was big too.  James had 37 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists and played like an unstoppable force in the 4th quarter.  Also, LeBron had a statistic worthy of the Hall of Fame on this night….he had a hand in the Cavaliers final 32 points of the game, either by scoring or assisting on every basket down the stretch.

But the key stat of the night has gone unnoticed by the major media outlets this morning….the Cavaliers started off strong and they finished strong.

  • Over the first 6 minutes of the game, the Cavaliers shot 10-of-11 from the field (91 percent), outscoring Orlando 26-8.
  • Over the final 6 minutes of the game, they shot 7-of-10 from the field (70 percent), outscoring Orlando 23-12.

Put those 6-minute spans together and you have a quarter of basketball that Cleveland won by a score of 49-20, while shooting 81 percent from the floor.  They also shot 11-of-12 free throws in that same span.  Now THAT’S what I call starting strong and finishing strong.

Equally as impressive was how the Cavaliers showed no signs of pressure in their first elimination game.  They looked cool and relaxed all night long, even when the Magic were making their runs.  The only slight image of folding was a few bad turnovers in the second quarter, but they quickly shut that down and played strong down the stretch.

Meanwhile, Orlando cracked under the pressure several times, especially Stan Van Gundy.  His frequent outbursts cost him another technical foul, and it seemed to leak over into the Magic players, who began freaking out over every call against them.

With the loss, the pressure falls fully on the shoulders of the Orlando Magic.  They return home for Game 6 of the series, and while they are not facing elimination yet, this is absolutely a “must-win” game for them.  It’s their final home game of the Eastern Conference Finals, and if they do not succeed here, they have to go back to Cleveland for Game 7……and no team wants that.

Game 6 tips off at 830 Saturday night.  Folks, we’ve got ourselves a series again.

Tonight’s “must-win”

Written May 28th, 2009 by Jeff

Yesterday, I posted my thoughts about how the Cavaliers can win this series, and it included badgering Dwight Howard to get him his 7th technical foul and an automatic one-game suspension.

Then the NBA decided to protect one of its’ stars.

The NBA rescinded Howard’s 6th technical foul (one which he clearly deserved) by stating that his taunting of a player wasn’t worthy of the foul. In this case, the NBA was not officiating the game properly. If J.J. Hickson had done that to a Magic player, or if any other 10th-to-12th man had done that, the NBA would have wasted no time on it whatsoever. But because it was Howard, they protected their money-maker.

Either way, it doesn’t matter tonight, unless you want to badger him into two technicals.

I was listening to Michael Reghi yesterday, and he’s got the best take on the rest of this series. Always the realist, Reghi says that we have three one-game seasons left. Tonight’s game is our season. If we win, we get another game. And then another if we win again.

It sounds reasonable. Do NOT think that we have to win three in a row because we are NOT playing three games tonight.

When a team makes the NFL playoffs, they don’t get all crazy, thinking they have to win three straight games. They focus on the first game and they do NOT prepare for the next one until they’ve won. That’s the example we fans need to follow, because it’s exactly what the players and coaches are doing now.

Tonight, I’ll be at the game again. I’m 5-0 this year at Cavs games, so let’s see if that can continue. Of course, the Cavs are 38-3 when I don’t go to home games, so the odds are good either way….but I’m going just to be safe.

Is it over? No, but it’s bad

Written May 27th, 2009 by Jeff

Yeah, it’s bleak right now. We’ve played well enough to win but are still down 3-1. Is it over? Hell no. Here’s why.

1) We’re playing at home Thursday night in Game 5. Say what you will about the past week of basketball, but there is no house in the NBA that is tougher to win in than Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers, in front of a raucous crowd, will do what they need to do at home. That crowd will not let them down and I do not expect the wine and gold to disappoint. Win a big game at home in Game 5, and we’re at a 3-2 series deficit.

2) Along the way in Game 5, we need to do one more thing as we get that victory. Irritate Dwight Howard. Anderson Varejao is great at that and he’ll be at peak performance tomorrow. Get under Howard’s skin just enough and he’ll get another technical foul, which would be his 7th of the playoffs. On his 7th foul, he gets an automatic suspension for the next game.

3) Game 6 without Dwight Howard? Do you think Orlando would have won a single game without him. It’s a perfect scenario for Orlando’s final home game in this series (and any other)….no big man in the middle. It would disrupt their offensive flow and allow us to defend the perimeter without having to give Z help on the inside. No Dwight Howard, and I see a Cavalier victory. That makes the series 3-3.

4) See point #1. We’d be at home for Game 7 and freshly rejuvenated. Victory at home? Yes, I see that happening too.

OK, it’s not really THAT easy, but it could be. We HAVE to come out strong tomorrow night and we HAVE to get under D12s skin. Do that, and we can see our path to The Finals more clearly. Fail, and we become another Cleveland story.

The long wait is finally over

Written May 20th, 2009 by Jeff

Tonight at 830, we can get back to business. The Cleveland Cavaliers will take the floor in the Eastern Conference Finals against Orlando, and it’s not a moment too soon.

In the last 24 days, the Cavaliers have only played four games, and the concern is that they are not battle-tested enough for Game 1. “Shake off the rust” has been an overused phrase on Cleveland talk shows (and Orlando, and Los Angeles, and the drunk tank where Charles Barkley resides on alternate Friday nights).

Yes, it’s a concern…will the Cavaliers be ready for Game One?

Frankly, I’m not worried at all, and you know this if you read The BBC. To me, Orlando has a much bigger concern on their hands….are they worn out from playing two long and harsh playoff rounds?

Here’s a quick look at the amount of minutes the starting 5 has logged so far this postseason;

Team/Player Position Minutes Minutes Position Team/Player

Cleveland Cavaliers

Orlando Magic

LeBron James SF 314 493 SF Hedo Turkoglu
Zydrunas Ilgauskas C 230 458 C Dwight Howard
Anderson Varejao PF 246 523 PF Rashard Lewis
Mo Williams PG 287 394 PG Rafer Alston
Delonte West SG 322 251 SG JJ Redick

Howard is only two minutes away from doubling the minutes that Z has played, but that’s the one matchup that doesn’t matter.  Z needs that rest and Dwight Howard does not.

As for the rest…..do you really think that 30-year-old Hedo Turkoglu is going to be able to handle LeBron James even if they were equally rested?  How about when the old man has played 3 and 3/4 more FULL games than the MVP?  That’s a whole lot of fatigue that’s about to set in for Turkoglu.

Also, the young and energetic Varejao has seen LESS than half of the court time as Rashard Lewis.  Tired legs are gonna get ya.

Yes, it’ll be a war early on and I expect to see a close game….but when the 4th quarter is on and old man Turkoglu is weary, he is NOT going to be able to handle LeBron.  If the game is close, there’s going to be a lot of late fouling, with the hopes of keeping James out of the paint and on the free-throw line.

Should be fun.

It’s Orlando. Bring it.

Written May 17th, 2009 by Jeff

There are two teams in the NBA that have a winning record against the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. Both of them are still alive. I’m fine with that, I want to take them both apart during this drive for the trophy.

Tonight, the Orlando Magic earned their shot to be humiliated on National TV. They buried the Boston Celtics in the 4th quarter of Game 7 and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals starting Wednesday night in Cleveland. A 5-point game was blown wide open as the Magic won 101-82, and it truly was a beautiful sight watching an empty Boston Garden* as the clock wound down.

I’d been harping on it for about a week, and it finally bit Boston in the ass….they were tired. Paul Pierce looked like he did two years ago, helpless to do anything in a losing cause. Ray Allen dragged his feet late in the game, after being worn out all night by JJ Redick. Incidentally, that’s the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever written about a Boston player.

The Magic have made a lifelong career of underachieving in the postseason, but they won in a place that very few people believed they could win a Game 7. Frankly, there’s a place that Orlando hardly EVER wins a Game 7…it’s called the NBA. But tonight, they stood tall against a Boston team that looked like they had no reason to win. They didn’t want it. When you have Brian Scalabrine shooting 22-footers and Stephon Marbury handling the ball at the point, you’ve run out of ideas.

So here comes Orlando. They won 2 of 3 games against Cleveland this season, and both games in Florida were BIG Magic wins. That will be the rallying cry for all Magic fans. What they did in the regular season in those two games mean everything. The other 80 games mean nothing.

They’ll have two days rest before they have to come knocking at Quicken Loans Arena, and Game 1 will be a BIG test for Orlando. If they have a shot at knocking off the Cavs, it’s after a 9-day layover for Cleveland. If the Cavs get off with a big Game 1, it’s going to tell a lot for the rest of the series.

Here’s the biggest keys to the series for the Cavaliers to beat Orlando.

1) Dwight Howard is going to clean up the boards. But when he gets the ball in rotation, force him to stay 6 feet outside of the rim. He’s awful when he has to take 8-footers and will miss 2/3rds of them. Use Z to body him out and Varejao to drive him crazy.

2) Despite having a huge inside presence, Orlando can only beat us with three-pointers. Don’t let Turkoglu and Lewis bury us with wide-open 24-footers.

3) Orlando is not capable of stopping LeBron James. James averaged 30 points per game, and nearly had triple-doubles in all three regular-season contests. Obviously, everything runs through him.

4) Pressure, pressure, pressure. If you force this team to make multiple mistakes in a row, Stan Van Gundy will panic and make unnecessary changes. The higher his voice gets, the funnier it will be for Cavs fans. Also, his state of panic tends to piss off his players. They’ll fold right along with him.

And here’s the best news Cavs fans could have….Charles Barkley just said “I think the Orlando Magic will beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.” Kenny Smith is now mocking him, saying “in basketball?” Nobody’s dared to ask him if he’s drunk yet. Chris Webber just said that “if both teams had the same NBA I.Q., I’d go with the Magic. But both teams do not have the same NBA I.Q.”

When Chris Webber picks an Ohio team to win, you know there’s a good reason for him to do it.

* – or whatever the hell they call that decrepit basketball shithole these days.

Fresh legs will be key in the Eastern Finals…..

Written May 12th, 2009 by Jeff

Top three key players for each team, and their total playoff minutes played…..

BOSTON
Ray Allen – 442 minutes played
Paul Pierce – 437 minutes played
Rajon Rondo – 472 minutes played

ORLANDO
Dwight Howard – 340 minutes played
Hedo Turkoglu – 372 minutes played
Rashard Lewis – 400 minutes played

CLEVELAND
LeBron James – 314 minutes played
Mo Williams – 287 minutes played
Delonte West – 322 minutes played

….and those six players on Boston and Orlando will HAVE to play at least two more games, while the Cavaliers rest up.

The Boston Top 3 players will have OVER 500 minutes each.
The Orlando Top 3 players will have 400-450 minutes each.

Cleveland’s Top 3 players will have nearly HALF those minutes, and they’re in the mid-20s each.

Fresh legs, everybody. Fresh legs.

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