3rd & Long: It's July Already?

Welcome to the first installment of 3rd & Long, a new weekly series that will feature the "big 3" Cleveland teams. This is where we will focus on the high's and low's for the Cavs, Browns and Indians all in one spot.

Let's start with the Cavs, since they are the biggest news makers in this town.

Ryan: Danny Ferry should have Charlie Villanueva's phone number on speed dial by now as Free Agent Season 2009 opened last night. In a surprise move, the Bucks decided not to submit an offer for Charlie V's services making him an Unrestriced Free Agent. What does this mean for the Cavs? Well, it all depends on how bad CV wants to play here and how much he's willing to accept. The Cavs could offer him their Mid Level Exception, which maxes out at about $5.8 million. To put that into perspective, CV made about $3 million last year. Will a 1 year deal with a hefty raise and a chance to win a championship playing with LeBron and Shaq be enough to make that happen? It probably will if Danny Ferry decides to go that route. I hope he does.

Ben: Free agency has begun and i'm curious to see what Ferry does. It's obvious we need to sign a PF that can strech the court and a SG or SF with a little bit of size to match up with other teams bigger players. I'd really like to see Matt Barnes in a Cavaliers uniform but i'm not as high on Villanueva as most people are. Barnes defense is suspect, but in his defense he's played for Phoenix and Golden State the last three years and neither of those teams play very much defense. I like the Shaq trade, we got him for nothing so even if he doesn't play as well as we'd all like, i'll gurantee he'll do more for this team than Ben Wallace or Sasha would of. My dark horse pick up is a sign and trade for Artest!

Ryan: I'm starting to get excited for football season again and I have no idea why. Well, I know why - because it's the Browns and they haven't lost a game in months, but there are so many questions heading into this season that I have no idea what to expect. I'm looking at this time as the calm before the QB storm. Pretty soon the media will be engulfed in the Browns QB battle between Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. I have no doubt that Quinn will easily win the starting job as Derek Anderson has been horrible in the pre season every year - he couldn't even beat out Charlie Frye in 2007. If the season gets closer and the Browns get a decent offer for Anderson, I would pull the trigger. Mangini got his backup QB in Brett Ratliff. This is Quinn's team, finally. On defense, I have no idea what to expect but if we at least TRY to pressure the QB once in a while I will be happy.

Ben: I hate the Steelers! I'm ready for football season to start. It's amazing how much i look forward to Cleveland football when i know how terrible we've been in the past. Every year i think it will get better and i'm usually let down, but once again i haven't learned my lesson. I'm excited about our defense going into next year. We picked up a lot of good role players and i think Rob Ryan will get the best out of our guys and run a more aggresive defense than we've seen lately.

Ryan: This team is lost and I'm not sure if they can be found at this point. It's hard to be a baseball fan in a small market when your team is struggling like this. The Indians have been built in such a way that the franchise's success has become completely dependent on young, inexperienced players overachieving. When that happens, you get the 2007 Indians. It's 2009 and this team needs a massive overhaul in the front office.

Ben: I have a feeling that Cliff Lee will be gone pretty soon, and i don't agree with it. There is no reason to trade our best players just because this season is done. Fire Wedge! If that doesn't work next year then go ahead and rebuild, AGAIN. We've got to give this team a chance, i think there is a lot of talent here, give Cliff, Victor, Grady and Travis a shot with a real coach and see what they can do. Is Mike Hargrove ready to come out of retirement?


Shaq-Fu at The Q! Cavaliers Land O'Neal

The worst kept secret in the NBA's rumor mill finally became a reality early this morning when Cavs GM Danny Ferry and his former Cleveland teammate and current Phoenix Suns GM Steve Kerr agreed in principal to a deal that sends Shaq to the Cavs and Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, the #46 pick and $500,00 to the Suns.

This exact deal reportedly almost happened last February at the trade deadline but the Suns preferred Wally Szczerbiak's expiring contract over Ben Wallace's which had one more year left on it. There was talk earlier this month that the Suns were looking for talent and not just cap relief and were requesting Delonte West be added to the deal. This would have been a deal breaker for the Cavs as they know Delonte is a proven, young defensive minded player who can create his own shot. There aren't many of those types on the current Cleveland roster, if you haven't noticed yet. Ferry was determined to get the best deal with the Sasha/Wallace package and he went out and made the biggest splash he could have possibly made.

This trade could do wonders for both teams as Phoenix is now able to save a ton of money without having to enter complete rebuilding mode and will have an extra draft pick to help them get younger tonight and with all of that money coming off the books next season they may be players in the Free Agency Frenzy of 2010. Or they may opt to start building a younger core of players and stay under the luxury tax.

Even though Shaq is looking for a new 2 or 3 year deal he will probably only be a 1 year rental. He may be the most valuable 1 year rental in the history of the NBA as the existence of the entire franchise hangs in the balance with the anticipated free agency of LeBron James drawing closer by the day. After I got word of the trade early this morning I turned on ESPN Radio to hear the national reaction and Chris Broussard said that this might be enough to entice LeBron to sign an extension this summer. According to Broussard, LeBron signing an extension would make Cleveland a valuable destination for 2010 free agents. Not only that, but it would put several members of the New York media out of work as the constant LeBron-to-NYC buzz would finally come to an end.

People who are hating on this trade, if they exist, need to realize that Cleveland got Shaq for basically nothing. Ben Wallace hasn't been Ben Wallace since 2004 and Sasha Pavlovic has never lived up to his potential and has given the Cavs very inconsistent production the past two seasons. It's a shame that Sasha never established himself with the Cavs because he has the size that the Cavs are looking for in a small forward but his mental lapses always seemed to get in the way of his progress. Wallace gave us good minutes while he was here and Cleveland fans should have nothing but respect for him as he gave it all he had and played through nagging injuries. My fondest memory of Ben as a Cavalier may very well be his first game as a Cavalier when he made his presence known immediately by scoring a layup then turning around and stealing the ensuing inbounds pass and scoring again. Unfortunately, his body started breaking down fast and his passion started to do the same. Phoenix may be able to work a buy out if Wallace decides to retire as he hinted to after the Eastern Conference Finals.

In the end, Danny Ferry was able to get the player he wanted without giving up more than he wanted in the deal. While he got the big fish ("The Big Walleye" ??) that he wanted, he may not be done dealing. With the draft only hours away, another splash will prove just how serious Ferry and the Cavs are about winning a championship in 2010.

edit: The Cavs gave up the 2010 second round pick not the 2009 #46 pick.


Wake Me Up When September Comes

Camp opens August 1st, which is only 45 days away and we here at The Cleveland Sports Flow love our football. Since the Indians suck we decided to join together and touch on a couple things that are going on with the Browns.

QB situation
Never one to shy away from drama, Mangini appears ready to let this thing simmer all summer and even possibly into the pre-season. Based on last season alone, my vote goes to Quinn. I’m excited about Brady Quinn, not Derek Anderson. We know about Derek Anderson. We know that he has a huge arm and can stretch the field but his decision making and leadership skills are questionable. Decision making and leadership are the two things that you must have in your franchise quarterback. A strong arm is a plus, but only if it comes with a side of decision making and leadership.

Brady Quinn basically got the shaft last season when Romeo Crennel refused to replace a struggling and frustrated Anderson when it was obvious that it was Quinn’s time. When finally given his chance, Quinn showed some potential but it was short lived of course because he broke a finger on his throwing hand. I have a hunch that Derek Anderson will be traded before the season opener in September. It could be earlier if another team's starting quarterback gets hurt and a quick replacement is needed. We're guessing a 2nd or 3rd round draft choice will get it done, depending on how desperate they might be.

I hope this is the last quarterback competition in Cleveland for a long time. If there is one position on a football team that should be set before training camp it’s the quarterback. Practice Practice Practice. How can a quarterback get in sync with his team if he’s splitting reps with another quarterback? Wouldn’t you want one guy getting most of the reps with the first string offense? This is Brady’s year and it's his time to shine. He's going to need some time to develop and the majority of Cleveland fans have shown nothing but love for him so I would bet most fans believe he is worth waiting for as long as he makes good decisions and gets better each week.

Donte Stallworth
The thinking in Berea was that Stallworth would not be available this season so the Browns went out and stocked up on a both young and veteran wideouts. Depending on the length of his impending suspension by the commissioner, Stallworth could be eligible to play at some point this season. The question that I am asking is how much the Browns will want him if he’s eligible to play. Will they release him and try to recoup the roster bonus they just paid him? Hopefully this gets resolved without creating a distraction. Stallworth is injury prone and has been known to take plays off. There's no way the new Browns regime is comfortable with his contract. Thanks Phil Savage.

Coach Mangini
First things first. Thank god we didn’t hire Josh McDaniels. Boy has he really screwed any chances of Denver winning 3 games this year. When we hired Mangini I was a little skeptical, but I like him more and more each day. He’s organized, opinionated, knowledgeable, and very detailed. This Browns team needs to be whipped back into shape after being part of the Country Club that Romeo and Co. ran.

It’s hard to judge a first year head coach in June. From what we’ve seen, Mangini is a coach who knows what he wants. He brought in several of his former players to help spread the gospel and make sure everybody understand what exactly it is that he wants. The Browns might not be a playoff team this season but it won’t be because of a lack of discipline or too many mental mistakes like in years past. Personally, I like what Mangini has done in Berea. Let’s see how it translates to the field.

Biggest rookie impact
Brian Robiskie. He was thought by most scouts to be the most NFL ready receiver in this years draft. He runs precise routes and has great hands, which should put him in a spot to be the Browns #2 receiver. He’s not the biggest and he’s not the fastest WR that we have but he can catch the ball. You would be hard pressed to find a WR in the draft who had more NFL experience than Robiskie after having been around the league for years with his dad/NFL coach, Terry.

Shaun Smith
He will be cut before the start of the season. Coach won’t put up with his mouth and the fans hate him because he punched Brady. Nobody puts Brady in a corner. Plus we now have half of the Jets D-linemen so we don’t need him. Mangini is looking for character. Smith is a character, but not the right kind.

Record prediction
I think we can end up 8-8. This team has some talent. If we can stay healthy I think Mangini will turn things around quickly. The record this season is important, but building consistency is much more important. Mangini's Jets faired well in his first season on the job finishing 10-6 in 2006 but took a dip in his second season as head coach going 4-12 in 2007. Although the Jets finished 9-7 under Mangini in 2008, the Jets ownership felt the need to make a change. Hopefully that moves benefits the Browns in the long run.


Antawn Jamison Anyone?

Today’s rumor? Antawn Jamison. Brought to you by draftexpress.com.
-While plenty of media outlets are speculating about a potential deal between Cleveland and Phoenix, we’ve heard some talk of a possible trade between Cleveland and Washington actually. The deal would essentially be a cost-cutting move for the Wizards, sending Antawn Jamison and filler (Mike James) to the Cavs for Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. Wallace seems likely to retire, and Pavlovic is on a non-guaranteed contract for next season. It’s not clear whether the Wizards would need to surrender the #5 pick. Jamison is attractive to the Cavs since he’s exactly the type of combo forward they were missing to match up with Orlando’s Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu.
This is by far my favorite one yet. I hate the Rasheed Wallace rumor. I could live with the Shaq trade, accept now I’m hearing Shaq wants a 2-year extension and I don’t like that idea.

But Antawn Jamison? Yes he’s old, he just turned 33 and has 3 years left on his contract, but who cares? Antawn seems to be getting better every year. Last season he averaged 22.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. That would make him the Cavs leading rebounder and second in points per game. Lets face it the Cavs biggest need going into the off-season is a PF and Antawn is a great PF.

The only downside to this trade is the 3-year contract Jamison has. Could his contract potentially block the Cavs from being able to sign a Chris Bosh type of player in 2010 if LBJ sticks around? Possibly, but we need to win now, while we know Lebron is going to be here.

If we could get Shaq and his 1-year deal i would take that trade over Antawn and his 3-year deal. But if Shaq is going to demand a 2-year extension, it comes down to the fact that Antawns contract isn't worth as much money and i think you'd get more production out of him than Shaq over the course of 3 years.

I wouldn't be thrilled about getting the 5th pick in the draft. The value in this draft isn't very good in my opinion. Getting that pick would only add more money to our salary cap that we don't need.

Tomorrows rumor predictions, Hedo or Boozer.

photo credit: si.com


Shaq Crackle and Pop

We might as well keep going with the rumors. It seems to be the trend around the Cleveland Sports Flow.

The latest rumor has the Cavs trading for Shaq Fu or if traded to Cleveland, he could become know as The Big Walleye or Shaq Magnum.

Last winter these same rumors were floating around and Danny Ferry did say there were talks with Phoenix but both sides were never close on working something out. The deal breaker was Delonte West. Phoenix wanted him and Ferry wouldn’t consider trading his starting SG.

What it comes down to is Phoenix is in salary cap hell and they are rumored to be trying to unload Amare Stoudamire and Shaq.

I would have to imagine they would want some young talent in exchange for Shaq. As much as I would like to think we could give them Ben Wallace and Sasha, we all know that’s not possible. The money adds up but chances are they'll still want Delonte and unless we plan on signing a free agent guard I don’t see this trade happening because Boobie Gibson is not the man.

My plan would be to get Shaq. If Phoenix wants Delonte, give him to them, along with Big Ben. We can sign a free agent point guard and move Mo to the SG position. I don’t see any free agents at the SG position that I like accept Trevor Ariza. I would like to see Andre Miller, Jason Kidd, or Mike Bibby in a Cavs uniform.

Shaq is due $20 next season and we still have Big Z on the roster. With both Shaq and Z being old it would be an ideal situation for them to split time at center. Also both players will be free agents in 2010 so we don’t have to worry about extra money on the books in that crucial free agent year.


Fire Wedge

“RESPECT THE GAME” Words Cleveland Indians Manager Eric Wedge says repeatedly.

“RESPECT THE GAME” Words athletes should live by.

“RESPECT THE GAME” Something Shapiro should do and FIRE WEDGE!

I’m done. I’ve backed Wedge for six years now and he’s done nothing but underachieve and let Cleveland fans down. Somebody needs to be held responsible for the Indians failures and Wedge is that someone.

One of Wedges’ biggest faults is his inability to win early in the season.

Now in his seventh season, Wedge has led his team to just one winning record after the first 20 games in a season. And to make it worse, his teams are a combined 29-41 for the first 10 games in a season. That’s a wimpy .414 winning percentage.

The slow starts are exhausting and they destroy team chemistry. It’s always easier to win games when you start off with an early lead, and it’s the same for the season.

I’m sure everybody remembers Wedges' one and only playoff experience. The Indians knocked the Yankees out (which is definitely the highlight of Wedges' stay in Cleveland) but what he did next is what I remember. He blew a 3-1 series lead against the Red Sox in the ALCS, but it didn’t stop there. The next season the Indians followed up with an 81-81 record. They went from being one of the best teams in the league to a .500 team. The way he lost in his only playoff appearance is terrible but the way he followed up the next season is just un-excusable.

I believe its time to give Joel Skinner a shot at fixing this season before its too late. Something has to be done and Wedge isn’t going to do it. Step up to the plate Mr. Shapiro, I know he’s your buddy, but it’s time for Wedge to go. You’ve given him plenty of talent to work with for the past 6 seasons and he’s done nothing with it. When will Wedge be held accountable?


Sam Amico Just Got Famous

By the end of the day every major sports network, radio show, web forum, chat room, twitter, facebook, myspace and elderly person at the grocery store will be talking about Sam Amico's story about the Cavs front office being divided over whether to fire Mike Brown or not.

Who is Sam Amico? He's a beat writer who follows the Cavs, apparently. He's not a 15 year old kid writing a blog from his parents basement. Sam is well known to other members of the Cleveland media and it would be a surprise if he somehow fabricated this story or used bad sources.

In his column, Amico says that "sources close to the situation" have told him that Dan Gilbert is ready to upgrade the coaching staff while Danny Ferry is still in Mike Brown's corner. It's easy to understand the pressure being felt by the Cavs front office to make another run at the NBA championship in 2010 before LeBron James can become a free agent but this would sure be a strange way to go about it.

Another interesting development from Amico's column is the possibility of the Cavs prying Pat Riley away from the Heat to replace Mike Brown. This is the same Pat Riley who has possibly the best job in the world as president and final decision maker of the Miami Heat. Would Riley be willing to give up his job in South Beach to come to Cleveland to coach LeBron? It's not like he's starving for some star power in South Beach with Dwayne Wade on the roster through 2010. Why would any coach in his right mind agree to coach the Cavs when the possibility that LeBron James will leave after next season still very real?

Brian Windhorst was quick to respond to these rumors this morning with his take on Cleveland.com claiming that these rumors are based on "inaccuracies and flawed logic" and according to several of his sources within the organization these reports are false. Brian is the most wired and tuned-in media member in the world when it comes to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Any rumors that come from a source not named Brian Windhorst should be taken with a grain or two of salt, to say the least.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News writes a column titled Knicks Nation and has already put the typical New York media spin on this story by pondering what effect it will have on LeBron's inevitable move to New York after next season. Isola claims that Pat Riley's arrival in Cleveland would hurt the Knicks' chances of signing LeBron James in 2010.

"How does Brown's job status impact the Knicks? If Cavs owner Dan Gilbert were to decide to make a big, bold coaching move, that would certainly enhance the club's chances of re-signing LeBron James."

Apparently this is the kind of stuff we can expect to come from the New York media machine for the next several months. Forget the fact that LeBron has finally bought in to Mike Brown's defensive philosophy and forget about the kind of message it would send to the league's MVP by firing the most successful coach in franchise history right after the most successful season in franchise history. Sure, Mike Brown was out coached by Stan Van Gundy in the ECF and didn't make the best adjustments but I'm not sure it would have mattered either way. Orlando's size and strengths created the worst possible matchups that the Cavs could have possibly gone up against. When you combine that with the fact that the Magic absolutely shot the lights out against us it's not hard to see why the Cavs are playing golf right now. We just didn't have enough firepower. Who's fault is that?

Not Mike Brown's.

Photo credit: Joshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer


Calling BS on Sheed Rumors

I’ve made it clear that I’m not interested in Rasheed Wallace one bit, and the more I look into the rumor about the Cavs being in negotiations with him, the more I realize it’s B.S. A guy named J. Gamble from Slam Online reported it last week, and every media source ran with it. Here is what he said,

"My sources say that Rasheed Wallace and the Cavs are beginning talks on a two-year deal worth about $10 million per for the services of the former Piston. The move and negotiations were inspired by Dwight Howard’s dominant performance over Cleveland’s big men in the Eastern Conference Finals. And Wallace will be brought in for that very purpose, to neutralize Dwight Howard next season and help the Cavs get over the hump. This supports what we previously reported about what it will take for Sheed to come back next year. "

"If this signing falls through, I’m hearing that Cleveland may do a sign and trade with the Clippers for Zach Randolph, which certainly makes sense for the Clippers since they are taking Blake Griffin No. 1 overall. "

Now I can’t exactly dispute the fact that Cleveland could be breaking the rules by talking to a player before he is a free agent, I’m sure it happens frequently. My guess is this guy named J. Gamble is pulling this story straight from his butt, trying to make a name for himself. It is only the second article he’s written for Slam Online.

The part that really points to B.S. for me is the part about Zach Randolph. First, you can’t sign and trade a player unless he's a free agent, and Zack Randolph is not a free agent. He has 2 years left on his contract worth more than $33 million. And second, I don't see the Cavs taking on that kind of money, especially when roughly 18 of that $33 million is due in 2010.


Please No Rasheed

Six words came to mind when I heard the rumor about Rasheed coming to Cleveland. WHO COMES UP WITH THIS CRAP? Seriously, why would we want the crybaby of all crybabies on this team? If there is one guy in the league that I can’t stand, it’s Sheed, closely followed by Kevin Garnett, but that’s another story. Sheed would bring nothing to this team, and in a survey I made up 80% of basketball fans cant stand him either.

He wouldn’t bring youth he’s 35 and getting slower and lazier by the day. He has a terrible attitude so he doesn’t bring leadership or a positive vibe. His field goal percentage and points per game have been in a steady decline the last couple of seasons. And most importantly he’s Sheed.

There are so many other options out there if the main goal is finding someone that can keep Dwight Howard in check next season. It’s rumored that The Raptors are privately acknowledging that they might need to trade Bosh, or risk losing him as a free agent in 2010. Or how about Shaq, he’s apparently on the trading block. I think free agent Chris Andersen could probably play solid defense against Howard. I'd even take a chance on Jermaine O'Neal.

Rasheed is not the answer and he shouldn’t even be thought of as part of the solution. If the Cavs are going to win next year, $10 million a year for 2 years for Rasheed would be a waste of money and space on the roster.


Top 5 Unrestricted Free Agent Targets For Cleveland

Ron Artest – A true lock down defender. At 6’7” he’s really a SF but can play PF and create a lot of mismatches for opposing teams. Ron Artest is at the top of my list of free agents. Despite his past troubles, he seems to of matured a lot over the last couple of years. Last season he averaged 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

Chris Andersen – The Birdman. A 6’10” F/C, would be an excellent replacement for Anderson Varejao or Ben Wallace. He is 30 but has only played in the league for 6 seasons due to a drug suspension. The Birdman brings a lot of energy to the defensive side of the ball, would be a quick fan favorite here in Cleveland. Last season he averaged 20.6 minutes, 6.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game.

Trevor Ariza – A 23 year old 6’7” SF that has really shown what he’s capable of in the playoffs this year. Could be a solid back up for LBJ. Ariza is a great defender and even though his jumper could use a little work he couldn't be any worse than Sasha. Last year he averaged 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

Matt Barnes – Could be a solid back up for LBJ or help defend against bigger SG’s in the league. Barnes is a 6’7” SF but is also able to play shooting guard. He made the league minimum last year so he could probably be attained for cheap. Last year he averaged 10.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

Lamar Odom – I love his versatility. Lamar is a 6’10” PF that can dribble the ball coast to coast and finish strong at the rim or pull up short and finess it in. He can also play the SF position with ease. But he does have his knocks too, the main one being he doesn’t show up for every game. Last year he averaged 11.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

5 Reasons Why The Cavs Should Sign Ron Artest

Ron Artest used to be famous for his role in The Malice at the Palace in which he portrayed a young and misguided male from the projects with a short fuse and an appetite for destruction. Fast forward to 2009 and Ron Artest is still famous for what happened on that crazy night in Detroit in 2004 but he decided somewhere along the way not to let that moment define his entire career.

Despite his past transgressions, not many people will argue the fact that Ron Artest is still a difference maker. His passion for the game and the intensity he brings each night are matched by only few and those are just a few of the intangibles that would make him an excellent addition to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Here are 5 reasons why the Cleveland Cavaliers should sign Ron Artest this summer:

#5: Artest is a difference maker when his mind is in the right place.

The Kings finished the 2005-2006 regular season with a 44–38 record and went 20–9 after the All-Star break with Artest in the lineup, which was the second best post-All-Star break record that season. They went on to claim the 8th seed of the Western Conference playoffs, but were defeated by San Antonio 4-2 in the first round. The following season Artest got into trouble with the law for neglecting to care for his dogs. The Kings saw no choice but to trade him. They didn't make the playoffs in 2008 or 2009.

With the Rockets this season Artest averaged 17 ppg in over 35 minutes per game. He played a key role in the Rockets playoff run averaging 15+ ppg and 4 assists in a little over 37 minutes per game. His biggest contribution may have come on the defensive end trying to stop Kobe "3 rings" Bryant. More on that matchup later.

#4: Our backcourt is small. Really small.

At 6'1 and 6'3 respectively, Mo Williams and Delonte West are going to have their hands full covering even a medium-sized backcourt. When you combine that with Daniel Gibson and his 6'2 frame coming off the bench we are in trouble against teams with legitimate size in their backcourt such as Orlando. At 6'7, Sasha Pavlovic is really the only backcourt contributor with any size but his inconsistencies and non-guaranteed contract have made him expendable.

Despite the fact that Delonte West did a respectable job checking Hedo Turkoglu in the Conference Finals Orlando is going to be a very tall hurdle for the Cavs for the foreseeable future unless they add a player like Ron Artest who can shutdown tall players on the wing.

#3: Mike Brown has already established a relationship with Artest.

The most important factor in working with a player like Ron Artest is gaining his respect and his trust. In 2003 Mike Brown was hired by the Indiana Pacers as an Associate Head Coach. One of the players on that Pacers team was Ron Artest.

If Danny Ferry is truly interested in adding Ron Artest there is no doubt that he will ask Mike Brown for his input. This could be the deciding factor on whether or not the Cavs even make an offer. Brown has been through some good times and some tough times with Artest and his endorsement would echo loudly to Danny Ferry should the Cavs find themselves in position to make Artest a realistic offer for his services. Maybe Mike Brown saw too much "ghetto" in Ron Artest and he doesn't want to take a chance on exposing King James to a player with that kind of baggage. I doubt that's true. Mike Brown was actually the first person to enter the stands in Detroit to try to subdue Artest and protect him from the fans and himself.

#2: Artest is in Kobe's head.

Ok, maybe he's not completely in Black Mamba's head but he knows how to get his point across and he's not afraid to play physical with the second best player in the league.

These two players have developed an intense rivalry since Artest moved to the Left Coast in 2006. Even though he's no longer in the same state, Artest has still made it tough on Kobe including in the 2009 Conference Semi-Finals which included verbal exchanges that would sometimes last for what appeared to be an entire quarter. L.A. defeated Houston in 7 games but Kobe was never challenged against Denver the way he was when Artest was checking him.

Kobe vs. LeBron in the NBA Finals is going to happen eventually. You know it. They know it. Nike obviously knows it (or thought they did). With LeBron's pending free agency after next season it's very important that Danny Ferry swings for the fences and hits a homerun this offseason to give the Cavs a great chance to get past Boston and Orlando in the East and even L.A. in the Finals if the inevitable does indeed happen.

#1: If Ron Artest is wearing a Cavaliers jersey he won't be guarding LeBron James.

Nobody can stop The King but Ron Artest may be the very best at keeping LeBron in check. When the Cavs travelled to Houston on February 29 to take on the Rockets, LeBron was held to 21 points on 7-21 shooting in what was possibly his worst game of the season. Guess who was checking him that night: Ron Artest. Oh yeah, LeBron went the entire game without an assist.

It's not a matter of Artest being stronger or faster than LeBron but his physical nature and unwillingness to stop applying constant pressure seem to have an affect on James at times. To put it plainly, Artest doesn't get out of the way.

If there is any player on Cleveland's roster who can keep Ron's head in the game it's #23. Perimeter players love to play with a guy who can drive and kick and there are few players who draw as many defenders as LeBron James. Artest is a pretty good shooter from the oustide so he would get plenty of opportunities to score. With two of the NBA's very best defensive players in his lineup Mike Brown would be in basketball heaven.

Cavaliers Free Agents 09'

Ben Wallace recently made this statement to the Cleveland Plain Dealer;

“It isn't getting any easier for me. It is tough going out there every night with something hurting and not being able to give the effort you want to give. I love the game and respect the game too much to be going out there half-hearted."

If Big Ben does decide to retire I will graciously respect his decision. Unfortunately I just don’t see Wallace walking away from the $14 million owed to him next season. I could either see the Cavs offering him a buyout or trading his expiring contract. I would prefer getting something out of Wallace, some team will want his expiring contract. He is useless to the Cavs next season.

Zydrunas has an (ETO) which basically means he can terminate his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. This usually takes affect with players that think they can make more money elsewhere. Z has made it known that he doesn’t want to leave Cleveland, and I don’t blame him. He’s been through the good and the bad in his 10 years as a Cavalier. I’ll give Z one more year, but he’s not going to see 27 minutes a game anymore, he’ll be lucky to get 20 next season.

Anderson Varejao has a player option, and don’t be surprised to see him leave his $6.2 mil on the table and bolt for more money. After setting career highs in starts, points and field goal percentage he’ll test the free agency market again. I love the hustle and passion Andy brings to the game but he’s not a starter in this league. He makes the amount of money he should, and unless some team really reaches on him, I don’t see him making more money than he does now. Good-bye Andy, it was nice knowing you.

Wally Szczerbiak, Joe Smith, and Lorenzen Wright are all unrestricted free agents.

I like Wally and he said he wants to stay in Cleveland but if he thinks he’s going to make anywhere close to the $13.7 million he made last year he’s living in LaLa Land. If he can be re-signed for an $11 million three year deal, than I’m all for it.

Joe Smith was a solid contributor to this team the last two seasons, but with J.J. Hickson and Darnell Jackson coming along nicely, its time to say goodbye.
(photo courtesy of msnbc.com)


Orlando Lacks Sportsmanship

I for one am offended that Orlando didn’t let the Cavs win game 6 of the ECF. It show’s no sportsmanship or class on their part. How hard would it of been for them to miss some shots or turn the ball over and play lazy on defense? Why didn’t Orlando give Cleveland a chance to win? How selfish of Dwight Howard to put up 40 points and 14 rebounds? If that doesn’t scream poor sportsmanship, I don’t know what does.

I understand Orlando is a good team, and they all help out in the community. But what kind of example are they setting for the youth in this country? There are kids looking up to these guys and the Magic decide it’s a good idea to run up the score and rub it in the Cavs face. Is this what we want our kids to think sports are about? Winning?

I also can’t believe all the celebrating that went on after the game was over. The Magic should of just shook hands with the Cavaliers and walked into the locker room quietly. Instead they act like little kids and run around the court holding 1 finger up in the air, claiming to be #1. They purposely rub the victory in the Cavs faces. What ever happened to winning with grace? What ever happened to sportsmanship?

What are sports in this country coming to? Winning seems to be all that matters anymore. I don’t think we should keep score, everyone can be a winner.

Sounds ridiculous right.