Cleveland Sports Insiders

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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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Brown needs to be held accountable for Bennett’s colossal failure

ABWhere do we go with Anthony Bennett at this point?

His performance so far has been historic — historically bad.

A recent piece circulating the web helps outline just how bad it’s been.

Trust me, there’s no sugarcoating this — it’s been awful.

In 31 games this season, Bennett is averaging 10.4 minutes, 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. Even worse is his PER of 1.1, which is the lowest ever recorded by the No. 1 overall pick in his rookie season. To make matters even more embarrassing, Kwame Brown is the next on the list, but it’s a sizeable gap; Brown’s PER as a rookie was 11.2.

Given his struggles, many have been clamoring for Bennett to join the Canton Charge for a stint in the NBA D-League. It would be embarrassing as Bennett would become the highest drafted player to ever play in the D-League. (Hasheem Thabeet, the No. 2 overall pick in 2009, currently holds that honor.)

Yet, could there be some positives to a Bennett D-League stint? Might he start to finally regain some of the confidence that has eluded him thus far as a rookie?

I’m still not ready to go that far. Here are three more numbers to look at: 20.3, 17.4, 17.4. These numbers are the minutes per game respectively for C.J. Miles, Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee. 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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The Sunday Drive with Bynum, Ubaldo, JRam and Wendle

Jose Ramirez (photo courtesy of Lianna Holub)

Jose Ramirez (photo courtesy of Lianna Holub)

I’m stuck in the holiday lull.

Christmas is over, and I feel like I’m in a holding pattern for New Year’s Eve. One group of family has left for home, and another group is heading North for more fun and spirits.

I’m in need of some meaningful sports, and I’m not talking about NBA theatrics with a known enigma like Andrew Bynum.

I’m talking about games that mean something. Perhaps there’s a rivalry game in which the Browns could knock the aforementioned rival out of the playoffs. Oh wait, the Browns have to lose that game.

Thanks goodness for Ohio State football, and that game this coming Friday against Clemson. Fortunately for the Tigers, Woody Hayes won’t be patrolling the sidelines. Unfortunately for Clemson Urban Meyer will be there in his stead.

The Buckeyes will be agitated. The Buckeyes will be angry. The Buckeyes will be set to make a statement. Clemson will score their points for sure, but I really think we’re going to see why Urban Meyer is the best coach in the country. Look for Carlos Hyde to have his best day as a Buckeye, and look for Braxton Miller to go over 100 yards rushing, and 200 yards passing.

The Bucks defense will be more than good enough.

What are my predictions for this game?

Ohio State 48, Clemson 24. I don’t know that it’ll be that close.

Next week, while basking in the victory, we’ll take a look at what the Buckeyes look like heading into 2014. They’ll be better than this year if Braxton Miller comes back, and they’ll have a chip on their shoulder….but for next week…

…for today…let’s get driving…
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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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Cleveland Sports Insiders: The Podcasts 60 & 61

Welcome to the next TWO editions of Cleveland Sports Insiders, one of the many podcasts here at Indians Baseball Insider! Tonight, you get two for the price of one, as IBI columnists Jim Pete and Michael Hattery tackle both the Cleveland Indians, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the first podcast, Mike and Jim talk about the Indians’ offense in 2014, and how good it is as is, the needs of the Indians going forward with regards to the starting pitching and the bullpen, whether or not the Indians should deal Michael Brantley and what they should get for him if they do, and the perception of this team if the Indians truly don’t do anything in the midst of all this spending.

In the second podcast, Mike and Jim talk about the Cleveland Cavaliers two most recent “breakout” players in Andrew Bynum. Bynum has been playing in 25-to-30 minutes a night, and coming close to a double-double, while Waiters has been showcasing some star-power since allegedly calling out Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson for buddy ball. Have the Cavs found their new stars, or is there something else at play with Mike Brown‘s Cavs?

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The Sunday Drive with playoff implications, fights and rumors

Cameron runs over Bengals (photo: AP)

Cameron runs over Bengals (photo: AP)

I’ve never gotten used to November weather here in North Carolina since I moved here from the North Coast nearly fifteen years ago. There’s always a constant battle of Summer, Fall and sometimes Winter that always leaves me a bit off balance.

I mean seriously, it snowed here this past Thursday night, then climbed up to 70 on Saturday.

It’s November.

There should be no mixing of shorts and jeans, t-shirts and coats, ice scrapers and air conditioning.

It’s nearly as off-putting as Cleveland sports, to be honest. You have the Browns at 4-5, who either have two potential quarterbacks for 2014, or none, depending on who you talk to. Of course, there’s 2013, and a legit chance at winning the division, or getting into the playoffs.

Or not.

There’s the Cavaliers, who are either beating the tar outta each other in players-meetings, or not. They had the #1 pick in the NBA, and he’s been playing like a D-League player. Dion is awesome with the ball, but bad without it. Kyrie is better without the ball, than with it. The Cavaliers will be an exciting playoff contender this year.

Or not.

Then there’s the Indians. They rebuild their team in a season and motor into the playoffs with a ten-game win streak, only to lose the one-game playoff that was instituted for the first time ever last season. They seem ready to make a few moves to take them over the top, but may not have the money to do it. They are ready to make the next move to become better.

Or not.

North Carolina weather and Cleveland Sports…hot and cold.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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Cavaliers’ players’ only meeting turns contentious

Trouble with Dion Waiters and/or Kyrie Irving? (David Richard-US PRESSWIRE)

Trouble with Dion Waiters and/or Kyrie Irving? (David Richard-US PRESSWIRE)

According to Brian Windhorst, there was a confrontation during a player’s only meeting after the Cavaliers’ 29-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves this past Wednesday. According to Windhorst, “the meeting got contentious, and players confronted each other.”

It certainly isn’t a good sign early in what looked to be a promising season that there seems to be chemistry issues with the young Cavaliers. Perhaps the fact that the Cavs are the second youngest team in the NBA has something to do with it, but either way, the Cavs seem to be behind the eight ball heading into their next 72 ballgames.
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Cavalier Daggers…with a team that just isn’t very good

(Photo: Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports USA TODAY Sports)

The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t very good.

No, I’m not saying that’s the defining statement for the wine and gold for the 2013-2014 season, but it certainly is true for the first ten games of the seasons for a team that is looking to make a major move this year. Last season, after ten games, the Cavaliers stood at 2-8. This season, they are 3-7.

So I guess there’s that.

Let’s take a look at today’s Cavalier Daggers:

  • I’m not ready to send Mike Brown packing just yet. He was brought in to fix the defense, and while that side of the court has a long, LONG ways to go at this point, they are a better defending team than they were in 2012-2013, and they are only ten games in. Now, I do fear this offense a bit. My biggest complaint during the Brown/LeBron era was that at the end, LeBron seemed to deflate the basketball. It turned into LeBron dribbling a lot, and everyone watching. Kyrie Irving isn’t LeBron, but boy are there times when he dribbles way too much. Again, we’re only ten games in, but that has to begin changing over the next two months for the Cavs to be anything better than a 25-win team.

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Cleveland Sports Insiders: The Podcast 51: Bynum returns to Philly and guard-a-palooza

We here at Cleveland Sports Insiders are going to do everything in our power to fill the void left by the Cleveland Browns bye week. No, we aren’t going to be talking about the Browns…that would make far too much sense.

Instead, we’re going to talk about the other in-season sport in town, and no, I’m not talking about the Hot Stove Season either.

That’s right, it’s all about basketball in today’s CSI: The Podcast, and we’re going to focus most of our attention on a brand new three-headed monster that Mike Brown unveiled in the fourth quarter of the Cavs. I’ll get into that in the breakdown.

This Cavaliers are an incredibly interesting team, and while they are far from a finished product, this team has so many incredibly interesting pieces and parts and storylines, that it may take the entire season to figure out just what this team has.

Are they a playoff team, or are they going to be going back-and-forth all year long between solid play and looking like the second youngest team in basketball.

For those wondering at home, the Cavs average 24 years of age, while the Philadelphia 76ers average 23.9. The Cavs also come in at third in the league in experience, coming in at an average of 3.1 years of experience, in front of only the Phoenix Suns (2.9) and the New Orleans Pelicans (2.6).

Let’s face facts, when you are that young and that inexperienced, you are going to continue to go through some growing pains, regardless of how talented your players are, and the Cavaliers are proving that night-in, and night-out.

It should be a fun year.

Here’s the rundown:

1:35–Michael Hattery makes a bold statement for fantasy football Sunday.

3:10–Andrew Bynum returns to Philadelphia and is happily greeted by the joyful Sixers’ fans.

5:00–Will Andrew Bynum retire?

8:00–The three-guard line-up. What brought it about, and will it continue?

9:15–The three-guard line-up owes Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao.

11:15–Is Kyrie Irving the next Allen Iverson, and will we ever get a Cleveland version of the practice video?

14:00–Dion Waiters has had moments of incredible basketball clarity this season in between his struggles. Mike and Jim talk about his ethic, his team-work, his improved defense and how this really could be his coming out party in 2013.

17:00–The Cavs are 3-0 at home, how important is home court?

18:20–The beginning of the third quarter has been a struggle for the Cavaliers…is this a problem for Mike Brown, or is it just a small sample size and the nature of the beast for a young basketball team.

21:00–There is a massive hole at the #3 slot for the Cavaliers, even taking into account that Mike Brown put Alonzo Gee into the starting lineup. Will C.J. Miles, Anthony Bennett, Alonzo Gee, Earl Clark, or another unknown player fill that hole?

24:20–This is Tristan Thompson’s world, and we’re just living in it.

27:20–Thompson can flat out handle the basketball.

28:00–Are the Cavaliers building a home-grown big three in Waiters, Irving and Thompson?

31:25–Anthony Bennett

32:50–The Houston Astros