Monday, June 27, 2005

Some thoughts before the storm

As I mentioned in the introduction, a lot of the material posted here will be related to the NBA. And there honestly may not be a more intriguing time of year to write about the NBA than right now.

As a fan of the Cavaliers, the team is about to embark on what is far and away the most important offseason in the history of the franchise. With somewhere around $25 million in salaries to throw around (and I used that term because it's what I'm afraid they may do), this is the team's best (and perhaps only) opportunity to build a contending team around LeBron James before he can decide whether he wants to remain a Cavalier or take the first plane out of Hopkins after his four-year sentence in basketball Siberia is up.

The Cavaliers are going to announce Danny Ferry as their new General Manager, and presumably President of Basketball Operations, sometime later today. It's been a position of great speculation since Jim Paxson was finally let go two months ago, and now there's finally an answer as to who is running this ship that's been lost at sea for so long.

Possibly the most interesting news to come out of the hiring of Ferry is that, according to Brian Windhorst's article in today's Akron Beacon Journal, Larry Brown is out of the mix for a position in the Cavaliers' front office.

And the fans of Cleveland should be thanking their lucky stars.

Larry Brown in Cleveland might have worked out great ... if and only if his responsibility was to coach. Once it became known that he would only be a part of the organization in some capacity in the front office, with what was allegedly going to be great say over personnel decisions, I'd been waiting and waiting for this thing to fall through. Thankfully, it sound like it has.

Brown is a fine coach with one of the better basketball minds the sport has seen since James Naismith attached that peach basket to a post 114 years ago. But he's a basketball vagabond, not only in the nature of his moves, holding 11 different posts in 33 years in the league, but also in his mindset while he jumps off the circus ride for long enough to stop and make his mark on a city and a franchise. He falls in and out of love with players just as he does with whatever franchise he's working for, though these particular grudges/infatuations can be spawned overnight.

He can manage players on the court with a pedigree of few who have come before him but when left in charge of salaries, contracts and bringing in players, he's consistently come up short, particularly recently when he had control of personnel decisions in Philadelphia. We're talking about a guy who was hell-bent on trading Allen Iverson for Jerry Stackhouse. The Sixers are still trying to climb out from under some of the unenviable positions he put them in financially.

But enough about Larry Brown. He'll enter the Mayo Clinic Wednesday to have his health checked yet again, and according to the nomad himself, by Friday he hopes to have a decision made as to where his basketball future lies.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have brought Danny Ferry back in the fold, this time (fortunately) as an executive in the front office rather than a player. If I hear one more person question the move due to his rather dubious playing career as a Cavalier, I may lose faith in mankind altogether. Ferry's failure to be the next Larry Bird, or whatever it was that people saw in his game at Duke, has NOTHING to do with his ability to evaluate talent or run a team. But unlike his playing days, he won't have a year to spend in Europe honing his craft.

The draft is tomorrow and teams can start negotiating with free agents on Friday. Talk about jumping right in. Fortunately, Ferry has been well-groomed, coming from a Spurs organization that is extremely well-run by R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich.

We don't know what Ferry will bring to the table in Cleveland. I don't know what input, if any, he has in signing Ginobili to an extension, bringing Brent Barry aboard via free agency, or pilfering Nazr Mohammed from Ray Charles (err....Isiah Thomas) in February. But I do know he's as right for the job as anyone at this point, and considering he learned how to be an NBA executive from people who actually have been successful (unlike his predecessor Paxson), the Cavaliers are off to a good start.

As for the draft tomorrow, I wouldn't be letting Ferry steer the ship completely (assuming, of course, the Cavaliers actually can acquire a pick and be part of the festivities). I'd leave that to Mark Warkentein, who had been the team's interim GM. It's up to Warkentein to get into the middle of the first round and get this team the young point guard it so desperately needs.

I realize this is probably more of a fantasy than reality, and I'm certain Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Raymond Felton will be long gone before the Cavaliers can even think about having enough ammo to acquire a pick. But Jarrett Jack will be readily available. And anyone who knows my thoughts about basketball knows how big of a fan I am of the former Georgia Tech guard's game. Amazingly, he's not mentioned anywhere near as much as the three previously mentioned points. But he should be. And just enough teams don't seem to realize this that if the Cavaliers can get a pick in the 15-20 range, Jack will be there and the Cavaliers will have had to give up far less than they would to acquire Paul, Williams or Felton. Most importantly, they will have drafted a player who is a proven winner, excellent passer, solid scorer, and stout defender who can be averaging 11 assists per night in a year or two next to Mr. James. If the guy could make Luke Schenscher into a decent player, imagine what a potentially re-signed Zydrunas Ilgauskas could do on his team.

But enough dreaming. Until further notice, the Cavaliers are on the sidelines for the draft, something we haven't been able to say about this franchise for a very, very long time.

That's all for now. Until next time...

Monday, June 20, 2005

A little introduction

Welcome to Give and Go, a blog that over time you'll find is mostly sports-related. The title of this site is, of course, a basketball term, and I thought it was fitting because a good portion of the content I discuss will deal with the NBA and college basketball.

Of course, the NBA isn't my only passion. Football, baseball, international soccer are also of high interest to me, and maybe at some point over the course of the next 10 years (or even this summer), the NHL will get its act together and be back on the ice come October. And despite the irreparable damage that Gary Bettman, Bob Goodenow and company have done to their sport, it will still be back and a good portion of its already niche fan base will return as well.

Sports won't be the only topic of discussion here at Give and Go. Movies will be another big subject, and I'll give you thoughts on current releases at the box office or good stuff to check out on DVD from time to time. Though I don't watch a lot of non-sports related TV, there are a few shows that I don't miss (such as Fox's masterful "24") and I'll get plenty of talk in about those as well.

That should give you a good overview of what Give and Go is all about. I'll give you a topic and go with it from there. If you're interested in what I have to say, feel free to keep reading and keep coming back. If you're not, as you might be aware, there are a few of these other "blogs" on the Web to check out.