Plain Dealer Idol!

It won’t be easy to replace Brian Windhorst as Cleveland Plain Dealer Cavs beat writer extraordinaire, but someone has to try (lucky soul…we’re waiting for you!).

I want to know Cavalier Nation, who’s your choice?


Windy Days: Live Chat (9.30.10) (@RealCavsFans) held a live chat with Brian Windhorst (@PDcavsinsider) last night to discuss, amongst other things, Brian’s future in Cleveland, trades the team might explore this season, “What happened?” in the Boston Series and, of course, LeBron James. Oh, and Delonte West, too.



On possibly joining ESPN…

I’m in a bit of an awkward spot here. It is true that I have talked to ESPN about going to to cover the NBA with an emphasis on the Heat. But it is a very complicated decision that I haven’t made yet. I hope to have some clarity in the next couple of days.

On the new Collective Bargaining Agreement…

I think the owners will have to address keeping franchise players. That is what the Bird Exception was supposed to be for and it has worked for a long time. I think there may be a push to do something of a “franchise tag” like there is in the NFL.

On potential trades this season…

I think the Cavs could make at least two trades during the season. This team has holes, but Chris Grant and Byron Scott need time to see exactly what they are. In my opinion, they should be looking to trade Jamison and Williams right now.

To be honest, part of the reason Ramon Sessions is probably here is so it is easier to trade Mo later. However, the team has a chance to be competitive and first everyone wants to see how this group works. I think making a trade for a “Baron Davis” type player to win 6-8 more games in the short run is the biggest mistake they can make.

For Jamison, you just have to try to get rid of his money and hope to get a pick or prospect. Mo is still in his prime and can help quite a few teams. You’d hope to get a little more instant help if you decide to trade him.

I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance the Cavs trade their pick for this season. Even for Carmelo, I think they’d offer some future picks.

On Carmelo Anthony…

As for Carmelo Anthony, the Cavs have put in an offer but they don’t expect to get him. They have the assets for that type of trade but they know it would be a rental. That’s not worth trading J.J. Hickson for.

On the $14 million trade exception…

It would be okay with me if the Cavs never used the trade exception and let it expire. Save cap space (which can be used like a trade exception) and look to acquire as many assets (prospects, picks) as possible and hope a couple pan out – in other words, the OKC method.

Best case is they make a blockbuster trade with the exception and turn themselves back into a contender. That may mean a contender next season, by the way. More realistic, if they are in the lottery, then they jump into the top three.

On the future and new direction…

There is a fundamental difference in what should be done. I believe they should go the OKC Thunder route and get worse to get better while collecting assets. But I believe Dan Gilbert is modeling after the Pistons of 10 years ago, which rebuilt on the fly after losing Grant Hill. The worse case scenario this season is to finish 9th in the East.

Gilbert is the best chance for the future of the franchise. He’s the kind of owner you want. But you have to take the good with the bad. Not unlike with Mark Cuban (who, don’t forget, thought it was a good idea to not pay Steve Nash but has kept the Mavs as a contender for going on a decade now).

I think the Cavs need support and not apathy. They did a lot to build up the fan base over the last seven years. The games will still be very fun to go to. I think the best message the fans can send is that they’ll trust Gilbert and wait for him to do it the right way.

On new GM Chris Grant…

I can’t see a clear plan from Grant yet. It seems to be he’s going to be VERY patient in looking for moves to help long term. He has not been very active and he’s refused to budge from his position (see Matt Barnes talks). That reminds me of a guy named Sam Presti (GM, Oklahoma City Thunder). So I think we’ll all have to wait and see. He’s very smart and he’s been around, he knows how to build a team. But he’s going to be conservative while the owner wants to be aggressive. We’ll see who wins out. I would go with Grant’s plan.

On LeBron…

I didn’t believe it then, but now I believe LeBron planned to leave for a long time before July 8th. I find it interesting that he’s trying to qualify or explain the backlash. I think he should examine the steps he took to create the backlash in the first place.

On the Boston Series…

OK, here’s the thing about the Boston series…

Honestly, I think LeBron just choked. For all his talk about “not believing in pressure” he showed me he’s very vulnerable to pressure. He cracked in that Boston series. You could see it in his behavior off the floor, in his comments to the media, and certainly in his play. But I understand why Gilbert feels that way.

Shaq got really angry. His feeling was that if he was going to be “saved” for the postseason all year then he should have been used a lot more. Also, he had had it up to here with Delonte by then. Which is why I think it is ironic they’re on the same team again. Shaq was also pointing out to the coaches that they might as well ride him if LeBron was in la-la land. That caused some issues.

Not that I can blame Shaq for feeling that way. He was a good soldier for much of the year. But honestly, I’m not sure how much he could have carried the load at that point.

On Delonte West…

As for Delonte…

I know all of you want answers. I know many of you want more from me on the topic. But I can only stand on my credibility and so I can only report what I know to be true. I just don’t have enough truths and haven’t for months.

On what the Cavs will do for LeBron’s homecoming…

I have heard there are many off-the-wall ideas. For my two cents, I hope they just play it straight and let the fans have their say. The last thing you want is for Cleveland to look stupid and swing sympathy over to LeBron’s side.

On Daniel Gibson…

Booby (I think that’s the way he wants it spelled now) is going to get a lot of playing time. Which I think is a good idea. HOWEVER…I’m not sure he’s suited to this system. It is a high movement system where guards will have to create their own shot. I think Booby is a spot up shooter and I’m not convinced he’s perfect for Princeton offense. But we’ll see, he’ll get a chance this year.

On Anderson Varejao…

I would view Andy as the most untouchable asset on the roster right now because he’s so valuable and so rare – even more so than Hickson. But not everyone agrees with me. Some agents/GMs have told me they should trade Varejao before he starts to decline. To me, he’s too valuable and he’s only 28.

On Ramon Sessions…

On Sessions, I think he’s going to have a solid season. Don’t expect 20 & 8 but I think he’ll have nights like that. He’s much better suited to play Princeton style than the Triangle that he ran in Minnesota. That was stupid to put him in that offense by the Wolves. I felt that was a solid trade.

On the rookies…

I don’t know much about Samardo Samuels but I do know after summer league he had several offers. As for Eyenga, athleticism is amazing. He will blow your mind at times. But he’s not very skilled at this point. I think he’s at least a year away from being a rotation option.

On training camp…

Byron destroyed them on the first day and it literally took them two days to recover. So they’re not as far along as they wanted to be. Plus Mo and Andy aren’t taking part and Parker is already dinged up. Attitude is great but it has been far from perfect.

I think the big men they invited to camp are a joke. Earl Barron was here working out last week and he’s an NBA player. I’d rather they signed him.

On the starting lineup…

I think you start Mo and Sessions with Hickson and Varejao. Then maybe Graham but it could just as well be Moon. I think playing Jamison at SF is a mistake unless it is just for a couple possessions at a time. But that is what the preseason is for.

On Mike Brown…

Mike Brown is in Cleveland and working with the St. Edward HS team. He’s keeping to himself. He’s still under contract and knows he can’t rock the boat too much. He may do some TV work.

In closing…

Thanks. No matter what happens with me, I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten from Cavs fans over the years.

Windy Days: Thoughts blowing through Brian’s mind (5.20.10)…

Cavs beat writer extraordinaire Brian Windhorst ( is a regular guest on local sports television and radio call-in shows. He also records a weekly podcast for The Cleveland Plain Dealer. This is the “good stuff” you won’t necessarily read in his articles or blog. I’ll do my best to bring it to you throughout the “Summer of LeBron” – and beyond (yes, there will be a beyond).

On Tuesday night, Windy was a guest on “More Sports & Les Levine”. It airs from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. (check your local listings). On Wednesday, Brian recorded his PD podcast. Following is a combined summary of his thoughts. Big thanks to member Gunther for transcribing the podcast.

Game 5…LeBron…What the hell happened?

No one knows. Not players, not coaches, not management, not Windy. NO ONE (not named LeBron) knows. Fans are clinging to rumors because they need something to believe. None of them are true. He was neither protesting nor trying to get his coach fired. It could have been his elbow, or uncertainty of the game plan or even lack of confidence in his teammates. But only LeBron can answer that. Brian thinks it will be on his mind for a long time to come. Windy is also very disappointed in the way LeBron played – even more so in how he answered questions.

Will Mike Brown coach the Cavaliers next season?

Probably not, though LeBron will not call for Mike Brown’s head outright – rather, he’ll make it clear he’d like to move in a different direction. Danny Ferry does not want to fire Brown, but the fans want blood. Ultimately, Dan Gilbert makes this decision.

Is this the next coach of your Cleveland Cavaliers? Don't hold your breath.

Do the Cavaliers have a “Dream Coach” in mind?

Two, in fact. Phil Jackson and Mike Krzyzewski. Both are highly unlikely. Though with Krzyzewski, at least, you have the Ferry-Duke connection and LeBron-Olympics connection.

What are the realistic coaching options?

Brian has a list of 20 names. He did not share any. However, in terms of regular and post-season success, essentially no one has a better resume than Mike Brown, which makes the Cavs’ decision all the more difficult. Of course, all of this is complicated by LeBron’s pending free agency. A prominent coach will (likely) not come to Cleveland unless LeBron is here. However, while waiting for LeBron to decide, the Cavs risk losing out on the best candidates. It’s not an ideal situation for Gilbert and Ferry. In fact, it’s a very bad situation.

Is Danny Ferry safe?

Ferry won’t be fired, but he may decide not to stay here. He likes Cleveland and wants to be the GM. Money is not a big deal at this point in his career, but having a coach forced on him by a player or the owner might be. Brian thinks it’s very likely that Ferry remains GM, but only by his own accord.

Will the Cavs seek an offensive-minded coach?

Possibly. They haven’t reached the Promised Land yet, but they’re still good. They want to keep LeBron happy and bring him back, so they will probably focus on doing a better job of building the offense around LeBron. This would exclude defensive-minded coaches in the same mold as Mike Brown; rule out Avery Johnson, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Fratello. John Calipari is a different matter – he uses the dribble-drive offense, which takes advantage of smaller players and has more motion. Calipari, however, does not have a winning record.

What teams have the best chance to sign LeBron?

New York is a strong player; read sidekick (i.e. Chris Bosh), young team, bright lights and big picture. Windy thinks Chicago is the third choice. LeBron’s first decision, however, is whether or not to leave home.

No one outside Cleveland understands Cleveland. Therefore, they cannot understand a kid from Akron.

Will LeBron stay in Cleveland?

Brian thinks it’s still likely that he will. He says people don’t appreciate how tough a decision it would be for LeBron to leave home. The rest of the country cannot fathom why anyone would want to live in Cleveland. That’s just the way it is. Even if LeBron signed a six-year deal with the Cavs, the rumors will always persist. One bad game and the trade talks would heat up.

What role will William Wesley (“Worldwide Wes”) play?

Wes works for the agency that handles LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Calipari and other high-profile personnel. Like any business where there are high-profile candidates, there is a recruiter behind the scenes. Wes is not a sinister individual. He has helped young kids get scholarships; he has worked with charities; etc. Uncle Wes has many, many connections, but it’s not certain just how powerful his influence is. He couldn’t land Derrick Rose or Tyreke Evans. And he wanted John Wall to sign – gave him the “full court press” with LeBron’s influence and persona – but Wall ended up with another agent. It’s all just chatter at this point.

Will LeBron’s “team” influence his decision?

LeBron’s future will be decided by a committee of one – LeBron James.

If LeBron stays, how will the Cavs address their roster?

The Cavs have as much flexibility this year as last year. To say they are locked into their current roster is simply not true, they have options. They don’t have a large expiring contract, but they have flexibility (Delonte West, Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker). They could also execute a sign & trade with J.J. Hickson – his value has never been higher. Also, they still have the Mid-Level Exception. In fact, they may have more maneuverability this year than they’ve had in a long time. This is still a good team – no jackhammer required, they don’t need to start from scratch.

What if Shaq and Z do not return?

The Cavs would look for another big man. Leon Powe will be more important. They also may look to sign Sasha Kaun as their 4th big man. He’s a good defensive player. Even so, they still would look to make a move. It’s still a possibility that either Shaq or Z will re-sign (Shaq less likely, however).

The Delonte West rumor?

Did. Not. Happen.