Schudel analyzes Cavs’ issues of late
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