Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Browns: Just When You Thought It Was Safe

I cannot remember a longer off-season than this. For over a decade I have watched the Cleveland Browns and throughout that entire time I have expected the same dismal results. 4-12, 6-10, 2-14, ect. It just doesn't get old. Yes, there were certain fluke situations like in 2001 and 2007 when we had winning records. When the Browns went to the playoffs in 2001, playing the long-time rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card game, we thought "this is our year."  We were wrong and the Browns, in their usual fashion, blew a double digit lead going into the 3rd quarter.

But something has been tremendously different this year. For the first time since... well... 1994 and the two year "regime" of Bill Belichick we have actually had a legitimate team all around, ranging from the front office to the very core of our personnel. Randy Lerner is a good owner, despite fans' complaints in the recent past. Yes, maybe he cares way too much about his European Triumph, the British Premier League stars Aston Villa. However, that has recently been outshined by the hiring of Superbowl winning coach, now president, Mike Holmgren.
There is so much that this man brings to the table, not only his skills as a coach and his resume of being consistently successful, but his mutual staff that he brings with him. I don't think many fans have yet to realize what an asset Gil Haskell serves as our Senior Adviser to the President. Can anyone say "Hall of Fame?"

So what does Holmgren do in his first act as President? He goes and hires a GM. Not just any old GM, but one coming from another dominant team of the past decade, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Browns have never tread in these foreign waters before. Tom Heckert has a track record of drafting some of today's and tomorrow's Pro Bowlers, including greats like Brian Westbook, Sheldon Brown, and Brent Celek.

With all of this in place, Browns fans still were skeptical. We have, after all, seen this before with Carmen Policy and Butch Davis, which didn't turn out so well. But, once again, the Holmgren administration makes all of the right moves. First, we cured the cancer of last season by getting rid of the two worst quarterbacks in the NFL, Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. Then, we bring in one of Sports Illustrated's Top 5 NFL Backups in Seneca Wallace, but Holmgren doesn't stop there. The signing of former Pro Bowler and quarterback of Super Bowl XXXVIII Jake Delhomme was arguably the best acquisition of the off-season. Other great signings were those such as OLB Scott Fujita and TE Ben Watson. Then, our GM made his best move by trading mediocre prospect LB Alex Hall and our 4th and 5th round picks to the Eagles for Pro Bowl DB Sheldon Brown and a solid MLB in Chris Gocong. Suddenly, our defense is starting to look legitimate.

Then, drafting Joe Haden and TJ Ward provided some extra depth with young players sure to break the mold. But it wasn't all about defense in Cleveland as the Browns traded up in the second round to grab Montario Hardesty, who some scouts called "the next Adrian Peterson." We also drafted a hard-nosed offensive linemen, Shawn Lavao, and one of the most successful college Quarterbacks in history, Colt McCoy. Everything seemed to be in place and the chemistry was nothing short of perfect, as shown in spring OTAs, minicamps, and finally training camp. Even with criticisms about our lack of a true #1 wide receiver and a weak defensive line, we were still stunning everyone who came through Berea, even the national media.

Everything looked perfect... until today. Reported in the late morning after the first daily practice, top CB Eric Wright injured his hamstring and was in a leg brace for the rest of practice. To make matters worse, Tony Pashos did not practice today either. He is going to be heavily relied on as a solid force on the right side of the O-Line. Marcus Bernard, who was a sack machine last year, was carted off the field with an as-of-yet undisclosed injury. Finally, Brian Schafering exited the building with a knee injury. I know I am probably overreacting, especially since all other 32 NFL teams are having the same issues right now. But because of such high expectations around Brown's Town, every little play, every injury, every mishap, is being closely watched. Guys, please get healthy and remain that way.

The Browns will be 8-8 in 2010. Write that down.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cavs: LeBron's Return

We now have the dates for LeBron's return to our beloved city of Cleveland, LeBastards!
LeBron James at his Miami welcoming party.

The Plain Dealer is reporting that the HEAT will make their first trip to Cleveland on December 2nd in a game that will be nationally televised on TNT.  Team John Dillinger's second appearance in the Q will come on March 29th, a game that will not be nationally televised.  The Cavaliers will also make two trips to Miami, December 15th and January 31st.  It's interesting to note that last year the HEAT only made one trip to Cleveland.  The NBA will officially announce a few select games tonight in an hour-long special on NBA TV.  The full schedule is expected to be officially released sometime next week.

The Plain Dealer is also reporting that the Cavaliers will open their 2010-2011 season on October 27th in a home game against defending Eastern Conference champions the Boston Celtics.

Obviously December 2nd and, to a slightly lesser extent, March 29th will be exciting games to watch and attend.  What do you think the Cavaliers organization/fan base should plan for LeBron James' return and Zydrunas Ilgauskas' homecoming?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Browns: 2010 Outlook

For all the hoopla the past seven years about the Cavaliers, this has always been Browns Town, right LeBastards?

With training camp and the Mike Holmgren era officially underway let's break down the roster of the current Browns and discuss their ability to be successful this season.

New starting Quarterback Jake Delhomme.

Oh man. . .  where to start on this one?  Quarterback has historically been a complete train wreck for the Browns annually since their return to the NFL in 1999.  Last year saw head coach Eric Mangini mishandle the development of youngster Brady Quinn by starting him, then benching him when he faltered a little bit, and then started him again when former Pro Bowler Derek Anderson also preformed below expectations, only to get hurt and miss the final two games of the 2009 season.  When Mike Holmgren took the reins of the franchise this summer he decided he didn't like what he saw in either Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson, trading both away and bringing in veteran Jake Delhomme and backup Seneca Wallace.  Delhomme made the Pro Bowl in 2005, but had a notably bad season last year for the Carolina Panthers with just 8 touchdowns compared to 18 interceptions.  The Browns brought in Delhomme because he's a high-character guy and a locker room leader.  Holmgren is hoping Delhomme can return to his level of play from a few years ago, but if he cannot Holmgren and Mangini are prepared to replace him with Wallace.  The Browns also drafted Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, but Holmgren has insisted that, unless absolutely necessary, McCoy will not take the field in 2010.  Rather, the Browns will let McCoy learn for a few years behind veterans Delhomme and Wallace in hopes of becoming the franchise's future star.
Overall Grade: C

Offensive Line
Joe Thomas, one of if not the best Left Tackles in the game.

The left side of the Browns' offensive line is probably the strongest part of their entire roster.  Left Tackle Joe Thomas is a perennial Pro Bowler and one of the best blind side tackles in the league.  Left Guard Eric Steinbach, while never a Pro Bowler in his seven year career, has consistently put together solid season after solid season.  Center Alex Mack, last year's first round pick, will continue to start at Center after an impressive rookie campaign.  However, the right side of the line, well not miserable, leaves a lot to be desired.    "Pork Chop" Womack will start the season at Right Guard, but in all honesty he would be much more effective in a role playing off the bench.  Right Guard looks to be signee Tony Pashos, who was once viewed as a high-potential player in his early playing days.  However, Pashos has, to this point, failed to live up to the hype while still being an above-average pass blocker.  Also on the roster is John St. Claire, who started 14 games at RT last season for the Browns.  Look for Ben Watson, brought in from the Patriots this off season, to start at Tight End this year and receive the credit he hasn't, having played in a system where he was rarely used.
Overall Grade: B-

Running Backs
Browns record holder Jerome Harrison.

With Jamal Lewis officially suffering a career-ending injury late last season, backup Jerome Harrison was given the opportunity to prove himself, which he did in spades with over 500 yards in the last 3 games of the season, including a 286-yard explosion against Kansas City, breaking Jim Brown's franchise rushing record in a single contest.  Despite his jaw-dropping performance late last season Harrison has a history of injuries which has plagued his career.  This threat of possible injury led the Browns to draft Montario Hardesty in the second round.  Although he is currently out for a few weeks, effectively handing Harrison the starting job to start the season, expect Hardesty to have a solid rookie year not only individually, but also by pushing Harrison to give it his all on every down.  Lawrence Vickers will continue his solid performance at fullback for the Browns this year.
Overall Grade: B+


This is definitely the weakest spot on the Browns' roster, which makes Delhomme's job exponentially harder. Mohamed Massaquoi looks to be the featured receiver this year.  Although he has high potential and has had a very solid off season to this point, Massaquoi still does not have the natural speed to separate from his defender(s).  Here's to hoping he's developed his rout running this off season!  Our second receiver looks to be Brian Robiskie, former Ohio State receiver that the Browns took in the second round of last year' draft and then never heard from again.  Our starting slot receiver should be Chansi Stucky, who possesses the agility, speed and quickness to play this position very effectively.  Holmgren and Mangini have also stated that they want to establish Special Teams connoisseur Josh Cribbs as a receiving threat, so as to open up his options in the wildcat formation.
Overall Grade: D

Defensive Line
Pro Bowler and defensive anchor Shaun Rogers.

Starting at Left End is Kenyon Coleman, who is a solid performer, if not the same player he was with the Cowboys and Jets.  The Browns' starting Nose Tackle will be Ahtyba Rubin, who is a solid prospect that showed vast improvements over the course of last season.  Pro Bowler Shaun Rogers will probably move to Right End and, considering that he has seemingly avoided a suspension form the NFL for his off-field legal woes, continue to dominate all season long.  Off the bench is Robaire Smith, an 11 year veteran who, while losing a step or two, can still anchor a defense.  
Overall Grade: C+

Left Outside Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson.

Despite positioning for a trade, it appears that Matt Roth will start the season at LOLB.  He's a younger guy with decent upside.  We'll see if his trade request is honored or not, but for now he is probably our starting LOLB.  Starting ROLB will be Scott Fujita, a veteran leader brought in by Holmgren after winning a Superbowl last season with the Saints.  The inside linebackers, to start the season, look to be D'Qwell Jackson, an excellent tackler who still has the potential to be a star in this league, and David Bowens.  In Bowens case, Holmgren and Mangini are hoping that Eric Barton can return from his neck injury or that one of the young linebackers can step up and step into this role.
Overall Grade: C+

Defensive Backs
First round draft pick Joe Haden.

Last year, this was undoubtedly the worst area of the Browns roster, even given the quagmire that the quarterback situation was.  However, things look much more optimistic for the Browns secondary going into the 2010 season.  Cornerback is a position that will be battled out in training camp, with the contenders being holdover starter Eric Wright, Sheldon Brown (who was brought in as a free agent this off season after a career year in Philadelphia) and first round pick Joe Haden.  Look to see Haden and Brown as the starters, with Wright coming in for help in nickel packages.  Second round draft pick T.J. Ward will probably come in and start at Strong Safety.  Although being on the smallish-side, Ward has excellent instincts and closing speed.  Starting Free Safety will most likely be Abram Elham, who was less than impressive last season with the Browns.
Overall Grade: B

Special Teams
King Cribbs.

Phil Dawson, while holding out for a better contract, will more than likely return as a kicker for the Browns this year.  He's not an elite kicker, but he is certainly still above-average at this point in his career.  Dave Zastudil will return as Punter and continue to be one of the best punters in the entire league.  And last, but certainly not least, Josh Cribbs will once again be returning as kick and punt returner extraordinare and jack-off all trades.
 Overall Grade: A

As far as this team as one unit, I see them winning anywhere from 7-9 games this season, although if we only won the two Steelers games I'd still be just as happy!
Overall Team Grade: C+

Well, that was one incredibly long post!  If you managed to get though it all, let me know what you think!  How do you think this season will pan out for the Browns, LeBastards?  Let me know comments below (hey, that rhymed!).

Cavs: Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a Classy Guy

A message from Z to you, LeBastards!

Dear Cleveland,
When I came to this country 14 years ago, I was a young man who barely spoke the language and had no idea what to expect of this great country.
As I look back on those early days, I realize how lucky I was to have grown up in a place like Cleveland.  All of you have taught me the importance of family and friends; of pulling together to get things done; of loving your country.
I’ve never felt as proud as when I’ve pulled on the wine and gold and stepped onto the court.
I’ve tried my best to return that support by playing as hard as I could each and every game.
The decision to play for Miami was not an easy one to make for either myself or my family.
But as I enter the last few years of my career, I felt I owed it to myself and my family to chase my dream of winning an NBA championship.
I hope you understand.
I also hope you realize that Cleveland will always be home to me.
With love and appreciation,
Zydrunas “Z” Ilgauskas

Wow.  Z took out a full page ad in the Plain Dealer today, looking like a classy guy while LeBron continues to look like a, well . . . bastard.  But in all seriousness, there's not much else that can be said that Z didn't already say.  I would like to point out that, on the whole, Cavs faithful have shown nothing but love and support to Zydrunas throughout his decision to take his talents to South Beach, while we have shown nothing but scorn for LeBron James throughout his.  Maybe it's not that they both left Cleveland, but the manner in which both did it.  To you, Z, we wish nothing but the best.


Your once and future home.

P.S.  LeBron should hire Z's management team.

Cavs: Shaq Traded to Raptors?

Despite many criticisms, there is no denying that Shaq is a showman. 
Breaking News, LeBastards?

Not really, it seems.  According to J.E. Skeets from Yahoo! Sports, Shaquille O'Neal has not been traded to the Toronto Raptors, despite what this un-doctored photograph may have you believe.  The story is that Shaq and his wife, Shaunie, were at Disney's Wide World of Sports to watch their son Shareef's basketball game in the 3rd Grade D1 National Boys Basketball Championship Tournament when Shaq inexplicably decided to don a Toronto Raptors #33 jersey around the complex.  Say what you will about the ORIGINAL Superman, but the man is a showman to the bone.  Shaq knows that the market for him is seemingly drying up at an alarming speed and although he's been considering looking overseas for work in Europe, he's trying to get his name out there in the open again and have people talking about the Most Dominate Ever, in hopes of landing a job with a contending team.

What does LeBastard nation think?  Cheap gimmick or brilliant marketing move by The Diesel?  Sound off in the comments below!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Browns: Haden Signs, Hardesty Twists Ankle

Our first Browns post, LeBastards!

Today the Cleveland Browns came to terms with first round pick Joe Haden on a 5 year contract worth $50 million ($26 million guaranteed), not including a $12 million signing bonus.  Haden was the last of the Browns 8 2010 draft picks to sign his rookie contract.  Due to not being under contract, Haden has not been practicing with the Browns up to this point.  He will, however, be available to practice with the team at their next practice, scheduled for 5:45 pm tonight.  Earlier this morning during head coach Eric Mangini's press confrence, he Browns coach reinforced the need for Haden to show up and start practicing with the team as soon as humanly possible.  Haden will wear jersey #23 and battle for the starting Corner Back jobs with Eric Wright and Sheldon Brown, who are the projected starters.

In other Browns news, second-round pick Montario Hardesty as twisted his ankle and will miss "a few weeks," according to coach Mangini.  Hardesty has a history of injuries while playing at Tennessee and was expected to challenge holdover Jerome Harrison for the starting half back job.  Due to the length of time missed due to the injury, it appears Harrison, who rushed for 561 yards in the final three games last season, will start the season at half back.

What do you think about the outlook of the Browns for this upcoming season?  I have an outlook article in the pipeline, but for now shout out in the comments!

The Top 5 Things The Cavs Need To Do

Hello, LeBastards!

Today I am going to run down my top 5 list of things the Cavaliers need to do for this upcoming season to be a moderately successful one, so let's not waste any time on a preamble and get right into it.

5.) Run the ball more!  I know the saying is that "defense wins championships" and that was the mentality of the Cavaliers during Mike Brown and LeBron James' tenures.  However, this team is, realistically, no longer competing for a championship right now.  Byron Scott has a history of running the Princeton style offense with his previous teams, a strategy that involves using a short shot clock and quick ball movement in the half-court game.  It's a team style offense which utilizes back door screens heavily with the goal to get a shot off every 10-20 seconds.  Honestly, Coach Scott and the Princeton style offense is EXACTLY what this post-LeBron Cavs organization needs.  To be honest, the Cavaliers have probably suffered their biggest loss ever in losing LeBron James, and if we're now competing for a low seed in the playoffs and not an NBA Championship, we might as well be fun to watch, right?

4.) Sign and Trade Shaq.  Look, as much as I would love for Shaq to finish his career as a Cavalier (he is my all-time favorite player), Shaq does NOT want to finish his career playing for a middling Cleveland franchise.  This is a man on a mission, with that mission being to chase as many rings as he can in the short amount of time he has left in this league and (hopefully) acquire more rings than arch-nemesis Kobe Bryant when it's all said and done.  Most of the top contenders in the league are out of salary cap space, which is an advantage for the Cavaliers.  We have plenty of cap space available to sign and trade Shaquille O'Neal to any team that views him as that missing piece to a championship, and we should try to get at least something in return for him, maybe an expiring contract and a few draft picks.
Yes, that is indeed Donyell Marshall in the background.

3.) Play "Boobie" Gibson!!  I don't get it.  I mean, I get it, but I didn't like it.  Boobie didn't play much at all these last two years under Mike Brown because he was "too small" to play in a guard rotation that already featured Mo Williams and Delonte West.  But this kid can shoot the ball and I love watching his funny hair-do's, something that is significantly less enjoyable when he's on the bench.  Now that Delonte is gone, Boobie is going to be a perfect fit in Coach Scott's Princeton-style offense with his ability to shoot the ball.  Look, I know Boobie can't really run an offense too well while Mo Williams is taking a breather but that's why we traded for Ramon Sessions, right?  Let Boobie back up Anthony Parker at the Shooting Guard position and watch him drain threes like it's his job.  Wait a minute.... it IS his job.....

2.) Start Antawn Jamison at Small Forward.  I've been saying this a lot lately, and that's because I honestly believe it is the way to go!  Coach Scott absolutely has to start JJ Hickson this year and give him the bulk of the PF minutes.  Considering that Anderson Varejao is almost a lock as our starting Center, where does that leave 'Tawn?  He could come off the bench in the sixth-man role and provide instant offense in the second unit, but the Cavaliers have a huge gaping hole at the Small Forward position that they need to fill.  Don't let the recent signing of Joey Graham fool you, as neither he nor Jamario Moon are starting-caliber players in this league.  Plus, Antawn would help stretch the floor with his three-point shooting (something Graham nor Moon could do), which would allow JJ room to work (read: beast) down low.

1.) Play JJ Hickson - A LOT!  I'm a huge fan of this kid - JJ Hickson can really ball.  For instance, last year he averaged 8.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.  Sure, he started 72 games for us last year, but he only played 20.9 minutes per contest and had to defer to LeBron, Mo, Shaq and 'Tawn.  Give this kid some minutes and watch him not only put up numbers but continue to grow by leaps and bounds!  I am of the humble opinion that JJ Hickson is the future star of this Cavaliers franchise but this is a make-or-break year for him.  He's going into his third year as a professional athlete and he has huge potential but he needs to be given the opportunity to show what he has, and he needs that opportunity right now.  Give this kid 35 minutes per game and watch him not only average something close to 17 and 9, but give Cavs fans everywhere a reason to be optimistic.

Honorable mention: Change those darn jerseys.

So LeBastards, what do you think?  Is your list a little different?  Give me your top 5 things the Cavs need to do next season in the comments below!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Cavaliers To Usher In Post-LeBron Change. . . For The Worse?

Change is coming to Quicken Loans Arena, LeBastards!

We all knew a few weeks ago, before The Decision, that the Cavs were changing their logos and jerseys, but apparently they are also changing the Quicken Loans court, as well.  Here are some pictures from either NBA 2k11 or NBA Elite 11 (I can't tell).

The new Quicken Loans Arena court.
New Cavaliers Home and Away Jerseys.
New Cavaliers Alternate Jerseys.
As far as the new court layout goes, I think this actually looks nice, especially the Cavaliers swords logo at center court!  However, in my humble opinion these jerseys are just awful.  When the Cavs announced the logo change several weeks ago, I was confused.  Nothing major had changed besides making the colors look (again, in my opinion) worse.  These jerseys don't bring anything new to the table, they are just a worse version of what the Cavs have been wearing for the last 6 years or so.  Also, the trim is just horrible.  With that said, these are just video game screens and the actual real-life product might look different.  Hopefully the real world application of this will look better.

What do you guys think?  Do you agree?  Think I'm completely off-base? Sound off in the comments below!

Enter The Twin

A new Cavalier, LeBastards!
New Cavalier Joey Graham.

I just got word that the Cavaliers have signed Small Forward Joey Graham to a 2 year, $2.1 million contract.  If his face seems eerily familiar, that's because it is.  Joey's twin brother, Stephen, played for the Cavaliers during the 2005-06 season in a back-up role to LeBron James.  Joey will not have the same road block in his quest of minutes that his brother had a few years ago, and can easily step in and be a rotation guy, battling Jamario Moon for the starting Small Forward job.  Joey is a former first-round draft pick, being selected by the Toronto Raptors with the 16th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.  During the 2008-09 season, Joey's last with the Raptors, he averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and minutes per game with 7.7, 3.7, and 19.8, respectively.  Last season Joey played behind Carmelo Anthony on the Denver Nuggets, and as a result saw his production drop off a bit, averaging 4.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 12.0 minutes per game.  Joey is a good shooter with a decent three-point shot, who could be a decent spark off the bench or even in a starting role.  That said, Joey will not shock anybody with his production next year with the Cavs as he is a decent role-player at best.  The perfect scenario would be to split the small forward minutes up equally between Joey and Jamario Moon, assuming that the Cavs don't bring in another, more talented, small forward in a trade.

Overall, this is a pretty solid move by the Cavaliers front office in their attempt to build a hard-working team that can contend for a playoff spot!

Shout out in the comments below on whether you think the Joey Graham signing was worth the $2.1 million or not!

Monday, July 26, 2010

West Traded On Birthday

Breaking News, LeBastards!

I've just heard that the Cavaliers have traded point guards Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair to the Minnesota Timberwolves for point guard Ramon Sessions, center Ryan Hollins and the Timberwolves 2013 second-round pick!

So, now that the Cavs have made their first move in the post-LeBron era, what does this mean for the Cavs outlook this upcoming year?

They obviously lose the defensive toughness and ballsiness that West brings to the court every night.  On the flip side, they also lose the headache that was West's legal troubles.  The loss of Telfair isn't a big one for the Cavs, considering that he hardly played at all in his short tenure with the team.
Ramon Sessions

In return, the Cavs acquire a young multi-talented point guard in Ramon Sessions, much like what new head coach Byron Scott has been looking for.  Sessions has career averages of 10.0 points, 4.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds and .9 steals per game.  He had a breakout year in 2008-2009 with 12.4 points, 5.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, but after signing with the Timberwolves before last season he failed to mesh with point guard Johnny Flynn. Most notably, Sessions had 24 assists against the Bulls in 2008 while playing for the Bucks.  There's no doubt Sessions has talent and has shown that he can run an offense, he just fell victim to Johnny Flynn's stellar rookie season last year.  At 24 years old, Sessions still has plenty of time to pan out into the point guard many people thought he would be just a few years ago.
Ryan Hollins.

The Cavs also acquire 7-foot Center Ryan Hollins, a 25 year old prospect who started 27 games and averaged close to 17 minutes for the 'Wolves last season.  The only other Center on the Cavs' roster is Anderson Varejao, so Hollins is almost guaranteed to be a rotation player and may even challenge for the starting spot, barring any future roster changes.

The bigger question that this trade brings up is the future of Mo Williams in Cleveland.  The addition of Sessions could be viewed as a sign that Mo is on his way out of town, as the Cavs will undoubtedly want to give the 24-year-old guard the bulk of minutes at point guard to develop and prove himself.  Most likely, considering that Mo and coach Scott were seen playing golf together at Firestone earlier this week, this just signals a potential position switch from lead guard to shooting guard for Mo.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Matt Barnes Update

Real quick update: Matt Barnes is down to two teams, Raps and Cavs. Decision may come today.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cavs Sign L0wry To Offer Sheet

The Cavs sign Rockets guard Kyle Lowry to an offer sheet. However, Rockets intend to match. Move along people.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Tribute To Z


It is with sad news that I am blogging today.  Mr. Cavalier, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, has decided to pack his bags for South Beach, following his long-time teammate LeBron James. "It was a hard decision for him," his agent, Herb Rudoy, said. "He has 14 years invested in the Cavs and he wants to win a championship. He's going where he has the best chance to win a championship."  Z leaves the Cavs as one of the greatest players in team history, standing second in their records books in points scored, and first in games played (771), blocks (1,269) and rebounds (5,904).  More important than the numbers, however, was the incredible journey Z took to get to where he is today.  Early in his career, Z suffered from a broken foot which prevented him from playing at all during the 1996-1997 season.  Z opted to have re-constructive surgery on his foot, and bounced back to make the All Star Game in both 2003 and 2005. 

Not only did Z show incredible dedication to not only his craft, fighting through foot injuries when he could have easily quit and collected his paycheck, but he also showed an incredible loyalty to the Cavaliers and the city of Cleveland in general.  Despite being traded in the middle of last season to the Washington Wizards for Antawn Jamison, Z immediately orchestrated a buy-out and signed back with the Cavaliers after the mandatory 30-day waiting period.  Even after losing his starting spot to Shaquille O'Neal.  Even after then-coach Mike Brown refused to play him earlier in the season, on the day in which he was scheduled to break the Cavaliers record for all-time games played.

So, Z, good luck with your new team.  It's a weird goodbye.  It will be weird to see you actually wear another teams uniform and call another arena home.  But you have been nothing but great to Cleveland fans and Clevelanders throughout your entire career.  I wish you as many championships as years you continue to play, and I hope that you will continue to call Cleveland home, long after your playing days are over. 

In summary, what's an Austin Carr?  Zydrunas Ilgauskas is and always will be Mr. Cavalier.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

7/11/10 Cavs Rumors

The Cavs are reportedly in trade talks with numerous teams around the league, including the potential Al Jefferson trade with Minnesota I mentioned yesterday.  However, sources are saying that the Cavs and Hawks have been heating up trade talks during the Summer League.  The Hawks are, reportedly, interested in Shaq and Mo Williams, while the Cavs have had their eye on Josh Childress for a while, along with Marvin Williams.

This would be a good deal, since Shaq is almost certainly leaving town, this way we can get something back for him.  The only problem I see with this is the inclusion of Mo Williams.  It certainly wouldn't surprise me if he was traded before the season, we would need to swing another trade to bring in a starter-quality point.  With the future of Delonte West up in the air, the only other point guards we have on the roster are Boobie Gibson and Sebastian Telfair.  Boobie is one of my favorite Cavs, but neither he nor Bassy are starting-quality 'Points.

On the other end, the Cavs have a obvious and serious interest in Josh Childress, who has been playing in Greece for the last few years.  He would be a nice addition, as would Marvin Williams.  Williams never really reached his full potential, to this point, but he is a more than serviceable forward who could help out.  My only question is, does the Cavs' interest in Williams mean they're not entirely confident that JJ Hickson can become the player he should become?

Sound off in the comments or on the new forums with your opinion!


            You’ve all heard about it: the doomsday scenario.  Broadcast on ESPN nightly for the world to make false assumptions.  Now that LeBron has left, not only will every man, woman and child in the Cleveland area commit suicide by jumping off the top of Tower City, but those who survive will be faced with an economy worse than that of the Great Depression.  My first reaction to that is “please, Cleveland always has and always will be a football town, LeBron just made us forget about that for a little while.”  My second reaction is “will the local economy really suffer so badly now that the King is gone?”  Let’s take a look at the facts.
According to Joe Roman, CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership (the single largest business coalition within the city), "the Northeastern Ohio economy is $180 billion in scale.  It is the 12th or 13th largest regional marketplace in the United States, and no matter whose number you use in terms of a projection of the economic value of either the Cavaliers or LeBron James pales by comparison to that number.”
The city of Cleveland’s tourism group, Positively Cleveland, claims that each Cavaliers home game used to produce around $3.7 million, which translates to $150 million for the entire season. There are also $2 billion in new investments around the city, including the construction of luxury loft housing near Quicken Loans Arena.  Let’s assume that a LeBron-less Cavaliers team still manages to sell around 70% of home games throughout next year.  Considering that the luxury lofts are still being built, that’s only a mere millions of dollars per season that local bars and restaurants won’t be generating, a far cry from the $180 billion that the Greater Cleveland Partnership claims for the area.  
In summary, I’m sure there will be an economic downturn in the wake of LeBron’s departure, especially felt by the bars, restaurants and hotels in the area surrounding the arena.  However, there is no way that the economic effects of LeBron’s decision to skip town are anywhere close to the scale ESPN is reporting – there will be no economic “collapse,” just a slight economic downturn, barely noticeable on the scale of the area’s total economy. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The 800 Pound Elephant.

Welcome to LeBastards!

Despite it rarely being publicized in the last few days and weeks, LeBron James, once a Cleveland sports' staple,  became a free agent.  And then, after a lengthy (and much publicized) week, bolted for the greener pastures of South Beach where he will team up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to attempt a championship run, or six, for the Miami HEAT.

Since it's no use crying over spilt milk, let's discuss if the Cavaliers need to blow up and rebuild, or if they can, with a few additions, continue on as a moderately successful team for the near future?

We have officially signed-and-traded LeBron to the HEAT for two first round picks, two second round picks and a $14.5 million trade exception.  The trade exception allows us to potentially keep our current free agents while still having more money to spend than we would if LeBron had just signed with the HEAT outright.  My thoughts on the matter are that Cleveland now has an excellent opportunity to put together a very talented, if "star-less," team in the next few years.  We need to build a solid team from 2-12 that can compete for the playoffs every year without a star, and then add the #1 guy a few years down the line to complete the process.  More specifically, a star with pride and one who WANTS to be here.

Recent rumors are that Shaq wants to go to San Antonio and team up with Tim Duncan to prevent Kobe from playing for another championship and that Z is strongly considering following LeBron to South Beach and compete for a championship there at the veteran's minimum.  Assuming both of these players leave town, that leaves the Cavs with 4 big men on the roster: Anderson Varejao, JJ Hickson, Leon Powe and Antawn Jamison.  Andy is a great hustle big man off the bench, JJ is has All-Star potential at the Power Forward position (however, this is a do-or-die season for him), Leon is a serviceable big man who (used to) show flashes of brilliance from time to time (it is yet to be seen if he can still do this, after his knee injury), and 'Tawn is 'Tawn.  JJ Hickson needs to start this year at the PF position.  He has the potential to be a perennial All-Star but (this being his third year in the League) he needs to show he's more than just a "prospect," or he will suffer the same fate as Stromile Swift.  Anderson Varejao needs to not start this year.  I've always been a big believer than Andy is much more effective and efficient in a sixth-man role, where he can come in and provide instant energy for small bursts throughout the game, whereas in a starter role, Andy's flaws as a decision maker and shooter are exposed.  Leon is not a starting PF or C at all, and 'Tawn is a scorer who should probably start this season at the 3 position, and see where we go from there.  The glaring need amongst our big man core is a bruising Center who can play tough D and collect rebounds like pennies at the homeless shelter.

So, looking through this year's free agent class, who is available that fits this role?  Ben Wallace is out there, but unless he's playing for Detroit he's next to useless.  Luis Scola is available, and I think he would fit this role real nicely, along with being a low-key enough guy to actually not mind playing in Cleveland.  Al Harrington is also available, and although he doesn't necessarily fill the skill sets we need, I would recommend putting in an offer for him.  He's clearly talented and can score the ball, which is what the Cavs will need more of than anything else next year.  Al and 'Tawn would make a decent enough combo, too (assuming they don't get in each other's way).

Looking at the rest of the roster, we have Anthony Parker, Mo Williams, Jamario Moon, Jawad Williams, Delonte West, "Boobie" Gibson, Bassy Telfair, and Danny Green.  If new head coach Byron Scott opts not to start Jamison at the 3, we then need a starting-caliber Small Forward.  Jamario Moon is a great athlete and a good on-ball defender, but he's too much of an offensive liability to start.  Richard Jefferson is available for hire, and would be an absolute perfect fit for these Cavs. He can also be had for a relatively low price, also.  I would recommend that R-Jeff be our number 1 target this off season, likely via sign-and-trade with San Antonio.

Rumor has it that Al Jefferson is being shopped by the Timberwolves, as are Tyson Chandler, Emeka Okafor,  Hedo Turkoglu, Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, and Jose Calderon by their respective teams.  Jefferson would be a nice pick up, but I doubt that the Cavs would have enough prospects to excite Minnesota in a trade.  Chandler and Okafor would fit the glaring hole at Center I mentioned earlier, and our trade exception would probably be of interest to Charlotte and, especially, New Orleans.  Gilbert would be an incredible pick up, as would Baron Davis and Jose Calderon, assuming Mo Williams is involved in the trade. Turkoglu would be an excellent pick up to slide in at the 3, and he voluntarily signed with Toronto last year, so he obviously has no problem playing in smaller markets.  If we can't work out a trade for R-Jeff, I think Turkoglu should be our next focus, assuming he's still on the market by then.

Rumor also has it that the Cavs are about to make an offer to Atlanta Hawk's restricted free agent Josh Childress, who has been playing the past few season for Greece-based Olympiacos.  He's a good player who can play ball.  Definitely not a home-run, but the Cavs can't land a home-run right now, and they don't need to.  Not for a few more years, at least.

Sorry for the long first post, there was a lot that needed to be thrown out into the Internet!  Do you agree with me on this, or are you of a completely different opinion?  Sound off in the comments below, I'm dying to read your thoughts!