Tag: Anderson Varejao

LeBron James

Report: LeBron ‘won’t hesitate to make the appropriate business decision,’ could leave Cleveland in free agency


Monday was not a fun day for the Cavaliers as they met the media following an embarrassing 23-point home loss to the dismal Detroit Pistons.

There was a report of a rift between management and head coach David Blatt, and a concern over whether or not he was reaching his players just 30 games into the season.

There was LeBron James, not exactly sounding super-convincing in coming to his coach’s defense.

Now, a report has emerged stating what was essentially unthinkable before the season began — that James would actually consider bolting Cleveland after just one year if things don’t work out as he envisioned.

From Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

James, who turns 30 today, has no intention of compromising his prime years playing for a sputtering organization. He can opt out of his contract at the end of the season and become a free agent.

Given the massive scrutiny he would endure if he departed Cleveland a second time, if his hand is forced, I’m told he won’t hesitate to make the appropriate business decision if it means bolting.

Of course, anything is possible. But logic would dictate that, to put it mildly, this is complete and utter nonsense.

James signed his two-year contract in Cleveland, which comes with it the ability to opt-out after this season, purely for financial reasons. The salary cap will skyrocket following the 2016 season thanks to the league’s shiny new broadcast rights deal, and if James had been locked into a long-term deal with the Cavaliers, his earning potential would have been limited significantly.

There’s little incentive for James to leave to play anywhere else. He has more power within the Cavaliers organization than he’d have with another franchise, and can use that to influence a head coaching hire if in fact Blatt is ultimately unable to get the most out of this season’s roster — one which had flaws from the jump, but is now more precarious than ever with Anderson Varejao lost for the season due to injury.

Kevin Love can bolt, too, and him leaving seems at least a little bit more likely, especially if he ends up being scapegoated as a key reason for a disappointing season.

But the reality is that it’s far too early to be talking about any of this.

There are problems with the Cavaliers, certainly. The effort and energy on the defensive end of the floor have been inconsistent at best, and James himself admitted to being in “chill mode” to start a recent win over the Magic. Despite it all, Cleveland has a record of 18-12 — not as good as expected, but just fine in the East, and only five-and-a-half games out of the Conference’s top spot.

If James chose Cleveland this past summer purely for basketball reasons, then it would be realistic to see him choosing to leave should this current season result in disaster. But remember what he wrote in the letter that was published explaining the move once it was finalized.

“But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.”

The fact that LeBron leaned so heavily on the homecoming angle when he made his return to Cleveland makes the notion of leaving now, after just one potentially difficult season, virtually impossible to envision.

Report: Can coach David Blatt reach Cavaliers? Management isn’t so sure.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Miami Heat

Here is the most disturbing part of the Cavaliers’ blowout, 23-point home loss to Detroit (and that is not an easy choice):

They led by 15 midway through the second quarter, they had this game in hand, then they just took their foot off the gas and thought they could coast in, and this team is not good enough to do that. They are not a strong defensive team at all, especially without Anderson Varejao for the season, they cannot stop bringing top effort. Especially with Kyrie Irving out.

How much of that falls to coach David Blatt? Can he reach this team? Some in the Cavaliers organization are starting to ask that question, reports Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that there is rising concern in team circles about the level of response Blatt is getting on the floor, with Blatt himself acknowledging that the Cavaliers “lost our energy and we lost our competitiveness” in Sunday night’s embarrassing home loss to Detroit….

But the Cavs’ effort level, especially defensively, is eroding noticeably, raising the volume on questions about just how much the locker room is listening to the 55-year-old Boston native, who has enjoyed tremendous success internationally but still began this season as a relative unknown to NBA players….

Whispers about the lack of attention various Cavs players are paying to Blatt during some timeout huddles, as well as their apparent preference to communicate with Cavs assistant and former NBA player Tyronn Lue, have been in circulation for weeks. And James acknowledged recently that he did not formally request permission to assume the bulk of the Cavs’ playmaking duties, which triggered Cleveland’s eight-game winning streak earlier this month.

There are several factors in Blatt’s favor here. First, to be fair the job he was hired for — building up a young Cavaliers team — is not the one he got when LeBron James changed the landscape of the NBA and returned to Cleveland. Blatt likely would be Steve Kerr’s lead assistant had the Cavs been sure that would have happened.

Second, Blatt can coach. The man has won a lot in Europe (including the EuroLeague title with Maccabi Tel-Aviv last season) and coached the Russian national team to a bronze medal in the Olympics. His system offensively, when executed properly, looks a lot like the Spurs did in last year’s finals — ball movement and guys moving off the ball.

Finally, there are serious roster issues with the Cavs that no coach is going to fix. They do not have a defensive presence in the paint, you can go at them with size. That’s been exacerbated by the season-ending injury to Anderson Varejao. And there have been other injuries as well (Kyrie Irving was out against Detroit, for example).

All that said, this team is not playing hard for Blatt. They are not following his systems on either end of the floor and he is struggling to get through to them. Kevin Love looks lost at times and isn’t getting the ball where he is most dangerous (and when he does he still has some struggles with being consistent). In Europe the power structure is more like college — the coaches have all the power — but in the NBA that dynamic shifts and the players have the real power. Especially LeBron. Especially in Cleveland.

And if LeBron wants another coach — or doesn’t come to Blatt’s defense in a serious way — there will be a new coach in Cleveland sooner rather than later.

PBT’s Sunday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Cavaliers shouldn’t hit panic button, may want to locate it

D.J. Augustin, LeBron James

Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while you were detained after trying to bring a midevil war hammer on a plane….

source:  Cleveland Cavaliers. ”Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game.” That would be LeBron James assessment of the Cavaliers right now, and they looked every bit that bad in a humiliating, 23-point blowout loss at home to the lowly Pistons Sunday. Yes, the Cavaliers were without Kyrie Irving, but the bigger issue is the defense is struggling and Anderson Varejao is not walking through that door. Kevin Love was never much of a defender but LeBron is not hustling back consistently in transition defense and the rest of the team is following his lead. Coach David Blatt can’t get this team to buy in on defense, rather they are a team of bad habits. Still, this is a six-win Pistons team… well, make that seven wins, but the point is this is the kind of team the Cavaliers should be able to beat with LeBron and Love on the court together. That they can’t speaks volumes to where they stand. Their problems are bigger than ones that can be solved with some magical trade (that may not happen anyway). It’s still just more than a third of the way into the season, there’s time to turn it around and become the team many feared. But a lot of things need to change.

source:  Detroit Pistons. Yes, the Cavaliers have issues, but let’s give the Pistons credit — that was their best game of the young season. Is it a coincidence their two best games of the season (beating the Pacers Friday) came after Josh Smith was cut loose? Probably. First off, they hit 17-of-31 from three, that’s a one-off. Also, Brandon Jennings has these kinds of night a couple times a season — 25 points (13 in the third quarter), and almost all of it on jump shots, as he was 5-of-6 shooting from the midrange and 5-of-9 from three. Jennings also has six assists. (To be fair, he’s played well in three of the last four, maybe he’s finding a groove.) That said, it’s two big wins in a row for Detroit. We’ll be watching to see if this continues.

source:  Kyle Lowry and Lou Williams. The Raptors 1-2 punch at the guard spot put up 61 points on the Nuggets. Kyle Lowry continues to be one of the best players in the Eastern Conference this season — he had 30 points (on 20 shots), 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Then Lou Williams comes in off the bench and put up 31 points on 18 shots including going 4-of-7 from three. When those guys re hitting like that the Raptors can beat anybody. It is the play from these guys that has Toronto having won eight of nine without DeMar DeRozan.

source:  Dallas Mavericks. In what was a really entertaining game against Oklahoma City, Dallas may not have won the big individual battles but they won the war and got a quality victory. This one may have been a toss-up: Dirk Nowitzki had 30 points (10 in the fourth) on 13 shots, while Serge Ibaka had 26 points on 14 shots, plus 10 rebounds. At the point guard spot Rajon Rondo had 15 points, seven assists, and six rebounds, while Russell Westbrook flirted with a triple-double scoring 18 points, with nine assists and nine rebounds. Still, without Kevin Durant that’s not enough from Westbrook. But you knew it was going to be a good night for Dallas when Greg Smith was doing this.

source:  San Antonio Spurs. Speaking of teams getting quality wins, the Spurs are still without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard yet were able to beat the Rockets 110-106. This was another great game for the fans — it was close the entire way (if a bit sloppy, the teams combined for 43 turnovers), but as they do when it got to the end the Spurs simply executed at a higher level than their opponents. The Spurs got 24 from Danny Green, plus the usual strong nights from Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

LeBron, after Cavaliers lose by 23 at home to Pistons: ‘Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game’

LeBron James

The Cavaliers have gotten off to a slow start this season, at least when compared to the wealth of talent on the roster that had preseason expectations in Cleveland at an all-time high.

Things got even slower on Sunday, when the Cavs dropped a home game by 23 points to a Pistons team that came into the contest with a record of just six wins against 23 losses to this point of the season.

Cleveland recently lost Anderson Varejao for the season due to injury, and was without Kyrie Irving for the second straight game thanks to a knee injury he reaggravated in the Christmas Day loss to the Heat. But things started fine in this one, with the Cavaliers getting out to a lead of 15 points early in the second quarter — before the wheels came off completely, the offense became stagnant, and the Pistons seemingly couldn’t miss.

Playing without 40 percent of your starting lineup, as it turns out, is no easy task. Detroit set a franchise record for three-pointers made with 17, and shot 54.8 percent from three-point distance while moving the ball consistently, and well ahead of the Cavaliers rotations. Cleveland, meanwhile, clearly missed Irving’s playmaking — he averages 37.9 minutes per game as the team’s point guard, and without him, the open looks were few and far between as Cleveland made just 17.2 percent of its shots from three-point distance, while launching 29 beyond-the-arc attempts.

With Varejao gone and no other real bigs to speak of, Andre Drummond had his way inside for most of the game, and finished with 16 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots. And with Irving gone, Brandon Jennings had one of his best outings of the season, finishing with a game high 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting — this from someone who came into this one shooting a little better than 37 percent from the field on a per-game basis.

LeBron James was far from even average, finishing just 5-of-19 from the field with 17 points, to go along with seven turnovers. And he had no trouble stating the obvious when discussing the loss afterward.

From Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:

#Cavs LeBron James: “Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game”

That about sums it up.

Now, we probably shouldn’t take too much from a December loss, even one as painful as this. The missing pieces matter, and as long as Irving is back to full strength sometime soon, that will solve a lot of the problems offensively that were evident in this one.

But a bigger concern might be the lack of big man depth inside. Cleveland is going to have to try to make a move to add someone at some point this season, if indeed it wants to play deep into the postseason as was expected when this so-called super-team was assembled.

James took a knee to the quad before halftime, and was seen leaving the arena with a slight limp. His health is obviously paramount to his team’s chances, but so is his level of aggressiveness on the floor. And he simply has to bring it offensively on a regular basis (i.e., no more chill mode), especially on a night when the team’s second leading scorer was forced to sit it out.

Anderson Varejao undergoes surgery for torn Achilles, out for the season

Minnesota Timberwolves v Cleveland Cavaliers

We already knew this was going to be the case, but the Cleveland Cavaliers announced on Friday night in a press release that center Anderson Varejao will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon.

Cavaliers Center Anderson Varejao underwent successful surgery today at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland to repair his recently ruptured left achilles tendon. Dr. Brian Donley performed the surgery with Cavaliers Head Team Physician Dr. Richard Parker and Dr. James Rosneck assisting. Varejao is expected to miss the remainder of the 2014-15 NBA season while he recovers and progresses through his rehabilitation process. A timeline for his return to basketball activity will be established at a later date.

This is awful news for the Cavs, whose frontcourt depth—which was already not great—is now decimated. Brendan Haywood is legitimately their third-best big man right now. Varejao was one of their better defenders, and outside of LeBron James (who has lost a step on that end from a couple of years ago) and Shawn Marion (who is 36), they don’t have anyone else on that end as the roster is currently constructed.

With Varejao gone for the season, the Cavs need to trade for somebody, but it’s unclear who. Brandan Wright, who was just traded from the Mavericks to the Celtics as part of the Rajon Rondo trade, is probably available if the Cavs are willing to give up a first-round pick. That’s a deal that probably makes sense for both teams, but other than that, there aren’t many bigs available who would move the needle for the Cavs.

With the Chicago Bulls rounding into shape and the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks as hot as ever, the Cavs’ road to the Finals is going to be tough, and as of now they can’t really be looked at as the favorites. As good as their top-end talent is, that likely isn’t going to change unless they add somebody who will replace Varejao’s production on the defensive end.