Wednesday, 28 July 2010

New Kids On The Block

Earlier this week the Cleveland Cavaliers sent guards Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for dynamic point guard Ramon Sessions and 7'0 centre Ryan Hollins. This is the first major roster move by our new GM Chris Grant and the beginning of our new look Cavaliers team. It is not a massive trade by any means, but the Cavs will be better for it.

Sessions is 24 years old and still has his best years ahead of him. He's coming off a poor year in Minnesota where he struggled to adapt to an undefined role on the team and not much playing time. Lets be honest, the T-Wolves as an organisation are a complete mess so it must be a struggle for every one of their players. However, Sessions enjoyed success in his first 2 years in the league with Milwaukee, setting their franchise record for assists with 24 against the Bulls in April 2008. Yes, 24 ASSISTS. In one game. Crazy. Terry Pluto had said that Sessions is "exactly the type of player the Cavs should be adding at this stage of their life without Lebron James." What does he mean? Sessions, partnered with new head coach Byron Scott's up-tempo approach, is going to bring some fun to the Quicken Loans Arena. Ramon will be pushing the break, getting up the court quickly and injecting some excitement into Cleveland basketball. Gone are the days of watching Lebron dribble out the shot clock. Scott and Sessions will make this Cavs side fun to watch at the very least. Again, Pluto sums it up best: "The Cavs have a backcourt jammed with guards who love to fire away from long distance - Anthony Parker, Mo Williams and (Daniel) Gibson. They don't have a pure point guard such as Sessions." Well, now we do.

The coup of this trade is obviously Sessions, but the Cavs also gained depth and height to our understaffed group of centres. 25 Year old 7 footer Ryan Hollins will probably start the new season as a backup, but I expect he will see more minutes in Cleveland than he has at any other stage in his pro career. His height, quickness, and athleticism, plus his ability to pull off spectacular blocks, will ensure he will be given a chance to shine in Byron Scott's new Cavaliers team. At 25 he is still developing and hopefully he can blossom into a force under the basket.

The only negative aspect to this trade is that, like every trade, we always have to say goodbye to someone we used to root for. Delonte West became quite a fan favourite during his time in Cleveland, but he had a troubled season on and off the court last year and it was his time to go. Sebastian Telfair, who shined briefly during his limited stay in town, is again being shipped off to another team in a trade. This will be his second stint with the Timberwolves and I've lost count of how many clubs he has played for during his time in the NBA. I think Telfair could have found a home in this new team - he is the type of PG that Scott could mould into a real floor general, but apparently the front office felt that Sessions would be a better fit and that Telfair would have to be sacrificed to achieve this. I hope Delonte and Sebastian find success in their NBA futures, but I doubt it will be in Minnesota.

So Sessions and Hollins are the new boys in town to help the city of Cleveland recover from "The Defection" and return the Cavs to the top of the East. Its going to take time, longer than we probably expect, but the acquisition of Sessions is a positive step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Running With Bulls In New York City

It's not the biggest piece of news in the world of football post-World Cup, but my favourite football player on the planet has signed for a new club - so its worth a post on here at the very least!

Theirry Henry, the man, the myth, the legend (alright I'll stop with that) has left FC Barcelona and joined the New York Red Bulls in the MLS. Henry's decision to go stateside has probably come at the right time. After France's disastrous time in South Africa and a sub-par season in Spain, this move to NYC is good for Thierry, a fresh start and a new beginning. It's been obvious for all to see that Henry has not been his old self the last couple of years. His blistering pace has diminished, his influence on the game decreased, so its unlikely at 32 years old he can be the same dominant force he was when he was with us, at Arsenal. Nonetheless, in New York he will face new challenges and new foes, but I also sense we may see a return of the old Thierry Henry. The MLS is still a relatively new league and the quality of the football is still not as high as its European and South American brethren. So in this sense I hope Henry can take advantage of this, and we see him toying with defenders like he did in the good old days, then rifling in goal after goal, just like he used to.

Naturally, Thierry is excited about the move: "It is an honour to play for the New York Red Bulls. I am fully aware of the team's history and my sole goal during my time here is to help win the club its first championship." Like Beckham and Ljungberg before him, Henry now takes his talents to the US of A and I wish him all the best, and will be trying my hardest to keep tabs on how he gets on over there. I hope the Red Bulls fans realise how lucky they are to have such a legend play for them. It is one of the things that most annoyed me about Henry's time in Barcelona; from what I read and heard, I felt the majority of the Barca fans never fully appreciated him and were too busy picking at the faults, not just with Thierry, but the entire squad - Barca fans never seem happy with what they have, even when they win! At least they got him when he'd already given his best for the Gunners (ha ha)

I know one thing for sure about Henry going to New York... I really want one of those shirts! I may have to start saving my pennies for one with "Henry" on the back, they are damn nice...

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Nothing More To Be Said

So, by now you obviously know that Lebron James has decided to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at the Miami Heat. This has been covered by every media outlet in the Western world, so I'm not going to say much about it, as there really is not a lot more to say. Cavs fans across Ohio and the rest of the world are still mourning the departure of our dear "King James", but unfortunately Lebron's decision to leave for the sunny beaches in Miami has caused a great deal of anger amongst fans. He was once our leader, but has now become "The Deserter".

Dan Gilbert's merciless letter has already shown that Lebron's decision to leave is more than just bad business for Cleveland, its downright personal. I thought Gilbert came across as petulant and foolish, but you can understand his motivation behind the attack. I understand that Lebron wouldn't return any of Gilbert's attempts to contact him since the end of the Playoffs, so of course the Cavs owner was going to be pissed off. Its definitely going to be interesting when the Heat travel to Quicken Loans Arena for the first time next season. I can't imagine what the reception will be like for Lebron, but I hope its a positive one (I doubt it will be...).

It will be a sad event if Lebron's legacy as a Cavalier is tarnished because of his departure to Miami. He did a lot for Cleveland in his 7 years of service, and fans should remember the good times, the dazzling displays he put on at the Q night after night. The last few years have been particularly special, both of which earned Lebron back-to-back MVP awards. However I feel this latest blow to the Cavs faithful may be too much to take graciously, and the backlash against Lebron will be substantial. I personally wish him all the luck at Miami, and honestly hope he gets the ring his talent deserves. The Heat will certainly be the team to watch from now on, a backcourt of Wade and Lebron will be amazing, and Bosh is the perfect compliment to them. As a Cavs fan the best way to approach the future now is with a sense of optimism. I for one am rather excited about what the future holds in store for the Cavaliers. Yes, there will be the inevitable struggle and losses will occur on a more regular basis. I don't expect us to make the Playoffs every season from now on either, in fact I'm fully prepared for the event that we won't make it into the post-season for a while. As a British fan of the Cavs, it will be nice to meet fans of the team from now on, rather than just fans of Lebron, which always seemed to be the case. But it will be good to see a new team grow and play together, without Lebron running the show for the first time. Byron Scott is set to usher in a new era of basketball in the Forest City, and with a bit of time and the right additions, the Cavs will be back to where they belong as contenders in the East.

A fresh start is in order, and that's just what we've got. Look forward to the future Cavs fan, but don't let recent events ruin all that was good in the past.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Leaving It To Lebron

All bets are in, every question has been asked, all presentations and promises have been made. Now all we can do is wait. Lebron James has finally finished his meetings with the various teams interested in his signature this summer, as well as our beloved Cavaliers. That's right, he might choose to stay with us after all!

I realise the Lebron saga has been written about by practically every sports journalist in North America and beyond, but I felt I should weigh in with my opinion. Obviously I want Lebron to stay in Cleveland. There isn't another player in basketball like him, and he's easily the most gifted athlete to grace the NBA since his Airness Michael Jordan. Not only is he great for Cleveland from a sporting perspective, but he has done tremendous things for the city socially and economically. Losing him would be devastating for Cleveland, as Andrew over at Waiting For Next Year has explained in a brilliant article detailing just how important Lebron truly is.

I have been in a very fortunate position as a Cavaliers fan, as I have only ever experienced the Cavs in the Lebron era. I've been supporting the Wine & Gold since 2004, so I haven't experienced the team's darker days. Lebron and Cleveland together is all I know. The worst example of a Cleveland player leaving town that I have experienced was when V-Mart was shipped to Boston, and that stung for a quite some time. But Lebron leaving... well I don't really want to think about it, and have tried my best to ignore the possibility of him playing for somebody else for nearly 18 months now. I was naive to think it would all blow over, that Lebron would never consider leaving us. Our dismal playoff exit to the Boston Celtics a few months ago only made things worse; Lebron wants a ring, he needs a championship, and with another limp effort in the post-season gone by, it only stimulates the argument for him to leave for new pastures elsewhere. He has always made it clear how much he loves New York, and its widely known he grew up supporting the Bulls, and a certain Mr Jordan (his idol) especially. Don't forget his close friendship with Jay Z, part-owner of the Nets, who I'm sure would LOVE to have Lebron leading the way for his team. So there are plenty of suitors waiting for him to put pen to paper and become the new face of their franchise.

The Cavs front office, including new head coach Byron Scott, have made their final pitch to Lebron to stay with us, to keep striving for that illusive NBA title. I read that the presentation was short and to the point, and apparently the talks went well. The bit about Lebron being shown a Family Guy-like cartoon depicting himself and the city of Cleveland struck me as being a bit strange, but its supposed to be well known that number 23 is a big fan of cartoons, so I suppose this light hearted approach would appeal to him - if anybody in Cleveland knows Lebron well, surely its the organisation he works for. Lets just hope its worked, and Lebron realises that his best chance to win a much sought after championship is not in Miami, New York, New Jersey or Chicago, but right at home in Cleveland. If Lebron goes to any of those other cities, it'll take a considerable amount of time for those organisations to build a title contending team around him. Now he's still relatively young, only 25 years old, but he is coming off 2 straight MVP seasons and is in the prime of his career. How much longer is he willing to wait until he finally achieves his goal? If he stays with the Cavs, he has a significantly better chance of winning a ring than anywhere else, at least any of those teams that can afford him. Even if he does move to Chicago, who do have the talented Derrick Rose, Lebron wouldn't really be in a better position with the Bulls than he already is with the Cavaliers. Realistically only New York appear to be able to afford two of these premier free agents this summer, but then there is still the difficulty of promising Lebron and Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh/ Joe Johnson etc, that the other has signed and committed. Even with two of them, its still not enough to make the Knicks a contender, not with the shambles that is their current roster.

Anyway, its out of our hands now. Actually, when was it ever in our hands? Its Lebron's decision to make, we just have to be patient and hope he chooses to stay in the city where he is worshipped, the place he calls home. There's nothing special in New York anyway... right?

Thanks for reading.