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.


The Talented Lamond Murray said...

Overall I'm satisfied that the cavs sat tight today. I have no idea how shaq would've fit in with the cavs. He would have had to start, which would have meant that Z would be coming off the bench and I don't think Z would be able to produce his typical numbers in that capacity. Z has always been a guy that needs to get going early, so him coming off the bench would clearly affect him.
On a personal note, I did not want Shaq for the simple reason that I don't want him to be able to say LBJ got a ring because of him. I want LBJ to prove that he can get it done with a solid supporting cast instead of having to bring in a superstar like another team 90 miles from cuba did by aquiring shaq. The team, as assembled, knows what needs to be done in the coming months. Everybody knows their roles and LBJ will be hellbent on getting that ring come playoff time.

Alvaro Espinoza said...

Nice read Biff. Unlike Lenny K - I think our blog is great.

The Joe Smith to Boston thing is based on his relationship with KG supposedly.

lenny k said...

You've got to be kidding yourselves if you think the economy is making NBA owners tight on money, the salary cap will be lowered by only 1 million dollars to the mid 50 million range. You guys are a joke with this economy's effect on the NBA contracts. The NBA will always pay outrageous contracts-becauase they have the money to do it, genious. You watch in this summer and in 2010 owners dishing out 15 milion a year for players in this "economy" Get a clue guys...

Biff said...

Nice analysis Greenspan. You're right....a group of men who have built their fortunes through shrewd business management are suddenly going to abandon every principle that made them successful in the first place and start operating their businesses for a loss. I'm sure NBA teams are taking out loans from the league just for the fun of it.

You don't think the economy is going to have an impact on professional sports franchises? Where do you think they get their money? Yes, a good chunk of it comes from the TV contracts but even more of it comes from a combination of gate receipts, merchandising, and most of all, corporate sponsorships. I'm pretty sure none of these aforementioned items is recession proof. Plus, this ignores the fact that making money on an NBA team is really about asset appreciation over time. I highly doubt any NBA teams will be appreciating over the next few years.

Will these teams spend in 2010? Of course they will because they will be spending it on guys who sells jerseys and put asses in seats. The guys that get max deals in 2010 will do so because they're sound economic investments...not rotation players that have already been overpaid by someone else.

Art Brosef said...

2010 is precisely the reason they are being more judicious with their money now. These teams are going to think very hard before taking on a financial burden right now.

Lenny K, you dont think owners might be a LITTLE more judicious in their expenditures?? You dont think Robert Sarver might have a little more motivation to not pay a luxury tax since his net worth is undoubtedly a fraction of what it once was?

"The NBA will always pay outrageous contracts-becauase they have the money to do it, genious"

(the irony in that quotation is hilarious)

Yes, and the teams who pay those outrageous contracts are by-in-large not the most successful....Arenas, Marbury, Jermaine Oneal, etc.

And no, max deals for Lebron, Wade, Bosh in the summer of 2010 arent what im referring to either. Those are reasonable contracts because they are elite players in the prime of their careers, and as Biff eluded to, they fill arenas.

The professional sports teams who enjoy the most long term success are the ones who not only have the talent, but run their organizations well. This means utilizing their money in an intelligent organized manner. And in this economy and a huge free agency year looming, now is the time to err on the side of caution.

lenny k said...

Finally someone with some sense on this blog..."2010 is precisely the reason they are being more judicious with their money now. These teams are going to think very hard before taking on a financial burden right now." this is my point exactly, the nba franchises are not looking to save money because America is in a recession, fans will always come to a winning team-like cleveland. Cleveland has been hit hard by this economic downturn and yet they still sell out every game and spend hundreds on dollars on tickets. My point is that it is because of a deep free agent class of 2010 that owners are saving-not because of the economy.

Biff-you stop supporting professional franchises, stop going to games, buying jerseys, buying 7 dollar beers- go ahead and be naive...but these franchises will do just fine with the economy as it is. Revenue sharing will always cancel out any hard times small market teams have with the way the big market teams are prospering...but dont mind common sense i know you are not thinking that far ahead...

Biff said...

Lenny, you just don't get it.

My $7 beer purchase isn't what's driving the NBA. Selling a few thousand extra cheap seats a night to have a sellout also isn't what's driving the NBA. Corporations drive the NBA Lenny. From the value of the TV contracts to the luxury boxes to giants lots of courtside season tickets to the direct corporate sponsorships...these are the things that keep operations in the black. They're also some of the first discretionary expenses that corporations have already and will continue to cut as the recession gets worse.

I'm glad you've got this all figured out Lenny. No matter what happens, the league will always be fine because of revenue sharing. That's your position huh? With expertise like that, I'm surprised that no owners have contacted you about running their teams.

Art Brosef said...

Whats effecting the NBA market right now is a COMBINATION of the the importance of 2010 AND the economy.

Teams know they have to be locked and loaded with dollars to spend come 2010.

In this current climate, with many owners net worth directly tied towards the banks, real estate, and mortages, teams cannot be out frivolously spending money or it will have consequences for the next few years.....

If they screw up now, it will trickle down to 2010, and they simply wont be able to undertake such a large financial responsibility....and consequently will be left in the dust by financially responsible teams.

Still dont think the economy is effecting professional sports? A record number of NFL free agents had the franchise tags applied to them this season. Why do you think that is??

lenny k said...

Biff i have thought about getting into sports executive positions for professional teams its just that unless you are at the top you dont get pd that well which is why i chose the field of computer engineering--but enough about me dont want to make you think less of yourself.

Artie-the reason that these nfl teams tag players is to protect themselves for their future. By tagging a player it ensures the team 2 first round picks if that player leaves--nice try though...

Biff said...

I really think you should push for this executive gig Lenny. Don't deprive some misguided NBA team of your wisdom. Imagine how freely a team would be able to spend once you let them in on the revenue sharing secret.

And as far as me thinking less of myself...its too late. After your thorough deconstruction of my column and insightful microeconomic analysis, I realize I'm just out of my league here.

Art Brosef said...

And it also ensures them that they dont have to give them large amounts guaranteed dollars.

Anonymous said...

who knows biff, maybe a career change is in order but it'd be hard to walk away from the company that i own, but thank you for the compliment, i appreciate it. Your right i probably could run a better ship than some franchises, but not sure I want all of that stress of the pressures of the american public...i suppose only time will tell.

As far as you thinking your out of your league...hey you said it, but i was thinking it just didnt want to state it. anyways i appreciate you recogninzing my talents.

Anonymous said...

artie- nice try again, i would like to thank you again for proving my point.

Art Brosef said...

And why would teams NOT want to give large amounts of guaranteed dollars???

What say you Len??? They are protecting for their futures?!?

And why are teams more more concerned about their futures now than ever before (record number of players franchised)?

I know!! I know!!

The owners arent bringing in as much money!!!!

And how do the owners protect against their futures?? (The reason you gave)

I know!! I know!!!

They dont shoot themselves in the foot with wasteful spending, and instead are frugal and calculated with their expenses in these turbulent economic times.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Right again Art!!

What do you have for our winner Johnny?

A lifetime of enjoying and understanding Cleveland sports as well as unlimited awesomeness.

And what do we have for our loser today Johnny?

A lifetime of sitting in a dusty cubicle staring at computer screens as well as unlimited supply of not getting laid!!

Thats all the time we have today folks!

Its really not that hard to figure out Lenny .

Anonymous said...

Not sure why you are writing on this topic again,,,you already proved my point...again thank you for supporting my views, it seems YOU need to make up some fantasy game show to entertain yourself as you browse the internet on your phone as you ask people if they want to super size their meals.

Art Brosef said...

I need to make up fantasy game shows to keep myself entertained, because its so incredibly easy to debate you, that it also becomes rather boring.

But youre right, I did that strictly for my own recreation. Please feel free to add some intelligence to your next post so I am not forced to resort to such juvenile activities.

Bryan said... someone has way to much time on their hands...if you three can argue all day over stuff i debated about when i was 13 years old, no wonder our country is failing and broke, all three of you get a wow unless you guys have nothing else to entertain your lives with then I guess continue.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that I bore you "brosef" haha truth is you have proved my point for me over and over,,,and the fact that you are resorting to juvenile tactics just further shows anyone who reads this blog that my points are correct,and you my friend are not.

Art Brosef said...

Bryan you debated the impact of the US economy on professional sports organizations when you were 13? Impressive.

You should team up with Lenny and the two of you could construct your own franchise that would undoubtedly reign supreme over all of the competition. And remember, dont worry about how you spend your money.....THERES REVENUE SHARING!!!

bryan said...

Idiot...its called sarcasm art, something i guess you didnt learn when you were 13...get a life man and quit debating with people on a computer for 6 hours on a friday. God i suppose your 6 foot 6 and could beat up anyone behind your computer cant ya...loser. you make me laugh

Art Brosef said...

Hahahaha Im glad I can entertain you.

No im not 6'6" and I dont recall claiming to be able to kick anyones ass.

And wow, it really is odd that im at a computer during a weekday. How silly.

I dont write for this blog, I frequent it for the insight and intelligent viewpoints expressed by its writers, and consequently the intelligent conversation it typically invokes.

bryan said...

No, actually thank you, you've made me realize that people like you will always argue with others "on the internet" b/c it makes them feel better..which is fine i guess you have to feel good about yourself somehow, if this is your way then i respect that

Im done wasting my time with you fools.

Biff said...

Yes bryan, what kind of people argue of the internet.....wait

Alvaro Espinoza said...

Well, unlike everyone else commenting, I've been sidetracked with work today which has distracted me from the ongoing debate on the blog today.

I'd like to attempt to play somewhat of a mediator and say that we while encourage an open discussion and exchange of ideas on this blog (that's why we do it), I hope the commenting on all sides can be continued in a respectful manner.

While the authors on this blog are sharing their opinions (opinions which may differ drastically from everyone else) - this site remains a voice and forum for all fans, no matter how much we may disagree.

I hope you all continuing reading and providing your unique viewpoints to this site. As always, thanks for reading.

Gunther Cunningham said...

As far as I can tell Bryan (Adams?), you showed up to contribute nothing to the conversation other then to lob insults at people. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that you the lowest common denominator of human being on a message board/comment section? I think so. Biff, you and Art seem to make perfect sense on the basic economics of the NBA as far as I can tell, but in full disclosure I am not a computer engineering magnate like Lenny K so I should probably just keep my mouth shut. Thanks for livening up my day guys.

bryan said...

Well, in the spirit of the blogworld, everyone have a good weekend, and go cavs...Beat Detroit!

Alvaro Espinoza said...

That's the attitude Bryan. Despite our disagreements here - in the end we're all Cleveland fans - and we all hold the same level of disgust for that state up north.

Art Brosef said...

I agree.....GO CAVS

I shall be at the game.

Perhaps a bit intoxicated.