Friday, March 28, 2008

...Or Was This The Worst Loss of the Season?

Hard to say. Memphis or Charlotte? Which is worse?

Does it even matter?

But hey, at least there was a Chris Mihm sighting. Good job, Gary Vitti.

Of course, Fisher now has a partially torn tendon in his foot, that normally takes 6-8 weeks of rest. He said that his foot had felt a little tight for a few weeks, and he knew something wasn't quite right, but it "flew under the radar." Then he injured it last game. So, your starting point guard feels something wrong in his foot for two weeks, but that flies under the radar? Would this happen in Phoenix? I take back the kudos.

What a miserable game.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Worst Loss of the Season

The Bobcats? At home? Ugh. What else is there to say. Sometimes I forget that with their current roster, the Lakers are just last year's team. And that team wasn't very good. Thanks, Gary Vitti - maybe Pau, Bynum, Mihm, and Ariza can make it back for next season, at least.

More interesting is the ongoing saga of Kobe's rage. He picked up his 14th and 15th technicals last night, for no good reason at all. Yes, he was playing poorly. Yes, so was his team. But he just went off, and though the second technical seemed questionable, he has got to be more careful.

Ever since the finger injury, Kobe has been filled with unbridled rage. (Edit: he has 11 technical fouls in the last 11 weeks, after having only 4 on Jan. 12.) There is only one explanation for this - 'roid rage. Kobe's got to be taking tons of medications to control pain and swelling. At the same time, he is angry all the time. In games, he looks like he wants to throw the barrel of a broken bat at a batter, or at least go and pick fights in back alleys after the game. Maybe he takes Sasha with him, since that guy could annoy anyone he met. Lamar would be too busy smirking nervously in his room.

Henry offered an alternative explanation for Kobe's anger - maybe he spends all his time at home dealing with nagging women, in Vanessa and her mother. "Why haven't you won an MVP yet? How come that Bynum guy is still around after you demanded a trade? Did you repaint Hagrid's cottage like I asked you to? Karl Malone called me again. When are you going to do something about it?"

Yep, maybe that's it. I'd be in a bad mood at the office too.

Time for Us to Make Another City Freak Out

OK, so I saw Cavs-Hornets at the Q last night, and damn . . . CP3 is outstanding. Anyone who can make Tyson Chandler and David West look that good is insane. So I got to thinking.

1.) LeBron has always wanted a sick PG.

2.) Chris Paul and LeBron James are "like brothers" -- quote from LeBron. Also, CP3 was apparently there for the birth of LeBron's kid.

3.) New Orleans is in the West, which is by far the more difficult conference.

4.) The Cavs are in the East, which is by far the easier conference.

5.) New Orleans is having trouble filling seats in its arena.

6.) CP3 is a free agent in 2009.

7.) The Cavs have 30M coming off the cap in 2009.

What does this add up to? It's time for us to talk about stealing someone else's best player. CP3 in Cleveland in 2009!

How does this happen? Well, the best part is we don't even have to kick the tires around for a year before we can improve the team. Our current roster just isn't good enough to win a title (I think). But we have plenty of assets. So here's how you do it.


1.) Draft Robin Lopez (if possible). He's basically Andy Varejao, and he has equally good hair.

2.) This, of course, makes Varejao tradeable (as does his expiring contract). So be ready to trade that + Eric Snow's expiring (together, I think they come to 13M). Maybe offer those two plus some draft picks during the offseason to Milwaukee for Redd? That's a fairly enticing package (though teams don't trade within divisions) similar to the LA package that got Gasol (young player + pick + expiring contract). Plus we get similar production to Andy in Robin, while also picking up an outstanding shooter who loves LeBron.

2a.) Alternatively, we could just trade Wally's fat expiring this offseason, plus some draft picks, for Redd or a similar player.

3.) Re-sign Daniel Gibson.


4.) Let Wally's contract (if his is the expiring we keep) or Andy's and Eric's (if we keep them) expire in 2009, along with the expiring of Joe Smith (good vet who'll be good to have around next year) and Damon Jones. That frees up roughly 22M of cap space (probably a bit more).

5.) Max out CP3. That's about 14M a year (I think) which means we inexplicably save 8M while adding one of the top three players in the league.

6.) Kick the tires around on trades for Ben Wallace and possibly Z (30M in expiring contracts the next year).


7.) Win NBA Championship with impossible-to-defend trifecta of CP3-Redd-LeBron.


8.) Re-up LeBron.

9.) Retire Zydrunas Ilgauskas's number.

10.) Laugh as 30M in Z and Ben's contracts (if not already traded) come off the books, while the Cavs retain their dominant core.

This would be the best team in basketball, hands down. Think Pierce-Allen-Garnett is a big three? Try on CP3-LeBron-Redd. I think I just peed a little in excitement.

So now, I'm going to cross my fingers for Danny Ferry to read this and do the right thing (after the Cavs lose to the Pistons or Celtics this year, which I think might happen given what I saw last night.)

Friday, March 7, 2008

More evidence against Gary Vitti

Ariza out until the playoffs. Bynum way behind schedule. Kobe calling his finger the most aggravating injury he's ever had.

This is not looking good.

Let's all just exhale . . .

So, just finished watching the Cavs game on Tivo. I think I ended up fast forwarding through the entire second half, out of disappointment. For a while, I considered my usual pound-the-couch-hit-the-remote routine, but then realized that there really is no point.

These are not the Cavs.

What do I mean? Well, I know the Cavs are a no-excuses team, which I like. I've always been impressed with Mike Brown and Danny Ferry and how they just do not blame or allow their players to blame back-to-backs or bad refereeing for losses. But, the fact of the matter is that the Cavs just are not the Cavs. What do I mean?

Well, the reason the Cavs made this trade was to increase their defensive presence by picking up a guy like Ben Wallace. A lot of people complain about him not being able to defend the rim, but that's not what Big Ben does. He's best when there's another big man near him protecting he post so that roam and defend players out on the perimeter and then get blocks from behind. Remember that play against Memphis, when he stopped Kyle Lowry from getting the entry pass? That's Big Ben's game. When you ask him to just patrol the paint, you end up disappointed (that's why he didn't work out in Chicago) because he's a bit too small and slow. So, right now, he's hurting because he misses Ilgauskas badly. When Z comes back, Wallace can roam a bit more, and he'll be ten times more effective (not to mention that we'll actually have a second offensive weapon in our starting lineup).

Another reason we made the trade was to pick up a shooter in Wally. His shot seems to be coming around, but he's best when he can operate with less pressure. Having Boobie around as another big shooter will help Wally calm down and stop pressing so much. Same is true for Delonte, who's still learning where he needs to be.

Plus, Andy is just hurting right now. He's clearly not where he should be health-wise. He's not getting to loose balls, he's not able to finish, and he's settling for jumpers. These aren't things that Andy should be struggling at, and the reason he is is just that his explosiveness is not back yet. Having Z back, letting Andy get a bit more rest, and letting him come off the bench (which is his skill set) will really help Andy come around. And as for another injured player, Sasha Pavlovic, people forget what a good defender he was in the playoffs. We really miss his size on the perimeter.

So let's all relax. There is some cause for concern -- LeBron getting a bit too MVP starry eyed and not getting any assists in the first half, for one. As Barkley accurately pointed out at the half, LeBron is at the best when he establishes his teammates as threats early (threes from Boobie and Wally, post play from Z, pick and pop J's from Z and Joe Smith, etc.) and then takes over later. He didn't do that last night, and it really hurt the team. But I think last night may have been a wake-up call for him, and I expect him to play better on Saturday.

Ultimately, the Cavs need to get healthy. I think when everyone comes back, people will see just how good this team can be (with a lot of shooters and low post threats, I think they will be quite good). But we need to get there first. So while it will be frustrating for the next few weeks until Z and Boobie come back, hopefully LeBron will use it as an opportunity to integrate his new teammates. And hopefully Mike Brown will stop starting a 2-on-5 offensive lineup and start Wally and/or Joe Smith, so that we have some semblance of an offense early. That would make it considerably easier for LeBron to not have to dominate from the get-go.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

The battle of one-upsmanship between LeBron and Kobe has just gotten out of hand.

Sunday (morning): LeBron tries to get his teammates involved, and after seeing them generally confused and out of sorts, decides to just take over the game in the fourth quarter. In one stretch, he does it all -- hits a ridiculous through-the-lane floater where he switches hands in midair; throws down a SICK dunk, hits a nice fadeaway 16-footer a la Detroit Game Five, and then sets up Wally in the corner for a dagger three. Final score: 95-86. LeBron: 37 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists.

Sunday (right after): Kobe decides to take it a step further, and after watching his team struggle to beat a newly bad Dallas team (who kept it close only because Kidd didn't have to guard anyone at PG), steps it into overdrive in the fourth quarter and OT. Looks a bit like a kid in the candy store playing with Pau in the first quarter, but then does it all himself from there. Final score: 108-104 (OT). Kobe: 52 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists.

Tonight: LeBron hits the big stage. Just shoots the lights out. He's said he's at an all time comfort level and it really is showing. Not only is he driving with both hands going both ways, but he's making it rain from three point land. He's looking more unstoppable than I've ever seen a player, and he's doing it with a team that isn't doing a lot for him, but is setting him up when necessary. Final score: 119-105. LeBron: 50 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists.

These guys know who's in the running for MVP. And they're putting on shows every night. It's a great time to be a Cavs and Lakers fan.

OK, so more on the Cavs.

I haven't written on this yet, but I saw Larry's comments about wanting to have fun more than winning. To be honest, I'm not surprised, but I am glad that he's gone. I think Larry is a genuinely good person -- he's done a lot of great community work in Cleveland and he was well-liked in the locker room. But to suggest that the Cavs should have run an offense to fit his needs; to ignore the fact that the Cavs won a ton of games with him at the point . . . in favor of getting to take a few more wild bricks? Come on, Larry.

I guess that's my favorite thing about the trade. All of the guys we got want to win. Drew Gooden lost focus too frequently, and Larry clearly didn't care that much. I don't think the move was a huge upgrade talent-wise, but I think it is an upgrade attitude-wise. Joe Smith is a great locker room guy and is on the downside of a career in which he's never lived up to expectations, and so wants a title to cap it all off. Ben Wallace wants to prove that he wasn't just a system guy in Detroit. Delonte had a taste of winning at St. Joe's and I think wants another. And then there's Wally. His face after he hit that three against CHI was just priceless -- he's fired up to be at home, and to be in a perfect situation.

Obviously, there are still some concerns. Ben Wallace looks a touch slow on his rotations, though the Cavs have given him freedom to roam a bit more and he had a nice defensive line tonight -- 7 boards, but 2 steals and 3 blocks. Wally's shot is a bit streaky -- I think he's pressing because for the first time he has someone setting him up in positions where he's so wide open that he can't believe it. But that shot will come around. Joe Smith is proving to be an upgrade over Drew Gooden -- good midrange game, smart player, and good rebounder -- but he's certainly lost a step.. I'd like to see him get more PT -- in fact, I really like the lineup of Smith, Varejao/Wallace, Damon, Wally, and LeBron. And Delonte's learning, but has been streaky. That'll continue, but it's good to have someone who wants to run out with, you know, the best transition player in the game.

Which brings me to my final point. I know Mike Brown wants to preserve his rotations and all that, but it is just baffling to me why we start Andy and Big Ben in games. It's really playing 3 on 5 on offense. Why not start Joe Smith, who can play offense and hit some jump shots to open things up for LeBron, and bring in Varejao for instant energy off the bench? It gets worse when we also start Devin Brown, who I love but who is also an offensive liability. One wonders how we keep letting teams like NY hang around, but then one realizes that we have three guys on offense who just are not that good, a point guard who's learning the offense, and LeBron. We're going to have to rework the rotations when Sasha, Boobie, and Ilgauskas come back. So why not just start Delonte, LeBron, Wally, Joe Smith, and Wallace? That way you can get Wally going early instead of putting pressure on him to find his shot instantly. And you can have some offense from Joe without too much of a defensive loss from Varejao. Plus, you then get Devin Brown and Andy Varejao off the bench for instant energy. That's a much better solution until we get everyone back -- it'll prevent us from getting behind so early (or not getting up by as much as we should). But nobody ever said Mike Brown paid attention to offense.

Still, a couple wins are a couple wins. Good to see the Cavs closing games out -- that's one of the things the old Cavs did well. Hopefully we'll continue to see improvement, esp. starting this Friday against the Bulls. At least we know LeBron will probably put on a good show. And who knows, maybe Kobe will put up 81 again. It's just been that kind of season.