General, Headlines

Dissecting Dan Gilbert, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday everyone!

I know everyone hates hearing about other people’s fantasy teams, and I’m not going to try to bore you with too many details. But three weeks ago my team was in 11th place (out of 12). I had high hopes for my team this year, but it just absolutely sputtered out of the gate. However, after huge wins of 15-3, 13-5, and 14-3 over the last three weeks, my team suddenly finds itself in second place.

In many ways, my team is like the real life Cleveland Indians. On May 19th, the Indians stood at 19-25. They were dead last in the division and 10.5 games behind the Tigers. As of Tuesday morning, the Indians are now 33-31 and just two games back. It’s been a remarkable turnaround, and a welcome one at that. I don’t expect the Indians to catch Detroit, nor do I expect them to make the playoffs again. But summer is just so much more fun when your team is playing good baseball, both in real life and with your fantasy teams. And if the Indians can keep riding this hot streak, who knows, maybe they will even exceed expectations for the second year in a row.

*****

Are we still with Dan Gilbert?

withgilbert-237x300There’s been a lot of weird news coming out of the world of the Cleveland Cavaliers lately. First we heard from media out of New York that the Cavaliers might be giving second thought about offering Kyrie Irving a max extension next month. Then Terry Pluto reported that not only are the Cavaliers going to offer Kyrie the max, but they never even hesitated for a second. Then we heard about Dan Gilbert offering a monster contract to John Calipari to become both coach and President, despite already hiring David Griffin as full time GM. But then later Monday the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd had a rather confusing report with conflicting information about the timing of Gilbert’s discussion with Calipari. There have been wide-spread reports about Gilbert’s overbearning and heavy-handed approach to this coaching search, yet there are other reports that he didn’t even talk to candidates in the first round of interviews and that he will be meeting with Tyronn Lue and Alvin Gentry this week for second interviews.

Did you get all that? It’s a lot to take in. So what’s going on here? Is the franchise really this dysfunctional that nobody is on the same page? Or is this just some misinformation being spread to protect the secrecy of the team’s plans? I have no idea. I’ve stood with Dan Gilbert since the night of The Decision. As I’ve said on many occasions, while I understand why people took exception to the infamous letter, as a Cavs fan, I loved it. For the most part Gilbert has been exactly what I want an owner of my team to be. He’s passionate, ambitious, willing to spend money on the team, and above all else, is desperate to win. But is that desperation starting to become a problem?

There’s been a lot of talk about Gilbert on Twitter lately. People are losing their patience with him and feel he’s becoming a burden on the franchise. For many, the tipping point was the playoff proclamation last year. On one hand, I totally get it. The last thing we want to see is the team sacrifice long term success for short term meaningless gratification. But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a small part of me that feels conflicted about killing a guy for wanting to win. The Cavaliers have been atrocious for four straight seasons now. I’m tired of it and I’m ready for playoff basketball again. But what’s the best way to get there?

There’s some talk that the Cavaliers very well could draft Jabari Parker and hire someone like Vinny Del Negro or Lionel Hollins to chase that short term gratification. VDN and Hollins are coaches with playoff experience who have experience turning around long-term losing franchises. Jabari Parker is considered the safest of the top three prospects and the player who can probably help the most in year one.

But on the other hand, VDN and Hollins have their issues and there’s a reason they were let go from moderately successful teams. Nobody think Parker’s ceiling is as high as Joel Embiid or even Andrew Wiggins. Perhaps the better route is to get a young, fresh, hungry coach like Lue and to draft the player with the highest ceiling of all in Embiid, and let everyone develop for a year or two before the franchise can become a perennial playoff threat. And that’s where the consternation with Gilbert comes into play.

We all want to win. That goal is in complete alignment. But most fans don’t want the team to chase a year or two of low seeded early playoff exits. Most of us want to see the team build something that can last several years and have a chance at real contention.

It’s unfortunate to see Gilbert, by default the most popular owner in town, begin to lose the fan base. But even more troubling and unfortunate is the persistent talk of Gilbert’s ever growing influence on basketball decisions. When David Griffin held his press conference after being given the gig full time, he said that Gilbert had given him full control of basketball decisions and that he would be carrying out the coaching search. But if the things Adrian Wojnarowski and Jason Lloyd have written are true (and there’s no reason to think otherwise), then it seems Gilbert is running his own coaching search separate from what Griffin is doing. And that is a huge (HUGE) problem.

When coaches and GMs screw up, they can be replaced. But there’s no replacing an owner1. For better or worse, Dan Gilbert is the owner of the Cavaliers and he’s free to do whatever he wants to make as many mistakes as he cares to. And I’m not even saying I want Gilbert gone. For the most part, I’m still supportive of him as an owner. I’ve seen what lethargic, disinterested, absentee owners look like. I’ve seen what happens when an owner is hesitant to spend money. Gilbert is the kind of owner I want, I just want him to trust his basketball people to make their own decisions.

And maybe he will. Nothing has been done yet. Perhaps the Cavaliers will allow Griffin to name his own coach and the Cavaliers will pick the best player in the draft who gives the team the best chance at long term greatness. After all, this year’s coaching search is already about a million times better than last year’s. There’s nothing wrong with Gilbert doing his own due diligence. This is his team and that’s his right as an owner. Everything will come down to the degree to which the basketball folks get to make the basketball decisions. That will be Gilbert’s real test.

*****

Hey Donald Sterling, please just go away

Late last night, word broke that Donald Sterling has changed his mind (for about the 800th time) and now is going to pursue his lawsuit again. Whatever, Have fun suing yourself. When Shelly Sterling took control of the Clippers after two neurologists deemed Donald unfit to conduct his own business affairs, any leverage he had was gone. It was made even worse for him when Shelly indemnified the NBA against any lawsuits, including from Donald. So, if Sterling were to win the lawsuit2, it would be the Sterling Family Trust who would pay.

This is all just a lame attempt for Sterling to keep his name in the media and on the front page. He’s clinging to the last bit of relevancy he has left, and it’s both sad and annoying to watch. Even if he somehow succeeded in winning his lawsuit and blocking the sale of the team, he’s still banned for life. This is just a bunch of noise about nothing.

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It’s about time someone put FIFA in its place

Ok, while I may be a pretty big fan of soccer, I’ve always found it hard to get too excited about international soccer. I love watching the various professional leagues throughout Europe, and in my opinion, the Champions League offers some of the best drama, passion, and excitement in sports. But I’ve just never been as big on international cups. Of course, the one exception is the World Cup. Everyone who cares about soccer whatsoever gets excited for the World Cup. But one of the reasons why I have always been less interested in international cups has been because of FIFA, one of the worst sports governing bodies in existence. I knew they were bad, but I didn’t realize just how bad they truly were until this week’s episode of Last Week Tonight.

Now, I promise, I’m not going to post a John Oliver clip every single week. I hesitated posting this one since I just posted a clip last Tuesday, but with the World Cup starting this week and with WFNY’s World Cup coverage this just seemed too topical not to share. Enjoy:

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Forget about new music releases this week

This may be the one and only time that sentence is ever written by yours truly, but this week there is a much more important new release – the first season of HBO’s True Detective on Blu-Ray and DVD. If you missed the show on HBO, or if you don’t have HBO or access to HBO Go, this is your chance to catch up one of the absolute best seasons of a show in TV history. While I have no reason to doubt future seasons of this show, I also cannot fathom any way it will ever be able to top the epic performances of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in this first season. The story telling was phenomenal both in method and execution, the acting performances were great all around, and the directing and cinematography were insanely great for a TV show.

And in truth, this show sort of transcends the idea of television. It’s not the first or last to do this, but there are things being done stylistically in TV shows that we never could have imagined even just ten years ago. Calling True Detective a “TV show” somehow seems disingenuous. It’s not really anything. It’s not a TV Show, a miniseries, or a movie. It’s a self contained story, told in the best way possible.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you guys this week. Hope you all have a great Tuesday, and here’s to the Cavaliers hopefully making the right coaching hire and the right draft pick for the right reasons!

*****

  1. well, ok, Donald Sterling probably disagrees….but you know what I mean []
  2. which he probably won’t, considering the sale was conducted by the sole trustee of the Sterling family trust []

  • mgbode

    so, basically, with Gilbert, much like with the rest of news the general media is taking the spaghetti to the wall method and whichever story ends up being correct can claim to have the best sources (Miss Cleo is a source, right?)

  • mgbode

    the better route is to get a young, fresh, hungry coach like Lue and to draft the player with the highest ceiling of all in Embiid

    yes, yes that would be a better route. and, do not be surprised to see Embiid contribute mightily in his rookie season. being taller than 7′ is defnitively a NBA-ready skill.

  • I completely agree. I was more speaking about the general tropes that you hear tossed around. I am 10000% on board with Embiid, and I believe he will make an immediate impact on the team.

  • It feels that way. I truly have no clue what’s going on with all these conflicting reports. But there seems to be some smoke here that is concerning.

    But yeah, Twitter has been ugly lately with various media members all trying to retroactively claim their report was the right one. It’s just not a good look for anyone involved.

  • Hopwin

    A historic night for the Tribe gets nary a mention except as an analogy for your fantasy baseball team? Disappointing.

  • humboldt

    True Detective was excellent: the acting was top-notch, and the shuttling of the main characters between two decades was quite impressive. However, I felt the resolution in the final episode was a bit mawkish given the grittiness of the series until then, and that dulled my sense that it was a “transcendent” achievement. It was certainly a brilliant long-form drama, and I’m eager to see the next installation (with lowered expectations).

    I’m sure others have pointed it out by now but Josh Tomlin is a dead-ringer for the 40-something Rust Cohle: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/E0UboNbkTBY/0.jpg

    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2014/4/10/1397150221534/Ruse-Cohle—-hes-here-to-011.jpg

  • maxfnmloans

    is #FreeLonnie still a thing, or can we dispense with the nonsense now? Holy crap

  • BenRM

    Gilbert wanted Cal.
    Griffin wants Gentry.

    I know who I want more…

  • BenRM

    And the FIFA rant is one of the best things I’ve seen on the internet in a while.

  • It’s going to be covered in several other pieces today. I didn’t want to step on any of the Indians writers’ toes.

  • Harv 21

    My vague discomfort with Gilbert since comic sans is really crystallizing now, and wondering what took me so long. Turns out the seeming stability, even lack of alacrity while LeBron was here, was just a temporary blip caused by fear of losing the guy. The real Gilbert is an impulsive guy, not so sure of what he wants but neverthelesess trending toward micromanagement. Last year the guy knew he wanted a defensive-oriented team. Now he’s willing to interview potential coaches who might believe in any philosophy. He’s Donald Draper’s blowhard replacement – “Put 20 ideas on my desk by Friday, and somebody better knock my socks off.”

    Billionaire needs a basketball guy to determine a stable direction and create the environment supporting it. If billionaire is the basketball guy we’ll be watching crappy dysfunction indefinitely. Even if Randy Lerner couldn’t identify a real football exec, at least he knew he wasn’t one.

  • Yeah, I’ve read arguments on both sides for the finale. I found the confrontation with the Yellow King to be anti-climactic, but I thought the final scene (no spoilers) was very, very good and the perfect way to close out the series.

  • crobarred

    I’m not sure what to think about Gilbert. I live in ATL and the talk I’ve heard is that nobody wants to work with him. People still think about his rant after the “decision” and feel with or without justification that he is too heavily involved in things. If Gilbert is involved with the draft pick let’s hope he goes with Embiid.

    After the Indians lost Ubaldo and Kazmir to free agency I didn’t expect much when their biggest signing was Murphy.and to a lesser extent Axford. I would love to see them make a wild card and maybe hit the divisional round. I’d call that a successful season.

    Regarding Fantasy Baseball, my team now consists of five players on the DL…ugh.

  • humboldt

    Agreed. I just felt the good vs evil dialogue was a bit contrived, and an odd choice for a show that delved so deeply into the moral ambiguity of the characters for the previous 7 episodes

  • mgbode

    Lonnie dun be free range now.

  • mgbode

    for support: Mark Cuban has Donnie Nelson Jr.

  • BenRM

    Mark Cuban caught as much flak as anyone before the Mavs won the championship a few years ago. Now, he’s viewed in an entirely different light. Ditto to Steinbrenner.

    Maybe it’s because they brought in “basketball guy” or “baseball guy.” I think it’s more likely because, as long as you aren’t actively destructive, if you continue to throw money at something, it’ll probably work out over time (in professional sports anyway).

  • mgbode

    Yeah. Same goes for coaches. Doc Rivers couldn’t coach and was an idiot until he was gifted desperate KG + Ray Allen to go with Pierce (and Thibs on the bench). All of a sudden, he’s a genius coach who you want to grab assistants from.

    Enough underpants(assets) and things can work in your favor at some point.

  • Denny

    To be fair some of us have not liked Dan Gilbert for a long time it’s not just new

  • Steve

    I’m not sure why anyone ever would have liked a sub-prime mortgage dealer and casino owner.

  • CCSkillz

    The best he’s shown is aptitude to cut checks under any circumstance to “improve” the team’s roster. Which is ironic, b/c if they overpaid on some FAs on shorter term deals instead of sitting on all that cap space, they probably would’ve made the playoffs the last few years.
    The rest of the league and its agent base knows this too and it’s a detriment to the team. You can’t always be a “yes” man.
    I don’t take a lot of clout away from his post-Decision rant, but the fact that he even considered the possibility of the Cavs winning a title before LeBron in a league so reliant on star power, is completely unintelligible

  • Harv 21

    Never believed he actually believed they’d get a ring first – I think he was just raging at the betrayal, and betrayed fans supported the non-corporate reaction. I didn’t like it at all, when he did it or now. Because that was the same impulsive guy who got in a brawl with a former business associate at a Bar Mitzvah celebration. He has every right to be cocky about his self-made empire, but even brilliant guys are susceptible to compunded ignorance – he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know basketball.