LeBron James meets the final two suitors for his free-agent services this morning, and on his way in, the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers have made it very clear that they would like him to stick around for a few more, well, careers.
Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer is outside the meetings and reporting on Twitter from the scene:
“There are hundreds of Cavs fans in downtown with
team-provided signs lining street to meeting. Outside building fans
chanting ‘Noah sucks’
“Cavs just arrived in van & SUV. Fans threw
powder in air over cars as they entered garage. It’s a scene.”
But can you blame them? There’s a lot of talk about this being a “don’t-lose” situation for the Cavs. As in, the city and fanbase would be devastated if he left. But they genuinely love this player. He’s from Akron just up the road. He represents a true Ohio superstar, and those don’t come around hardly ever in this day and age.
But even further, this whole situation is more than just about a player. It’s about Cleveland not wanting to be the bride’s maid, again. About them not wanting to be passed up for a bigger market. They have terrific fans there (even if historically they haven’t supported the Cavs) and they want to show James that there are more important things than just fashion line deals and Pat Riley’s promises.
If the Chicago fans will always love Jordan, and the Knicks fans will always judge harshly because it’s New York, and the Miami fans are at the beach, Cleveland wants to show James that no one will ever love him the way they love him. As a native son, as their icon, as their star.
But still. Powder? Really? Really?!
The Cavaliers are 2-1, but their starting lineups have been outscored by 19 points in 32 minutes. Dwyane Wade has been so bad as the starting shooting guard, his struggles have overshadowed J.R. Smith‘s miserable play as the backup.
But at least Wade volunteered a solution to this predictable problem.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Dwyane Wade is headed for the Cavaliers’ bench at his own request and J.R. Smith is returning to the starting lineup.
Wade, 35, a 12-time All-Star who struggled in his first three games with Cleveland, asked coach Tyronn Lue to make the change, Lue said. But this wasn’t exactly Wade’s idea, either.
Lue told him when he signed with the Cavs Sept. 27 that the second unit may be the best fit for him.
“I just decided, earlier than later, just to get to the unit where I’d be more comfortable in and can probably better with this team in that lineup,” Wade said. “Why wait? Three games in, why wait? Wanted to get in there with those guys.”
Cleveland’s starting lineup needs more shooting and defense around LeBron James – especially with Derrick Rose starting over an injured Isaiah Thomas (though Rose is out a couple games with his own ankle injury). Smith provides that.
Bench-heavy units need more playmaking. Wade provides that.
This was a tricky situation given Wade’s status as a future Hall of Famer and friendship with LeBron. Whether Wade simply suggested the change or Lue is trying to give Wade public credit after coaxing it behind the scenes, the result is the same.
The Cavs can now use their most logical rotation, and they should be better for it.
Eric Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade from the Suns before the season then tweeted yesterday:
After sending home Bledsoe today, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained his rationale:
The hair salon! What a wonderful excuse.
Is it true? I’m not going to call Bledsoe a liar. It might be.
It’s also probably true that Bledsoe isn’t long for Phoenix.
In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.
This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.
At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.
Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.
But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.
Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.
But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.
Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.
Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:
“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”
The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.
There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.
But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.
Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.