Bibby to Cavs trade dead

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings were discussing a trade several weeks ago that would send point guard Mike Bibby to the Cavs, but sources indicate the talks are long dead.

There is no natural deal unless a third team gets involved. With the exception of LeBron James, the Cavs made everyone on their roster available in pursuit of Bibby. The Kings had interest in Drew Gooden because of their need for frontcourt rebounding and scoring. The talks were mostly cursory according to Windhorst.

Cavaliers inquire about Kidd

The New York Post reported that the Cavaliers are interested in Jason Kidd.

“I have it on excellent authority the Cavaliers – desperate to relieve LeBron James of his playmaking-for-others-and-himself obligation, and transform him into an open court, post-up receiver – called the Nets to voice their fondness for Kidd.

“I don’t look for that to happen,” said someone in the know. “Given the choice between playing in Cleveland with LeBron or in Los Angeles with Kobe, I suspect we know which way Kidd would lean. You definitely don’t want an unhappy impact player.”

The Lakers are interested in Kidd too. They had offered a couple first-round draft picks and several expiring contracts for Kidd. Chris Mihm, Aaron McKie.

Sasha Pavlovic and the Cavaliers Win Big

Sasha Pavlovic scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, picking up the slack for LeBron James, and the Cleveland Cavaliers shut down Kobe Bryant in the final minutes for a 99-90 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Pavlovic, suddenly a major cog in Cleveland’s offense, finished with 21 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas 17 and Anderson Varejao 12 – 11 in the fourth – as the Cavaliers improved to 20-7 at home with their second straight solid effort.

James had 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but he deferred to Pavlovic and others down the stretch, and Cleveland’s supporting cast came through. James was outscored 25-7 by Bryant in the second half, but the All-Star forward got to crown the Cavs’ win with a soaring dunk in the final seconds.

Bryant scored 36 points to lead the Lakers, who went 3-5 on an eight-game swing through the bitterly cold East. Bryant scored Los Angeles’ first 14 points in the final period, but with Larry Hughes guarding him, he didn’t score again in the final 3:39 after making two free throws to tie it 81-all.

Vladimir Radmanovic scored 12 points and Lamar Odom 11 for the Lakers, whose bench was outscored 46-15.

The Pussycats not too dulls for the Cavs

ABC are showing a new clip this year by the Pussycats Dulls at the start of their NBA on ABC every Sunday. The Cavaliers are featured on ABC this season every Sunday in January and they are probably the most featured team on ABC so far this season. If you look at the Pussycats video, non of the Dulls have a Cavaliers Jersey on!!! They are only wearing the Lakers, Heat, Pistons, Mavericks and Phoenix.


How Can Lebron Get Better

A great article by David Thorpe, NBA analyst for and the executive director of the Pro Training Center in Clearwater, Fla.

Since you have to pay to read it on ESPN, I will post here for you. I might get in trouble for it but I will deal with that later :)

Looking forward to your comments!!!


My assignment is to analyze LeBron James and figure out why his offensive production has slipped this season.

First, some perspective.

It’s time to take a closer look at LeBron James’ game.
James’ 2005-06 season was more extraordinary than most people realize. In fact, since 1979-80 (the first season for Magic Johnson and Larry Bird), James had the best Player Efficiency Rating for any non-center age 18 to 22, posting a 28.1 PER at age 21. In other words, during those 27 years, only Shaquille O’Neal put up a better statistical season by age 22.

James easily outpaced Michael Jordan, Amare Stoudemire, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant and all the rest.

Naturally, now we expect more from James. It comes with the territory.

Instead, James has tailed off.

That doesn’t mean he’s having a bad season — far from it. He just turned 22, and his current PER of 23.7 would be the 10th best (since 1979-80) for players age 18 to 22.

And his passing is still exquisite, even if his assists are down a bit. His eye and feel for the game are truly amazing, at any age.

But we expected that he might be able to take his game to new heights and essentially take over the league, and it hasn’t happened.

Specifically, his scoring has slipped from 31.4 points per game to 26.3, and that decline has been caused primarily by his decreased ability to create shots and get to the free-throw line. His free-throw shooting has become a problem as well.

Meanwhile, such players as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who were in the same celebrated draft class of 2003, have continued to make significant strides in their fourth season.

My study of his half-court offensive game reveals some of the problems ∧ potential solutions.

On to the breakdown:

Some of James’ problems stem from how he is being defended. Teams are, of course, looking to make things difficult for him every time he touches the ball, especially with the Cavaliers lacking other weapons.

James likes to drive hard to the hole from the perimeter, and every James drive is an invitation for two or three defenders to rush and trail towards him. So at the very least he must beat his own defender and prepare for the “pinch” defender (the man guarding the teammate closest to James). On pick and rolls, which the Cavs run frequently, he must also deal with his screener’s defender, who often follows James to prevent him from changing directions.

And he sees other defenders as well. One Western Conference scout told me that his team fronts the post on the strong side when James has the ball on the wing, while the weak-side post defender rotates toward the ball and shows as well. In other words, a sound defensive team gives James the impression that all five guys are ready to pounce on anything he does.

This strategy is working for a couple of reasons.

First, James appears unwilling to take (and sometimes unable to make) the midrange shots that are available to him.

LeBron is fearless when it comes to attacking the rim.
Second, he’s forcing the drive. He often seems locked in on getting to the rim, going up against three or four defenders in traffic. He is rushing his right hand drives and going right into the web that his opponents have spun for him, with no angle to the basket and several tall players to contest his shots.

In watching him closely, I’m amazed at the number of off-balance runners he has tossed up to the rim, mostly hoping for foul calls, which rarely come from this type of shot.

Of course, when he is able to get by the defense and get his shoulders to the rim, he is an incredibly explosive finisher, and he is known for his ability to score on “and ones.” But scoring consistently against three or more defenders is too much to ask, even for James.

He should find his midrange game, stroking in some 16-foot jump shots. Almost no one would be able to contest these shots successfully. And that weapon ultimately would open up driving angles to the rim, as defenders rush out to contest him.

His recent free-throw woes might also be having an indirect effect on his game. He is shooting too many double-pump shots from the 5-to-8-foot range, perhaps to avoid getting fouled. Normally we would expect him to attack the basket, risking a blocked shot but typically getting rewarded for the strong move by getting the foul call. But refs usually swallow their whistles on midair, hanging, double-pump shots.

Basketball is a game of habits, and James, with his advanced point-guard skills, has developed the habit of floating to the perimeter to get the ball. He might well have been encouraged in this habit by Cleveland coach Mike Brown, who runs a lot of isolation sets for James.

There are times when he does need to get outside to catch a pass, but there are ample opportunities to instead make a hard cut toward the basket, looking to receive a pass on the move or to post up.

He will draw lots of attention if he cuts more often, opening up more lanes and angles for his teammates. And if they end up shooting, then LeBron will be closer to the basket and increase his chances for an offensive rebound.

James is not spending much time in the post, perhaps because he feels it is easier to deal with double teams by driving from the perimeter rather than backing down a defender inside.

And when he does post up, he is not fighting hard for the best position. By contrast, big, strong, accomplished post players like O’Neal and Eddy Curry battle for space inside the paint. James, who often enjoys a similar size advantage over his defender, often settles for posting up 15 feet or more from the basket.

Recently, against smaller and lighter opponents such as Matt Carroll, Raymond Felton and Jason Kapono, James went to the post only a handful of times, and only once did I see him work at getting deep post position. (Predictably, he was fouled immediately.)

Issac Baldizon/Getty Images
LeBron can still make difficult shots look ridiculously easy.
The other times he settled for long turnaround jump shots, shot a hybrid jump hook from 12 feet, and on one occasion dribbled back to the 3-point line and then smartly drove to the basket for a layup. Overall, his success rate on these soft post-ups was not good.

If he would work at getting better position inside, he would get easier baskets, get fouled more, and not always have to face two or three defenders, as the help defense usually wouldn’t have time to collapse on him.

Posting up more often would also put him in better rebounding position. James is averaging exactly one offensive board per game. That’s not enough when Richard Hamilton — two inches shorter, 57 pounds lighter — pulls down 1.1 per game and Caron Butler, whose build is similar to James’, gathers 2.6.

A commitment by James to become a force inside would give him better and higher-percentage scoring opportunities while wearing down his opponents. Also, it would reduce the mental stress of always having to face the teeth of a defense focused almost entirely on him. On the perimeter, he is the magnet, the target. Battling for the ball inside, he’s just another big body in a scrum.

James is shooting a solid 34.1 percent from 3-point land. It’s clear he knows the right way to shoot, and sometimes shoots it correctly. But he needs better habits.

His form is inconsistent. He doesn’t seem locked into a particular shooting motion, and that’s something he can address.

His biggest problem is his lack of balance. He often leans backwards while jumping, which causes his right leg to arch upwards to help prevent him from falling down (the right leg acts as a balancing tool). Of course, if the clock is winding down, and he has to lean back to get a clean look, that’s fine. But generally he shouldn’t lean back on jumpers.

On the “catch and shoot,” he is often a bit stiff-legged. This creates a lack of rhythm and power in his jump shot, which usually means a shot that falls short. More leg drive on the jumper will cure this problem.

Sometimes he attempts the stylish shot rather than the sound one — for instance, quickly bringing his arms down to his sides after releasing the ball instead of holding his follow-through.

James has struggled quite a bit this season at the free-throw line, which is ironic when you consider it’s the one place where he does not have to face multiple sets of defenders.

His free-throw percentage has dropped from month to month, and for February he’s down to 52.4 percent. (For the season, he’s at 68.6 percent.)

The reason for his drop is fairly clear — he’s all over the place on his routine and release.

A proper free-throw attempt should feature a monotonous tone, the same thing every time. From the moment the ball is handed to James until the moment it reaches the basket, his routine should be identical.

Rocky Widner/Getty Images
Trips to the line are now an adventure for LeBron.
Right now, James lacks a tight routine (other than kissing the bracelets on his wrists to signal his love for his family).

To begin with, he is changing the length of time he looks at the basket before he actually shoots it. Ideally he would give himself a good second to eyeball the rim, though if he’s more comfortable looking at his dribble before lifting his head and releasing the ball in one motion, that’s OK. The problem is he’s mixing the two together in his routine, changing the length of time he looks at the rim from shot to shot.

While he’s doing a nice job of extending his follow through and holding it, he often is leaning or even stepping backward after his release, signaling a balance problem (similar to the way he shoots 3-pointers).

I see him working on his right wrist sometimes after shots, trying to get the snap right — though actually I observe no problems there. Instead, I see his left hand turning slightly during his release, which means the ball is often moving sideways from his right index and middle fingers. That causes the ball to take a flight path that is not totally straight over the center of the rim. (Watch his left hand upon release — if the fingers are pointing to the rim, it’s a good shot, but if his left palm is facing the basket, then his left hand has had an impact on the shot.) This is a very common problem shooters face — one that can be corrected with proper practice.

We’ve seen what James can do, so it’s only natural that we expect even more — just as he probably expects more of himself.

James has accomplished so much so early — while carrying such a big load for the Cavs, Team USA, the NBA in general, and those around him — that he might be suffering from something like mental fatigue. It’s not easy for a player or anyone else to grow in every way every day, even at age 22.

Now that opponents have adjusted to him, he will have to adjust his approach to the game if he wants to improve. In a sense, this stage of his career will be harder, simply because he’s been so good so early. He will have to decide consciously to improve in all aspects of his game and develop some new aspects.

The talent is there, and the early accomplishments of King James have put him in rare company. He wears Michael Jordan’s No. 23. He’s routinely compared to Jordan, Magic, Oscar and the other greats. He says he wants to be a billionaire.

He has the right role models for success. Now we’ll see if he can, as each of them did, take his game — and the game of basketball — to new heights.

David Thorpe is an NBA analyst for and the executive director of the Pro Training Center in Clearwater, Fla., where he works as a personal coach for Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat), Orien Greene (Indiana Pacers), Alexander Johnson (Memphis Grizzlies) and Kevin Martin (Sacramento Kings). You can e-mail him here.


Daniel Gilbert Throws Party for Quicken Loans Employees

Cleveland Cavaliers owner and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert likes to throw splashy parties for his employees. 

Gilbert treated about 200 workers at Quicken’s downtown Cleveland branch to fajitas for lunch.  The meal, accompanied by live music and gifts from the Cavaliers Girls, was to celebrate the $1billion in mortgages the office has sold since opening in April.


LeBron and Hughes among the least improved candidates

John Hollinger, an editor listed in his article today(subscription required) players that have taken the biggest steps backward. The article titled “Kirilenko, LeBron among Least Improved candidates” picks 15 players who have disappointed him the most, based not only on changes in their PER from a year ago, but on other qualitative factors such as age and previous performance history.

This is what he says about Lebron and Hughes:

LeBron James, Cavaliers
James was my pick for MVP a year ago, and like many I thought he’d pretty much take over the league this season. What we’ve seen instead is a surprising slip backward, including a dip in scoring numbers and a puzzling slump from the free-throw line.

It’s easy to blame exhaustion from the world championship, but Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki played in the same tournament, and both are dominating. A better explanation might be Cleveland’s lack of a real point guard, which doesn’t allow James to play off the ball more.

Larry Hughes, Cavaliers
Hughes’ numbers aren’t as far down from a year ago as some of the other players on this list, nor as much as teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ for that matter. So why single him out? Because we thought last year was the off year; this was supposed to be Hughes’ bounce-back season.

Instead he’s been even worse, with his per-minute numbers down across the board and his trademark free-throw drawing skill in serious remission, and that’s been as big a reason for Cleveland’s struggles as King James’ unexpected production dip.

Other players that made the list:

Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz
Mike James, Timberwolves
Jameer Nelson, Magic
Joel Przybilla, Trail Blazers
Dan Gadzuric, Bucks
Boris Diaw, Suns
Beno Udrih, Spurs
Marquis Daniels, Pacers
Hedo Turkoglu, Magic
Chris Kaman, Clippers
Jason Collins, Nets
Ben Wallace, Bulls
Antoine Walker, Heat

Luke Jackson returns to Idaho Stampede

Luke Jackson, the former Oregon star who played six games with Idaho before signing a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, has returned to the team.

Jose Barea scored 43 points for the Fort Worth Flyers on Thursday night, more than any other player in the NBA Development League has scored this season.

But his efforts were wasted as the Idaho Stampede defeated the Flyers 116-108 at Qwest Arena.  The game served as a perfect showcase for the relationship between the NBA and the D-League. Four players under NBA contracts were on the floor: The Mavericks’ Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Barea were playing for the Flyers. The Utah Jazz’s C.J. Miles and the Seattle Sonics’ Mouhamed Sene were wearing Stampede uniforms. Also, former Oregon star Luke Jackson started for Idaho after playing out a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.