The last time I spoke with Mark Price he was planning to re-enter the professional coaching ranks. Price had just taken the 2012-13 campaign off to stay close to his son during his senior season in high school.
Since then, Price accepted an assistant coaching position with the Charlotte Bobcats. I caught up with him again last week at Summer League to talk about how it felt to be back on the sidelines.
"Feels real good to be out here," Price told me. "I'm working with a great group of guys and I’m excited.”
Among other topics, we also talked about the work he’s been putting in with Cleveland's favorite Bobcat of all time.
"He's got a great work ethic," Price said, when I asked him about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. "I’ve been working a lot with him since joining the team and have already seen a lot of progress so far."
After wishing Price luck he doesn't need, I talked with MKG about the Cavaliers legend who was actually in his seventh NBA season when Mike was born in 1993.
"You know Coach Price is a Cleveland legend, right?” I asked Kidd-Gilchrist later. “I think you might have only been about five when he retired so I just wanted to double check.”no comments
Kyrie Irving is a Cleveland Cavalier. (Eric P. Mull - US PRESSWIRE)
Lost in a mad panic two weeks ago after Dwight Howard bolted from the Los Angeles Lakers for the Houston Rockets, the Lakers team, according to Lakersnation.com, were already targeting several free agents for a quick rebuild. After trading two first round picks to the Cavaliers, essentially for Ramon Sessions, the Lakers are on track to attempt the “Miami route” to championships by acquiring maximum contract free agents and building an instant contender.
Kyrie Irving's free agency, still years away, is already being discussed.
BEWARE OF THE NEXT FREE AGENCY SUPERTEAM ATTEMPT: The Los Angeles Lakers
Unlike many other teams, the Lakers are well positioned regarding salary cap space after the massive contracts of Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant expire next summer. The Lakers are also well funded, becoming the beneficiaries of a 20 year $3.6 billion contract with Time Warner Cable last season.
This massive influx of income could potentially allow the Laker franchise to operate at a large profit - even with a giant payroll - despite the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement expansive and restrictive new luxury tax system. The Lakers will be able to absorb luxury taxes that really no other team could even consider. They could be the last and only franchise that could economically afford to create and maintain a superteam.
According to that website, sources in the Lakers organization indicate that they are targeting 2014 free agents already, including the Heat's Lebron James and New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony. Also, sources state that the team is looking towards the 2015 free agency and has taken interest in Minnesota's Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers own All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.
SOMETIMES IT'S JUST PLAIN ANNOYING
Remember these kind of photoshopped pictures?
You're a franchise player in a city like Cleveland and the national media is begging you to play into it, go on a free agency tour, put out propective free agent destination shoe colorways, talk about how your favorite NBA cities are not the team you are on. You can play into it, build some hype maybe help your brand exposure, or you can work on making the team you are on better. It's a lot to ask a guy who is 21 to understand that kind of responsibility, but measuring whether he can handle it is part of the choice of who you draft. You can't build a team with questions looming about whether the best player on the team is going to leave.
Mike Brown interrupts Dion Waiters's post game interview to discuss Dion's defense. (NBA TV)
This isn't just how it could be, this is how it is.
The Cleveland Cavaliers started Summer League Tournament play a house on fire Thursday when powerhouse Coach Mike Brown strolled into the gym just as the game started, drawing the attention and eyes of the bench, announcers and crowd. Brown has positioned himself as perhaps the most powerful Cavalier employee in the organization, perhaps unfireable, having been rehired on a long term lucrative contact by owner Dan Gilbert, who now deems Brown’s 2010 dismissal an error of judgment.
Brown has arrives a changed man, with more confidence and perhaps more ability, a greater depth of perception and a more commanding voice. He’s years and miles from that night in Boston when an uncoachable MVP, down only 6 points to the Celtics in Game 6 made the decision to end his Cavalier career. When the team walked the ball up the court with no sense of urgency as precious seconds elapsed. Mike Brown was not emasculated. Mike Brown has grown and returned stronger.
In one motion this afternoon in Vegas, he positioned himself beside the Cavaliers bench. He is not the head coach of the Cavs Summer League team, that’s assistant Jamahl Mosley, but he is the clear off court leader of the organization. When Mike Brown is sitting at the end of the bench, he commands respect.no comments
David Lighty led Nanterre, in France's LNB Pro A Division, to the French League Championship in 2013. He was named MVP of the finals and also helped his team qualify for Euroleague.
In July, the Cleveland native was added to the Sacramento Kings Summer League Roster.
Kings head coach Mike Malone, as well as assistant Chris Jent, were each members of the Cavaliers coaching staff under Mike Brown while Lighty was finishing up his career at Villa-Angela St. Joseph’s before starring at Ohio State.
I caught up with Lighty this week in Las Vegas to talk about how things are going at SL with the Kings.
StepienRules: Has SL felt different for you this time around after being out here last year?
David Lighty: Summer League is pretty much different every year depending on which team you play with, the role they have you playing and the systems with different teams. So it’s really just about finding your niche, where you can affect the game somehow.
StepienRules: What type of niche have you been trying to pursue and carve out for yourself with the Kings?
David Lighty: For me, it’s just trying to affect the game somehow--if it’s defense, taking a charge, hitting open shots, any type of way when I’m on the court. When I come out of the game, I want them to say that he made a difference.no comments
There are so many numbers on the walls. - photo via bangthebook.com
In its latest posting of odds, at least one Las Vegas oddsmaker, Cantor Race & Sports, believes that the Cleveland Cavaliers will make the playoffs. At 75/1, the Cavaliers are getting identical odds with the Atlanta Hawks to win the NBA Championship, both with the 6th best chances of teams the Eastern Conference to walk away next season hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy and hosting a parade.
The opening odds for the Cleveland Cavaliers were 100/1, which changed after the Bynum trade and also the supertrade between the Celtics and Nets changed the landscape of the Eastern Conference. Also that Sergey Karasev has dominated the World University Games over the past two weeks in Kazan, Russia, leading the Russian team to a Gold medal with otherworldly per 36 minute statistics.
Significantly, it also takes into account the Cavaliers or some other team’s chances of defeating the two time champion Miami Heat so that the Cavaliers would come out of the Eastern Conference. This takes into account concerns about the Cavaliers health last season, most notably the health of Andrew Bynum, the newest Cavalier. Clearly, Vegas believes in Chris Grant’s roster and improvement from the team that won just 24 games in 2012-13.no comments
Cleveland Cavaliers No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett answered questions from the media on Tuesday at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
He said that Tristan Thompson was showing him around Cleveland last week and has been reaching out to help him make the transition to life in the NBA.
I later asked Bennett about where he sees himself fitting in on the floor alongside Thompson and others next season and he answered by saying, "wherever the team needs me to play I'll play."
That video is below.
Other notables from the press conference included Bennett saying that he tries to model his playing style after the NBA games of Carmelo Anthony and Zach Randolph.
Bennett also said that he met Dion Waiters for the first time on Monday and will meet Anderson Varejao and others next week in Cleveland. He added when I asked that he hasn't had the chance to talk with Kyrie Irving yet.
Bennett also noted when someone asked that he won't miss In-And-Out Burger because that's not his spot. He's more of a Chipotle guy, he said, and was glad to see that they have Chipotle's in Cleveland.
Tristan Thompson on Cavs adding Bennett
Cavs veterans Tristan Thompson and Alonzo Gee were in the building working out with Coach Vitaly Potapenko and others while the media spoke with Bennett.
I caught up with Thompson just after his workout for a minute.
"That's my guy," Thompson said of Bennett. "Last week I was showing him around Cleveland and it's great to have him as a teammate. I'm excited."
Thompson also said that he had a great time throwing out the opening pitch at the Indians game last week and will be keeping an eye on Jason Kipnis and Justin Masterson tonight in the All-Star Game.no comments
I arrived in Las Vegas on Monday in time to catch the Cleveland Cavaliers engage the New Orleans Pelicans in a low-scoring summer league slugfest.
The Cavaliers ended up losing by four after two game-clinching drives by Austin Rivers. Just prior to that, however, Carrick Felix knocked down a critical basket to tie things up at 60.
Around that same time, No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett came through the arena and was signing autographs for fans near the Cavs bench.
Later in the afternoon, I spoke with multiple people who are close to the UNLV basketball program that told me the Cavaliers had a representative at every one of Bennett's game last season. Home and away.
The Cavs had somebody there watching Bennett and learning everything they could about him all year long. They were, according to what I was told, the only NBA team who attended that many games.
Pretty thorough way to go about drafting somebody it seems. Also, thanks to my buddy Josh for texting me over the picture above.
Catching up with Dion Waiters
I caught up with Dion Waiters for a few minutes postgame and asked him about his second run through Vegas Summer League.
"It feels a lot different than last year," Waiters told me. "I know a lot more about what to expect out here. Right now though, I'm just trying to get my legs back under me and work on my game each time out."
As far as the moves the Cavaliers made this summer in acquiring Bennett along with Earl Clark, Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bynum?
"We really got a nice group of guys coming in, it's exciting man," Waiters added. "If everybody stays healthy we can really do some big things this year."
Carrick Felix on earning a role as a defender
Besides Bennett and No. 19 overall pick Sergey Karasev, the Cavs also spent the No. 33 pick on Carrick Felix. While demonstrating the potential to earn a role as a defender and board-crashing rebounder from the small forward position, Felix has been impressive thus far.
Besides that one critical basket I mentioned earlier, he only scored two other points on Monday to be fair. But his money and roster spot will be earned in this league on the defensive end and he knows it.
Below is a conversation I had with Felix about all that.
We started the interview and then he stopped it initially after the National Anthem came on. Great kid and great American, obviously. Shamefully, I didn't even notice but am glad he did.
It was really loud while we were talking and probably not the ideal time to record a video interview. So in case you missed it, he said he's trying to develop a role for himself in this league similar to Jimmy Butler with the Bulls, Kawhi Leonard with the Spurs or a young Shane Battier back in the day.
At this point, I certainly think he'll have a shot. He also sounded genuinely enthusiasic about all the postive things he's heard about Cleveland fans.no comments
I grew up listening to Bruce Drennan on sports talk airwaves in Cleveland. He's a legend who continues to do a great job on a daily basis.
He and Gene Winters invited me back on All Bets Are Off again on Thursday and I had a great time talking Cavs with those guys. Besides breaking down the Andrew Bynum deal, we also discussed the Cavs signing Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark and the potential for playoff basketball in Cleveland this year.
Below is a video I posted on YouTube of my segment with Bruce if you missed it.
Cavs make Summer League Debut on Friday
The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night by a score of 70-62.
After coaching four practices earlier this week in Las Vegas, Mike Brown's team managed to keep all of the Lakers' starters in single-digit points for the game. Sure, the shooting was bad on both ends of the floor, but the Cavs did also play with an attention to defense that hasn't been seen in Cleveland since Brown left.no comments
Chris Grant made Andrew Bynum a contract offer on Monday. He would guarantee to pay the former All-Star $91,363 less than the Cleveland Cavaliers paid Luke Walton in 2012-13.
That total was reported by ESPN's Marc Stein to be $6 million.
Just added to @espn_macmahon's Andrew Bynum story: Sources say Cavs' 2-year, $24M offer only guaranteed for $6M. Still Drew's highest offer— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 10, 2013
If Bynum was able to hit a number of milestones in year one, Grant would have his boss, Dan Gilbert, kick in another six. Assuming things went really well for Bynum, a player once considered no worse than the second-best center in the NBA as recently as 2012, the Cavs would have the opportunity to keep him for another year.
But only if things went really well.
After digesting the offer, Bynum and his agent--who may or may not play for the Golden State Warriors--then met with Grant's former boss in Atlanta. The following day they traveled to Dallas to sit across the table from Mark Cuban.
All the while, somewhere in Cleveland, the steely eyes behind Chris Grant's glasses never blinked.
He would hold firm at his guaranteed offer of $1,207,688 more than the Cavaliers paid Daniel Gibson last season. That was as much of the salary cap he was willing to commit.
He knew the Cavs also offered Bynum a point guard in Kyrie Irving who is capable of rejuvenating a career put on hold by injuries last season in Philadelphia.no comments