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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Friday, February 27, 2009

New info on Smith

I was told late Friday night that talks have started on a buyout of Joe Smith's contract in Oklahoma City.

The negotiations have just started. It has to be completed by Sunday in order for Smith to be added to the Cavs' playoff roster.

The Cavs have about $5 million remaining of their mid-level exception.

Another big man is needed by the Cavs.

Cavs coach Mike Brown's affection for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is well-documented.

He worked under Pop for several years and helped the Spurs win one of their championships.

There are several things he loves about him, but the biggest thing is how he manages people.

"Every team has their problems," Brown said. "Very seldom do you hear about a guy causing a ruckus down here. Even when big decisions are made – Manu (Ginobili) going back to the bench, Pop going off on Tony Parker on national TV, whatever it may be – the way he manages his people and his players is second to none."

Pop has won three NBA titles in his 12 years as coach.

"To have the longevity and success he’s had here, I don’t know how to quantify it in words," Brown said. "It’s remarkable. You can look at some of the other great coaches that have had great players – Tim Duncan, Manu, Tony – those coaches have only lasted so long. For him to last as long as he has, it’s remarkable."

Before the game, Pop informed All-Star Tim Duncan he wouldn't be playing against the Cavs. Duncan wasn't happy about the decision.

"Tim is a competitor," Brown said. "He wants to be out there all the time. Pop’s looking out for the long-term effects of his team. When (Cavs GM) Danny Ferry and I are put in the decision-making process, we’ll sit back and say, ‘What would Pop do?' "

Brown was asked by one of the San Antonio writers how long it would take Pop to inform Duncan he wasn't playing.

"It would have been done by the time you finished that question," Brown said. "I don’t have the juice. Mine is about a 5-minute conversation. ‘You sure you want to play?’ His doesn’t take that long."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Great tackle

I ran into official Luis Grillo on Thursday before the Houston-Cleveland game at the Toyota Center.

"Nice tackle," I told him.

He laughed. It was Grillo who grabbed Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva in last week's game in Milwaukee. They both tumbled over a cameraman and fell backward.

Grillo said he wasn't trying to tackle Villanueva, who had grabbed Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas by the throat.

He said he got a ton of calls from friends and family after the incident.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pat Williams: Accomplished author

Let me give you some background. When we travel to Orlando for the Cavs-Magic games, it seems like you can't get out of Amway Arena without running into Pat Williams.

Williams is the founder and senior vice president of the Magic, as well as being an accomplished motivational speaker. He's spent 45 years in professional baseball and basketball as a player and executive.

He has also written 53 books, including "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inside Basketball." There are times when writers accept one of his books and then leave them at the Marriott across the street.

That would have been a mistake with "Chicken Soup." I loved it, and I'm not ashamed to tell you a shed a few tears while reading it. There are stories in it about or written by several people I know, including Mike Fratello, Phil Jasner and Sam Smith, among others.

All of the stories are inspirational in nature. They are feel-good stories for the most part, about overcoming long odds. One that I really enjoyed was by Ann Meyers-Drysdale, the former UCLA star who tried out for the Indiana Pacers.

Believe me, it's worth reading. And, as an added bonus, I swear the photo of the basketball player on the cover of the 373-page book is Cavs guard/forward Wally Szczerbiak.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

West sidelined

One has to wonder what's going to happen to Cavs guard Delonte West on this rugged 4-games-in-5-nights road trip.

He was held out of Tuesday's game against Memphis with soreness in his right wrist. He returned from a 16-game absence on Sunday against Detroit, but wasn't able to go two nights later.

West is a needed component in the Cavs' machine - offensively and defensively. He'll be needed at close to 100 percent in order for the Cavs to be successful on this road trip.

This is the toughest trip of the season - all four teams are solid playoff teams. The Cavs are also close to setting a franchise record for road wins. They need 4 more road wins to tie their franchise record of 22.

West will be needed. Let's see how he holds up.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

6 conference finals

Is it possible to appear in six conference finals and then drop to the depth the Pistons have fallen to? That team is not playing with any fire or intensity.

Something needs to be done in Motown. Nuking the coach is not going to do it, even though they have two former head coaches on their coaching staff in Darrell Walker and Dave Cowens.

Explain this to me: The Pistons came into Sunday's game 14-15 at home; 13-11 on the road. That's freaky if you ask me.

Cavs radio announcer Joe Tait missed his third game of the season on Sunday.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

One wild and crazy night

Cavs forward LeBron James' 3-minute stretch in the third quarter on Friday was breathtaking.

He scored 16 points in the first 2:50 of the third. He ended with a season-high 55 points - one short of his career high. If he hadn't missed 7 free throws ...

Many of the attempts weren't good shots. In fact, they were terrible shots. But when you're that hot, I guess you keep firing away.

"I have to make sure I’m not overcoaching," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "I have to sit down and watch the game like everyone else. Bernie Bickerstaff once told me, 'Don’t overcoach, young fella.' "

James was asked after the game, how much money would it take to get him to come to Milwaukee. He chuckled.

"I'm in Cleveland, baby," he said. "I love the way we're playing."

In case you were wondering, James has overtaken Miami's Dwyane Wade in the league's scoring race. James is now averaging 28.9 points per game.

The Bucks shot 58 percent from the field in first half; 40 percent in second half.

"I told our guys at halftime, ‘If we want to defend, we’ll win," Brown said.

James has now scored 24 points in a quarter three times in his career. He's had 50 or more seven times (the Cavs are 5-2). He's never scored 50 points in Cleveland.

His eight 3s on Friday were a career high and tied the franchise mark set by Danny Ferry (Feb. 13, 1996, vs. Charlotte) and Wesley Person (Feb. 17, 1998, at Philadelphia).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Trade scuttlebutt

All anyone was talking about tonight was the trade deadline. The Cavs have jumped in with both feet. They are really trying to make a deal.

They've been shot down on several fronts, including the LA Clippers, who apparently want to hang onto Marcus Camby.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder's doctors didn't allow Tyson Chandler to pass their physical, the big trade was rescinded. That means Joe Smith will return to the Thunder. Is there any chance he'll be bought out of his contract? He was telling people at the All-Star game that he didn't think it would happen.

Heck, should the Cavs inquire about Chandler? He's 7-1, a great rebounder and a shot blocker. Even though he's a bit banged up, would you take a chance on him if you're the Cavs? Perhaps.

The hot topic late Wednesday was Bucks forward Richard Jefferson. He would be a nice addition to the Cavs. He loves to defend and can be a go-to scorer. He's a major talent. That's why the Bucks aren't going to give him away for just an expiring contract. Supposedly, they want more than that. They actually want a talented player coming back.

There was speculation the Cavs have included Daniel Gibson's name in some trade talks. Maybe the Bucks would bite on that one - Wally and Boobie for RJ.

COACH DISPATCHED - Before official Kevin Fehr ejected Raptors coach Jay Triano on Wednesday, he probably went over and introduced himself first. "Oh, by the way, you're out of here!"

I follow the NBA very closely. If Triano was sitting next to me right now, I wouldn't know him. Wait a minute. He is.

In Canada, he's well known. But this whole operation needs an overhaul.

The national media in the U.S. talks about how LeBron James will walk from the Cavs in 2010. What about Chris Bosh in Toronto? I'm sorry, but at the sake of sounding like the previously mentioned national media, there's no way he's going to stay in Canada. Mark my words.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Now he's a slam dunker?

Cavaliers forward LeBron James was asked about the slam dunk contest on Wednesday and why he's never appeared in the event.

He said he never wanted to prepare for the contest and practice new dunks. He said he was more of an in-game dunker. He sort of wings it as he soars to the basket.

So, of course, he announces on national television during All-Star weekend that he wants to be in next year's contest.

There's something about this guy. You never know what he's going to say.

He had 20 points in the Eastern Conference's 146-119 loss to the West. Perhaps we saw a preview of next year's slam dunk contest when he threw it off the backboard and threw it down late in the game.

James' teammate, Mo Williams, added 12 points for the East. If there was any doubt about whether he belonged on the All-Star team, he put those doubts to rest. He looked at ease with the other All-Stars.

Cavs coach Mike Brown said he wanted to have fun during the weekend. Hopefully, he did.

All-Star games are sometimes difficult to watch. This one wasn't any different. Players were using all their razzle-dazzle in their arsenal, and it made for some selfish play.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Love Amare

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

One thing just doesn't add up for me. Why the Suns would want to trade forward/center Amare Stoudemire.

Shaquille O'Neal? Sure. I'd trade him in a second. But Stoudemire, that was doesn't make sense. It's very hard to find those kinds of guys. He's a talented big, who had 27 points and six rebounds against the Cavs on Wednesday.

And, no, the Cavs won't be in the Stoudemire sweepstakes. They just don't have enough players that would interest the Suns.

This is purely a guess, but I think Cavs coach Mike Brown will get fined in the neighborhood of $25,000 for his postgame comments from Indiana.

The ruling should come down on Thursday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bringing back memories

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

When I walked into Conseco Fieldhouse for shootaround on Tuesday morning, it brought back memories of the last time I was there.

It was the day before the trade deadline in February 2008. Rumors were flying hot and heavy. Forward Donyell Marshall came over to the three beat writers sitting courtside late in the game and said, "I think I'm going to be traded."

I said something totally unsensitive like, "Well, it's about time."

That was the kind of relationship we had with Old Yeller. He was a neat guy, one that loved his Steelers. In his way, he was trying to say goodbye.

I didn't realize I wouldn't see him again in a Cavs' uniform. He was truly a pleasure to be around. He was nearing the end of the career - he's now in Philly - but he was a go-to guy in the locker room.

Later in the Cavs' locker room, guard Larry Hughes seemed to be talking about being on the Cavs team in the past tense. If you read between the lines, he thought he was going, too. Of course, both of them were traded the next day, along with forward/center Drew Gooden, for four players.

Coming to the Cavs were Ben Wallace and Joe Smith from Chicago and Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West from Seattle (now Oklahoma City). It was a true blockbuster trade.

I was working a different angle at the deadline - Memphis guard Mike Miller. The Cavs had even agreed to take on Brian Cardinal's whacked out contract. That was how much they wanted Miller. But that possible deal feel through that night in Indiana.

The Cavs are still being linked to Miller now, even though he's playing in Minnesota.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fight to finish

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavs forward LeBron James was leading the league in scoring coming into Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, he was held to 16 points on 5 of 20 shooting.

That allowed Heat guard Dwyane Wade to leap frog past him in the scoring race. After Sunday's games, Wade is first at 28.26 points per game. James is second at 28.2.

Wade has 1,413 points in 50 games this season, while James has 1,382 in 49.

It will likely go down to the wire.

James led the league in scoring last year at 30 per game.


The Cavs have made 10 or more 3-pointers in 11 of their last 14 games, including an 11-for-23 performance on Sunday.

They are shooting 45.8 percent from behind the arc in their last 14 games (142 of 310).


Guard Mo Williams had 19 points and four assists on Sunday. In his last four home games, he's averaging 25.3 points and shooting 60.7 percent from behind the arc (17 of 28).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Home away from home?

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

You think LeBron James likes playing at Madison Square Garden? He calls it the "Mecca" of basketball.

His 52-point, 11 assist, 10-rebound and two-block outing on Wednesday was phenomenal. Whenever the Knicks would get close, he would hold them off with another basket.

He grabbed his final rebound at the buzzer. He grabbed it out of the hands of Nate Robinson of the Knicks and fell out of bounds as time expired. It made for a magical ending. People walking out of the arena were amazed, talking about different things James did on the night.

They weren't talking about the Knicks. They marveled at his jump shots, his dunks, his pin-point passes.

I've been on hand for five of his six career 50-point games. This was his most impressive. And it came on the biggest stage - "The Mecca," if you will.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's Mo time

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

If Mo Williams doesn't make it this time, the Cavs might file a protest. The Eastern Conference will probably be forced to replace Magic point guard Jameer Nelson on the All-Star team.

Nelson, having a fabulous season for the Magic, separated his shoulder on Monday. You never want to see another player get hurt, but Williams will accept the nod if it's offered.

It's no lock this time, either, as Celtics guard Ray Allen and Knicks forward/center David Lee are also worthy candidates.

Certainly, he couldn't be snubbed again, could he?

If the Cavs are looking for a big man, the Raptors have one they'd love to peddle - forward/center Jermaine O'Neal. But the Cavs know better than to trade for the 30-year-old big man. He has a lot of mileagle on his body and his knees are shot. He also has a bloated contract.

In his prime, he as a big-time player. The Raptors might trade him to Miami for forward Shawn Marion. But he won't be coming to Cleveland.

O'Neal finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds against the Cavs on Tuesday.

Expect another cluster you-know-what in New York on Wednesday. It's the last trip to New York for the Cavs this year and the media is sure to floor LeBron James with questions about him playing there in 2010.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mo has been incredible

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Mo Williams might be the best guard in the Eastern Conference not on the All-Star team. He was snubbed by the East coaches on Thursday, and has been very good in his last seven games.

During that stretch, he's averaged 24.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists. He's also shooting 52.1 percent from 3-point range (25 of 48).

He started 3 of 9 in the first half on Sunday in Detroit. He made 6 of 9 from the field in the second half.

"I think he likes it when he starts bad," teammate LeBron James said. "He'll go 1 for 9 or 1 for 10 and then heat up."

Daniel Gibson and Williams each had a big hand in the Cavs' come-from-behind win. Williams had 12 points in the fourth quarter, 15 in the second half.

"The game is not over until 48 minutes," Williams said. "We wanted to stay aggressive. Guys were passing up shots. We need to be aggressive. Gib did a great job playing with confidence and getting us going.

"Unfortunately, in the first halves, I haven’t been that good. This team needs me down the stretch to be aggressive. I’m always confident my next shot will go in. If they don’t, then I’ll be 3 for 19. I can live with that."