First off, I promise I'll soon stop my alliterated headlines - I just need to come up with a solid consistent name for my blog on Stepien Rules. When at Hoopsworld, I went under the blog title of "My Two Cents". I don't know if I like that anymore, so I need help. I'm not trying to separate myself from Stepien Rules in any way here; it's just my Title's suck, suck bad. I was the same in school - my English teacher constantly busted my chops for not delivering a more imaginative Title. For example, we'd be set the task of writing an essay with the subplot being that a murder occurs, it involves a married couple, one of whom is having an affair, it ends with the partner finding out and killing the unfaithful spouse and their lover. My Title would be something like, "Cheating Man Gets His Due". Something totally crap like that, which entices nobody to read it, and gives away the entire story in five words. But anyways, before I drag up more meaningless issues regarding me and my school days, here's what's doing the rounds in my head today...
After Thursday night's match-up with the Spurs in Pittsburgh, the Cavaliers will come home for their final preseason practice run at the Q against CSKA Moscow before tipping things off for real in Cleveland on the 27th.
The perennial Euroleague power once owned by Mikhail Prokhorov advanced to the Euroleague Final Four last season before being eliminated by the same Barcelona team that just beat the Lakers 92-88. They were led last season by a couple key players with Cavaliers' ties in ex-guard Trajan Langdon, as well as the post playing big man from Kansas, Sasha Kaun, who will be leading the charge for CSKA again this season.
The Cavaliers traded for and own the draft rights for Sasha Kaun, who after helping the Jayhawks to the 2008 National Championship, was selected 56th overall by the Seattle Supersonics in the '08 Draft. Sasha would go on to sign a three year deal with CSKA that summer worth around three million euros, and has manned the post for CSKA in each of the last two seasons since.
In 51 games for CSKA last year, Kaun averaged just over 10 points and 5 rebounds per game, playing 20 minutes of extremely efficient basketball on a nightly basis. While obviously not attempting a three pointer, Kaun shot just over 70% from the field for the season, and earned himself a spot on the Russian National Team this past summer.
I got a chance to catch up with Sasha last week in anticipation of this upcoming game against the Cavs, and our conversation is below...
Allen Iverson looks set to lace ‘em up in Turkey next year, if reports stemming from Yahoo! Sports are to be believed. The deal could top $2 million annually, which includes bonuses, the base salary being $1.5 million. The funniest part if this whole ordeal for me has to be Iverson's insistence that the most he can be fined is 1% of his salary, as opposed to the 10% levy Besiktas would like to impose per fine. It's almost as if AI has just said, "Hey, I might not practice, I might not show up some nights, but there's no way in hell you guys are taking $150,000 off of me for doing so." But he's ok with losing the mere $15,000 the 1% clause would draw. Don't you just love Allen Iverson?
Please tell me you read Marc J. Spears' piece on DeMarcus Cousins? Man, this kid is p-u-m-p-e-d up. And I quote, "But I can't wait to play them because I'm going at their necks, especially the big that got picked before me". Them being the Nets, the big being Derrick Favors. Cousins added, "I'm trying to see what's so special..." after watching Favors tally 4 points and 1 rebound against Phily. Spears goes on to make the valid point that New Jersey's best player is Brooke Lopez - a center. Cousins is a center, so why draft him when you have the potentially brilliant Favors available as your future power forward? Still though, Sacramento v New Jersey just got a whole lot more interesting.
Be sure to find a copy of the first annual "Cavs Zine" on opening night, being distributed around Quicken Loans Arena prior to tip-off. Cavs fan and avid Cavs twitterer @WayneEmbrysKids is spearheading this effort, and when he asked me to write something for it I was excited to contribute. Prior to getting involved I wasn't sure what a Zine was, but I've since learned that before there were blogs, punk bands typed out what they wanted to say, taped it into a zine, spent the night at a photocopy place, stapled it together and mailed it out, dropped off copies at record stores, or sold them at shows.
He asked me to write about J.J. Hickson for it, which I did and sent over last week with my fingers crossed hoping it was okay. I hoped so because I know the rest of the thing's going to be solid for sure based on the people involved. I got a chance to read what national writer, author, and native Clevelander Scott Raab wrote for the zine over the weekend and his piece is just about as badass as it gets.
I haven't read anything else from it yet, but am looking forward to doing so because the others involved include an all star cast of Cavs commentators. Those contributors include Justin from Concede330, Alex from PodCAVS, Kirsten from Lebromageddon, Ben Cox from BenjaminCoxBlogspot, Scott Sargent from Waiting For Next Year, as well as @WayneEmbrysKids himself.
So get yourself a copy if you're lucky on opening night. It will be free, and awesome.
For the first time in about 20 years NBA training camp opens without Mike Brown in some way involved in the proceedings. Two years after being named the NBA's Coach of the Year, he's out. His tenure in Cleveland ended for two reasons technically, but essentially a third one. While he is and remains one of the NBA's brightest defensive minds, he did struggle at times with offensive game-planning on the dry erase clipboard. He also didn't win the big one.
However, he was more directly fired in my opinion because LeBron James didn't like him. I don't fault management for making that move, I understand it. It was a desperate play, in desperate times, which I respect. I would make it again if I had the opportunity to hop in the DeLorean and play the role of Dan Gilbert, but that still doesn't mean Mike Brown doesn't have reason to be bitter. Nor does it mean he doesn't have reason to openly blast the narcissistic personality of the superstar ego he was charged with managing over the last five years. He managed that personality as well as anyone in the NBA could have. Nobody would, or could, have done a better job managing the guy who we got to know more accurately and more intimately this past summer in that situation.
However Mike Brown's not bitter because Mike Brown doesn't do bitter. He's not blasting anybody either. In fact, he's collecting $2 million a year toting water-bottles at Westlake 8th grade football games for his son's team, and working out with his other son in the morning at St. Ed's.As reported this morning by the Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer:
Editor's Note: Professional basketball player Josh Wilson checks in with us here at Stepien Rules for part three of his Hooping on Foreign Hardwoods series. For parts one and two, click here and here.
After finishing my last blog I hoped on my last flight from Warsaw to Budapest and drove a two hour drive to my new home in Kaposvar, Hungary. My family and I have just settled into our new home and everything is great so far. I was on a two week tryout period and have successfully made the team for this season. My goal is to catch everyone up to speed on what’s going on in Hungary. I have a ton of interesting stuff to write about not only from a basketball standpoint but everything pertaining to life as an expatriate. My wife and I just found out that we are having a boy this March and I couldn’t be more excited! I think it will make for some great writing material.
A common question I often get is what is the average day like for an overseas professional basketball player? While I can’t answer for everyone I can make an attempt to paint a picture of what my day was like in Germany and now here in Hungary. Typically you have two practices a day, one in the morning and one a night. You usually lift weights sometime in between and that’s all your basketball obligations for the day. So that might take up oh, 4-6 hours. That leaves around 8 hours to do whatever you feel like. In Germany sometimes we’d only have 1 practice a day and weights on your own so I was really not busy. This can actually be a huge problem for guys coming from college. College is unbelievably hard. You go from 8am to 10pm everyday nonstop. So going from that to the pros leaves you a little…
When I first heard rumblings of Brian Windhorst leaving the Plain Dealer to join ESPN in coverage of LeBron James a few weeks ago my initial reaction was wait, didn't he say during the decision that if LeBron James left he was going to still write for the Plain Dealer and not follow LeBron wherever he goes? After I confirmed this thought in my mind, I then remembered what I thought when I heard him say that at the time, which went something like this: he sounds like Nick Saban right now, of course he'll leave.
Which is what he is doing - sort of - as reported by a number of outlets on Monday, including WaitingForNextYear.com:
"What was just a discussion between two parties a few weeks ago appears to be confirmed: Brian Windhorst will be leaving Cleveland’s Plain Dealer to cover the Miami Heat exclusively for ESPN and ESPN.com."
By sort of I mean that I don't think it's as simple as just following LeBron to Miami. I know some Cavs fans view it that way right now, and are angry about it, but I'm not one of those fans. I'm not mad at Brian at all for making this move, and I really don't see how anybody could be angry with someone who makes a decision to take a better job with more exposure, more opportunity, and more sunshine. I'm pretty sure those people are called haters.
I'm disappointed though that I won't be able to read his coverage of the Cavaliers going forward, because he is one of the best beat writers in the NBA, but I'm not mad at the guy. Isn't that how you get opportunities like working for the mothership afterall, by being one of the best beat writers around? From there, what they do with that opportunity is up to the individuals I suppose, but here's wishing Brian nothing but the best of luck down in South Beach with his new gig...which is kinda new and kinda the same gig he has had since he first started covering the NBA but that's besides the point. Count me as a guy that will continue to read his work wherever he posts it regardless of all that. He will be missed around here.And hey, maybe Windy can actually go down there and be the one who breaks the types of stories us bitter Cleveland fans are desperately hoping deep down in our broken sports fans hearts eventually get broken about Lebron James next season while he's in Miami. Maybe he can work as like a double secret agent on the Cavs fans revenge detail in that regard, or something like that.
Things are starting to get interesting from an NBA standpoint aren't they? And I'm not talking about some crap made up stories on where Melo's going - I'm talking actual basketball action on the court. Sure for some teams they're still scrimmaging, but some teams have begun their pre-season and Tuesday we start our season of "Show the world we're still relevant" against the Bobcats. Heading into that game the reports stemming from scrimmage were those confirming that, like we thought all along, our Cavs shall be running, running and running some more this season. It also confirmed that we're particularly short in the middle - something any of us could have told you but there are ways to combat that. When you go through the entire Eastern Conference, can you genuinely name me more than 4 starting centers that'll eat up Anderson Varejao on a given night? You can't, because there aren't four. Now, after Andy we know it's slim pickings but Hickson has spent time there and Leon Powe I'm sure will be more than happy to get court time. Ryan Hollins is a bit of an unknown entity really, but you can't teach height and he's still six fouls to use up, right? I don't mean to criticise Hollins or anything, it's just I'd be extremely surprised if he averaged more than 10 minutes a game this season. Do I believe that those kind of minutes are there for him to play? Yes. Do I think he'll get them? I kinda hope not, I just don't know if he's ready.
Time for what I believe is a first here at Stepien Rules - one big long imaginative list of pre-season predictions. Quick recap on what I've brought you - prediction wise - this off-season. We've had previews of both the West and Eastern Conferences, sophomore's who are set to kick the "sophomore slump" into touch, Rookie of the Year candidates and MVP candidates - I feel to be fair I've covered pretty much as much as I could Nostradamus wise. For everything I've missed out on - trades, who'll actually win what conference etc., that's why I'm here today. I've compiled a lengthy list of predictions applicable to the upcoming season, some being pretty obvious and easy for all to call, some not so much. Some may seem preposterous to a lot of people, I'm hoping you'll see my reasoning in some of my calls, and I promise I've no set aside any vendettas when making my picks. Confused? Good - perfect start because prediction number one was "At least 67% of people reading this will have gotten confused/annoyed reading the introductory paragraph thus exiting the blog and heading over to ESPN". I'm already one for one...so without further ado, I give you my list. (Note: We'll come back to this mid-way or at end of the season to see how we're doing and give you the opportunity to say "Told ya so" to me a couple dozen times)