Schudel an­a­lyzes Cavs’ is­sues of late

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports -

The Cava­liers went 1-4 on their re­cent road trip, and their de­fense needs to im­prove. Jeff Schudel looks at the prob­lem. Plus, don’t as­sume the Browns will hire an of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

The Cava­liers were 30-11, own­ers of the best record in the NBA East, at the half­way mark of the 2015-16 sea­son. That was when former Gen­eral Man­ager David Griffin re­lied on his Spidey-sense and fired David Blatt as head coach.

The Cava­liers are much more dis­ori­ented to­day as they fi­nally catch their breath be­fore start­ing a four-game home­s­tand, start­ing with a con­test against Golden State on Jan. 15 at Quicken Loans Arena.

This in no way is a sug­ges­tion that cur­rent GM Koby Alt­man fire head coach Ty­ronn Lue. But the mess Lue has to clean up now is much messier than the one he cleaned up two years ago as Blatt’s re­place­ment on the way to win­ning an NBA cham­pi­onship.

Lue — in­ten­tion­ally, I pre­sume — threw ev­ery­one un­der the team bus when, af­ter be­ing hu­mil­i­ated by the Rap­tors, 13399, on Jan. 11 in Toronto he told re­porters: “We’ve got to be bet­ter. We know that. But un­til we play bet­ter de­fen­sively, I think of­fen­sively shar­ing the bas­ket­ball, ev­ery­one on the same page — and if guys have agen­das, we’ve got to get rid of our agen­das and play the right way.”

He didn’t elab­o­rate on what those agen­das might be or who he be­lieves has one, but if can get each of his play­ers to look in the prover­bial mir­ror, he made his point.

Be­fore the Cavs played in Toronto, we made the point that a re­turn to The Q could do won­ders for the slump they’ve been in for four weeks. They have won 13 straight at home, but start­ing with a loss in Mil­wau­kee on Dec. 19, the Cavs lost eight of nine road games with only two home vic­to­ries sprin­kled in.

Shams Cha­ra­nia, who writes about the NBA for Ya­hoo! Sports, is sug­gest­ing the solution to the Cavs’ prob­lems could be trad­ing backup cen­ter Tris­tan Thomp­son to the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers for cen­ter DeAn­dre Jor­dan.

Jor­dan has played and started 41 games with the Clip­pers. He is av­er­ag­ing 32 min­utes, 15 re­bounds and 11.8 points a game. He’s clear­ing 10.5 re­bounds a game off the de­fen­sive glass. The Cava­liers would have to in­clude the firstround pick be­long­ing to the Nets ac­quired from the Celtics in the trade send­ing Kyrie Irv­ing to Bos­ton in a deal for Jor­dan.

The Cavs are re­luc­tant to do that not know­ing LeBron James’ plans for next sea­son. The pick would be more valu­able to hold onto for the draft if James de­cides to leave through free agency.

The Cava­liers played bet­ter de­fen­sively on Jan. 12 in a 97-95 loss to the Pac­ers in In­di­anapo­lis to con­clude their five-game road trip at 1-4. But ex­cept for that game, de­fense has been the prob­lem through­out the slump. Jor­dan would be a huge up­grade; Thomp­son, with 22 games played and five starts (he missed 20 games with a calf in­jury) is av­er­ag­ing 19.1 min­utes, 5.8 re­bounds (3.7 de­fen­sively) and 5.1 points a game.

The NBA trade dead­line is 3 p.m. Feb. 8.

Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor hunt

The Browns hired a dif­fer­ent quar­ter­back coach (Ken Zam­pese) and a dif­fer­ent wide re­ceivers coach (Adam Henry) on Jan. 12 but still no of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor. I would not be sur­prised if they don’t hire an of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

Here’s the prob­lem: Head coach Hue Jack­son ran the of­fense — his of­fense — and called the plays the last two years. He might be open to hir­ing an of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and might even be will­ing to turn over play­call­ing. But only if the new OC is us­ing Jack­son’s of­fense. And that makes sense. It isn’t Jack­son be­ing stub­born.

The Browns will have to learn a dif­fer­ent of­fense if a new of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor is hired. That will be a set­back to the of­fense’s de­vel­op­ment. That set­back would be min­i­mized by the idea the quar­ter­back, whether a veteran such as Alex Smith or a rookie who will also be new, but the of­fen­sive line, the wide re­ceivers, the tight ends and run­ning back Duke John­son will all be in the third year of the same of­fense if Jack­son’s sys­tem isn’t changed. That is much bet­ter than every­body start­ing over be­cause Jack­son’s of­fense can be pro­duc­tive if he has tal­ented play­ers in­volved in it. The Bengals fin­ished 12th in scor­ing in 2014 and seventh in 2015 when Jack­son was the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in Cincinnati.

“There’s al­ways tweak­ing go­ing on,” left guard Joel Bi­to­nio said re­cently. “I think in the NFL, a lot of the plays are very sim­i­lar. The way they’re run is maybe a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. The way they’re called might be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, but I think you can merge some­thing to­gether and keep a pretty sim­i­lar sys­tem.

“If Hue wants to bring in another guy to kind of help him out on game day or help him out dur­ing the week — as a head coach, I know you have a lot of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties kind of run­ning the team. So another guy in here to give him a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and kind of help get through some of those mo­ments … that could be ben­e­fi­cial.”

• I’m glad Mike Pet­tine is get­ting back in to the NFL as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor of the Green Bay Pack­ers. Pet­tine, head coach of the Browns in 2014 and 2015, worked as a con­sul­tant for the Sea­hawks in 2017. Pet­tine was de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor of the Jets from 2009 to 2012 and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor of the Bills in 2013 be­fore be­ing hired by the Browns.

Led by quar­ter­back Brian Hoyer, the Browns were 7-4 with five games left in Pet­tine’s first sea­son of 2014, which hap­pened to be Johnny Manziel’s rookie sea­son. Since then they are 4-49.

Browns All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas, dur­ing a pod­cast of the “ThomaHawk Show” on UN­IN­TER­RUPTED, re­cently re­called how the 2014 sea­son col­lapsed around Pet­tine. Thomas put the blame not on Pet­tine but on the busi­ness side of the Browns’ front of­fice, which at that time was run by Alec Scheiner, who, like al­most ev­ery­one else hired by Jimmy Haslam, has since been fired.

“The prob­lem with the Mike Pet­tine ex­pe­ri­ence in Cleve­land as a head coach was Johnny Manziel,” Thomas said. “He was drafted in the first round. He was the heir ap­par­ent as the quar­ter­back, and peo­ple in the front of­fice wanted to sell tick­ets and they wanted Johnny Manziel play­ing.”

“Every­body that was on the foot­ball side of things that saw (Manziel) prac­tice, that saw him pre­pare — or lack of pre­pare — saw him in the meet­ing room, saw that he wasn’t ma­ture enough, (knew) he wouldn’t be able to han­dle it,” Thomas said. “But the first mo­ment that Hoyer slips up, now you’ve got those very pow­er­ful peo­ple in the front of­fice say­ing, ‘You gotta play this guy, you gotta play this guy’ and it went on for a cou­ple of weeks and fi­nally it got to the point where they won the ar­gu­ment and we had to play Johnny and as soon as that hap­pened, it was like every­body on the foot­ball side just gave up be­cause they knew what the re­sults were go­ing to be like.”

And by the way; if you don’t like the uni­forms the Browns have worn the last three years, blame Scheiner. They were his idea, too.

I didn’t know that

… Un­til I read my Snap­ple bot­tle cap

Dur­ing a typ­i­cal MLB sea­son, 160,000 base­balls are used . ... It is im­pos­si­ble to sneeze with your eyes open . ... De­spite it’s hump, a camel has a straight spine . ... Thomas Jef­fer­son and John Adams chipped off a piece of Wil­liam Shake­speare’s chair when they vis­ited it in 1786 . ... It is il­le­gal in Switzer­land to own only one guinea pig be­cause they are prone to lone­li­ness. ... The planet Pluto takes 248 Earth-years to or­bit the sun.

Reach Schudel at JSchudel@News-Her­ald. com. On Twit­ter: @jsproin­sider

Jeff Schudel

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