This is what it's like falling out of love/This is the way you lose your very best friend/This is how it feels when it's all over/This is just the way true love ends. From Jordan Landfair:
First off let me say that I am a huge fan of your work and your classic anecdotes. However, I have to disagree with you about your analysis on why securing Love is a good move for Cleveland.
There is little to no chance that the Cavaliers will make the playoffs. They clearly will not crack the top four in the East. They had trouble getting a high seed with LeBron playing a full season. Detroit will not miss the playoffs again with a full year of Blake Griffin. They’re not outplaying the Wizards, Pacers or Bucks with Kevin Love as their best player. The Heat is the only team without a star player better than Kevin Love, but they have a roster far deeper than the old and battered Cavaliers -- who struggled mightily even with the best player in the world on their team.
Even if he does have enough skill to compete with the rest of the East, can he stay healthy? He hasn’t been healthy his entire career. It would not be foolish to count on him missing at least 10-15 games this season due to injury. The Cavaliers would need him every night just to get them close to 40 games this season.
Trade him while he’s still healthy and has value!
Many agree with your position, Jordan. But, I don’t, and the reason is simple: it’s going to be very, very difficult for Cleveland to attract free agents, as it has been historically, in the next few years. Without that avenue to roster building, Cleveland will be limited to the Draft. The Cavs have gotten off to a good start with their first-rounder this year, Collin Sexton, but that path is very hard to sustain. Yes, the 76ers have Processed their way back, but it took a long time -- and even after hitting on Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and with a future as bright as any team in the East, Philly still essentially whiffed in free agency this summer. All of this to say: Love is a bird in the hand who can keep Cleveland competitive in the short term and still will have trade value in a year or two if the Cavs don’t make significant progress. Especially in this first year after LeBron’s departure, and whether the Cavs contend for a playoff spot or not, Cleveland has to give its fans a reason to come out of pocket to pay to see the on-court product.
Too many cooks spoil the broth. From Jerry White:
You noted ‘Melo would be a great fit with Houston’s second unit. And cited he could be their go to scorer. You also noted how he could have helped in the Golden State series after Chris Paul went down.
He certainly could have helped the Rockets after Paul went down. He will be a reasonable fit whenever one of the Paul/James Harden/Eric Gordon trio is missing. However, there is no place for him if the three are healthy. Gordon is a better option on the 2nd unit, than ‘Melo.
For the record, I always thought Harden and Paul would mesh. For the record, there are not enough basketballs for Harden, Paul, Gordon and ‘Melo. At the very least ‘Melo or Gordon would be unhappy and likely either Paul or Harden.
That’s certainly possible, Jerry. Of course, it’s also possible Carmelo will start with Harden and Paul, rendering the question moot. My guess is ‘Melo will still see time with the second unit, so he and Gordon will have to work things out. They’re both vets and the goal is winning it all, and they’ve both been paid handsomely over the years. The more effective that second group is, the less stress there will be on Harden and CP3. With Ryan Anderson gone, there should be more shots for bench players next season as well.
A slippery, slippery slope. From Lyle Ruthven:
With all the news and talk about mental health coming out lately, some friends and I were discussing the likelihood of GMs being allowed to discriminate based on players mental health issues! Will GM’s be able to gain access to confidential mental health records? It becomes dodgy pretty quickly!
Anyway our thought (and stop me if this is being discussed already) but what if the NBA enforced mandatory personal mental health plans for every player! Of course it wouldn’t be needed in every case, but it can’t hurt if they’re individualized! It would normalize the practice of having a mental health plan, keep a level of anonymity because everyone else is doing it too, and with the massive pressure faced by every player these days there probably would come a time when they might actually need it!
Just wanted to know your thoughts or introduce the thought to someone who can actually help affect change if is not being talked about!
Great questions, Lyle. The new mental wellness program that will be on line for this coming season, jointly funded by the NBA and the National Basketball Players’ Association, will be run independent of the league’s teams. So I would imagine teams will not have access to that information, though team psychiatrists and psychologists can be part of a player’s mental wellness program if the player wants them involved. So proprietary information on a player’s mental health should not find its way to his team when it comes to contract negotiations or things like that.
As such, the mental wellness program will be different from detailed physical information about players gleaned through advanced monitoring of sleep patterns and other benchmarks that have become standard with most teams. But, none of us should be naïve that there isn’t the potential for mental health information to get into the hands of teams. Most everything, eventually, does. I’m sure it will continue to be a subject discussed between the league and the union.
In guarded condition. From Liam Monast:
Given the rumors of mutual interest between Kyrie Irving and the Knicks (and Kyrie's injury history even if he stays in Boston), the Celtics may soon encounter instability at the point guard position. Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart are good, but their skill sets are somewhat limited. So you think Brad Stevens should consider training Gordon Hayward to play the point guard position as a potential replacement for Irving? This could occur in camp and during select games with the second unit.
Hayward can pass about as well as Smart, but he will provide much better court spacing than Smart because of his shooting ability. He is also bigger and a much better defender than Irving or Rozier, which will be very important against guys like Ben Simmons. The Celtics boast plenty of wing depth with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris, so Hayward's potential absence from the wing would not be a significant problem.
Simply, no. Hayward is an all-court talent who is a very willing passer, and he’ll surely have the ball in his hands from time to time, but why would Boston put the burden of ballhandling and bringing the ball up the floor against elite point guards -- not to mention trying to defend them at the other end -- on Hayward? No team would presuppose everything going wrong as you seem to be doing.
Irving will have the rock in his hands, as he should, and Boston believes it will be able to re-sign him next summer no matter the rumors about the Knicks, etc. And even if he leaves in 2019, Rozier was outstanding in the playoffs last spring when Irving was out. He showed he was certainly capable of playing at an extremely high level. And while Boston does have wing depth, it signed Hayward, presumably, because it thought he was better than all of those other wings. Tatum’s emergence as a rookie last season certainly was a positive development for Boston, but it doesn’t mean the Celtics should play their big free agent signee of 2018 out of position for the bulk of his career in Beantown.
BY THE NUMBERS
$77,000,000 -- Alleged amount stolen from Kevin Garnett during his career, according to a lawsuit the future Hall of Famer filed against his longtime accountant last week. Garnett’s suit alleges the accountant conspired with a wealth manager to defraud him for several years through business ventures controlled by the accountant and manager. The manager, Charles Banks, pled guilty in 2017 to stealing millions from Spurs legend Tim Duncan, another Banks client.
1,064 -- Career NBA games for veteran forward Boris Diaw, who announced his retirement from competitive basketball last week via video on his boat. The 36-year-old Diaw played last season in France after being waived by the Jazz in the summer of 2017. Diaw said in his retirement video that he wanted to stop playing competitively after making 247 appearances during his career for the French national basketball team -- the same number that his mother, Elisabeth Riffiod, made for the French women’s national team during her career as a player, which culminated in her selection in 2006 to the French Basketball Hall of Fame. Diaw, the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award winner in 2006, won a championship with the Spurs in 2014.
227 -- Points scored in 21 regular season games last season by Cavs swingman Rodney Hood, who reportedly signed a one-year tender over the weekend to return to Cleveland next season. Hood, acquired by the Cavs at the trade deadline in February, struggled to get consistent minutes down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs, but is likely to see much more playing time going forward; the Cavs return very little proven talent on the post-LeBron roster.
I’M FEELIN’ …
1) Covered the tail end of Mo Cheeks’ playing career. Covered his stint as a coach in Philly, and much of his time in Portland with the Blazers. I’ve rarely heard him raise his voice, much less be emotional about anything. But being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame does things to a person, and it was thus awesome to see Mo’s true feelings come out during his speech Friday, as he teared up while honoring his mother and her role in his development as a player and man.
1A) And anything that gives me an excuse to show this again is worth it. I covered that Portland-Dallas playoff series and was there at Moda Center when Natalie Gilbert, then 13, lost her place while singing the anthem, and Mo came over, so smoothly, put an arm around her and got her back on track. By the end of the anthem everyone, including the sideline reporter, was singing at the top of their lungs, courtesy of yet another Mo Cheeks assist.
2) My long-lasting crush on Sue Bird, who I imagine would be the absolute coolest friend anyone could have, shows no signs of slowing down. Neither does she.
3) Irrefutable proof that there is a supreme being … who craves creamy nougat.
4) One of the best-written storiesI’ve read in some time. Marvelous work from ESPN.com’s Sarah Spain.
NOT FEELIN’ …
1) Seventeen years ago on Tuesday. Never forget.
2) Obviously, losing Devin Booker for any period of time will be a major blow for the Suns. But it begs the question: if Booker’s hand was initially injured in March, and Phoenix was 10,000 games out of the playoffs, and the Suns’ season ended in mid-April, why didn’t this injury get taken care of then, so he wouldn’t miss the start of training camp -- or any other crucial period of time for the Suns? I was told Sunday night that the hand “flared up recently,” and, okay; maybe there was a thought for most of the summer that nothing needed to be done. But, I don’t know. This is your franchise player. If there’s any question about his hand, go get it cleaned up in April. I just can’t help but think of what Shaq once said about surgeries: get them on the team’s time, not yours. And that’s not good for Phoenix. The Suns desperately need to have a good start this season, and this will be a setback.
3) Extremely concerning. And while everyone is entitled to their day in court and is presumed innocent, the initial description of the alleged incident would seem to point toward league intervention when it comes to potential discipline.
4) In my experience covering sports at all levels, good officials control things with firm words and a calm demeanor, and don’t overreact to harsh language that comes their way. Carlos Ramos, a respected chair umpire who was calling his first U.S. Open women’s final Saturday, overreacted to the torrent of harsh but not at all vulgar language that Serena Williams laid upon him after receiving a warning for receiving coaching and for racket abuse during her match with eventual winner Naomi Osaka. The warning for coaching was, at best, debatable; while Willliams’ coach acknowledged he was sending signals to her, no one other than Twitter cops who often assume the worst about Williams knows with any certainty whether she saw him or not, as she was at the opposite end of the court. But, it was assessed, and Williams should have known that meant no more warnings. And Ramos obviously was right to assess a penalty for racket abuse in the second set. It was the third penalty, for verbal abuse, that was out of line. It put Osaka up 5-3, leaving her one game short of winning the match.
That was an outsized impact given what Williams was saying, which was a lot, but used no foul language toward Ramos and did not, no matter what her critics claim, involve her moving toward him in any way. A good official would say, quietly, “I’ve heard you, Mrs. Williams. And that is enough. I will assess you a game penalty if you continue.” Or, he would have just taken it, as many officials do, and kept it rolling, so that the players could fully decide the outcome. (And, the way Osaka was playing, she was likely to win the match, anyway; the 20-year-old was outstanding throughout the tournament.) But Ramos injected himself into things, and by doing so, made the final about him, not about the young, dynamic challenger or the great, all-time champion. Both deserved better.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
He looks like a bad guy from the movie Taken!!! https://t.co/SLZVTzDHcR— Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) September 7, 2018
-- Dirk Nowtizki (@swish41), Friday, 6:10 pm, after seeing the new look of his former coach in Dallas, Don Nelson, at Friday’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction in Springfield.
THEY SAID IT
“I feel like I’m my own biggest critic. It’s certainly an honor being the first non-American head coach, and I think it’s a special achievement. But, I don’t feel more pressure than normal. I was lucky enough to get this job, and hopefully I’m good enough to keep it.”
-- Suns coach Igor Kokoskov, to The Salt Lake Tribune, on his journey from development coach to assistant coach in Utah to becoming the first international-born NBA head coach.
“I think at its core this is a very unselfish group. Why they were 24th in assists last (season), I don’t quite know. That’s in the past. But we don’t want to be a bottom-five assist team. I’m going to demand it, our point guards will demand it and our best players will demand it.”
-- First-year Hornets coach James Borrego, to the Charlotte Observer, on how ball movement will be one of the core tenets of his new team, after spending years in the Spurs’ system as an assistant coach.
“She is the grandma of the league and she’s not ashamed to talk about it either. That’s the funny part about Sue. She’s such an incredible spirited person. She knows she’d old in the WNBA right now, but she’s still kicking ass.”
-- Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, to SB Nation, in a piece about his friendship with WNBA legend Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm. Bird and Irving bonded over shoes, as ballers tend to do, and Bird had a pair of Irving’s shoes custom made by my man Kickstradamus for Game 2 of the WNBA Finals Sunday that feature the “Granny” character from Looney Toons cartoons.
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