Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winslow Trade Thoughts

From my recent trip across the internet message boards it looks like Browns fans are split on the Kellen Winslow trade. Now that the previously undisclosed draft picks have been disclosed to be a 2009 second rounder and a 2010 5th rounder, I'll give my take on the first big move of the new era. And that take is overwhelming support of the move.

Honestly, I think anyone who is against this trade is letting there emotions get in the way of reason. There are two main concerns about this trade. One is that people feel Winslow is our best player and trading him is a sure sign of rebuilding. Two is that Brady Quinn is a young "dink and dunk" passer who needs a great tight end like Winslow to be effective. Let me explain why both of these opinions are incorrect.

First, trading Winslow does NOT mean we are rebuilding. Sure he is the best receiving tight end on the planet. Yet he still managed to drop Quinn's 4th down, game ending pass versus Denver just as if he was any other Browns receiver. Come to think of it, he also dropped a touchdown pass from Quinn against San Francisco in 2007. Winslow's one great ability, to catch passes, is therefore not perfect. And for every drive that Winslow does extend with a great grab, he repeatedly stalls another one with mental errors. I can't count the number of times I lost my voice screaming at the television following a personal foul or false start on Winslow. Not to mention his little problems blocking and staying healthy.

Then there is the depth at tight end on this roster. Steve Heiden could be starting almost anywhere in the league. He seemed more than adequate against the New York Football Giants last season when Winslow was in the hospital. Also, last season we drafted arguably the top receiving tight end in college, Martin Rucker. The drop in talent at tight end will not be noticed in the win-loss column next year.

And for those who think Quinn can only dink and dunk, I say to you that you only think that because you watch DA play, and the only thing he could do was heave it long. If the deep ball is there, Quinn will throw it up and give our guy a chance to make the play. But a qb has to be able to move the chains with long drives to give a defense the chance to rest. Just because Quinn can do something DA couldn't, throw with touch and accuracy to a receiver, doesn't mean it's a bad thing. But I digress. The point of this paragraph was supposed to be that Quinn doesn't need Winslow. As stated above, Heiden is a very gifted tight end and I am fully confident that he will be more than able to fill Winslow's shoes.

This team has too many holes. To trade from a position of strength to acquire assets to fill the weaknesses is exactly what a good GM should do. Winslow's trade value is higher than it will ever be. Obviously ManKok learned from the mistake of the Savage regime when it failed to get value for DA when it had the chance.  On the Tampa Bay message boards, many posts indicated there would be hell to pay if the Bucs gave up more than a 3rd or a 4th rounder.  To get a second and a fifth rounder for this injury prone, penalty prone, malcontent is a steal. The move does not represent a complete rebuild. It is a way to fill the holes on this roster by getting rid of a guy who is injured half his career and is replaceable on the roster.

Now the daunting task of convincing Mr. Rogers to shut up and play ball lies ahead...

PS: I am stunned by the results of the current CMCR poll. The results should have been 100% for trading LeBron for Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum. These are two legit all-star centers and the man LeBron refers to as the best player on the planet. Please, loyal readers, explain to me how you could vote for anything else.

Until next time this is Barry Lakin sayin all the world is schlach.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

The Man On The Street Quiz

Shaun Rogers requested to be released from the Browns. It appears that this request is largely based on two concerns. The first is that new Browns head coach Eric Mangini has on multiple occasions failed to acknowledge him with a hello.  Terrrrific.  That sounds like a Seinfeld episode. The other concern is that Mangini asked Rogers to watch his weight. Now I ask you, are these two people having sex ... or playing football?

Terrrrrrific. This has been your man on the street quiz. Until next time this is Barry Lakin sayin all the world is schlach.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Professional

Anybody that happens to follow Cleveland sports, or our little blog here, knows the importance of Mo Williams. I'll admit that my knowledge of our point guard prior to his acquisition was very minimal. I knew he was a good player for the Bucks, but I did not expect what we have witnessed this season. I figured he was a typical NBA player who would get his points on a combination of drives to the hoop and some streaky jump-shooting. Maybe it's because we had to suffer and watch Larry Hughes "have fun" the last couple of years that I have been surprised by Mr. Mo and his ability as a Professional basketball player.

Let me clarify what I mean by a Professional basketball player. Technically anybody that receives some form of payment for playing basketball can be considered a professional. In my mind what makes Mo a Professional basketball player is his ability to make his jump-shots when he is open. It sounds stupid and simple, but how many times have you seen NBA players miss open jump-shots the last 15 years? I know the stats show the M0 has been in the top 5 the last 2 years in FG% on 2-point shots, but I would love to see his FG% for shots he has taken while left open. Anytime I see him raise up for a shot when left open I feel about 90% confident that he is going to make that shot. That's what makes him a Professional. I expect Professionals to be at the top of their game and do things consistently that I couldn't do. I would never be able to consistently hit a jump-shot in an NBA game, let alone any other form of a basketball game. Whenever he makes one of those jumpers I'm always thinking, "I'm glad my team has that Professional basketball player".

Obviously this isn't to say that Lebron or any other NBA'ers are not professional basketball players, this is just a type of classification for basketball players. Some players are born to play the game: Lebron. Some are born with the genetic size to play the game: Varajeo and Big z. Some are born with IQ to succeed at the game: Eric Snow. Some hustle and work their tails off to play the game: Delonte. And some, like our friend Mo, have taken the time to hone their shooting touch so that they don't waste the opportunity of an open jumper. How many times have you seen Allen Iverson miss an open jumper? Anytime I see him raise up for a jumper I give the shot a 40% chance of going in. Even when Lebron shoots I give it about a 40% chance of going where it's intended. But with Mo that confidence level skyrockets. Derek Fisher is another player that elicits this type of confidence and for historical examples I will point our Steve Kerr and John Paxson. All good players, not superstars, but absolute Professionals in their field.

The confidence that I have in a shooter is what makes them a Professional in my mind. So next time Mo nails a 3 or an open jumper just think to yourself, "man, I'm glad my team has that Professional basketball player" and take another sip of your PBR in celebration.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

The 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers (Automotive Edition)

Two disclosures before you decide whether to read this post:

1. It represents an idea that my buddy DC and I have been discussing for about a year now, but in all fairness, I'm pretty sure I saw a link recently where another blogger did essentially the same thing. Thus, I'm not claiming that this is an original idea (not that it's good enough to warrant any sort of props for whoever really came up with it).

2. There is absolutely no information to be ascertained from this post. It is highly probable that if you decide to read it, you'll be left to ponder the fact that you just wasted 5 minutes of your life that you can never get back. With that said . . .

If each member of the Cleveland Cavaliers were a car, what kind of car would he be? Think about the Owen Wilson Pixar flick for an idea of what I'm talking about. The brash young athlete represented by the hybrid stock/formula one car. The wise, gruff, past his prime veteran represented by the Hudson Hornet. The sexy and mysterious (don't try to tell me that Sally Carrera wasn't sexy) female portrayed by the powder blue 911 . . . Well if they were to make a "Cars II" about the 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers, what type of car would represent each player? He's are my best guesses.

1. Lebron James: 2009 Bugatti Veyron - This was too easy. Pick any ridiculous supercar and you could make a case that it's the car that should play Lebron. I went with the Bugatti because it's the fastest production car on the planet, it's built like a Sherman Tank, and it packs more power under the hood than you can possibly wrap your brain around: A turbocharged 64 Valve W16 that generates over 1,000 horsepower. It's an absurd vehicle to represent an absurd athlete.

2. Mo Williams: 2004 Honda S-2000 - If someone were to show up at your house one
day and offer you a 2004 Honda S-2000, you'd be pretty excited right? I mean, you wouldn't go berzerk as if someone were handing you the keys to a Ferrari, but nevertheless,
that would be a great and memorable day, would it not? That's the type of reaction many of us had when the Cavs got Mo Williams. He certainly represented a massive upgrade over our then existing point guard options, much like the 04 S-2000 would represent a massive upgrade over what most of us are currently driving. Moreover, the S-2000 is a deceptively fast and sporty vehicle, and while it doesn't have the flashiest body or garner the most recognition in its class, it's clearly more than just a solid everyday performer. The same can be said for Mo.

3. Zydrunas Ilgauskas: 1988 Chevrolet E20 Conversion Van - Anyone caught driving this relic would be mercilessly ridiculed by their friends. But, that wouldn't change the fact that it would still be just as roomy and comfortable as it was the day it rolled off the assembly line. You could make the same argument for big Z. He's awkwardly large, painfully slow, and his game is a bit of an eyesore, but I challenge you to find more than a few players who have been more consistent and effective over the last 10 years.

4. Delonte West: Modified 2007 Honda Civic - The crazy appearance and cliche'
nature of this vehicle take away from the fact that, as modified, it's a pretty high performer. In much the same way, Although Delonte is, well . . . he's not a particularly attractive man, but in spite of his unusual appearance, he's a very solid guard. He doesn't do anything exceptionally well but much like the modified civic, he's a reliable above-average performer.

5. Ben Walace: Dump Truck - This vehicle is large,
one-dimensional, and serves a very narrow purpose. Need I say more?

6. Anderson Varajao: 2004 Land Rover Defender - The defender is a big, rugged, off-road vehicle that you just don't see a lot of in the U.S. Similarly Varejao is a tough, gritty banger in the paint with a look and playing style that are equally unique.

7. Daniel Gibson: 2001 Chyrsler PT Cruiser - When the PT made its debut in 2001, it received a ton of hype based on the fact that there was nothing on the market at that time that was anything like it. After the initial excitement faded, however, people
began to realize that the PT was a bit of a dud on the road. Now, the vehicle's look is terribly outdated and anyone seen driving one looks a little ridiculous. When Dan Gibson emerged onto the scene in the 2007 playoffs, Cavs fans went wild. For years, we had been searching for a pure shooter to play with Lebron and finally, one had arrived. Now, a couple of years later, Gibson looks one-dimensional and his one above average skill, shooting, is now either matched or surpassed by several other more versatile players on the Cavs' roster.

8. Wally Szczerbiak: 1995 BMW 745iL - Sure it was a status symbol in its day but the truth of the matter is that it was was always wildly overpriced and a maintenance nightmare. Do I even need to draw the parallels to Wally's career? We may love him as an expiring contract and he was even an all-star in his prime but overall, his career has been a little underwhelming for a guy who was once viewed as a great white hope or sorts.

9. Sasha Pavlovic: 1988 Pontiac Fiero - It looks sporty. It should've been fun to own. Unfortunately, the Fiero never took off due to a host of issues including a reputation for engine fires. If you look at Pavlovic, he should be a useful player. He's big, fast, and at one time, was supposedly a decent shooter. By now though, we know it's just never going to happen for him. Much like the Fiero, Pavlovic's career is destined to be short and forgettable.

10. J.J. Hickson: 2006 Pontiac Solstice - The Solstice made a pretty good splash in 06 as a surprisingly sleek and affordable roadster. Sure, it had next to nothing under the hood but it was still an appealing start for a model that we suspected would have a pretty bright future. Hickson has been a pleasant surprise for a guy drafted in a spot where few before him had made a significant impact. Sure he's raw and a defensive liability but he definitely has the potential to be a solid rotation player in the future.

11. Tarence Kinsey: 2001 Hyundai Elantra - It's not flashy and it's made by a company that is only now starting to get any respect, but it's a reliable compact that will get you from point A to point B. Similarly, Kinsey doesn't get a lot of respect after spending the last year in Europe and while he isn't flashy, he'll give you a few passable minutes every night to give your other guards a blow.

12. Lorenzen Wright: Rusted-out Pickup Truck - This vehicle may have been servicable in its day but now, it's just a useless corpse waiting to be loaded into the Lorenzen Wright.

13. Darnell Jackson: Hearse - This vehicle serves an extremely narrow purpose and every time you see it, it makes you a little uneasy. The same could be said for Darnell Jackson. He's in the league solely for his big body and every time I see him on the floor, I'm reminded of the fact that our frontcourt is still one man short.

14. Trey Johnson: 1991 Geo Metro - If you saw a 91 Metro on the road today, you would wonder what the hell it was doing there. I have that same thought every time I see Trey Johnson on the floor in an NBA game.

15. Eric Snow: 1990 Toyota Tercel - In its day, there was nothing wrong with it. By the end of the decade, there was absolutely no reason for anyone to be driving one. The Snow parallels go without saying. Just remember: Up until 2007, the Cavs starting point guard was the equivalent of a 1990 Toyota Tercel. Thank you Danny Ferry.

OK, now for the fun part. I'm holding an informal contest for the best car comparison in the comments section of this post. To have realistic shot at winning, a suggestion must be strong in three areas: 1) comparison accuracy, 2) creativity, and 3) comedic value. Have at it CMCR nation.
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Guide To The Power Rankings

You may have noticed a new feature displayed on the CMCR main page: The Cleveland Athlete Power Rankings. This is something that I often think about on my own so I thought it might be fun to keep a running list of the most prominent athletes on the Cleveland sports scene. Just so there is no confusion as to what these rankings mean, I'll set forth the criteria used to make the list.

1. Only players who are still active in their respective sport and still playing in Cleveland
are eligible.

2. Talent, ability, and performance are only derivatively important. This poll is based more on fan notoriety and adoration. For example, Cliff Lee is coming off probably the greatest season by an Indians pitcher in history. Yet, he's ranked below Josh Cribbs, a very solid Browns
special teamer. Why? Well, I would guess that there are more people in Northeast Ohio that would call themselves Josh Cribbs fans than there are people who are particularly fond of Cliff Lee. This also explains why Brady Quinn, a player who has yet to accomplish anything in this city, is ranked 3rd ahead of more successful players like Victor Martinez and Z.

3. The season doesn't really matter. Obviously, in February, people are going to be fixated
on the Cavs. The same could be said of the Indians in July or the Browns in September. For the most part, the rankings attempt to ignore the obvious bias in favor of athletes whose sport is in season.

4. While season doesn't matter, sport does. This is a Browns town first and foremost and no matter how many dumps the team takes on its fans, they'll always be number one in the hearts of the majority of Northeast Ohioans. Thus, Browns players have a distinct advantage over the rest of the field. Fortunately, however, given that the Browns only have a few players who aren't despicable, the list has a good mix of the 3 major
Cleveland sports.

5. Ohio State counts as Cleveland for the purposes of these rankings. So, if and when Terrelle Pryor wins the heisman and/or a National Championship, he's eligible for the list.

So, there you have it. We'll try to update these rankings every couple of weeks or so. And, because the poll is supposed to be a measure of fan sentiment, we encourage you to comment in the discussions section under any posting to express your views on the rankings. If there is enough momentum for or against a particular decision that we've
made, I assure you that we'll change it. The purpose here is just to have a little fun and generate some good discussion.
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Quick Thoughts From Milwaukee

1. There was never any chance that the Cavs were going to lose that game tonight. A team like Milwaukee just doesn't have the offensive weapons to sustain a lead when the Cavs inevitably turn the screws on defense.

2. After observing his game tonight, anybody out there still want to blame Danny Ferry for not wanting to pay $52 million for Dick Jefferson over the next two years?

3. Lebron's 3rd quarter was jaw dropping. It was one of those weird anomalies where he just can't miss. Even though he's not a good shooter, once in a while he'll have a quarter where he literally can't miss. The only downside to Lebron getting hot like that is that in a close game, it can be a detriment later on when he's still inevitably trying to hit fallaway 23 footers after the fire has been extinguished and the entire offense has been shut down. I'm fine with Lebron playing out the string on hot quarters in February but come playoff time, once he misses a heat check shot from deep, it's time to go back inside.

4. Text message from fellow CMCR editor tonight: "I love when Z plods to the defense of his teamates." Another gem: "Delonte looks like he's dressed for the winter formal after tonight's game."

5. I don't know if Dan Gibson is still hurt but I'm excited to have Delonte back. Gibson's shot is nowhere near where it was in 06 and he probably shouldn't be playing point guard in the NBA if he doesn't have enough confidence in his handle to fend off Luke Ridnour. Is anyone else a little troubled by Gibson's regression over the last couple of years?

That's all for tonight. Looking forward to a nice little Sunday scrimmage against Detroit's carcass.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

If It Aint Broke . . .

Reactions to the trade frenzy that wasn't:

I love blockbuster trades. When your team is looking to buy, there is nothing more exciting than the thought of a major roster addition and all the hype that goes with it. But beyond my natural desire to feel the rush of a major trade, because the Cavs approached this deadline as an elite team with a major asset to move in a buyer's market, my expectations were through the roof. To put it mildly, I had been eagerly anticipating this day for months in the hope that it would be the day that the Cavs potentially took the next step from contender to favorite.

Well, we're now two hours past the deadline and we can be sure that, with the exception of the potential addition of a Joe Smith or Mikki Moore, the Cavs roster will remain unchanged . . . and much to my surprise, I'm thrilled. I don't know what happened in the last 24 hours but somehow, I went from being desperate for the addition of a marquee player to excited about the future that lays ahead as the current roster gears up for the playoffs. How did this happen? Well, I'm not 100% sure but I can basically attribute it to a few factors:

1. I was outraged by the demands of other teams:

Plain and simple, in this economy, any team that is at or near the luxury tax threshold and is not contending should be giving away big contracts solely for cap relief and should be damn thankful for the opportunity to do so. For the Cavs to be offering Wally to a team like Milwaukee, the Clippers or Washington is an absolute gift. These teams have no chance of contending any time in the foreseeable future and will be hemmoraging money all along the way. Really Donald Sterling? You're not interested in a free $10 million dollars in exchange for a guy who will have no material impact on your team's record or gate receipts? Fine, choke on it. Same to you Abe Polin and Herb Kohl. I don't fault Danny Ferry one bit for balking at any demand from a non-contending team that included any young players or picks. We're 41-11 and one of the few teams in the league willing to add a single dollar to our payroll. I think Ferry correctly determined that he had no reason to give in to the delusional demands of GMs that had no leverage, and for that, as much as I wanted another second-tier star, I applaud him.

2. I'm drinking the Cavs kool-aid:

I didn't want to watch the Raptors game last night for two reasons. One, at this time of year, I'm so fixated on the makeup of the roster that I turn a blind eye to any on-court happenings. Two, I knew they were going to win. That second thought it what's really important here. Yes, I know the Raptors are crappy. Still, it was a road game in which the Cavs would be missing two starters...yet, in my head, it was a foregone conclusion. Once I let that sink in for a bit, I started thinking back to the beginning of the season....when a healthy motivated Cavs team was absolutely demolishing everyhing in its path. More than most people, I have always been one to get wrapped up in the trade deadline...but I've also never had the good fortune to root for an awesome team. This team is really really good. They can legitimately win a title. There's a reason that Lebron wanted to keep the current roster intact (and I don't think he was just saying that for PR reasons). He thinks they're good enough to win it all. He's not the type of guy to say that just to be the good soldier. If he believes in this roster, why shouldn't I?

3. You can't completely ignore the money:

Cleveland is an impoverished mid-market city at the precipice of a frightening recession with an owner who just so happens to have his fortune tied up in the mortgage business. Gilbert, Ferry...the fans...none of us can ignore that fact. Now, I'm not for one minute suggesting that these economic realities mean that the team should do anything less than everything they possibly can to retain Lebron (the majority of the franchise's value)...but you still can't just turn a blind eye to the future financial ramifications of a trade. If you're going to pay an extra $20-40 million for a guy (salary X number of additional years on contract X 2 for the luxury tax) you'd better make damn sure that said player puts you over the top. If you're going to commit an extra $100 million to a guy, you'd better be even more certain.

I believe with full confidence that money wasn't the reason the Cavs didn't make a move today. But, and it's a very legitimate but, I'm sure it was a factor in the decision. How do you committ a small fortune to a player who is either a marginal talent upgrade or on the downside of his career without considering how it will impact your ability to re-sign your own players (Varajao), use future expiring contracts to fill more pressing holes down the road (Wallace), or pay the electric bill at the Q (obviously an exaggeration but you get my point). You can't ignore the money. Franchises that have done so in the past have consistently failed throughout the course of sports history. It's just not a good way to run a business, especially in these precarious economic times. Ferry and Gilbert have to build a winner to keep Lebron. I'm sure they're well aware of that fact. But if today is any indication, they realize that the best way to accomplish that goal isn't necessarily to go out and spend like drunken sailors with no regard for the economic ramifications of their decisions.
. . .
So, for those reasons, I'm happy that the Cavs stuck to their guns today. In regard to the deals that weren't, here are my thoughts: Camby was a no brainer if he could've been had for expiring money alone. Jamison was less of a no brainer but enough of an impact guy that his contract would've been worth the risk if the deal had just been for expiring money. Amare was another no-brainer but I don't think that deal was ever close to happening. As for the Shaq deal, I was somewhat indifferent although I can't imagine paying $40 million for a 37 year-old Shaq next year. Still, if, as rumored, the piece to be traded was Wallace rather than Wally's expiring deal, the additional cost might have been worth it for the extra offense Shaq would've brought to the table. As for Richard Jefferson, I've never liked his game and even though he can score, I'm happy the Cavs didn't bite on his 43% shooting and giant contract.

In terms of the other deals and non-deals of the day, I really only have a few comments:

1. Watching the Bulls work is insanely entertaining. Calling them a rudderless ship is an insult to rudderless ships everywhere. What on gods earth are they doing?...although in fairness, any day that you get rid of Larry Hughes is a good day in my book.

2. Dear Wizards: You still just don't get it, do you? Keep clinging to the idea that once everyone is healthy, you'll be a contender. As a Cavs fan, I'm just trembling at the thought of Arenas limping around firing up terrible shots while Blake Griffin, Brendan Haywood, and 30 somethings Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison look on in disgust. Great plan Wiz. Keep swimming the opposite direction while teams like the Cavs try to throw you life preservers.

3. Probably a smart move by the Magic getting Alston. You can't just take a 39-14 team and leave them for dead without at least trying to fill the void left by Nelson. Still, i'm not exactly worried. Alston is a chucker with a PER in the Pavlovic zone, not a guy who can really fill Nelson's shoes.

4. I read somehwere that Boston is pretty confident that they can land Joe Smith if and when he gets bought out. I have no idea what Smith's intentions really are but I can't imagine that he is really thinking about signing with Boston over Cleveland. If he is, maybe someone should let him in on a little secret: The Cavs are better than the Celtics.

That's it. Time to put this deadline in the books and get ready for what I fully expect will be the most exciting Spring and Summer of Cavs basketball ever. I'll say it one last time: I love this team and I sincerely believe that they can win this thing.
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

When the Suns Trade Their Guy, That's Amare

Rumors abound around the Interwebs that the Cavs and Phoenix Suns are talking about a possible deal sending PF Amare Stoudemire to Cleveland in exchange for the expiring contract of Wally Szczerbiak, J.J. Hickson and a draft pick. While I usually dismiss these rumors as the longings of the ESPN Trade Machine analysts, I give this one credence because the conversations are being reported by the very reputable Brian Windhorst of the Plain Dealer. As you recall, Windhorst broke the Hughes/Wallace trade of last season and told Cleveland about Mo Williams' arrival, while Windhorst was driving home from the hospital after a long illness. Needless to say, when Windhorst reports something, I listen.

As a Cavs fan, it's hard not to get very excited about the possibility of Amare lining up next to Lebron, Mo, Delonte and Z. Amare is a bonafide star in the NBA. He has been named as an All-Star 4 times in his young career, 2005, 2007, 2008, and the present season. On the year Amare is averaging 21 pts, 8 rebounds, and over a block a game. And while I love the intensity of Big Ben, compare that to Wallace's numbers as our starting PF, 3 points a game, a little under 7 boards and 1.5 blocks - essentially an offensive blackhole. Amare is only 26 years old and will most likely be looking for an extension if he gets traded.

Let's step back and think about this deal. The Cavs get a young offensively dominate big man, for Wally's expiring contract, an exciting, but inconsistent, player in J.J. Hickson, and probably a very late first round draft pick. And with Wally most likely getting bought out and potentially even returning to the Cavs, Cleveland gets a 4-time All-Star for Hickson, (who at his developmental peak may be a Carlos Boozer type player) and unknown quantity in what is shaping up to be a weak draft class. So, the question becomes, what's more important - having an Amare Stoudemire on the team now or keeping Hickson's potential and the chemistry of the team intact. I think Hickson showed in the Lakers' game against Lamar Odom that he cannot be trusted yet. Windhorst on his weekly podcast indicated that Mike Brown currently does not feel comfortable playing Hickson in important game situations. It really boils down to come playoff time who do you want guarding Kevin Garnett or Chris Bosh - Hickson or Stoudemire? The answer is obvious. I like Hickson's potential, but you have to give talent to get talent. The Suns aren't going to give up Amare for the rights to Trajan Langdon.

There are some negatives to the Stoudemire deal. First, Yahoo is already reporting the deal has fallen flat, and if anything is to be worked out that a third team may have to get involved. However, at the same time, their article points out the realities that Steve Kerr and Danny Ferry are very close, having played together with the Spurs and the Cavs. A good working relationship may go a long way to smoothing out any holdups which may kill other deals. And, if this something both GMs want to get done, their friendship makes it all the more likely.

Second, the obvious weakness in Stoudemire's game is his defense. As explained by ESPN's John Hollinger, "He's a poor help defender and tends to pick up cheap fouls...fouls tend to be a big differentiator with him -- if he gets a quick two, he'll don a toreador outfit for the remainder of the half." Mike Brown prides himself on having a defensively sound basketball team. As a Sun, Amare wasn't really expected to play any defense with Mike D'Antoni's style of basketball. Can he come to the Cavs and pick up his defensive intensity? Well, the same criticisms were leveled at Mo Williams before he joined the Cavs, and it appears apparent things have worked out in that respect. Lebron and Mike Brown have been very successful at getting players to buy into the team's philosphy. Even Wally, known to wear a toreador outfit himself at times, has shown a knack for making the tough defensive plays and fighting for rebounds this season.

Another red flag is that Amare did have microfracture surgery on his knee during the 2005-2006 season, missing almost the entire year. I'm always a bit weary of committing money to a player with such a serious injury in his past. However, since his return, Stoudemire has played at the same level of basketball and has shown no signs of any ill effects - playing every game in the 2006-2007 season and 79 games last year. Making the All-Star team that last three years also has eased my concerns on this point.

There have also been some grumblings about Amare's desire to be the main man on any team to which he is dealt. Obviously, with the Cavs Amare will never fill that role with Lebron here. If Amare wants to be the top dog, I suggest he look to Memphis or a team of that caliber. I mean, Ricky Davis was the leader of a very bad Cavs' team. However, if Amare wants to win, get national exposure next to the best player in the game and help build a dynasty, then let's welcome him abroad. It's hard to imagine that Stoudemire won't be excited about teaming up with Lebron. I mean, look at the picture above - it's obvious he's praying to get a championship. Trust me, Amare, we're praying with you.

If the Cavs do indeed make a move for Amare, they must make sure that it won't greatly impact the team chemistry. The last thing the Cavs need is to destroy what appears to be one of the most cohesive groups in the NBA. With Amare coming over, the Cavs would have to consider how the rotation would be impacted. Would Wallace be alright with coming off the bench or would he take it as an insult? Would Andy be happy becoming the 4th big man as he heads towards the free agency? How does Amare mesh with Z? If Wally does indeed get bought out, how does a month off before returning impact his game? And mostly importantly - is Lebron on board? Every move has to be made with an eye towards keeping Lebron long-term. Lebron has to be asked, point blank - is Amare a guy you feel like you can play with for several years to come?

In the end, the goal remains to put the team in the best possible position to win a championship this season. Adding Amare, no question, seems to make the Cavs a better team than they are without him. Do I think this deal gets done in the end? I wouldn't hold my breath. Am I glad that Ferry is exploring every opition and avenue? I'd be disappointed if he wasn't. Just hearing the Cavs being connected to Amare and other big names on the market is evidence that the goal of this team is to do whatever it takes to win it all now - which is something Cleveland fans haven't experienced in a long, long time. Share your thoughts Cavs fans - this season may get a lot more exciting very shortly. (Images from Real GM, Dime Mag).
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What's Bugging Me Today?

Greetings all,

This being my first post I decided to keep it simple and throw out a few thoughts on things that have been bugging me lately. I am not an accredited journalist, I don't hold any advanced degrees in sports journalism or media studies. I'm simply an enthusiastic young man with a 6th grade education and an abiding love for all things cleveland sports related.

  • Nice to see Mo Williams get the All-Star nod after being passed over twice. When Mo was initially passed, Lebron called it a slap in the face and disrespect to Cleveland and the Cavs. I'm glad Lebron took that stance, but was surprised seeing how as he wore a Yankees cap to a playoff game a few years back.

  • I found A-Roid's apology to be a complete slap in the face to the fans of baseball. When he said he was trying to live up to the pressures of being the highest paid player he was essentially blaming the fans. Furthermore, he passed it off as the thing to do during the time and claimed he was young a naive. He was roughly 27 at the time and when you are that age you have passed the point of being "young and naive". A-Roid you are never going to be anything but a giant stat-monger in the history of baseball. Oh and by the way, your pink lipstick and orange skin are ridiculous looking.

  • Mike Brown's rotations are starting to bewilder me. I understand the need to rest LBJ now while you can, but try to make an adjustment from your mapped out time sequences on your note card. You don't have to sit Lebron the start of every 4th quarter. Why not just try using some of the moment from the 3rd quarter to put the opposition away early in the 4th? I'm a firm believer of crushing the spirits of the opposing team as soon as you can, probably because I've seen it happen to our teams so often. That said, I loved his rant after the Pacer's game last night. Anytime a coach trashes Joey Crawford I'm all for it.

  • Are the Brown's still an organization? The last time Berea was so quiet this time of year Modell was setting up shop in Baltimore and shopping for the ex-con's who would form the face of the franchise.

  • I HATE Roethlisberger and can't believe he won a 2nd Super Bowl. How the officiating crew managed to miss crucial calls is beyond me. This is twice the team with the mustached female fan base (seriously look at the ladies they have at their games) has benefited from poor officiating.

  • I hope the Cavs regroup over the All-Star break and come back focused on using some their anger towards finishing strong. The only person I would trade for would be Marcus Camby, otherwise I would sit tight and see what this roster can do. When healthy I think they can compete with anybody and would take them in any seven game series.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gimme Mo' Williams: Williams Finally An All-Star

After kicking the city of Cleveland twice in the past week, David Stern has finally relented, selecting Mo Williams to replace the injured Chris Bosh in the NBA All-Star Game scheduled for Sunday. After the selection of Jameer Nelson, and his subsequent replacement by Ray Allen, it appeared that the Cavs' sole representatives in the game this year were going to be Lebron, Mr. Potato Head himself Mike Brown, and the ghost of Damon Jones (recently self-proclaimed as the greatest human being in the history of mankind).

Though Mo's contributions have apparently gone unappreciated around the league thus far, it's undeniable the effect that Williams has had on the Cavs this year. Williams has averaged 17.1 pts, while handing out 4.6 assists this season. Williams scoring is nearly identical to his average of last season (17.2), and his assists total has actually dropped (6.3). However, the numbers on their face fail to quantify the true value that Mo has given to the Cavs.

For the first time since Lebron has been in the league, the Cavs have provided him with a viable secondary scoring option from the guard position. Prior to Williams' arrival, James had been forced to rely on a barrage of subrate running mates: Larry "Please Stop Taking So Many Bad Shots" Hughes, Eric Snow, David Wesley, the beforementioned Mr. Handsome - Damon Jones, Flip Murray, Mike Wilks, Lucious Harris, Jeff McInnis, Dajuan Wagner, Jiri Welsch (what a fantastic deal that was), Ricky "Please Stop Shooting at Your Own Basket" Davis, and Kevin "The 'Stache" Ollie - just to hit the "highlights." Essentially, since trading away Terrell Brandon, the Cavs have been in a consistent search to find themselves a "true" point guard. Williams has finally solidified that role.

And unlike many of the names on the above-mentioned list, Mo has the ability to create his own shot and to drive to the basket. Though Williams remains equally capable of the standing in the corner catch and shoot offense that we've become accustomed to with Lebron, he has also a devastating tear drop which he can utilize almost at-will and seems to possess the antidote to the shooting the ball inside the three-point line fear, which afflicted so many of our previous guards.

What makes Mo Williams so important is that he's the anti-Larry Hughes. Rather than sulking about his complementary role on this team, he has embraced it. Whereas Hughes seemed to focus solely on his personal accomplishments, Williams appears as the consummate professional, sacrificing personal statistics for the success of the Cavs as a whole. And, in actuality, as Mo's stats are almost identical to his numbers of last year, Williams has shown that's possible to "get his" while not chucking up shots every time he touches the ball. While Lebron sits to begin the second quarter, Mo has a chance to become the dominate scorer. And, when Lebron returns, Williams has no trouble shifting gears and taking more of a backseat.

Perhaps the most valuable attribute that Mo has brought to the team, which has gone rather unnoticed, is his superb free-throw numbers. On the season, Mo has made a remarkable .943 of his shots at the charity stripe. Not since the days of Mark Price have the Cavs had a player knocking down free throws at such a clip. Now, instead of having Lebron taking the free shot after a technical (probably when Z should have been taking those shots anyways), the Cavs can send the more consistent Williams to the line. And, at the end of games, putting the ball in Mo's hands is almost a guaranteed two points when teams begin hacking.

As a fan, I'm proud to have Mo Williams on my team. Watching his play on the court and listening to him talk after games, it's clear that Williams is a class act - the type of player who you want to root for and who you want to succeed. I think that's why Cavs' fans took it so personally when he was denied the All-Star spot to begin with - because we realize how important Mo truly is to the Cavs. So Congratulations Mo, on being named to your first All-Star Game. I don't think you'd find anyone in a Cleveland who doesn't think you deserve it.
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Dead Weight Cut

The Browns today cut seven players off the roster (probably about 20 players too few), releasing the dynamic quarterbacking duo of Ken Dorsey or Bruce Gradkowski, along with linebacker Antwan Peek, cornerback Terry Cousin, and three players any diehard fan would be hard pressed to remember, punter Mike Dragosavich (who is reportedly going back to Russia to prepare for his upcoming boxing match with Rocky), kicker Jason Reda, and offensive lineman Eric Young.

None of these moves are anything to get worked up about one way or the other, as it's doubtful that any of these players will make an impact around the league next year. At the end of each season, teams make these transactions as a way of clearing room to sign free agents and draft picks. As the title of this article suggests, now is the time for the trimming of the fat.

As for Dorsey, at least Eric Mangini and George Kokinis have shown that being best friends with Brady Quinn is no longer enough to qualify for a roster spot and a paycheck with the Brownies. I just wonder who's going to braid Quinn's hair during team slumber parties now. For those of you who enjoy self-inflicted pain, Dorsey threw for a big fat ZERO touchdown passes on the season, and had a 26.5 passer rating on 43 of 91 passing for 374 yards with seven interceptions. Oh, I'm sorry, did I say Dorsey threw no touchdown passes on the year? I must have forgotten the one he threw to Asante Samuel for a 50-yard pick-six. Oh yeah, and the other 50-yard interception returned for a touchdown which he threw to Leon Hall. That's right, Dorsey threw two touchdowns this season, to opposing teams. As a quarterback in the NFL, how the hell do you throw for NO TOUCHDOWNS TO YOUR OWN TEAM AND TWO TO YOUR OPPONENTS? I really hope Dorsey enjoys his future career at Fed Ex (though he'll probably spend his days delivering UPS packages).

Additionally, with Terry Cousin no longer on the roster, perhaps the Browns can consider bringing back former Brown, Ralph Brown (who I wish still had his website up - as it played the most hypnotic elevator music I have ever heard. Instead, it looks like he's turned his attention to sprucing up his Wikipedia page). However, I'm sure the Browns will have their pick of a number of players who can admirably watch as the receiver they're covering catches the ball ten-yards downfield.

I am a little disappointed to see Peek cut off the squad, seeing how weak the Browns are at linebacker already. Peek was signed in 2007 to a three-year, $8 million dollar deal, to provide the Browns with a much needed pass rush. Peek did show potential during his first year, with four sacks despite several injuries. Unfortunately, Peek suffered a torn patellar tendon in September and didn't step foot on the field this season. Obviously there has to been concerns over his ability to recover from this injury and to be as effective as he was previously. The new braintrust must have decided that the gamble wasn't going to be worth the money owed to him next season.

I know that Mangini and Kokinis have to start clearing house somewhere and the basement makes as much sense as anywhere with this team based on the horrendous completion of last year. I just hope that these cuts are a few of several waves to come, bringing in a new attitude for 2009.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cleveland, City of Lights, City of Magic

Clearing my head after a week away from writing:


1. I'm not going to rehash a forgettable afternoon of basketball but I think everything we learned can basically be boiled down to this: The Cavs do not match up well with the Lakers and if they're serious about winning a title, and not just one of the conference variety, they're going to have to add a piece. Even with West defending the perimeter and freeing Lebron to defend Odom, the matchups just aren't any good. The Cavs need a big man....check that...the Cavs need a talented big man. Joe Smith and Brad Miller need not apply. For the Cavs to be favored in a seven game series with the Lakers, it would take someone of the caliber of Camby or Amare to push them to the top. I don't know how optimistic I am that a deal like that will get done. Could the Cavs win a title even if they can't make a big acquisition? Of course. They're a very good basketball team. Are the odds in their favor? Nope. Right now there are four teams that could win it all (Cavs, Celtics, Lakers, Spurs). The Lakers are clearly the favorites and I wouldn't put the Cavs any better than about 5-1.

2. I'm not going to get on Lebron's case after one bad game. Everyone has a stinker once in a while. All I will say is this: Can we please stop blowing Chris Jent for whatever he's been doing all year with Lebron? Obviously, however many hours they've been spending in the gym together, it hasn't been enough to teach Lebron how to square up and shoot in balance. He's still a crappy shooter with crappy mechanics. That doesn't change the fact that Lebron is still the best player in the league. Just please studio commentators, spare us the Chris Jent platitudes.

3. Someone please explain to me what's going on with Donald Sterling. Is he serious about holding on to Camby until his awful 12-39 team is healthy enough to be slightly less awful? I'm sorry but I just don't believe that. You don't earn a reputation for being the cheapest owner in the league for 28 straight years and then just randomly up and decide to put winning first in the midst of a recession. Camby will be available. The Cavs MUST get him.

4. Count me among those who believe that the Suns might be blowing a little bit of smoke regarding Amare. Really? Robert Sarver lets Steve Kerr trade for the contracts of Shaq and Jason Richardson in the same year and now, all of the sudden, he's so deathly afraid of the luxury tax that he's going to trade away his best asset for expirings, picks, and a decent young player or two? That sounds like a smoke screen to me. My guess is Phoenix is pretending to undervalue him in the hope that the massive number of interested teams will drive the price up into a more reasonable range. They're not going to get full value for him but I doubt they'll be trading him away for cap relief alone.

Two more points while we're on this topic: 1) I've read that the only player off limits in Phoenix is Steve Nash. I guess I shouldn't expect anything less from the most poorly managed franchise this side of Chicago. Instead of trading away an aging defenseless point guard for full value, they're going to hold onto him for another year until he hits the wall and becomes worthless. Didn't Steve Kerr watch the heist that New Jersey pulled off with Kidd last year? If Phoenix had a lick of sense, they'd trade Nash, bring in a real defensive coach, and rebuild around Amare. Idiots. 2) I love it when people like to talk about how Amare can't play defense. Let's clarify this a little bit. Amare doesn't play defense. Is that surprising given that his only coach up until this year has been Mike D'Antoni. Didn't we hear the same thing about Mo Williams before he came to Cleveland? And last I checked, Mo Williams wasn't 6'10 250 with absurd athletic ability. I'm pretty sure, if put on the right team under the right coach, Amare just might be alright on the defensive end.

Final word on Amare: The Cavs should offer Szczerbiak, Hickson, and two number 1's and call it a day. That isn't going to be enough to get it done but at least they'll have put together their best available package for him. And for any of you out there that don't want to give up on Hickson's upside for a malcontent like Amare, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you're an idiot. You don't want Amare and Lebron on the floor together at the same time? You don't think it just might cause a problem or two for other teams if the Cavs had 2 of the 3 greatest athletic specimens in the NBA (Howard being the 3rd) on the same line? Does Amare have some baggage? Absolutely. He has a serious tude and a microfracture operation under his belt. Still, it doesn't matter. If, and this isn't going to happen so I shouldn't even fantasize about it...but if Amare were to become a Cav, our televisions might explode. That's how insane it would be to see him and Lebron on the floor at the same time.

5. Please tell me you saw the Lebron/Kobe interview at halftime today. Watching Kobe pretend to be a decent guy is one of my top 10 favorite NBA related activities. Has there ever been a guy who is more desperate to be liked but is so obviously a total penis? Even when they showed the footage of Lebron busting Kobe's balls on the Olympic team, you could tell that Kobe wasn't fully in on the joke. As far as I'm concerned, the "Kobe is a good guy" ship sailed the day he outed Shaq for cheating on his wife just to take some of the heat off of himself. (Editor's Note: Any time someone claims that the day you officially became a bad guy was a day other than the one where you beat a rape charge or quit on your team in a playoff game 7, it probably means you're a really bad guy) I'm sure Lebron and Dwayne "Valtrex" Wade would just love to have a guy like that hanging around.

6. I feel bad for Mo Williams but truthfully, I'm glad he's not an all-star. What do you think would be better for the Cavs: Mo spending a few days partying and playing extra basketball in Phoenix or taking a few days or R&R followed by a return to work with a giant chip on his shoulder. I'll go with the latter.


1. I don't really have any serious Indians thoughts this week so I'll make one up: Did you ever wonder what the breakeven analysis would look like for the Indians signing Manny? Wait, before you navigate away from the page, I'm not advocating that the Indians sign him nor am I saying there is any more than a 0.0% chance that it would happen. All I'm saying is that just out of curiosity, I would love to know how many additional fans per game the Indians would have to draw to offset, say, a 1 year $30 million deal for Manny. I'll set the over/under at 10,000 extra fans per game assuming proportionate increases in concessions and merchandise sales. I'd love to hear your thoughts/guesses on this one.

2. Alex Rodriguez was roiding in 2003!? Shocking. You know who else I suspect might have been roiding that year? Every other power hitter in baseball. I wish these stories would just go away and that's coming from a guy who hates A-Rod.


1. One year ago this week, Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards were pro-bowlers. Now, I wish they were both....(exercising restraint)...somewhere else. Although, since I heard that Savage fully guaranteed Anderson's $5 million roster bonus, maybe the odds of that happening aren't as good as I once imagined. It's only fitting that Savage tucked away one final hidden turd for us to uncover after his departure.

2. I heard someone on ESPN radio the other day (and I think it might have been Mel Kiper but I can't remember for sure) stumping for the Cowboys to hire Savage as a consultant because the two are friends. Two things: 1) How can a (somewhat) reputable sports network let one of its purported exports openly stump for a friend to get a job on the air. Isn't that a violation of some sort of journalistic ethics? 2) Given how badly he butchered the Browns, how can you make a straight faced argument for Savage to get another high-profile front office job?

3. I don't like all of this Malcolm Jenkins draft talk. Don't get me wrong; Jenkins is one of the few departing Ohio State players whom I actually didn't hate. I think he'll be a very solid NFL corner. That being said, a rookie corner isn't going to do the Browns much good because they'll still have no pass rush. In the NFL, if you can't rush the passer, the secondary is a moot point.

Ok, enough Browns coverage. I've already wasted 3 minutes of my life that I can never get back. I think we're going to start replacing the weekly Browns coverage with some hard hitting Lake Erie Monsters reporting or perhaps a few updates on how the Gladiators are dealing with the cancelled season. Those two things are probably more relevant than anything the Browns are up to. I wish there was a place that we could all go just to boo the Browns together. They should be forced to designate one player or team official each day to sit in a public place to receive lusty boos from fans. Maybe that's how they can start re-earning my respect.

That's all for now. My apologies for being absent from the board for a while. I'm sure we'll have more frequent updates with the trade deadline approaching.
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Message to J.J. Hickson

Learn this important basketball fundamental.  I know you are a 20 year old rookie.  But, honestly, you learned this when you were 8 years old.   Read the rest of this article