A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland

Predicting the Kevin Love trade

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Here is my prediction for the Kevin Love trade. I believe the following deal is legal:

Minnesota trades:

Kevin Love – 15.7 million
J.J. Barea – 4.5 million

(19.9 million outgoing)

Minnesota gets:

Andrew Wiggins – 5.5 million
Thaddeus Young – 9.4 million
Highest of CLE 2015 1st, MEM 2015 1st, MIA 2015 1st

(14.9 million incoming)

Cleveland trades:

Andrew Wiggins – 5.5 million
Anthony Bennett – 5.6 million
Highest of CLE 2015 1st, MEM 2015 1st, MIA 2015 1st

(11.1 million outgoing)

Cleveland gets:



Kevin Love – 15.7 million

(15.7 million incoming)

Philadelphia trades:

Thaddeus Young – 9.4 million

(9.4 million outgoing)

Philadelphia gets:

Anthony Bennett – 5.6 million
J.J Barea – 4.5 million

(10.1 million incoming)

WHY for Minnesota:

The vibe I’ve been getting from Minnesota this whole time, is Flip’s dream is to come out and win 45 Gs next year. That’s why they were coming so hard after the Klay Thompson and David Lee package over one like Boston was offering.

Now Andrew Wiggins may be their “offer they can’t refuse” when it comes to accepting youth/prospect power instead of win now vets. But by flipping Young for Bennett, they still move in the direction of their original plan of a winning record next year. Minnesota could envision Wiggins and Young as a productive two way SF and PF combination immediately next year. The lineup of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young and Nik Pekovic is a balanced starting lineup, with some shooting off the bench in Mo Williams and Chase Budinger, some athletes like Zach LaVine and Corey Brewer and some defense in Luc Mbah a Moute and Gorgui Dieng’s promise as the 3rd big. I’m not saying this is necessarily the right plan from my point of view, just that it could be what Flip would be happy with.

WHY for Cleveland:

It appears they are already offering Wiggins and Bennett so not much is needed to delve into here. The move is a no brainer from the Cavs end to put the best possible team around Lebron right now. Trying to plan for a window years in the future is dicey because Lebron could decline or Wiggins and Bennett’s development could disappoint or someone could get injured. This way contention is guaranteed, now. And if Love signs long term eventually, they’re still a longevity-friendly core.

A very important part of this deal for Cleveland is they keep the John Lucas III/Erik Murphy/Malcolm Thomas unguaranteed contracts they got from Utah, which allows them trading power to find supporting role players around their stars.

WHY for Philadelphia:

It was reported after the 2013 draft Philly would’ve done the Holiday trade if any of Noel, Oladipo or Bennett were available at #6. While it’s hard to take Philly of all teams at their word about draft targets, after the draft was over they’re less likely to have been smokescreening.

Either way, there’s a solid chance Philly likes Bennett who had a productive and analytics-friendly UNLV season and who’s rookie year was marred by injury. He would both be a decent fit with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid long term because of his perimeter spacing, or just puts up enough statistics to be good trade bait. For an expiring Thaddeus Young who they appear to have no chance or interest in resigning, picking up Bennett’s talent and upside is probably as favorable a return as they can ask for. Barea is just an expiring contract who they may buy out if they’re too worried about him winning games next year.

Written by jr.

July 29, 2014 at 7:10 pm

The Fall of the Cavaliers

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Great post on Back Picks about how much worse the Cavaliers have gotten without LeBron.  I was actually fixing to make a similar post myself, but now I’ll just keep it brief:

-The Cavs are on pace for the 2nd biggest fall in SRS (team performance based on point differential and strength of schedule) in NBA history.  Here’s a table, with the top 10 falls and the changes involved:

-You cannot simply dismiss this as the Cavs’ tanking for a good draft pick because the rest of the supporting cast is still in place.  Yes poor performance leads to de-motivation which leads to worse performance, but that’s true of every team in history, and still only once has there been a falloff this bad.

-It is utterly unreasonable to expect anyone with a supporting cast this bad to win a championship.  I’m not saying it was impossible, just that it’s an unreasonable expectation.  People still debate about who is and was better between LeBron and Kobe Bryant, and many give Kobe this edge based on championships, but there is simply no way that any supporting cast Kobe’s won a title with could be this bad without him.  Last year for example, the Lakers went 6-3 without Kobe.

Clearly the impact LeBron was having in Cleveland was up there with any in all of history.

-Going back to the Decision, there is a lot you can blame LeBron for, but I’ve maintained that since the Boston series last year, LeBron must have been thinking “my teammates just aren’t that good, we’re not as close as I thought to being the best, and there’s no reason to think we can get much better”.  You combine that with all the criticism LeBron got for being unable to win the big one, and it’s pretty easy to see why he left Cleveland.  It was much less about going to South Beach, and much more about getting out of a situation that he saw as no-win.

Written by Matt Johnson

January 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm

James the Abdicator

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'The Decision' & Miami is in a Frenzy!

Image by xynn tii imagery. via Flickr

In many ways, 2010 was the year of LeBron James.  Unfortunate to be in the situation where you emerge as the biggest story around and have so many of the storylines be based around things you did wrong and reasons why everyone should hate you.  So many opportunities has James given the world to hate him that’s it was hard to pick which narrative to go with.  James the Quitter?, James the Traitor?, James the Selfish?  All work.

For my part, I don’t hold LeBron in near the negative that many others do simply because of his choice to leave Cleveland for South Beach.  Certainly I’d have respected him more if he’d said he was staying Cleveland because he saw it his duty to help his city though tough economic times – but how can anyone expect that kind of maturity from a 25 year old famous because of what he can do with his body?

Of course, the way he left Cleveland, making a spectacle of himself, was ugly.  Beyond that, he’s seemed to hit every branch of hater tree on the way down since then.  Starting with his walkabout performance in the 2010 NBA playoffs, following that up with (alleged) stubbornness against his new coach in Miami, and then just recently, showing he doesn’t care about other players by advocating for contraction of weak NBA teams, and then proving to be both clueless and dishonest by claiming that he didn’t even know what “contraction” meant and that he had been talking about something else (he wasn’t).

In the end though, the most enduring narrative shift of 2010 for LeBron will be as abdicator.  As the man anointed as King James, expected to be the next Michael Jordan leading his modest supporting cast to a dynasty, and who then took off the crown not having the stomach to risk continued failure to reach the promised land with all aspects of his team’s strength reliant on him alone.

What’s so fascinating about this is that basketball is probably the only major team sport in existence where such ridiculously high expectations exist for a superstar, and those expectations are not entirely reasonable.  It is still a team sport, and no Michael Jordan didn’t do it alone either.  Jordan didn’t start winning championships until he had a supporting cast far stronger than the one James had in Cleveland.  While it is very much reasonable to expect great basketball players to play on some great teams because of the immense impact one player can have in the sport, it is irrational to expect that the best player will magically come out on top.

The other narratives surrounding James, and really those surrounding the other athletes I’ve written about, are often much less forgivable in my book, and yet they are also much more easily re-shifted.  Mayweather can kill the coward narrative by manning up, taking on Pacquiao, and coming away victorious.  Mayweather and LeBron both can grow past the various selfish and immature narratives simply by growing up.  I don’t see how LeBron ever makes the abdicator label go away.  He can make sting less by achieving great success, but his career will now always be viewed through a lens colored by The Decision.

Written by Matt Johnson

December 31, 2010 at 5:39 pm