Cleveland Sports Insiders

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The Sunday Drive with Bynum trades, New Coaches and BASEBALL!!!

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Bynum and Gasol (photo: NBA)

Bynum and Gasol (photo: NBA)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: an Andrew Bynum for Pau Gasol trade makes zero sense unless you foolishly believe that the Cleveland Cavaliers can either be a factor in the playoffs or sign Gasol long-term. If you honestly believe that the Cavaliers can do either, than I have a bridge to sell you.

I am not saying that the Cavaliers should call it a season and just start losing basketball games for the sake of losing. What I am saying is that every team needs to weigh how much one player can improve a team in the short-term, vs. the long haul.

What will it cost to get Gasol? If it were just Bynum, I’d be all in. The move saves the Lakers money, and it would give the Cavs a player to keep Anderson Varejao‘s minutes down. That would be a win-win for the Cavs and the Lakers.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, a proposed straight up trade can’t be made since the Cavaliers would have to add another player to it to make it work monetarily. It’s been reported that the Lakers want Sergei Karasev in the deal to give them a piece that they can use in the future, but Bynum and Karasev still wouldn’t get the trade done.

The Cavaliers would have to include one other player along with Bynum and Karasev to make the deal work, and that player would likely be a throw-in, such as Henry Sims. Some wouldn’t consider that a throw-in, some may not. Either way, what short-term or long term goal does this achieve for the Cavs?

Nothing positive.

You can start getting in the mix from there. The Cavs would probably be okay adding a player like Alonzo Gee to the mix, but the Lakers are going to try and milk the Cavs for players and picks. If Chris Grant can avoid this, than a deal will be made at some point today, but likely would have been made a week ago.

We’ll see if the Cavaliers can hold on to their pieces, or if they have to get rid of them. If it were me, I’d just release Bynum, or hold onto him until the trade deadline. He won’t be as enticing then since the team he’d be dealt to would be on the hook for the remaining $6 million. He may still provide a team with a post presence for the playoffs.

People worry about the message that falling into the lottery sends to the league, and to Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. I could care a less at the message it sends them, since they are the players putting them in the lottery. Of all the years to end up in the lottery, this is the season.

I’ll likely get hung in effigy for this, but I’m not convinced that Kyrie is a franchise player. I’m not saying he isn’t a star, but I also think he’s more of a complimentary star.

I’m not convinced that Dion is a franchise player. I’m not saying he can’t be a start, but he’s definitely a complimentary player.

I know that Tristan Thompson is a workhorse, but not a star.

I have no idea what Anthony Bennett will be, even though I’m intrigued.

But, there are several players in this upcoming draft that I think could be better than all three, with Irving included in that mix.

Jabari Parker is going to be a superstar. Andrew Wiggins is going to be a superstar. Julius Randle is going to be a superstar.

I love Marcus Smart and Joel Embiid and Aaron Gordon and, I may like them all better than the player that we currently have on the roster.

So this may be nonsensical, but I could care a less what the current roster gets out of the message. Go out and get you a superstar. That’s the only message I care about.

Andrew Bynum is to me is that proverbial tree falling in a forest. The difference between that tree and Bynum is that often there always seems to be a reporter around to hear him “fall.” Unfortunately for Bynum, that rarely tells a complete story of who Andrew Bynum really is.

We really don’t know the complete story of who Andrew Bynum is. We only think we do. The Cavaliers front office knows a bit more about him than we do from being around him for a good bit of time, but I also believe that they completely understand Bynum’s perception, and how we fill in the cracks thanks to that overall lack of knowledge.

That works in Cavs’ front offices favor PR-wise, because the minute we hear about Bynum getting suspended, the immediate thought is always, “There goes Bynum again.” Now I’m not saying that some of that isn’t justified, and I’m certainly not an Andrew Bynum apologist. Players reap what they sew, but in today’s massive media umbrella, many times that’s blown way out of proportion.

My point here isn’t to say that the media is wrong, or that a player should be placed in bubble wrap and protected. What I am trying to say is that it is important to know that we rarely know the complete story about professional athletes in general, and Andrew Bynum in particular. Instead, we fill in the cracks of all these “falling trees” with equatible insanity to the most outlandish stories we’ve heard, instead of understanding that there’s likely more to the story than we’ll ever know.

We know about Bynum in Los Angeles. As a player, we know that he improved nearly every season he played with the Lakers after being drafted out of high school. We know that he played one full season of 82 games, but other than that, never played in more than 65 games because of injury issues. We know that he was a part of numerous trade rumors over the years, including rumored deals for Jason Kidd, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, and ultimately, Dwight Howard ten times over. We know that he decided to go watch the World Cup in South Africa, instead of having knee surgery right way in 2010, and that it cost him games to start the following season. We know that Bynum could be dismissive of the media, and sometimes his coaches, according to that media. We know that he could be disobedient at times, doing what he wanted instead of what was being asked.

We know that Phil Jackson had a view on Bynum and his role with the Lakers, and that it wasn’t as the focal point of the team. Now, I don’t think that Jackson thought that Bynum was a bit player by any stretch, but Jackson believed that Bynum’s role was as a complimentary player to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Jim Buss saw Bynum as the future star of the team because of those growing stats.

In a sense, the Bynum issue is why Phil Jackson left the team, but that was more on Jim Buss than it was on Andrew Bynum. Bynum wanted the ball more, he as much as said it. Of course, isn’t that what any player should say? Is that disruptive to the team? Is that being disgruntled? I suppose it is, but that doesn’t make him a bad person or a bad player.

It makes him a competitor. That’s a piece to this puzzle that is often overlooked.

When Mike Brown became the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Bynum became a central piece, making the All-Star team for the first time in his career. The style Lakers played changed under Brown. While Bynum flourished, there were chemistry issues moving from Jackson’s teams that had a focus directly on Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, with Bynum being a more than competent third. There were also rumored issues between Bynum and Brown.

You know…the media told us that….and we filled in the gaps.

Ultimately, Bynum was traded, Brown was fired and Jackson was ignored.

What do we know about Bynum in Philadelphia? We know that he said he was “beyond thrilled” to become a Philadelphia 76er, and that he was looking forward to many years of success with the Sixers, according to his first interviews. We know that the knee issues were cropping up and came into full view at the beginning of October, when he flew to Germany to have his blood “swirled” to provide his knee with healing agents, the same way that Kobe had before him. We know that Bynum was or wasn’t scheduled to have a knee surgery, but did eventually have the surgery just prior to the season. We also know that there were reports that Bynum injured his knee bowling. Okay, it’s not really alleged, because Bynum told some guy named Brian Windhorst that it happened.

We know that Bynum spent a lot of time doing a lot of things to his hair. We know that Bynum practiced here and there, then practiced with the team in February for the first time. We know that a week later, Bynum’s knees were swollen, and that three weeks after that, he had more surgery on his knees that ended his season.

After the Philly issues, the rest of the league was wary of Bynum, but more for his knee issues than for his head issues. The combination made him nearly untouchable, unless you are a team like that Cleveland Cavaliers, who can only sign players like Bynum if they have injury or head issues. That’s exactly what they did, signing him to a two year deal worth $24.5 million, but only $6 million was guaranteed.

Through his short tenure with the Cavs, Bynum seemed to be toeing the line. He was in Cleveland working on his knee from the moment that he was signed, and was clearly doing everything that had to be done to get ready. He surprised everyone by playing opening night. He continued to surprise everyone by working his way into the starting lineup, playing 20-plus minutes a night, playing in back-to-back games, and not making a peep while doing it.

Then came last week, when it all imploded. Apparently, Bynum had been having issues with the coaches and other players. Apparently he acted like a fool in practice on his final Friday. Allegedly he had words with Chris Grant and stormed off.

In other words, Bynum was being Bynum.

Here’s what I know. When Andrew Bynum was 100%, he was a really good basketball player. He seemed to be doing well here in Cleveland. Now it seems as though he isn’t. He’s still doing everything that the Cavs have asked him to do, not talking to the media and not showing up to any of the Cavaliers practices and games.

Of course, that strategy could help him get another job.

What’s Bynum’s real story with regards to how his tenure ended here in Cleveland? We’ll never know the true story, but I’m sure we’ll have no problem filling in the cracks.

I’m torn on the Browns maneuvering at the end of the season with regards to their coach and their coaching staff. According to the Cleveland Browns media, Rob Chudzinski lost control of the team prior to the last game of the season. It’s ironic to me that this has become a prevalent story with the Browns after the firing, because the media was all over this prior to last weekend.

Well, maybe they weren’t.

Chudzinski had lost such control of the team, that there wasn’t one report of that happening prior to last weekend from any of the local media, and virtually no speculation from the beat reporters that hang around the team on a daily basis.

While I can’t profess to have watched the Browns all that much this season, I can profess to have listened, and read about everything I could as the year progressed about the team.

Sure, the Browns play on the field stagnated throughout the year, and that is 100% true, but I’m moderately amused at how everyone is all of the sudden buying into the media’s portrayal of the locker room overwhelming Chudzinski. Either the Cleveland media stinks at doing their job, or the story is a partial concoction of garbage.

Take your pick.

Chudzinski has to be held accountable for the simple fact that this team lost seven games in a row to end the season. Of that there is no doubt. He’s a big boy and he’s wearing big boy pants. The problem is fairly simple though. You can’t hire a guy, give him less than a year in his first season as a head coach, then fire him and not expect there to be fallback.

If you hired the wrong guy, fine. Just make sure that when you fire that guy, you have a replacement ready to go. While I think Haslam, Banner and Lombardi truly are the Three Stooges, they’ve earned my respect from pulling off that Trent Richardson deal for a first round pick earlier this season.

I hammered them for the deal, and am certainly not afraid to admit that I was wrong. They nailed that deal, and to be honest, they earned some trust with personnel moves because of that. So while I don’t buy the media’s portrayal of Chudzinski per se, I can buy that he wasn’t the right guy for the job.

I think less than a year is too short of a time to assess that…no…I KNOW that less than a year is too long to assess that, but they had their capital thanks to that trade, and they used it.

Now, Haslam, Banner and Lombardi have to hit a home run. They have to hire the right coach, then that coach and front office have to walk into the draft next year and make incredible picks. I still don’t like how they got there, but this is professional sports, and that’s just the way things work these days.

Of course, they’re asking us to give them more time, the same time that they didn’t give their own head coach. Let’s hope it’s well worth it.

I just hope that the Browns have an actual plan going forward. Some folks are making a big deal that other franchises have hired coaches already, such as the Texans hiring Bill O’Brien and the Buccaneers hiring Lovie Smith. I don’t see it as a big deal.

The second that I heard about Chud getting fired last week, I tweeted that Josh McDaniels was a guy that they’d want to hire. Of course, he’s got some business to attend to first with the Patriots before he’ll go and officially interview for any job. You can throw Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Denver’s Adam Gase, Seattle’s Dan Quinn and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn into that mix as well.

What I do agree with here is that the Browns seem to be aligning themselves with winners, and I’ve always believed that when in doubt, that’s the way you go. There’s a lot being made about the Browns job not having any clout because of the Front Office issues, but I don’t buy it.

It’s an NFL gig, and someone good will likely jump. The Browns have a slew of assets coming up in the next couple of years, and any coach that does his homework will see that right away.

My point here though is that the Browns may very well have a complete plan, but can’t act upon it yet because of the playoffs in both the NFL and college.

I like the Cleveland Indians roster this season, and while I think that the rotation needs some work, I’m pretty bullish on all the names involved.

I think we’ll see a move from one of the four battling for the number five slot. My preference is that it’s either Carlos Carrasco or Trevor Bauer, because there is obvious upside with both. If Trevor Bauer could possibly meet his potential, the staff would be one of the better in the league.

I’m not saying that it could be anyways, but Bauer has ace potential.

Many also see a bigger hole at third base than I see. I’m not necessarily bullish on Lonnie Chisenhall, but do think the Indians can enhance his play at third with any number of candidates. Remember, he can’t hit lefties that well, which is a small percentage of at bats throughout the season. I think they can locate a player on the 40-man, on the wire, or via a trade that could compensate for that deficiency.

The only hole that I see with this team right now is shortstop.

I’m just not high on Asdrubal Cabrera.

My point here isn’t to really comment on Cabrera though. That’s for another piece at another time.

My point here is that the Indians have put together a fairly cost effective team that should do well this coming season. On top of that, the Indians have a slew of players moving up to the major league club that should provide the sealant for years to come.

I absolutely believe that the Indians can count on Vinnie Pestano. Normally I hear things here and there about players, but this isn’t one of those times. This is just common sense.

I’ve gotten in arguments about how the WBC could have affected Pestano long-term last season, with the common battle being, “but there are plenty of other pitchers who were used more that didn’t have dead-arm.”

That’s such a weak argument.

Not everyone is prone to heart attacks either. That doesn’t mean that some people aren’t going to have heart attacks.

My point here is that Pestano was used in several high leverage situations, and don’t forget, blew the lead in the USA’s final game. Pestano said that it would “probably go down as one of the top three games in my career that I wish I could have back.” It weighed on him, and while it was more than just that game, I think the different preparation and game scheduled took its toll.

Does that mean that Pestano is a lock for this year?

No, but I do think he’ll return to form.

If he does, ponder that pen for awhile.

In the Rearviewmirror:

  • Ohio State lost in the Orange Bowl, giving the Buckeyes a two-game losing streak after winning 24 games in a row. There’s a lot that could be said about the game, but I don’t want to get too far into that sort of analysis. If you want that, check out the best Buckeyes’ site on the planet, www.elevenwarriors.com. I just want to say that the Buckeyes got away from Carlos Hyde at the end of the game, and that killed them. Prior to that, the Philly Brown fumble on a punt, and a Braxton Miller interception proved to be massive in a change of direction of momentum. Throw that altogether, and you can point to coaching being an issue. No, I’m not hammering Urban Meyer and saying he should be fired. What I am saying is that turnovers and playcalling are directly related to coaching. It needs to get better when the Buckeyes play in big games next year.
  • The Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team is nine deep this year, which is about as deep as it ever gets for Thad Matta. Look out for freshman Marc Loving, who can shoot from the outside, tackle the inside, rebound, and provide spark off the bench. With LaQuinton Ross playing well, this game at Michigan St. will let you know just how good this team is.
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