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Demetri Inembolidis

Robinson duncanBeing an NBA fan in a small or mid-market has its challenges. In the past three years, we have seen LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony leave their franchises in less-than-stellar markets for those with warm weather, bright lights or no income tax. The NBA is a star-driven league and the best teams tend to have the big-name players. Teams that do not have the better players tend to be bad. This is not a by-product of teams intentionally losing in an attempt to land the star player. This is as simple as bad teams will lose more games than their rivals that are good. It is also as simple as bad teams typically being those without the players of high-quality. I wish more people would understand this simple concept.

It does not sit well with me that the network that is responsible for reporting the news also plays a major role in creating it. It is unsettling that ESPN's Truehoop Network is devoting most of their material to changing the NBA draft lottery. Their main writer, Henry Abbott is quite outspoken in his disdain over the lottery. He believes that it rewards losing. Abbott also believes that it doesn't bode well for the culture of the NBA when teams like the Bobcats are mocked for signing Al Jefferson and "being too good" to secure a top 5 pick in the upcoming draft. Henry Abbott is an intelligent writer who is smart enough to understand the nuances of the NBA. He should know better than to claim that teams are intentionally trying to lose. He should also know better than to claim that huge changes need to be made in order to stop this problem.


Demetri Inembolidis

clevelandcliniccourts 101008 02There seems to be some excitement over the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time in four years. Nobody expects the Cavs to get out of the first round, let alone win the go on a deep playoff run. But just about everybody nationally and locally expects the team to make the postseason for the first time in years. The Cavs have reloaded their roster by signing Jarrett Jack, Andrew Bynum and Earl Clark. They drafted Anthony Bennett first overall and were fortunate enough to have Sergey Karasev fall to them at 19. Karasev is a work in progress, but many people expected the Cavs to have to move up in the draft to pick him. Last but not least, they drafted Carrick Felix to hopefully be a 3 and D guy off the bench. It is unlikely that all three of these players will work out for the Wine and Gold, but they should at least be able to get some rotation players out of the draft that was held in June.

Luckily for Cleveland, they will not solely rely on the draft and free agency to make a playoff run this year. There should be enough internal growth for them to be a borderline playoff team. Combine that with the improvement that Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller should show and you have a playoff team.

Some of the young players on the roster were more NBA-ready than others. While some of them need a lot of work and improvement, every player on the team has certain areas that they can improve in. I will outline what some of the players need to focus on this off season in the next few paragraphs.


Erik Cassano

001 kyrie armsWhere have we heard this before?

The Cavaliers’ franchise player is cornered on the subject of his future by a press corps eager to stoke the flames of intrigue by further-moistening the already-sweaty palms of a fan base that knows “fate” as the filthiest of four-letter words.

The player does nothing to allay the anxiety of the fans. He plays it coy, sidestepping the question with ambiguous generalities, such as: “I’m only focused on right now. I’ll worry about the future when it gets here.”

LeBron James tap-danced like that for seven years as a Cav. He now plays for the Miami Heat. Kyrie Irving tried on his tap shoes this past Saturday when reporters questioned him on his future plans at a basketball camp he was conducting in Independence.

Irving can sign a max extension next summer – five years and about $80 million – and the Cavs will almost certainly offer it to him. The only reason “almost” is even worth discussing is due to any unforeseen catastrophic injuries that could threaten his career, life-altering criminal charges or an irreconcilable falling-out with Cavs management. The statistical equivalent of being flattened by the remnants of a satellite falling to Earth, but you at least have to put it on the table.

In other words, he’s getting the offer. Now, whether he’ll accept that offer?

“Right now I’m a Cavalier,” he told the assembled reporters. “This is where I am. All that future stuff, I’m not really worried about. I’m living in the moment right now and I’m just trying to get better with the teammates I have now and make the playoffs for Cleveland. That’s the only thing I can do right now is give it my all as it stands right now and that future stuff, I’m not really worried about it.”

When you read it, the Cleveland parts of your mind start to squirm. You see all the negative space around the words – everything that wasn’t said.

Has he been taking advice from LeBron? Is he planning to hook up with LeBron? Is he planning to hook up with LeBron in a place other than Cleveland? Is Kyrie going to be another burgeoning superstar who ditches Cleveland right as he’s rounding into championship form?



Calling all whack-jobs, nutcases, and NBA conspiracy theorists, there’s a secret plot that everyone is failing to see, and it involves none other than the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Everyone loves ripping on David Stern. They love poking holes in his NBA, saying that the playoffs are fixed, that the refs are bribed to influence games, that the lottery is rigged, that the players collude to form their own super teams, etc. etc. The fact is David Stern has built up the NBA to a point that wouldn’t have been deemed possible when he took over as commissioner in 1984.

That’s not to dismiss the accusations. Maybe David Stern is guilty of executing all of these schemes to make his league rise into the upper echelon of popularity. There are certainly cases to be made, and evidence to point to all of these things being true.

The topics listed above are only the biggest conspiracies that are whispered about by NBA fans, but perhaps there are more than just these. David Stern wanted to make the NBA popular around the entire world, which has been accomplished, possibly to the credit of the larger, internal plots, but there could also be smaller-scale plans to increase the NBA’s popularity from region-to-region, from city-to-city.


John Hnat

andrew-bynum-cavaliers-sixersIt’s a different Cavs team this morning.  Last night, after several days of heated speculation, the Wine and Gold signed Andrew Bynum to a two-year contract potentially worth $24.5 million.

What does this move tell us about the team’s future?  Plenty:


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