Cleveland Sports Insiders

Ernie Camacho's favorite blog…


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CSI 70: Chris Grant, Mike Brown, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Bennett

CSI will be back and better than ever this week with new content, new pods and new discussions heading to the Cavaliers All-Star break, the Browns 2014 draft, and the Indians spring training. Also look for our podcasts to take off with daily content from Steve, Mike and I, as well as our newcomer, Jeff Ellis, who will begin posting original draft content here starting with a piece for tomorrow!

Today’s podcast is focusing on Chris Grant and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and what they can do to turn things around during the 2013-2014 season, and what they should do with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Luol Deng, Anderson Varejao and Anthony Bennett heading into the offseason and beyond. This team is as hard to figure out as any Cavaliers’ team in the past 20 seasons, and with David Griffin taking over, can they turn things around, and do they even want to?

Here’s the show: Continue reading


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Cleveland Cavaliers finger-pointing

1aaThe Cleveland Cavaliers are a team that truly seems rudderless. They play well over long stretches , only to get blown out by 44. They take big leads in games, only to give them up as though 25-point leads are close games.

When you stare at the Cavs for any length of time, you see a team that lacks leaders, consistency and direction.

Throughout the season, you can point to several different issues that have been or are at root with the struggles of this team. Dan Gilbert, Chris Grant, Mike Brown and nearly every member of the team has, at one point or another, been at the center of finger-pointing, and you can take that phrase at face value, because I’m not always pointing the same finger.

The frustration is that this isn’t a bad basketball team talent-wise. Kyrie Irving has talent. Dion Waiters has talent. Tristan Thompson has talent. Yeah, even Anthony Bennett has talent. The problem? Well, if there were one, things wouldn’t be where they are right now. The Cavs are 16-29. They were 13-32 last year, but were 17-28 two seasons ago. In other words, they aren’t any better…yet.

As the Cavaliers head to New York tonight after a 1-4 road trip, you can’t help but feel this is a make-or-break road trip. Can they be a good basketball team? Do we even want them to be?

Let’s point some fingers…and feel free to use whichever finger you see fit: Continue reading


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The Sunday Drive with the Oregon spread offense in Cleveland?

Oregon offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery

Oregon Offensive Coordinator Philip Montgomery

I’ve been feeling a bit closer to the North Coast over the past few weeks, as the temperatures here in North Carolina have more resembled the frozen tundra of the borderlands of Lake Erie. While the temperature here has dipped below freezing far too many times for my liking, we have avoided the ample snow-footage that the Lake provides. I don’t miss the thrice-daily slogs out to my snow blower to clear the driveway of both wind-blow and street-plow piled snow. Still, the recent cold blast has me dreaming wistfully of the Indians’ Spring Training, the Browns’ draft and summer camp, and the Cavs foray back into the lottery.

Thankfully, all three Cleveland teams were active in one way or another over the past week, albeit in very different ways, which kept me from crawling into sports hibernation.

While my attention has needed some warming up no thanks to the weather, it’s been mostly focused on the warm seasons of 2014 for Cleveland sports. The Indians, however, continue to do everything they can to keep some of that attention pointing right back to the 1990’s thanks to their 2014 version of Tribe Fest. The Tribe has their normal conglomerate of current players headlining the event, but the focus Continue reading


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The Cavaliers acquire Luol Deng, and what it means

Deng vs. Waiters (Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE)

Deng vs. Waiters (Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE)

The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired Chicago Bulls small forward Luol Deng for Andrew Bynum’s contract, a first rounder, and two second rounders. The Cleveland Cavaliers are clearly trying to go after the playoffs with this move, as Deng is a massive upgrade to the roster. The Bulls are clearly focusing their attention on the future, as the loss of Deng hurts their already depleted roster with Derrick Rose out for the year. The draft picks allow them to acquire talent in the coming years, while Bynum’s expiring contract allows them to drop below the luxury-tax threshold, which will save them in the ballpark of $15 million.

Let’s take a look at the “assets” that the Cavaliers are losing, before we take a closer look at Luol Deng. Continue reading


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Bynum for Gasol doesn’t make sense

Bynum and Gasol (photo: NBA)

Bynum and Gasol (photo: NBA)

The rumors have been circulating for a couple of days now that the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers might partner up for a deal that would send one disgruntled center to the Lakers, while sending another disgruntled big man back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Reports are everywhere that Andrew Bynum and Pao Gasol may change teams.

There are some reports out there that this deal isn’t going to happen, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m just not a fan of this trade.

Why?

The move will definitively help the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers would presumably make the trade, then immediately release Bynum. This would allow the Lakers to get themselves under the Cap, and would ultimately save them over $20 million dollars. On top of that, the Cavs would have to trade them a couple of more assets to get the deal done. Ideally, the Lakers would probably like another expiring contract, as well as a first round draft pick and perhaps someone like Sergei Karasev.

The Cavs would get Pau Gasol for the rest of the year.

Will the Cavs be a better team? Of course they will, this year. In an Eastern conference that doesn’t boast many good teams, it could even get the Cavaliers into the playoffs.

Great.
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Quick thoughts on the Cavs post-Bynum

Will Bynum's departure help Thompson and the Cavs? (Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer)

Will Bynum’s departure help Thompson and the Cavs? (Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer)

The Cleveland Cavaliers are directly in the middle of the whirlwind of the news that Andrew Bynum is either suspended indefinitely from the team, or is on the trading block, or both. While that story will certainly play out over the next few hours, there’s another interesting tidbit that will take place as well.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have to play basketball. So where do they go from here?

Bynum had been starting for the Cavaliers, and had been averaging 20 minutes per game on the season, and 22.6 minutes in the month of December. He’s averaging 8.4 points, 5.3 boards and 1.2 blocks per game since the start of the year, and 9 1/2 points, 6 1/2 boards and a block since the start of the month.

The numbers certainly aren’t special in and of themselves, but when taken into account what his presence has meant for the team on several levels, including supplementing Anderson Varejao, his presence has certainly been important on the court.

Varejao, as much an injury concern as Bynum, has averaged almost 29 minutes a game, putting up 7.9 points and 8.8 boards a game on the season. When you put the two together as one center, you have some pretty elite numbers: 17 points, 14 boards and two blocks a game. You can also credit Bynum’s presence for allowing Varejao to play fewer minutes, thus keeping him healthy.

While Andrew Bynum has been a surprise, it’s not like he’s been a star, and for stretches, he’s not been a very good basketball player. Perhaps getting  Zeller more playing time allows this team to get better in the long run, and perhaps they lose a few more games this year and get a better pick next year.
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The Sunday Drive with winning, losing, dysfunction and Brantley

Michael Brantley (photo: AP)

Michael Brantley (photo: AP)

The Sunday Drive is a bit late today, as all things tend to be in this crazy week leading up to the holidays. It’s also going to be a bit short, as time is running out on the day, and I don’t want to start making this thing a Sunday or Monday Drive.

Here are some really quick thoughts about Cleveland sports, and we’ll get back to a full edition next weekend.

Let’s get driving:

What does being a Browns’ fan entail these days? It’s entirely a Catch-22. The top priority is getting an all-important high draft pick in next year’s draft. Of course, you can’t follow a football team and not root for them to win, right? In a perfect world, the only thing a football fan should be worrying about heading into the final week of the season is either how long to play the starters because the team has already clinched, or how important it is to win to actually clinch.

That’s rarely the case for the Cleveland Browns. Instead, the only thing that matters from year-to-year is how many games the Browns can lose, and because of that, how high up the draft board they can move up.

Talk about dysfunctional.
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The Sunday Drive with a Santana shift, MLB Money and a Waiters surge

The Sunday Drive is generally a co-op piece between the writers here at C.S.I. On occasion, one of us will write the entire piece, or the majority of the piece, but the fun of it for us is that we try and connect them between all the writers. This is clearly still a work in progress, but I promise you that it will continue to be better, and hopefully turn into something that you’ll keep coming back to on Sunday morning, while your eating your Sunday brunch and drinking your morning coffee. We aren’t trying to become something we’re not…

…we’re fans, the guys next door, the guys sitting at the corner of the bar talking sports, just like you…

…let’s get driving.

The offseason has been an interesting one, even if the Cleveland Indians haven’t really done a whole lot to excite the North Coast. It’s a tough sell to a group of fans that were spoiled heading into the 2013 season with not one, but two multi-year, multi-million dollar deals. The Indians managed to re-image and re-invigorate their baseball team in one offseason, by bringing in the right manager, and supplementing him with the right mix of players.

They were aggressive with their approach, and they were aggressive with their money.Perhaps they were equally aggressive prior to 2007 in theory, although there weren’t any MAJOR additions to the 2006 club that disappointed a bit after a phenomenal 2005 campaign.

The Indians traded for Josh Barfield that year, and signed the real Roberto Hernandez as a potential set-up guy at the tail of his career. They signed Joe Borowski to be their closer, and David Dellucci to play in the outfield. They signed Keith Foulke as a potential closer option, and Trot Nixon to play some outfield and to DH a bit. At the trade deadline, they traded for Kenny Lofton

They weren’t splashy moves, but they weren’t cheap ones either. They all obviously didn’t work out, but the Indians were clearly trying to regain their footing after 2006.

It worked. Maybe not because of all those moves, but the approach was certainly there.
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Cavalier Daggers…with Dion Waiters domination…

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Dion Waiters (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

If there is one word that describes how I’ve felt about the Cavaliers over the past fourteen days, curious wouldn’t be that word.

Disgusted would fit.

Annoyed would work.

Disenchanted would suit me just fine.

Curious would be far from the discussion, unless you incorporate the Miami Heat into the discussion…especially this year.

On Wednesday night, the night before Thanksgiving, the Miami Heat headed to Cleveland for a matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Miami Heat are the defending champions.

The Miami Heat are the two-time defending champions.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, most assuredly, are not.

There couldn’t be two teams further from each other over the past three seasons since LeBron James left Cleveland amidst a flurry of burned jerseys, grown men crying, and football sized banners being cut down.

The Heat, if at all possible, seem to be a team that are really just now figuring out how to manage themselves the right way during the regular season. They have a coach that’s still learning, and a team that truly fits together and understands the roles that they play.

Role models create roles.

The Cavaliers, if at all possible, seem to be a team that plays worse night-after-night, never really figuring out how to manage their new pieces and parts, and truly not really seeming to care about how to do it. Their starting lineup seems to change on a daily basis, and I doubt that anyone either knows their roles, or really cares much to figure it out.

It’s hard not to look at the team and think…black holes…

Of course, it’s early in the season and the Cavs still have plenty of time to gel together…or at least that’s what everyone on twitter tells me.

Let’s take a look at today’s Cavalier Daggers:
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Cleveland Sports Insiders: The Podcast 58: Here Comes LeBron

Michael Hattery and Jim Pete focus their attention on the Cleveland Cavaliers, and in particular, on the return of one LeBron James. Will the Cleveland faithful be more receptive to the man that took his talents to South Beach three years ago, and since has won three MVP awards, two NBA finals MVP awards, and two NBA titles?