The Lake County Captains play tonight against the Lansing Lugnuts in Lansing, Michigan at Cooley Law School Stadium at 7:05 p.m...... The Cleveland Indians play today against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field at 12:05 p.m....
Wine and Gold Observations, Opinion by Justin Lada  

Catch A Break

This is the NBA, and no one is going to feel sorry for them, but the Cavaliers will be glad to see the All-Star break. After the selection committee making the mistake of leaving Anderson Varejao off the All-Star roster the Cavaliers heart and soul went down the a fractured right wrist. After playing in just 31 games last season, Varejao is now going to miss 4-6 weeks.

The Cavaliers record losing streak last winter was likely direct evidence to not having their best post defender and the man that brings the energy to the club on and off the floor. While Kyrie Irving was already out with a concussion, the Cavaliers sorely lacked energy late in the game, losing a huge lead to the Milwaukee Bucks after the big man left.

They were able to beat the Indiana Pacers and the big man that likely beat out Varejao, Roy Hibbert, who couldn’t stop Semih Erden, who put in a career high 18 points, making Hibbert’s All-Star selection more questionable.

Of course that may have had a lot to do with getting Kyrie Irving back in the lineup. Unfortunately in such a short season, losing Varejao until April might likely kill whatever playoff chances the Cavaliers had.

Break Pt. II

While losing Varejao is a huge blow, you have to feel for a guy like Daniel Gibson. Gibson with Varejao, are the only two hold overs from the Cavaliers 2007 team that advanced to the NBA Finals. Gibson was one of the few Cavaliers that didn’t show any friendliness to LeBron James last season in his first visit back to Cleveland and is one of the Cavaliers inspirational leaders. He left Wednesday’s game with an ankle injury, after just returning last week from a neck infection. Gibson had some dings and dents last season and has had some bad luck in the last six weeks on the injury front.

Gibson has standout character and is a good backup guard. With his injury history and what might be an oversized contract, it wouldn’t be a shock for his time in Cleveland to come to an end soon. If the Cavaliers do fall off the playoff pace soon, the Cavaliers might entertain trading him if they find a decent offer. That will depend on his health and if they deal Ramon Sessions as well.

If the Cavs do hit the trading deadline more than a few games back they might sell off a few players, but losing Gibson, on his end and on some true fans end, might be a tough pill to swallow.

Opportunity Time

Without  having Varejao to take 30 or more minutes a night, a position that has continually frustrated Coach Byron Scott this season, backup center, will likely start a war of attrition. Erden, Samardo Samuels, Ryan Hollins, Tristan Thompson and backup forward Luke Harangody are all going to see a lot of minutes in the ‘Wild Thing’s’ absence. Aside from Thompson, none of the other big men have pleased Scott for any length of time, so this opportunity might help one of them and will help the Cavaliers decide who to cut bait with.

Erden did respond with a career high in points against Indiana, but as Scott predicted, he struggled against a more athletic Miami team (6 points, 4 rebounds) before leaving with an injury. Thompson had an encouraging 12 points and six rebounds.

While the injury isn’t good for Varejao or the Cavaliers summer, it will be good for the Cavs to see what they have or don’t have in terms of big men.

Princess James

I don’t often agree with Skip Bayless of ESPN’s First Take, but this nickname for LeBron James I do agree with. After the news being dominated by Jeremy Lin and the Cavaliers looking like they have a promising future, it seemed James didn’t like being a second page story. So he had to make news by talking about maybe returning to Cleveland someday, and that if he ‘decides to come back’, that he hopes Cleveland fans ‘accept him’.

James may be trying to de-vilify himself and practice better PR, but his egotistical narcissism has not changed. James always loved and still does being the center of attention in drama queen fashion.

There were reports a few weeks ago saying James wasn’t happy in Miami and this little bit from him apologizing and talking about maybe wanting to return to Cleveland may provide some truth to that report. But more likely James is trying to take some heat off of himself (no pun intended) when he returns to Cleveland. His pal and ‘reporter’ Brian Windhorst said the Cavaliers fans shouldn’t have any other choice but to forgive him if he ever wanted to come back.

Now I like Brian’s writing but he made a mistake trying to assume the role of a Cleveland ‘fan’. Windhorst is from Akron, like LeBron and he always made it clear that he was from Akron not Cleveland and that he didn’t play for Akron he played for Cleveland. The Cavs (or any Cleveland team) were never LeBron’s hometown team, despite growing up a half hour south of Cleveland. He was a Cavaliers for seven seasons and was fully committed to the Cavs for 6.75 of those years.

Cleveland fans don’t have to forgive him for anything. He handled his free agency with zero class and no matter what is said, he quit in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against Boston.

This attempt at stirring up news was just that, to get himself back to being the topic of conversation.

Byron Scott wouldn’t even comment on James’ comments about not ruling out a return to Cleveland, because he said that might be construed as ‘tampering’ with another team’s player.

Yet it’s okay for James to do it?

Real commitment to your team LeBron.

I wonder how Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley reacted when reading those comments.

The Cavaliers have a budding superstar in Irving and have Varejao, who is a superstar in his own right. They have a great coach and are headed in the right direction. Would James make the Cavaliers better? Without a doubt, he is the most physically gifted and talented player in the NBA, but Scott and Dan Gilbert have a little more respect and moral approach to success, at least I would hope.

Cavs fans should stay away from this topic like Scott did. Irving makes this team exciting to watch every night. They have other great pieces like Alonzo Gee, Thompson and Sessions (while he remains in Cleveland). They have gone from NBA worst to a bubble playoff contender in less than one season. They are back on the elevator up. Be happy about that, it’s a feel good story that will only get better, and it will be done without James.

‘Lin’ the News

Speaking of feel good stories, personally I like the Jeremy Lin situation. No doubt he gets the maximum exposure because he plays in New York. If he played in Toronto he’d get less time than the Cavs do on ESPN every night.

But he does play for the Knicks and he is a great story. He was sleeping on his brothers coach (a dental student at NYU) and teammate Landry Fields’ coach and nearly got cut from the Knicks before scoring 109 points in his first five games.

Of course by now everyone knows Lin was undrafted out of Harvard and got cut by Golden State and Houston this season. Lin continues to play impressively and has only lost one game while starting for the Knicks. While he has sparked the team and the city to wins, no one has mentioned his alarming turnover rate.

In his first seven big games, he has turned the ball over 45 times, despite being 6-1. In his first loss he did put up 26 points, he turned it over a career high nine times. I think eventually he can cut that down but chances are ESPN won’t talk about his turnover problems because he is a New York point guard.

Either way, personally I’m glad the guy has done a good job. It has nothing to do with race, despite what Floyd Mayweather or anyone thinks. He is the NBA’s Rudy, overlooked and given no chance and now has the pathetic Knicks winning games they otherwise would have lost without ‘saviors’ Carmelo Anthony and Amar’s Stoudemire.

By the way, the Knicks were five games under .500 with Anthony and Stoudemire. Lin brought them back to .500. If he cuts down his turnover rate, he will be better than either of those two. Lin’s numbers will probably take a hit once Anthony is back, because Anthony is the black hole of basketball. He doesn’t pass and plays defense less than he passes, which is fine because there isn’t a lawyer who couldn’t teach Mike D’Antoni about defense. 

Again, personally, I’m happy for Lin, he’s a good story for many reasons. I’d much rather see him succeed in New York than a player like Anthony who weaseled his way out of Denver.
jlada@lakecounty-sentinel.com  or follow Justin on Twitter @SentinelCle_JLA

Check out Taitville (Cleveland Cavaliers fan page)
POSTED 02/18/2012 03:36
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