Tag Archives: Cleveland Cavaliers

Giannis and Frank Kaminsky and Dwight Howard (or how this blog is not about referee Marc Davis)

In the 2nd quarter of their home opener Friday (Oct. 20), the Charlotte Hornets found themselves down 40-20 to the visiting Atlanta Hawks and looking for answers. And then Frank Kaminsky happened.

Frank “the Tank” Kaminsky by unknown artist. License: Standard non-commercial use.

For a stretch that went on for 8:30, Buzz City in Charlotte looked a lot like how the Kohl Center in Madison used to look when Frank the Tank was rolling and spinning to the rim, old school footwork confounding defenders, shooting touch getting every roll, Frank playing with the supreme confidence and determination that made him the college player-of-the-year in 2015.

By the time Kaminsky was done, the Hawks lead was down to seven, 56-49 at half and the Hornets had their mojo back. Frank had 15 pts in the quarter, nine of them on 3-point plays: two from downtown and one on a classic Frank spin move to the basket going to his left hand for a layup — and one. He found Kemba Walker with a pass for an open 3 that helped get the Hornets going. He grabbed three rebounds. He did it all, put his team on his back and led them and the home crowd back into the game. The Hawks folded in the 2nd half (with some help from a crew of very unsympathetic referees) and Charlotte won going away, 109-91.

Nights like this haven’t happened too often for Kaminsky in his two-plus years in the NBA. More often than not, he has struggled to make shots. In his rookie year he hit just 23.8% of his mid-range shots, and 30% in his second season. Overall he shot a very un-Frank-like 41% from the floor and was even worse in his 2nd season – not even 40% (39.9). His three-point shooting was no compensation, as he barely made a high enough % to justify shooting them – 34% his rookie year and 33% last season. Frank Kaminsky a 47% effective shooter in the NBA? Say it ain’t so. The league averages were 50% his rookie year and 51.4% last season — the all-time high.

Frank’s troubles, from what I could tell, stemmed from a lack of definition to what position he was playing on the court. He could no longer play post-up center like he did in college, but he had always roamed out to the 3-point line at Wisconsin, anyway; it’s what made him such an obvious pro player. But for whatever reason — the quicker, bigger NBA defenders or poor conditioning or plain old bad luck — the shots were not falling for Frank; and, unlike in college, he couldn’t dictate when and where he was going to get the ball on any given possession. Kemba Walker, not Frank Kaminsky, dictates the offense in Charlotte. So forgive the rookie and 2nd-year-player-learning-the-ropes stuff or not — Frank was not much of a factor for the Hornets in his first two seasons.

Dwight Howard looks very happy in Charlotte. The Hawks actually had Ersan guarding Howard at times during Friday’s game. It didn’t work. License: Standard non-commercial use.

But things are different in Charlotte this season. The Hornets now have Dwight Howard manning the paint, and, no matter how maligned Dwight has been during his five years of team-hopping, he is still a top 5 rebounding defender in the game, still the best of his generation. Dwight’s defensive rebounding %, total rebounding % and defensive rating are No. 1 among active players. The rebounding % is 3rd All-Time, a hair higher than %-haul by the late great rebounding legend, Moses Malone. Dwight’s not the shot-blocker he once was, but few teams challenge him inside anymore. Dwight Howard is a beast, how quickly NBA fans and media have forgotten, and he’s only 31 years old (32 in December). His Atlanta Hawks were on pace to win 48 last season before the injury bug hit the team after the All-Star break.

Ahh, there’s the rub — nobody likes to make excuses for “Superman”. And as the game has moved out beyond the 3-point line in the new, faster paced, bombs-away NBA, post-centric big men like Howard are viewed as dinosaurs. The new NBA center is Nikola Jokic, agile and versatile with a “European” shooting touch. Dwight Howard — though still a great athlete who can outrun most other bigs — has no shooting touch. But in Charlotte, Dwight doesn’t have to shoot; he has Frank. And while Frank the Tank is no quick-footed sprinter, he shoots with a feathery touch around the rim and has a crazy toolkit of moves that make him a versatile, creative scorer who can get almost any shot he wants if he works the defense.

Frank Kaminsky is everything Dwight Howard is not; and Dwight is one of the best in the NBA at all things Frank the Tank struggles to do well in the NBA — rebounding, defense, rim protection. If Dwight can’t make his free throws, Frank shoots 90% from the line. Together, they’re a monster combo.

BUCKS-HORNETS 10/23/2017

Giannis led the Bucks to victory, Monday, but Dwight and the short-handed Hornets made it tough, tying the score at 94 with 2 mins to play. License: Standard non-commercial use.

If the early games are any indication (and there have only been three for the Hornets as of this writing) , Dwight is easily the best thing that ever happened to Frank in the NBA. Though he, himself is a limited offensive player, Dwight’s ability to set granite stone screens and move people around in the paint has instilled a sense of clarity to the Hornet’s approach, and opened the game up for Frank, whose confidence over the weekend returned to a Bucky-on-a-Final-Four-run level.

It appears Hornets coach Steve Clifford will keep Frank and Dwight on the floor a lot. Dwight is averaging 33 mins per game and Frank is getting 30 mpg. Combined, they’re averaging 27.0 pts and 22.3 rebs per game. Frank didn’t play well in the opener in Detroit, but he came alive against the Hawks on Friday with 17 pts, 6 boards and 3 assists for the game. On Monday in Milwaukee, Howard and Kaminsky took only 14 shots but scored 26 points (18 from Frank, who led the Hornets in scoring) and hauled in 27 rebounds (22 by Dwight).

Okay, Dwight missed all nine of his free throws in Milwaukee, and perhaps the outcome would have been different had he made four or five of those — but Dwight shot 53% from the line last season, and has made nearly 4 out of 7 for his career (56.5%), better than Wilt, Shaq, DeAndre and Drummond. He won’t shoot 0 for 9 often, but the Bucks were glad to have it in Milwaukee.

The Hornets not named Dwight and Frank shot just 36% for the game, and were 5 of 20 in the 4th Quarter, yet somehow managed to tie the score at 94 inside of two minutes (thanks to a big three by Frank). Most teams would have stolen this game from the Bucks, but not the short-handed Hornets. They were missing two starters, injured guard Nic Batum and forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who hasn’t played since pre-season due to a death in the family. Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NBA draft (Anthony Davis draft; John Henson for the Bucks) has missed 40% of his career so far due to injuries, but played in 81 games last season.

The Hornets were also missing Cody Zeller, who bruised a knee against Atlanta. They’re down to Kaminsky, Jeremy Lamb and former Buck Johnny O’Bryant off their bench, plus rookie Malik Monk — yet the Bucks needed a big three and defensive heroics from Khris Middleton, another MVP performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Dwight’s missed free throws to ice the game. How do the Bucks match up against Charlotte at full strength? Not so great, outside of Antetokounmpo, and maybe Middleton when he’s on, though Kidd-Gilchrist’s scrappy defense might have some effect on Khris. The Bucks were lucky to catch the Hornets when they did.

The Hornets are a big reason why I didn’t listen much to the off-season talk about how weak the East was going to be after four All-Stars — Jimmy Butler, Paul Millsap, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony — went West to win more on national TV. The Bucks were 9-3 last season against Chicago, Indiana and New York, so New York and Chicago committing to rebuilding and Indiana clearing out George, Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis isn’t going to change much in the East for the Bucks or Wizards, two teams that stood pat and watched these stars and lesser stars move around.

The moves that mattered more were Cleveland trading Kyrie Irving to Boston, obviously; Boston signing Gordon Hayward, obviously again; Toronto foolishly resigning Kyle Lowry for 3 yrs/$93 million; and then this interesting business between Atlanta and Charlotte involving Dwight Howard. Charlotte in the Dwight trade gave up only streaky shooting gun Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee (remember him?) and a 2nd round draft pick. “Superman” for next to nothing, to a team that won 48 games in 2016 but lost a step last season and missed the playoffs. It seems that Hornets owner-GM Michael Jordan had a plan in mind when he made that out-of-nowhere trade for Plumlee last season.

With Irving and Hayward in Boston, Dwight in Charlotte and the Cavs adding Derrick Rose  and Jae Crowder, the top six of the East looked to be tougher than last season, even if Toronto is prolonging the inevitable. (Raptors broadcasters in week 1 were hyping C.J. Miles as the new secret weapon off the bench who will make a big difference this season. Really. C.J. Miles who played for the Pacers last season, and I had to look it up to be able to write that. A Snell-avedova moment in Toronto? NBA Free League pass preview is a beautiful thing.)

Then Hayward got hurt in the season opener against Cleveland. Joel Embiid took a health game in Philly. Rose is hurt again (only a sprained ankle this time) and Isaiah Thomas won’t be available until maybe January. In Milwaukee, coach Jason Kidd has played John Henson as much Greg Monroe, and has had to play Dellavedova more than Brogdon (sprained ankle) so far; it’s as though last season never happened. Middleton is off to another poor start shooting (47.1 efg), shades of two years ago.  In just a week, the East went back to being the East.

Or did it? The Wizards are the only undefeated team in the conference, which makes a lot of John Wall sense. Giannis is so good that nothing his coach or teammates have done (or not done) has kept the Bucks from winning 3 of 4. The Magic jumped Cleveland in Florida the day after the Cavs humbled the Bucks in Milwaukee, handing the Cavs their first loss. The Magic have three wins!! Brooklyn has two, and doesn’t appear to be a joke this season!! So does Boston after the Hayward injury! And Dwight and Frank have a buzz going in Buzz City.

Did the East get worse in the off-season? I’m not sure that was possible, and it really is too early to tell. What I do know from gorging on NBA League Pass free preview all weekend, is that Aaron Gordon down in Orlando (41 pts, 12 rebs in the Magic’s third win last night) looks a lot more like an All-Star/All-Pro than Carmelo Anthony or Paul George or Paul Millsap.

Come to think of it, none of those three “stars” made the All-Pro teams last season, did they? Maybe ESPN or some other media has some old shoe commercial footage to remind us all what the fuss is about. Perhaps Russell Westbrook will be able to figure it out. Not so far — the Thunder lost two out of three to open the season, including a loss at home to the Timberwolves, led by Jimmy Butler, one team-changer who did make the All-Pro teams last season.

Referee Marc Davis, more than a slap on the wrist

Many Bucks fans may have noticed (how could you not?) that Marc Davis refereed the Bucks home opener against the Cavs last week. I don’t know whether or not this should be considered a response to the “More than a Slap on the Wrist” series during last season’s playoffs. But it sure felt like a slap in the face when the officiating in the first half was atrociously pro-Cleveland, confirmed by the official scorers’ report. For the game, a 17 to 10 fouls called disparity against the Bucks. Yes, the refs saw fit to call only ten fouls on the Cavs all game long.

The Kevin Love at center experiment will work wonderfully well if the referees refuse to call a foul on him when he tries to rebound and play D against much bigger, longer-armed players. The Bucks lost their cool on offense and chucked 21 threes in the first half, immature basketball at best. Kyle Korver had no such problems in the 3rd quarter, and hit a barrage of threes that drained the life out of all Bucks but Giannis, a lone star on a mission. The Bucks roster has a long way to go if they’re going to matter in the playoffs. On the bright side, Korver was cold in Orlando the next night, and the Magic handed the Cavs their first loss. There is hope.

I stopped writing about the NBA refs last season for a very good reason: I wanted to enjoy the NBA finals, the basketball part of it. And NBA Official wasn’t responding to my calls or emails for comment. Maybe they’ve responded now, by scheduling Davis to work the Bucks home opener, though I’m sure they wouldn’t characterize it as a response to anything. And so it goes.

In any case, this business reminds of a funny story about retired ref Joey Crawford, whose rottenness became so legendary that players had fun with it, and “Joey” became part of the show. I think there’s a message therein about the “legendary” refs in NBA history and how their legends were won. Coming soon to a Bob Boozer Jinx near you.

Happy start of the 2017-18 NBA season, all!!! It’s been a long summer.

Source-erole and other notes:

  • Bucks-Hornets 10/23/17 gamebook and more at NBA.com: https://data.nba.net/10s/prod/v1/20171023/0021700044_Book.pdf
  • Hawks-Hornets gamebook and more at NBA.Com: http://www.nba.com/games/20171023/CHAMIL#/video
  • Also, links boxscores, roster info at (as always) basketball-reference.com – What would bloggers do with BBR?

Milwaukee’s daily newspaper continues odd fascination with some Bucks player named Michael Redd

Oh, we’ve heard all this before.  A very long feature today in Milwaukee’s daily newspaper on the progress of one Michael Redd, erstwhile Bucks shooting star whose NBA career came crashing down in a hail of unmet expectations, selfish play, conflicts with coaches, the side effect of #1 pick Andrew Bogut’s stalled development and, lastly, two knee surgeries.

No, the story doesn’t say anything about all of the above except the injuries but it does tell us that Redd’s “thing is not to just come back and play.”

“My thing is to come back and dominate and play at a high level.”

–Read the full story HERE. Or don’t.

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What’s this, a Wizards-Cavs back-to-back?

Indeed, the NBA schedule makers have smiled on the Bucks with a back-to-back featuring the two worst teams in the NBA according to every measure known to the league except one — offensive rating, the scoring efficiency measure that has defined the Bucks woes this season.  No matter.

These are not must win games.  They are kill-your-shoe-contract, shut-down-your-center, overdose-on-pain-pills, let-Redd-play-out-the-string, send-the-coach-to-a-rest-home, fire-the-ticket-takers, win-or-don’t-show-your-face-in-the-city tests of whether the Bucks should have bothered showing up in the NBA this season.

Now that that’s out of my system …

THE WIZARDS, often referred to here as the Wiz.  Coach Flip Saunders has, as far as I’ve been able to gather, refused to vote Andrew Bogut to the East All-Star squad these last two seasons, all the more reason to suit Bogut up and make sure Javale McGee doesn’t rebound all day over Jon Brockman.  Bogut is listed as “day-to-day” with a left rib muscle strain suffered against the Bulls, but had expected to practice today (Monday).  No word on whether he did or not but it’s not as though that’s as important as Michael Redd or anything, with the Bucks desperate to not fall any further behind the Pacers this week.

The last time the Bucks played the Wiz in Washington (Feb. 9), they were utterly embarrassed as Nick Young and a guy named Cartier Martin went off on them from 3-point-land (8 for 12 combined) and we all know the Bucks can’t score points in bunches.

Beyond the box score, the Bucks were still working their starting guards back into playing shape on the comeback from injury, and it was absolutely brutal watching the Bucks try to keep the Wiz in the building in the 3rd quarter.  This will be the first time this season the Wiz sees a healthy Milwaukee back court.

THE CAVS:  It’s at home.  Former Bucks point guard Ramon Sessions is still with them, fresh off that shoulder jaw butt that knocked Chris Paul out over the weekend.

Always good to see Sessions, the Cavs starting point guard since the Mo-for Baron trade last month.  One has the sense that Paul’s injury may have been meant for the injury prone Bucks.

The Bucks early season loss to the Cavs in Cleveland (on a last second jumper by Mo) ranks as one of the most entirely avoidable, regrettable Bucks losses that still has them trailing the Pacers and Bobcats in the standings.

Michael Redd set to return to the Bucks on Monday

Michael Redd will return to the Bucks Monday, after All-Star weekend.  By all accounts, he won’t play right away, but will work to get himself “in a position” where he could possibly play.

Redd’s in the final year of a contract that pays him $18.3 million this season, more than Carmelo Anthony, more than anybody on the Celtics not named Kevin Garnett, more than anybody on the Lakers not named Kobe Bryant.

This makes Redd very valuable to any team looking to cut costs next season, including the Bucks, who could use some payroll breathing room after last summer’s flurry of contract activity (Drew Gooden, John Salmons, Keyon Dooling).

Nobody in Milwaukee media has bothered to ask GM John Hammond, with the trade deadline eight days away, whether a trade is a possibility.  Those questions will surely arise once Redd is back in camp.

Currently, the Bucks insurance is reimbursing the team 80 percent of the cost of the contract, due to Redd’s long rehabilitation from a second knee surgery.

$18.3 million! For Michael Redd?  It’s insane, but there was very little the Bucks could do to avoid it back in 2005 when the deal was struck.  Such are the NBA economics that spun out of control in the last decade, as teams wrote ridiculous agreements with All-Star players such as Redd, Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas, not so much because they were forced to, but because the ethos of the league and the setup of the league’s collective bargaining agreement said that superstars bring in the fans, and that every team should have one — a superstar, that is, not a fan (even the Clippers had a fan or two before Blake Griffin).  Even very good, borderline All-Star players such as Richard Jefferson got similar deals (RJ’s still working off his final year down in San Antonio).

The justification for Redd’s contract points most directly to the five-year, $85 million contract that Ray Allen signed with the SuperSonics in the summer of 2005.  Redd, of course, was effectively replacing Allen as the Bucks star shooting guard and had been an All-Star in 2004.  The Bucks:

1) Didn’t want to lose Redd in free agency. He had courted some interest (about 5-yr/$70 million) from the Cavaliers, on the hunt for a second scoring option after Lebron James; and

2) Wanted to reward Redd with a contract comparable to Allen’s $17 million per season deal.  The market dictated that Redd should not be paid quite at Allen’s level, so the Bucks basically made a 5-year, $14.5 million per year offer (exceeding what the Cavs were able to offer over five years) and tacked on the outrageous sixth year “player option” to exceed the total of Allen’s contract.

Was the sixth year necessary?  Probably not, but five-six year agreements with the final year an option for players were in vogue back then, and, well, nobody in the Bucks organization wanted to see Redd suit up alongside Lebron James, unless it was for an All-Star game.

So here we are, the 2011 trade deadline fast approaching, the Bucks needing a shot in the arm and Redd (probably) nowhere near playing shape.

This may be little more than an insurance check to upgrade Redd’s status and handle the legalities of his sunsetting disability status.  It may mean the Bucks have brought him back into the news to draw trade interest.  It may mean that Redd has rehabbed his way into shape to play.  It almost certainly means that Redd doesn’t want his career to end, and wants to show the NBA that he can play next season.

On Monday, the elephant returns to the Bucks locker room.

(Special thanks to Bucks fan Sidney Lanier, the originator of the altered New Yorker artwork above).

Bucks get Salmons from the Bulls… Cavs load up with Antawn Jamison

Salmons_blog  TNT’s David Aldridge is twittering that the Bucks will send Kurt Thomas and Francisco Elson to the Bulls for G-F John SalmonsFrank at Brewhoop has been tracking trade rumors this week.

JSOnline has confirmed the news. Salmons is headed to Milwaukee but there’s no note on who the expirings from Milwaukee will be.  Kurt Thomas is apparently NOT part of the deal, some sources said. 

Chicago Tribune reports that a deal has been reached “in principal” and that it’s Thomas and Elson for Salmons, but that the Bucks could “substitute” Hakim Warrick for Thomas.  Problem is, Warrick’s $3 mil. contract can’t be substituted for Thomas’ and have the deal fit under NBA trade rules. Carlos Delfino‘s contract would work. 

Ball Don’t Lie has a trade deadline post that will be updated through 3pm tomorrow. Apparently the trade may be expanding, but Salmons is definitely headed for Milwaukee.  The Bulls official blog is also keeping tabs.

The 6’6″, Salmons, a 20-pt. scorer when he was with the Kings last season has been odd man out fit in the Derrick Rose-Kirk Hinrich-Luol Deng mix in Chicago.  The Bulls  needed to clear some cap space to be in the summer 2010 free agent market (D-Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire etc.), and Salmons had an early termination option for 2010-11. It would have been no surprise if he had opted out of Chicago. 

In Milwaukee, Salmons would start at shooting guard, with Charlie Bell likely to return to a reserve role.

Salmons came to the Bulls last season as part of the Andres Nocioni-Brad Miller deal right before the trading deadline. With Deng sidelined, Salmons filled in at small forward and averaged 18+ pts per game as the Bulls drove past the Bucks and Pistons into the playoffs.

With Deng healthy and playing 38 mins per game, Salmons is playing shooting guard, but shooting just 10 times per game and scoring 12 ppg. He’s shooting well from Downtown, which never hurts a Scott Skiles team coached to launch ’em. Unless Salmons is little more than a less prolific version of Michael Redd, this trade improves the Bucks and doesn’t help the Bulls — especially if KT and Elson are the two involved. Somehow, I think Carlos Delfino’s name may come up, Hak Warrick’s already has. 

No matter which of the expirings are used (Luke Ridnour’s name has not come up), this looks good for the Bucks and not so good for the Bulls … for now.  However, Chicago’s priority now is clearing cap space to make a run at D-Wade, Chris Bosh or other summer free agent options.

Note: backup center Elson is on injured reserve and is expected to stay there for a few more weeks.

UPDATE: Seems Thomas and Elson may stick … it to the Bulls. What a terrible trade for Chicago – Elson is on the injured reserve and Kurt Thomas has very little game left. Again, the latest is that the trade is expanding but that Thomas may or may not be involved.

It came from Cleveland. “It” in this case is a monster built to win the NBA championship. Somehow, someway, the team with the best record in the league, running away with the top seed in the East, got better before Thursday’s trade deadline.

Just an hour or so ago, the Cavs announced that they had traded center Big Z (Zydrunas Ilgauskas), a first round pick and draft rights to a guy named Emil to the Wiz for former All-Star Antawn Jamison, a big forward with a scoring game who should fit right in with Lebron and the rest of his beastly Cavs.

Big Z was in the final year of his contract, paying him $11 mil. this season. With Anderson Varejao continuing to improve and with Shaquille O’Neal in the fold, Z became expendable. If healthy in the playoffs, Shaq and Andy will get the big man minutes. Jamison isn’t the outside shooter that Big Z is but he’s got a more versatile offensive game and younger legs.

The Clippers are involved in this deal, too, and the Cavs will pick up backup point guard Sebastian Telfair. The Wizards get former Buck Brian Skinner and Al Thornton, a couple of rugged big men to play with Big Z and Brendan Haywood. Drew Gooden, another rugged, veteran big forward, will go to the Clippers.

The Wiz just might have improved with this trade as well, particularly in the paint, where center Haywood this season has already given Andrew Bogut some problems. The Bucks are 0-2 against the Wiz with two left to play (both in early March).

The Bucks have two to play against the Cavs.

Meanwhile, the Bulls left shooting guard John Salmons at the hotel this evening in New York, a good sign that the Bulls GM John Paxson has another trade deadline deal good to go. This will be the third straight season the Bulls have hooked one up in the 24 hours before the deadline. Last season Paxson acquired Salmons and Brad Miller from the Kings.

Salmons hasn’t had a good season. The Bulls have Luol Deng healthy and highly effective this year at small forward, and Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose running the show from the guard spots. Salmons was the odd man out.

The Bulls have been mentioned as a team involved with the Rockets efforts to dump Tracy McGrady and $23 million contract in New York. Brewhoop runs down some of the T-Mac possibilities.

Now it seems that Salmons is headed for Milwaukee!

Ray Allen is still a Celtic, despite all the rumors this week. I could never see the Celtics capitulating to the Cavs and Magic and Hawks by giving up their title hopes. Trading Ray Allen would be the white flag waving from Boston.

As for the Bucks, I’d really love to see them figure out a way to bring Ray back, of course. I suppose the Bucks could send to the Celtics Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, Hak Warrick, Kurt Thomas and Stackhouse. A Ray Allen-Brandon Jennings backcourt would send Bucks fans to the ticket office in droves, precisely what the franchise needs now that Scott Skiles and Bogut and Jennings, Mbah a Moute and Ilyasova have this thing headed in the right direction.

But I can’t see the Celtics trading Ray, and am pretty sure the rumors to that effect were those of the made-up ESPN sort.  The Celtics do appear about to trade Eddie House to the Knicks for Nate Robinson in a deal that will be announced sometime THursday.

Lebron, Mo and the Cavs look like contenders; plus Damon Jones

Mo blows town for ClevelandOne could argue that the Phoenix Suns, who defeated the Bucks Saturday, may not be title contenders. I wouldn’t, but it could be argued, Shaquille O’Neal’s age being one talking point.  However, if you come across arguments that the Cleveland Cavaliers are not contenders, then you know those sources didn’t watch the 2008 playoffs.

While NBA wags all over the country were ready to hand the 2008 NBA title to Kobe, Pau Gasol and the Lakers, the real battle was taking place in the East as the Celtics wrested a grueling semifinals series from the Cavs in the waning minutes of game seven.  Once Lebron and his Cavs were dispatched, the Pistons and Lakers were a matter of course for the champion Celtics.

This season, the Cavs are healthy, there are no holdouts to deal with and they’ve improved with the addition of Mo Williams‘ instant offense in the August trade with the Bucks (image at left by Jeremy Janneen) and Sonics-Thunder.

Even without the addition of Mo, the Lebrons of 2008 can’t help but improve:  coach Mike Brown has had more time to integrate the new players acquired last February at the trading deadline — Big Ben Wallace, Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak.

With Mo and rookie power forward J.J. Hickson joining that group, most of Cleveland’s 9-man rotation is new since they played the Spurs for the NBA title in 2007.  The team that Detroit couldn’t beat in the playoffs has been remade.  They are younger and quicker at the guard positions; they are stronger inside with Big Ben; and with Mo and a healthy, more experienced Boobie Gibson, they shoot better than ever.  The only real question is whether the Cavs’ aging big men, Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas can stay healthy into the playoffs.  Currently, backup big man Andy Varejao — who’s name surfaced often over the summer as a guy the Bucks may be interested in — is playing more than Wallace.

I’m not expecting the Bucks to escape from the Q in Cleveland with a win. In fact, coach Skiles should let Michael Redd shoot all night in his home state** and play the deep bench players like Joe Alexander, Dan Gadzuric, Tyrone Lue, Malik Allen and Francisco Elson — save some energy for the home crowd tomorrow night against an injury riddled San Antonio Spurs.  The Spurs without Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker?  It’s a gift, and the Bucks should focus on getting that win.  The early schedule is so tough, the more wins they can cherry pick here and there, the better off they’ll be in January when the schedule eases up, obviously.

**Anybody else wondering why coach Skiles seems in no hurry to get Redd back on the court?

How is Mo doing? So far so good with room to improve.  Through seven games the Cavs are 5-2 and Mo is playing 34 minutes a game, averaging 14 pts and 5 assists.  He and Lebron are doing most of the ballhandling, which is a load off of West – the Cavs best defensive guard – and Gibson, the 3-point gun.  Mo has yet to get his shot going but I’m sure he’d love to turn it on against his old teammates.

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Are the Bucks in the Antonio McDyess sweepstakes? No. But before I get to that, McDyess would be a perfect fit on the Bucks roster — a power forward who plays within the game and can stick a fifteen footer a la Scott Williams back in the days of The Big Three. McDyess would very likely be the factor that would launch the Bucks into the playoffs.

According to McDyess’ agent, 19 teams have called about acquiring Antonio, who refused to report to the Denver Nuggets, negotiated a buyout of his contract and was waived yesterday. Once he clears waivers Wednesday, McDyess is a free agent and can sign with anyone but Detroit. The rules say he must wait 30 days before he can resign with the Pistons.

I’m assuming that one of the calls to McDyess’ agent was from Bucks GM John Hammond, simply because Hammond is too thorough to NOT make the call. But if McDyess wouldn’t report to the Nuggets (reportedly because the Nuggets are not a title contender), what chance would the Bucks have? They wouldn’t be able to compete with the Celtics, Cavs, Lakers and Pistons, all of whom are very interested in signing McDyess.

It’s difficult to imagine McDyess abandoning his Pistons teammates of the last four years and jumping to Cleveland or Boston, but stranger things have happened in these self-interested times. I wouldn’t bet on McDyess going anywhere but back to Detroit. NBA fans should keep this in mind when reading the wishful thinking in the Cleveland and Boston media, or watching the any-rumor-for-a story channel, ESPN. 

In this Boston.com story, Sam Cassell, a friend of McDyess’, figures his pal will wait 30 days and return to Detroit, where they’ve missed him in the paint already.

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What’s Damon Jones up to? At the tail end of the Cleveland Morning Journal McDyess story linked above (here ’tis again), the MJ tracks down former Cav Damon Jones:

Former Cavs guard Damon Jones, who was traded to Milwaukee in August but never reported, is working out in California under trainer Joe Abunassar. He’s waiting for another shot at the NBA. The Bucks don’t appear over-anxious to give up on his expiring contract, which is why he’s still on their roster. Jones isn’t interested in a buyout.

So what does “Bucks don’t appear over-anxious to give up on his expiring contract” mean?  It means that John Hammond likely views Jones and his $4.5 million contract, which expires at the end of this season, as good to have around when you’ve got to work out a trade. The bigger question is who else on the Bucks roster would Hammond be willing to trade? My speculation is that Bogut and R.J. are safe – and probably Ramon Sessions and the rookies. The rest will likely wait until after some more games are played.

Why Williams was a Mo’ better fit for Cavs than Michael Redd… plus more Luke video!

Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe and East Coast tanWho is this guy to the left and what does he have to do with the Mo Williams trade to Cleveland?

That’s New Jersey Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe, who instigated the trade that sent the Nets Richard Jefferson to the Bucks for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

The two events that dictated the Bucks direction this summer and left Mo Williams the odd man out in the backcourt were the hiring of coach Scott Skiles and the Jefferson trade with the Nets. Those events may also have been two of the luckiest breaks the Cleveland Cavaliers have received in the Lebron James era.  

In Skiles, the Bucks hired a coach who preaches defense and ball movement like religion and demands pass-oriented point guard play, that elusive “true point guard” stuff you hear so much about in the NBA. Mo, despite his growth as an offensive player over the last three years, had developed a prolific scoring game not only for himself but for opposing point guards who ripped through the Bucks league-worst defense.

If the writing was on the wall for Mo when Skiles was hired, notice was duly served when Vandeweghe and the New Jersey Nets set out to acquire Yi Jianlian. Just as quickly as Bucks GM John Hammond could say “done deal,” the Bucks course was locked on a double-barreled offense featuring Jefferson and Michael Redd, rendering Mo and his offensive talents expendable. Nobody in Milwaukee was eager to give the troubled Redd-Williams backcourt another go-around anyway.

Many Bucks fans are aware of all the above, but it seems some in national media just can’t get a grasp on why the Bucks made this trade. ESPN’s John Hollinger spent a good chunk of his column Thursday not comprehending it, wondering if “Herb Kohl’s shadow government” forced Bucks GM John Hammond to make the trade. (Wish I’d made that up but I didn’t; Hollinger truly does sound confused).

Is the Jordan dome the right for for Cavs GM Danny Ferry?The Cavaliers had been desperate to find a 2nd scoring option to Lebron James since their season ended in Boston in May, and had been pursuing a trade for Michael Redd. (Who can forget the Paint Cleveland Redd campaign?) With the Jefferson trade June 26th, suddenly the Cavs found their targeted 2nd option off-limits. This development could be called a blessing in disguise were it not so poorly disguised. The smart, simple answer had always been Mo. And Mo was very available without the many high risks and costs involved with acquiring Redd. The Cavs were not a team that should ever have been interested in taking those risks. Despite the disappointing game seven loss to the Celtics, Cleveland had impressed in the playoffs that they were much closer to championship level than many observers had thought. Of course, they needed to to improve. Next season is the first of two more title shots before Lebron becomes an unrestricted free agent, and big men Ben Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas aren’t getting any younger. But no drastic roster change was necessary for the Cavs to contend next season.

For all the talk from Cavs fans that a Redd acquisition would put the Lebrons over the top, there were just as many Bucks fans saying “please, take him.” The Bucks guard would have come with a heavy price, the obvious being his gaudily expensive contract ($51 million over three years). Without Redd’s salary, the Cavs boast  the NBA’s second-highest payroll and pay over $10M to the league in luxury tax. Add to those costs the prospect of the Cavs giving up valuable pieces of their contending roster to get Redd — forward-center Anderson Varejao the most rumored player.  But perhaps most importantly, Redd’s offensive makeup could have posed some serious challenges to the Cavs on-court chemistry. True, the Cavs have long sought a dangerous 2nd option — and even wooed Redd in 2005 free agency — but Michael Redd hasn’t been a 2nd option since 2003 when he was the 3rd or 4th option for the Bucks, gunning three-pointers in the sixth man’s role. Too much change might have been disastrous for the Cavs; with Redd, big changes would have been required of both player and team.

Go team go! Team spirit in blowout loss to CelticsContrary to popular belief, Redd in Milwaukee has not primarily been the off-the-ball spot-up shooter type who stretches defenses that the Cavs were looking for. Redd got his points last season lowering his shoulder and driving to the hoop out of isolation, shooting long range jumpers (out of isolation), posting up smaller defenders and converting from the foul line, where he was 13th in the NBA in free throws made and attempted. He’s accustomed to controlling the ball. Let’s look at how Redd scored and compare it to Mo within the context of Lebron James and the Cavs.

Breaking down the shooting stats at 82games.com, no less than 49.34% of Redd’s 22.7 ppg scoring came on “inside shots” and free throws. As a two-point jumpshooter (42% made) and three-point shooter (36.3%) Redd had the kind of 2007-08 season that shatters myths about “great” shooters. He hasn’t been a great shooter for a couple of years. Although the shooting stats bear out the truth of this statement, they won’t stop arguments about it.  


Contrast this with Mo, who scored 66.9% of his 17.2 ppg on 3-pointers and 2-point jumpshots. Mo led the Bucks in 3-point shooting and was second in the NBA to Kyle Korver in 2-point jumpshooting, and was easily the teams best shooter last season. Mo added 5.7 ppg on inside shots and free throws. He also led in free throw shooting (85.6%).

Now let’s look at Lebron, who was remarkably not so good shooting from the outside and tallied 64% of his 30 ppg on inside shots and free throws — 19.2 ppg.


On paper, it certainly looks like Mo will be the better compliment to Lebron’s penetration and open court game than Redd would have been. A good half of Redd’s typical offense is similar to much of what Lebron does. The overlapping of like-styles isn’t always so complementary, a good example being the Vince Carter-Richard Jefferson pairing that didn’t work out as planned in New Jersey. Whereas Mo is a shot in the arm, a natural and fiscally sane fit, Redd could have been very expensive weird science.

Mo vs. Redd when they’re not shooting: 



  • One advantage to Redd is that he is a superior post up player, something for Skiles to exploit next season. Redd, listed at 6′ 6″, is the better rebounder than Mo, too, but the Cavs, the top rebounding team in the league, were not looking for rebounding in the Bucks backcourt.

  • The rest of the comparison goes Mo’s way. He shot much better than Redd last season – a result of better shot selection in addition to shotmaking. Mo runs the floor better than Redd, hustles more, is the better passer, handles the ball extremely well and can break a defending point guard down to free himself for a 15-20 foot jumper seemingly at will, much like Sam Cassell used to. Both Redd and Mo can break a defense down, but Mo is more likely to make a pass out of penetration.

  • Mo and Redd are equally terrible defenders.

Cavs GM Danny Ferry on Mo Williams to Journal Sentinel yesterday: 

“I think playing with LeBron, he’s someone who can help push the tempo a little bit and help LeBron and other guys get easier baskets. I like him. I think he’s a competitive player who can make big shots and one of those guys capable of rising to important times.”


Mo’ money for Cleveland

In addition to the obvious savings with Mo $8.6 million avg annual salary to Redd’s $17M — the Cavs now have $2 million that they didn’t have before the trade. In dumping the combined salaries of Damon Jones ($4.45M) and Joe Smith ($4.8M) in exchange for Mo’s $8.3M 2008-09 salary, the Cavs shaved their payroll by about $1 million, which in turn reduces the team’s luxury tax payment to the league by about $1M.  

The Cavs will save even more if – as the Akron Beacon Journal’s Brian Windhorst expects – acquiring Mo Williams removed any leverage point guard Delonte West may have had in his contract negotiations. The Cavs offered West the minimum $2.8M to play this season, after which he’d become an unrestricted free agent. West, a much better defender than Mo but not as dynamic offensively — would either back Mo up at point or start alongside him. Assuming he takes the offer, which he is expected to do, the Cavs save the bigger raise he might have received and the luxury tax that would have come with it. Cavs Gm Ferry when delivering the corporate report on the immediate fiscal impact of the Mo trade, can say the team saved anywhere from $3-5 million on its 2008-09 books.

The Cleveland end of this deal is so filled with positives, I can’t help but wonder if there are future considerations due the Bucks. Cavs’ forward-center Anderson Varejao would still be a great fit alongside Andrew Bogut in the Bucks frontcourt. Oklahoma City also has a power forward of interest, Chris Wilcox. One would hope that it’s understood at least tacitly that Bucks GM Hammond, when he took on Damon Jones’ contract to close this deal, earned a few chips that he can someday call in. Ferry owes him one.

The Cavs should also be sure to thank Nets GM Vandeweghe for following through on his promise to Yi that he would “come get him” if he ever got another GM job after Denver.

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The hits just keep coming for the Cavs. Now Mo is promising to play defense. He said this yesterday in a conference call interview with Journal Sentinel:

“Defense comes with a lot of different things. You’ve got to want to do it; you’ve got to have the mentality to do it. I’ve got away from that the last few years, for whatever reason. We can go on and on for the reasons. I’m excited about the opportunity, and I reiterate I know what it takes to win. There’s no secret it takes defense.”


Cavs fans can’t believe their GM pulled it off. This from Paint Cleveland Redd organizer Dan Labbe at Cavaliers Corner:

“If I told you yesterday that Ferry could get a 17 and 6 point guard without giving up [Wally] Szczerbiak or Anderson Varejao, you’d have called me crazy.”


Szczerbiak and Varejao, of course, were speculated to be the central pieces to the Michael Redd trade buzzing before Vandeweghe and the Nets stepped in with the offer for Yi.

It seems that if it wasn’t for bad luck, Cavs fans feel they wouldn’t have any luck at all. Until now. Cavalier Attitude breaks down the trade. The web editors are downright slaphappy at Cavs central: “Mo Bang from the Cavs” announces the headline of the feature on the team website. I think you get the idea.

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Looking for a good elegy to Mo Williams’ last season as a Buck? The Bratwurst wrote an in depth, balanced review of the entire team back in April, and his analysis of Mo was perhaps his the masterwork of the series.

If you don’t have 90-95% faith in my numbers crunching, Brewhoop is the place to go. Frank’s got the fiscal impacts nailed on this trade.

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At ESPN.com, John Hollinger concludes that Oklahoma City “won” the trade because the Rawhides (I’m just going to give them a name for now) received two forwards for their rotation, Desmond Mason and Joe Smith, in exchange for two players at the end of the bench, point guard Luke Ridnour and forward Adrian Griffin. I don’t agree. While the Rawhides definitely improved, I think the stakes were much, much higher for the contending Cavaliers who also instigated the trade and had to overcome a potential dealbreaker in Damon Jones’ contract. It was suggested on Sportsbubbler Bucks forum earlier today that the writers at ESPN may be high. It was a just a joke at the time.

And now, it’s Luke Ridnour video time:






Luke ventures into the land of the giants …




Mo Williams trade: Cavaliers get their shooter – but how did the Bucks do?

Photo Illustration: Jeremy Jannene

Mo blows town for ClevelandMo Williams had to be one happy-go-shooting point guard Wednesday after the Bucks, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City finalized a trade that sent Mo to the Cavs and brought point guard Luke Ridnour from OK City to the Bucks.

To make the trade happen, the Bucks sent forward Desmond Mason to OK City and accepted the final year of former Buck Damon Jones‘ contract at $4.5 million.

Also coming to Milwaukee is 34-year-old journeyman forward Adrian Griffin from OK City (still nameless out of Seattle). In addition to Mason, OK City receives Cavs forward-center Joe Smith, a Bucks fan favorite (2003-06) many had hoped would be coming back to Milwaukee in this trade.

Why is Mo happy? The Bucks best shooter last season leaves a lottery team where his growth as an offensive player caused rifts, and goes to a title-contending team where pushing the ball and shooting jumpshots will be a big part of his job description playing with Lebron James.

That the Bucks had to add more than Mo into this trade (Mason) and take Jones off the Cavs hands was no surprise.(See yesterday’s post). The Cavs had balked at taking on Mo’s 5-year $43 million contract and $8.35M salary, and needed more incentive. This trade had to get bigger in order to happen, and Bucks GM John Hammond stepped up to absorb the messy side of it, all but guaranteeing that the Bucks would be viewed as the team that got the worst end of this deal.

BUCKS:  The fact that Hammond was willing give up Mason while taking Jones’ contract shouldn’t be interpreted as a statement that coach Scott Skiles thinks Luke Ridnour is his answer at point guard. It is, however, a statement that Hammond and Skiles could not foresee moving forward with Mo. It also says fairly loudly that Mason, never the type of game-changing small forward who delivers wins, was expendable on the Richard Jefferson Bucks. Bucks GM Hammond didn’t say much in the official Bucks press release, but offered this comment to JSOnline’s Charles Gardner when it was suggested that the Lebron-Mo combo could be explosive:

“At the end of the day, you have to evaluate your own situation,” Hammond said. “Does it help us, first and foremost? The evaluation was that it did.”


How does it help the Bucks?: Gardner didn’t ask but I’ll fill in. 

1) The trade removes a potential headache in Mo. This is not a criticism of Mo as much as it is a recognition of bad blood that exists on the Bucks roster from previous losing seasons. It was apparent at the games that Mo no longer had much tolerance for “the Michael Redd show” and invested part of his final season as a Buck in proving to anyone who cared that he was just as prolific a scorer as Redd. Bucks fans have seen quite enough of the Mo-Redd backcourt, and Hammond and Skiles were wise not to reboot it for one more run. In Brewhoop’s estimation, Mo was “the odd man out” when it became clear that Redd was staying after the Jefferson trade.


2) The trade relieves the Bucks of Mo’s 5-year, $43 million contract. Ridnour is a two-year, $13M commitment.  In trading Mason and Mo, the Bucks cleared out about $14.3M in salary while taking in $12.7M – an immediate $1.6M more in wiggle room under the luxury tax limit, most of which they used to sign Francisco Elson the day of the Mo trade. The Bucks remain about $2M under the luxury tax limit and could free up another $1.7M by cutting Griffin, whose salary is not guaranteed. Next year the Bucks will save $2.36M (the difference between Mo and Ridnour’s salaries) but the big benefit comes in 2010, when Ridnour’s contract expires and the $9.3M Mo is set to be paid becomes free and clear — giving the Bucks some room to grow.

3) Acquiring the 27-year-old Ridnour, a point guard in Scott Skiles’ image, takes Ramon Sessions out of the fire next season. Sessions, 22, is a focus of Bucks development but has only seven starts under his belt and may need some more time to grow into the starting point guard position. He may not need more time, but that’s something for Skiles to sort out in preseason, knowing that he has Ridnour at his disposal and veteran Tyrone Lue behind them. And Jones, if he’s allowed to suit up.


4) Ridnour could find an NBA rebirth of sorts in Milwaukee; and in Skiles, he couldn’t ask for a better point guard coach. He’s not a player Bucks fans have had much of a chance to see (Seattle’s national NBA profile having been about as high as Milwaukee’s) but Ridnour thrived early in his career as Ray Allen’s backcourt mate. He started his second season in the league, as the Sonics won the Northwest Division and routed Sacremento from the playoffs before falling to the eventual champs, the Spurs. Ridnour averaged 11.5 pts, 7 asts that year, and drew comparisons to “a young Steve Nash.”  But Ridnour lost his starting job to Earl Watson in his fourth year, and last season played 20 minutes per game in a backup role. He was the small (his 6′ 2″ listing is generous), flashy point guard Sonics fans loved but knew wasn’t good enough, or something like that.

Ridnour is a member of the 2006-08 Olympic Senior Men’s Basketball program (33 players) and last summer Seattle tried to trade him to Atlanta for the #11 draft pick but the deal fell through (the Hawks eventually traded for Mike Bibby). He reminds me of a smaller version of Scott Skiles, who became an effective NBA point guard with Shaq in Orlando. Ridnour does like to pass and he’s fun to watch, even when he’s falling down trying to guard Toronto’s Jose Calderon (see yesterday’s post).

Today we have MiniShaQ’s mix, “Lucky Luke Ridnour: Future of the Sonics” … the “young Steve Nash” interview is at the end.






A couple of other notes: I don’t know, obviously, what the roster plans are for Damon Jones or Adrian Griffin. I assume Jones won’t be on the active 12-man roster (barring injury, how he could he be with three point guards already on the roster?) and may be further removed still. Trading Jones, however, may be next to impossible.

With Griffin, it’s more difficult to say. The Bucks could send 2nd round draft pick Luc Mbah a Moute to the D-League (and/or Joe Alexander if he struggles) and Griffin could fill a stopgap reserve role at small forward. If they release Griffin, however, the Bucks would have $1.7M more to play with under the luxury tax limit should another trade come along or if free agent help is needed.

Whatever pans out with the Bucks new forward, you should read shamsports Adrian Griffin player bio.

Mo Williams trade brewing (and stalling) with Cleveland and Oklahoma City… Luke Ridnour VIDEO hour

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ quest for backcourt help for Lebron James continues … With Michael Redd apparently unavailable for the time being, Cavs GM Danny Ferry has set his sights on Bucks point guard Mo Williams, first reported Sunday in the News-Herald of Northern Ohio, a Cleveland area daily.

The Cavs want scoring, and that’s our Mo. He was one of the top shooters in the NBA last season, 2nd only to Utah’s Kyle Korver in 2-point jumpshooting with a .508 percentage (Korver, Mo and 2-time MVP Steve Nash were the only players in the NBA above 50%). Mo led the Bucks in three-point shooting (38.5%) and free throw shooting (85.6%), averaging 17.2 pts, 6.3 asts per game.

Yet while Mo was the Bucks best shooter last season, he leaves a lot to be desired as a floor general and playmaker — and he’s terrible defender with a five-year, $43M contract. This doesn’t make him coach Scott Skiles’ kind of point guard. And Cleveland has been knocking.

News-Herald writer Bob Finnan speculated that trade talks may have begun with Cavs point guard Delonte West and two Cavs 2009 expiring contracts — former Bucks Joe Smith and Damon Jones. West, a restricted free agent, is in a contract dispute with Cavs GM Danny Ferry, and has been offered a “take it or leave it” minimum offer — $2.8 million for one year.  A sign and trade deal sending West to the Bucks with a higher salary would break the impasse.

I watched a lot of Cleveland Cavs playoff basketball. West was acquired from Seattle in the three-team Ben Wallace-Larry Hughes trade and had been on the team only two months — yet he had stepped in and was doing yeoman work running the offense with Lebron, playing scrappy defense and hitting key shots. He started all 13 playoff games as the Cavs ousted the Wizards and pushed Pierce, Garnett and Allen to the final minute of game seven.  Mo Williams for Delonte West and Smith, the crafty 33-year-old forward-center with a soft shooting touch, works for me.

But apparently Bucks GM John Hammond and Skiles are not interested in West. Too much like Mo, probably. Enter Oklahoma City (the team that left its name in Seattle), one of the teams that have reportedly been involved in talks with the Cavs r.e. forward-center Anderson Varejao. (The Bucks have also been one of those teams). OK City, as luck would have it, has a corral of point guards that Scott Skiles could like — draft pick Russell Westbrook, last year’s starter Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour, the point guard during the Ray Allen years in Seattle.

After days of speculation centering on Watson and the possibilities for a larger trade involving power forwards Varejao, OKC’s Chris Wilcox and Charlie Villanueva, who do the Bucks reportedly want for Mo Williams?  Luke Ridnour, the third stringer, fallen on hard times since the departures of coach Brian Hill and Ray Allen. With the Sonics last season, West played more minutes per game than Ridnour prior to being traded. The Mo trade would reportedly send Mo to Cleveland, Joe Smith to OK City and Ridnour to Milwaukee. Setting aside for a moment whether or not this deal works within NBA rules …

Luke Ridnour???

That had to hurt. I can understand how Skiles sees a little bit of himself in 27-year-old Ridnour, but

… Luke Ridnour???

And people say Mo is a bad defender … But hold on. This trade is now stalled. Apparently, ESPN league sources say, Cavs GM Ferry is “balking at taking on Williams’ contract. OKC and Milwaukee are ready to do the deal. The trade is not dead, but I’m told as of right now it has stalled.”

At least someone came to their senses. I don’t think, however, that this was ever “the trade.”  The salaries don’t match. [whole bunch of trade $ mumbo jumbo deleted]  Cleveland and Milwaukee are both over the cap, and the Cavs are over the luxury tax threshold.

The Cavs need to find at least $2.3M to send out in order to take on Mo’s contract. This trade could work if the Cavs sawed Delonte West or Damon Jones in two (I’m assuming they would choose Jones) and sent half a player and contract to Milwaukee and half to OK City. Barring that, they could send 1st round draft pick J.J. Hickson, a 6′ 9″ forward to either team, and fill in the other team’s gap with Tarence Kinsey, an athletic 6′ 6″ guard built to play D whom the Cavs signed this month. After all that, the Cavs would still be $200,000 short of being within 15 percent of Mo’s salary. Going deeper to the Cavs bench, guard Billy Thomas or center Lance Allred would cover it.

By now, Danny Ferry is no doubt cursing Larry Harris for paying Mo too much last summer. The Cavs have an $85.5 million payroll, some $13M over the luxury tax limit. Because Cleveland is over limit, the Cavs would have to send a dollar-for-dollar tax to the league based on how much additional payroll Mo’s contract adds. As this deal lays now, the Cavs would pay Mo his salary plus about $1 M to the NBA — a total of $9.3 million. For this privelege, they would give up Smith, a key role player in their front court rotation, and possibly three players including the 1st round draft pick — after pinching pennies with Delonte West.

No wonder Ferry’s balking and the deal is stalled. The price is high. Keep in mind that the Cavs can stand pat and still know that they are a contender for the title. The only team in the East that has proven it can beat Lebron in a playoff series is the Boston Celtics. Would Mo make the difference? Or would a healthy Boobie Gibson serve just as well? Cleveland and Ferry may have picked up the phone to get the ball rolling on this trade, but they’re good enough as a team to risk nothing by waiting to see how the season unfolds.

And Luke Ridnour? Here he is in better times, the 2005 playoffs against Sacramento. This must be the guy that Hammond and Skiles are hoping to acquire:

The Chad Ford Watch and …. Redd to Cleveland hits snag

FordESPN rumor mongerer Chad Ford is at it again. Last week Ford was speculating that the Bucks want to move up in the draft to “add some star power to their team.”  In his mock draft 6.0 today Ford has the Bucks picking Joe Alexander out of West Virginia with their #8 pick.

I have developed what can only be called “The Chad Ford Principle.” Whatever Ford mongers out there as rumoroid fact, expect it to be false and driven by the needs of certain agents whom Ford spends far too much time listening to. And bear in mind when reading him that Ford an ethically challenged journalist who doesn’t seem to be able to put two and two together very well.

Let’s give The Chad Ford Principle a test run. If Ford writes that his sources say the Chicago Bulls are taking point guard Derrick Rose with the number one pick, expect the Bulls to pick forward Michael Beasley.  In fact Ford himself is beginning to back off his “90 percent” assurance that the Bulls would take Rose, writing in mock draft 5.0 that he’s “not as confident as I was a week ago that he’ll be the pick.”

The Bulls will take Beasley and I would bet on it. Again using The Chad Ford Principle, expect the Bucks to take Anthony Randolph (LSU) and not Alexander or do something more creative with the pick.

(Note: I’ve since learned that Rose and Randolph have the same agent — former Chicago Bull B.J. Armstrong, a rep for the Arn Tellem agency. Using The Chad Ford Principle, assume that agent Armstrong is one of Ford’s key sources regarding both Rose and Randolph).

As for the Bucks moving up in the draft, Bucks GM John Hammond said last week that he doesn’t “have a deal to move up or to move down” and that he’s seeing movement among the teams drafting ahead of them. This could mean the Bucks might trade out of the first round altogether or trade whomever the Bucks pick.

That wasn’t the only Ford-broadcasted fire that was extinguished last week. Remember all that talk about trading Yi Jianlian to Golden State in a deal for developing 21-year-old forward Brandan Wright and the Warriors #14 pick?  A rep from the Warriors contacted Ford last week and “took umbrage” at the rumor. This from Ford’s column last Thursday:

“A Warriors representative shot down an assertion made in a couple of my columns that the team was looking to move Brandan Wright. He especially took umbrage at the report that the team coveted Milwaukee’s Yi Jianlian. I’ve been assured that Warriors GM Chris Mullin, who makes the final decisions at Golden State, isn’t trading Wright for Yi.”

The Warriors called to demand a correction, didn’t they Chad?

And it was likely the first contact Ford’s had with the Warriors in all of this. Still, Ford didn’t quite have to the guts to label it a correction and just tacked it on at the end of his column with the following caveat:

“This time of the year, the information is flying fast and furious. Sources often have agendas, and from time to time I just get things wrong.”

That’s well and good, except that in an earlier version of the very same column, Ford wrote that, in still another trade involving Golden State and Wright, Cleveland was set to trade Anderson Varejao and their #19 pick to the Warriors. The Varejao report is apparently what prompted the Warriors to shut Ford’s rumor mill down. Ford was slinging agent slime at Golden State week after week.

Guess who Yi Jianlian and Anderson Varejao have in common? Sports agent Dan Fegan, who obviously fed Ford the Yi trade rumors last season and is at it again now with Yi and Varejao. You bet Fegan’s got an agenda. He wants Yi out of Milwaukee and Varejao out of Cleveland. Ford has been Fegan’s willing accomplice when the agent feels the need to toss grist into the NBA rumor mills. I assume Ford knows fully well that Fegan has no ability to make trades.

Ford’s problem is that this is not a “this time of year” thing; it’s general Chad Ford practice. Ford routinely references agents off the record with tags such as “a source familiar with the talks” — which is how he referred to Fegan in the Varejao rumor write-up.

In Cleveland, the Morning News called its sources and quickly debunked the Varejao to Golden State talk as “nothing more than a rumor.” The Cavaliers are apparently not as upset with Ford as the Warriors were.

Journalistically, Ford’s general practice is unethical. Because he writes for ESPN, NBA teams and the daily newspapers in NBA cities are compelled to react, in large part because he doesn’t let his readers know that he’s spinning rumors from agents — not sources from NBA teams. That’s downright unethical.

Is Ford writing for entertainment purposes only and is that an excuse? No and no, and Ford doesn’t write in an entertaining style anyway. He shows little flair for absurdity, wit, sarcasm or humor, or even the cut-the-crap asshole-ishness that sometimes makes for good writing. Overall, his style is banal. There’s so little there and so many other mock NBA draft outlets for fans, such as Draft Express and NBADraft.net.

What purpose does Ford’s column serve ESPN other than to generate site hits with agent-flushed yellow journalism? And what does that say about ESPN?

Cleveland, we have a problem here:  The Akron Beacon Journal’s Patrick McManamon took an in depth look at Anderson Varejao’s situation last week and revealed something I don’t think any of us wildly speculative blogger types had realized — Varejao can reject any trade up until Dec. 5. That date matters because Dec. 5 is the one-year anniversary of the Cavs matching the contract offer Fegan and Varejao negotiated with the Charlotte Bobcats last fall.

According to NBA rules, a player can reject a trade for one year after a team matches a contract offer to keep him. The Bucks Charlie Bell, for example, could have rejected the trade to the Knicks that Larry Harris had reportedly negotiated before the trading deadline last February because the Bucks last summer matched an offer sheet from Miami to keep Bell. Now Varejao, a key piece of a potential trade for Michael Redd, could be off limits to the Bucks this summer unless Bucks GM John Hammond can make Varejao (and Fegan) happy. Remember that Fegan is also Yi’s agent and that on the Bucks Yi and Varejao would be sharing power forward minutes.

Still, Akron’s McManamon likes a trade for Redd, calling it “logical” and writing that “it all makes sense.”

McManamon does however, have more bad news for the Bucks. Guard Boobie Gibson underwent ankle surgery this offseason and could be considered off the table. If Gibson is off limits it wouldn’t leave Cleveland much to deal with beyond the Wally Szczerbiak contract and the #19 pick — not enough of a return for Michael Redd.

I’m suddenly concerned that the Bob Boozer Jinx — the Bucks jinx at the power forward position — is once again working its crazy mojo.

Paint Cleveland Redd ’08: Bucks fans react to trade campaign

Paint it Redd campaign signThe campaign by Cleveland fans to make Michael Redd a Cavalier has, in only its second week, ground its way into the NBA trade mills and hit the rumor boards on ESPN.com and Sports Illustrated’s FanNation. The NBA is on notice: the Bucks are looking to trade.

But what do Bucks fans think of trading leading scorer and one-time All-Star Redd to the Cavaliers?

To be brutally blunt, some of the reaction has been brutal and blunt. In fact, terrible things have been said about Lebron’s supporting cast in Cleveland. I can only imagine what Bucks fans think of players on teams that didn’t play in the 2007 NBA Finals or push the Celtics to seven games in this year’s Eastern Conference semifinals.

Other fans have been supportive, even reasonable, while others are naturally skeptical. If there is any concensus it’s that the Bucks might be able to find a team that can offer more player value in a trade for Redd than Cleveland(say, Dallas and small forward Josh Howard). Generally, Bucks fans are more receptive if the Cavs 25-year-old big man, Anderson Varejao, is part of the deal.

A recurring theme is that Bucks fans are surprisingly difficult traders, given a roster that’s won 54 games in two seasons.

“Cavs fans, we aren’t good trading partners,” signs fan ReddBogutCharlieV to his posts at realgm.com. “Stop trying to make us such.”

Let’s review the anatomy of this Redd-to-Cleveland beast:

The trade centers on two players contracts: Michael Redd’s (3 years/$51 million/$15.8M next year) and veteran G-F Wally Szczerbiak‘s (one-year/$13.2M). Cleveland has other “expiring” contracts that when pieced together work with Redd’s, but let’s be realistic: There is almost no chance the Cavs would pay Redd and Szczerbiak a combined $29 million to suit up next year. Wally would come to the Bucks and his contract would expire at the end of next season, creating some salary cap relief, which the Bucks don’t have a dime of now.

What else do the Cavs have to offer the Bucks? Assuming Bucks GM John Hammond will want players who could at minimum join the Bucks rotation next season, two young players who played key roles in the Cavs run to the 2007 Finals stand out: Varejao and 21-year-old guard Daniel “Boobie” Gibson.

Gibson is a free agent, which would require a sign and trade deal. The Cavs are loathe to trade their sharpshooter, who made his mark during the run to the Finals. Gibson scored 31 points to eliminate Detroit in Game 6 of the conference finals last year. 

Varejao, a relentless 6’10” rebounder and tough defender, will be paid $6 million next year and has a player option for 2009-10, which means he could leave the Bucks in free agency unless Hammond makes the type of commitment Cleveland GM Danny Ferry refused to make. Things got ugly last year during Varejao’s contract negotiations, and Varejao is rumored to be on the trading block.

Varejao’s salary matches Dan Gadzuric’s 3-year/$20M, which the Bucks would love to trade anywhere they could.

Complicated?

Cleveland has the #19 pick in the draft, and that’s simple enough.


Let’s go first to our old friend, Bucks fan Al in Ohio:

“Unless the Bucks decide they really, really want Szczerbiak’s expiring contract (which to me means they decide to kind of write off next year, and look toward 2009-2010), I just don’t see where a Szczerbiak/Gibson/maybe Pavlovic? package makes the Bucks noticeably better. Let’s not forget: Gibson is not much of a PG. He’s a great shooter (although he’s even smaller than Mo) but in terms of PG skills, there’s nothing about him that really stands out.”


Daniel Gibson Detroit Game 6BobBoozerJinx:  Hold up, Al. Gibson’s not a point guard, he’s a shooting guard; and at 6’2″ Boobie’s taller than Mo (who really is kinda short). We’re not off to a very good start here.

RealGM Bucks forum moderator PaulPressey25:

“I have no problem sending Redd to Cleveland if he takes Gadz contract with him and we bring back [Varejao], #19, and Gibson, plus their salary deadweight.”


Bucks fan Europa on the realGM forum:

“It’s my hope that if Hammond can’t find a better deal for Redd than anything the Cavs can offer on their own that he just keeps him. I really don’t like the idea of giving Redd away.”


GlennInTampa on the JSOnline Bucks Blog:

“Gibson and Szczerbiak for Michael Redd? Loserville! Add Varejao and maybe. Maybe.”


jpaul34 on the Sportsbubbler fan forum:

“I don’t think Gibson, Szczerbiak and the 19th is anywhere near enough for Redd. I’d like to see how this group (the Bucks, with a couple of changes) reacts to playing for a new coach with a strong voice. I think the talent is there, but they definitely need direction.”


Jpaul blogs at The Scores Report, where he predicts that the Bucks will “give Redd, Mo, Yi and Bogut a half of a season to gel before making any major moves.”

Frank at Brewhoop:

“If the Bucks pull a salary dump of Redd then I’d have to get more than Wally World and Boobie Gibson — at the very least I’d want to add Varejao and Gadzuric into the mix plus some picks. Even then I’m not sure how compelling it is. Agent Dan Fegan would love having his clients Yi and Varejao battle for minutes, wouldn’t he?”




DAWG 13 On the JSOnline Bucks forum: 

“It’s amazing how many of you guys want to trade Redd. I’ve got nothing against it but lets face it, he’s by far and away our best player. If we trade him we need to get value, not role players as some have suggested. If properly coached Redd can be an allstar again. I’ll bet the people wanting to trade Redd also supported the Ray Allen trade, look how that worked out.”


BBJ:  Nope. The Ray Allen trade was a maniacal ploy by George Karl that, to this day, no one understands.

ReddBogutCharlieV on RealGM:

“Something revolved around Varejao and Gibson plus a pick. Or else we’ll have to get a third team involved.”


Isocleas2 on RealGM

“Bucks trade: Redd, Gadzuric – Cavs trade: Varejao, Wally, #19.  This trade is starting to grow on me. We shed salary, pick up a couple of good players in Varejao and the pick, and Wally’s expiring contract could possibly be used in a deadline trade.”


The Brewtown Beat sportsblog:

“First, I don’t want Boobie Gibson. The Bucks already have Mo Williams, and seem poised to add Eric Gordon with their 8th pick. That’s three undersized shooting guards if you’re counting at home. Sorry, but no thanks. I don’t want Wally Szczerbiak, but I realize we’ll need to bring back a large contract in return. That being said though, Cleveland is going to have to take some of our bad contracts, just as they expect us to do in return.”


BBJ:  That’s not very nice. That Bobby Simmons contract is really bad.

Smooth32, a Cavs fan, weighs in on RealGM:

“Don’t get too high on Boobie guys … The kid isn’t expected to go anywhere this summer. …Varejao is definitely available, as well as the expirings…  Everyone else is pretty much fair game but I think they would like to keep West, Smith and the #19 pick.”


BBJ:  If the Cavs get to keep Boobie, the Bucks get the # 19 pick. You can’t have it both ways Smooth.

Raferfenix on RealGM:

“Varejao will have a lot of value to a team that wants to commit to him long term — I’m not convinced that’s the Bucks as he’ll probably end up being overpaid, and especially considering he’d be a backup here. I don’t think Hammond would do that.”


love hoops on the Sportsbubbler fan forum

“I would hope Mr. Hammond wouldn’t even consider this trade with the Cavs. The only player they got is Lebron. Maybe trading CV to the Cavs, but not Redd; we can get more for him. … If we could get quality for quality, then maybe take a look at trade.”


Johnny Newman on Realgm:

“I say fold this topic up. We got enough bait to land us AK47 and Jermaine O’Neal. While keeping Bogut, Yi, Bell, Session. Good enough core and line up.”


BBJ:  Sorry Johnny, too early in the hand to fold. Did you say Andrei Kirilenko and Jermaine O’Neil?



NotYoAvgNBAFan on RealGM:

“Hogwash! What are you doing!? Redd is your major chip, you don’t trade him to a divisional rival for cow manure of a motley crew such as that!”


BBJ:  Reactions like this are the reason too many expiring contracts do not make for friendly trading. Cleveland’s got some manure, including former Bucks Damon Jones (2003-04) and Joe Smith (who asked to be traded out of Milwaukee in 2007), and Eric Snow (set to retire). “Dung!” barked nuttinbutta Big Dog balla party.

MontanaMan on JSOnline Bucks blog:

“I still would rather see Redd get traded to a team other than the Cavs. It’s too good for the Cavs and for Redd, but may not good enough for the Bucks (as compared to what it can do for the Cavs). … If they included Varejao, Gibson, and a draft pick, and take Gadzuric and his contract away, then I would say it’s very good for the Bucks.


Coolhandluke121 on RealGM:

“West, Varejao, Pavlovic, #19, and some expiring deals have solid value. But for the me the Cavs would have to sweeten the deal by also taking Gadz’s terrible contract and throwing in their 2011 draft pick, which could be top-5 if Lebron leaves. Which he may want to do if the Cavs are paying Redd and Gadz a combined $26 mill starting in 2011. I would give up Redd for a deal like that for the simple reason that Redd is not all that hard to replace. To me, it’s not about whether it’s equal value.”


BBJ:  What it does seem to be about is whether Bucks fans want to trade Redd or not. There are Bucks fans who have not/will not renew their ticket packages if Michael Redd is on the team. Others would trade him for a case of beer and a Bob Boozer Jinx subscription. Still others think he deserves a sixth shot at winning in Milwaukee as a starter.

Bucks fans didn’t just begin talking about trading Redd to Cleveland with the start of the Paint Cleveland Redd ’08 campaign. It came up before the trading deadline this year. During the Cavs 1st round playoff series with the Wizards, I proposed a trade here with that phone call to Lebron (he still hasn’t changed his cell phone number, believe it or not).

About ten days later it came up on RealGM. The Cavs had dropped Game 1 of the East semifinals to Boston. The question on the forum: What could the Cavs offer the Bucks in trades for Mo Williams or Redd?

Paulpressey25:

“Mo for Varejao and Gibson. Redd for Varajao/Gibson/Cav’s 2008 #1/Wally as filler.”


DrugBust:

“Redd for Wally and #19, and a 2010 pick works for me.”


Sigra:

“Varejao, Pavlovic, Smith and their pick for Redd works for me.”


Luke 23:

“I say this in all seriousness that the only player on the Cavs I would actually covet on the Bucks is LeBron. The rest of their roster is just yuck. I can’t even think of a deal for either off the top of my head, considering the Cavs pick 19th, would want a higher pick than that.”


Dow Jones:

“I guess the issue is whether or not you want to get rid of Mo and/or Redd. If you don’t, then there is nothing that the Cavs could do. If you do, I think Cleveland is one of the few teams that would want to make a deal.

“I don’t really see how the Bucks could get much value for Redd or Mo. I know [there is] talk about a [Josh] Howard for Redd swap, but that type of deal doesn’t make sense for Dallas.  What other deals are out there for Redd and Mo that Milwaukee fans would consider?”