It’s Getting Late Early In Cleveland

Kyrie Irving, Mike Brown and the Cavs are trying to figure things out. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

Kyrie Irving, Mike Brown and the Cavs are trying to figure things out. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

Some Cleveland fans might have assumed that the drama around the Cavaliers left town about the same time The Multiple MVP Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned packed up and vamoosed. Mike Brown probably figured nothing could top the start of last season in L.A. for hyperventilating and zaniness, seeing as how he was terminated just five games into the season.

But they all would be wrong – Brown has even admitted it – because the first three weeks of 2013-14 for the Cavs has been dripping with turmoil and uncertainty, much of it only leaking out publicly in the past 24-48 hours.

An ESPN.com report Saturday disclosed that Cleveland’s players held a closed-door, players-only meeting after their 29-point loss at Minnesota. The comings and goings of players from center Andrew Bynum in his endless knees rehab to shooting guard Dion Waiters and his alleged blue flu have cut into those players’ opportunities and continuity, while having a trickle-down effect on the rest of Brown’s rotation.

Then there’s the protection mask point guard Kyrie Irving has had to don – and the speculation that it had more to do with physical manifestations of the Cavaliers’ internal strife than inadvertent contact with Minnesota’s Corey Brewer.

Jason Lloyd, who covers the Cavs for the Akron Beacon Journal, went to the unusual lengths of enumerating a 41-item list Saturday night, pegged to Irving’s 41 points in the 104-96 overtime victory at Washington but needed on merit to clear the air a little in northeast Ohio.

Consider a few of these nuggets:

1. There have been a lot of wild stories flying around regarding the Cavs’ players-only meeting Wednesday at Minneapolis and what did/didn’t happen. Here’s what I know.

2. Mike Brown entered the locker room to begin his postgame speech when Kyrie Irving interrupted and asked him to leave the room so the players could talk. Brown was happy to do so and Irving started things off.

3. The meeting was intense – the Cavs played terrible and lost by 29 points – but two players who were in the room both privately said some of the speculation has been overblown and it wasn’t combative, nor was Dion Waiters a target of the meeting. The players weren’t very happy, but no specific player was singled out.

And:

6. As for Waiters and this illness, Mike Brown said he has been to the doctor twice and has a prescription. I’ve heard whispers Waiters knew he was going to get demoted to the second team. Did he know that and make up this illness? Is he really sick? The only one who really knows the answer to that is Waiters.

7. No one on the team has really seen or heard from Waiters since Wednesday’s game. He didn’t attend Friday’s shootaround because of this illness and didn’t make the trip to Washington for tonight’s game. No one I talked to really knows how sick Waiters is or what all this is about.

And:

14. [Irving] obviously didn’t do a very good job of that last week when he blew past Mike Brown during the Chicago game, but I’ve been told numerous times that was an isolated incident between coach and player.

15. One player said Irving has never reacted inappropriately to a critical comment a teammate has aimed toward him.

16. All that being said, Irving has done well the last few days. He called the meeting in Minnesota on Wednesday and Brown raved about his ability to command the huddle and keep the guys together during Saturday’s win. More importantly, he finally shot the ball the way he is capable of shooting.

And:

20. Andrew Bynum is starting without really practicing with the starters. C.J. Miles has started the last two games at shooting guard without really practicing. Earl Clark shifted to power forward tonight without any practice there.

21. Brown told Clark on the flight Friday night to Washington he was going to use him at power forward. They went over a few things on the flight, talked more about it Saturday morning, but that was about it.

And that’s cherry-picking through barely half of Lloyd’s list of talking points.

A 3-7 start prior to Saturday’s OT outcome wasn’t in Cleveland’s plans when it staked out an Eastern Conference playoff berth for itself next spring. Neither, for that matter, was the meager production from No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett – modest, sure, but not this meager. Waiters might not be healthy but he certainly isn’t happy, based on news reports, and Irving has struggled with both his shot and his leadership ability.

Offensively, the Cavs have been a mess, ranking 29th with an offensive rating of 96.2. Last season, under Byron Scott, they were 19th. They have a lot to iron out, and it’s not clear if newcomer Jarrett Jack’s agenda – resolve stuff, now! – actually was served.

After Saturday’s game, Jack tried to smooth things out for reporters:

“Things happen. We’re able to talk amongst one another. You can have a disagreement. That’s very much OK. It’s not against the law. But the whole thing about it is, if you’re going to have a talk or any conversation, a resolution should be the reason for having it in the first place. That was the whole reason why we called the meeting, had the discussions. I like the place that we’re in right now.”

Cleveland’s next game isn’t until Wednesday when it faces Washington again, so it’s hard to know what’s what. Or who’s sick, who’s cranky and who’s getting under whose skin.

39 Comments

  1. Bob says:

    I’m not on the Kyrie bandwagon either. He can break your ankles and make stunning moves to the basket; that’s fine for the And 1 tour. He’s a ball stopper and an over-dribbler. The game just stops for everyone else while he “does his thing.” No one likes to play with that kind of player.
    Byron Scott is a much better coach. He took a team with zero talent and then got the axe for his sacrifice (just like LeBron).
    Bynum smh. He was a hot mess inconsistent player in LA. He’s the same here, but has no knees. You have to be able the rely on your teammates.
    Waiters is a helluva player. But, the lack of a playmaking guard means that he is standing around a lot and pretty frustrated.
    And, lastly, Anthony Bennett is going to be a very good player. He was injured and didn’t play all summer. Plus, he is very young and has to be coached. He has a very good shot, it certainly isn’t broken. Then, tweeting that he is going “ghost” for awhile. What? The #1 draft pick feels that he has to disappear to get better by getting nearly zero minutes? Why not trade him to Houston for Asik? Tell Anthony that he is going to be a stretch 4 and get that corner 3 working. The kid has no direction or role in Cleveland. They are leaving him to rot on the vine.

  2. eri says:

    The one thing I observed from watching this team so far this season is that they have not developed enough chemistry and they really don’t communicate effectively on the court. I think that all the players on the team are solid players. They just need to trust each other, put the egos aside and take on the mentality to do what’s best for the team. That’s why Miami are champions because you have to be willing to take a back seat at times if you want to win, but everyone wants to be a star.

  3. Cavs fans not MB says:

    From the start of the season till now, I have never understood about the arrangement of the Cavs roster.
    1. Bynum got starting role even with no practice and weak knee. He had not proved himself and his performance was way worse than Verojao.
    2. No. 1 pick Bennett deserved for more minutes. I understood that his performance was not matched with our expectation for No.1 pick. But he need minutes and have a few plays in order to make him getting his rhythm in the game. How could a player can develop and show his true potential by sitting on the bench more often than going out to play while taking only 5 shots per game? Even fans would feel weird that the team got the biggest prize in the draft but chose to hide under the table. Somebody may say he is a bust but even Kwame Brown have more minutes than him in rookie season?

    I believe the the greatest mistakes for the team is hiring Mike Brown back while knowing that he had a disastrous time with the Lakers and he is the greatest reason for Leborn leaving team. He is the greatest mistake for Cavs team had done.

    • tv63 says:

      You’re right on all points. The total chaos and disruption of the ever changing lineup and refusal to have an offensive practice is maddening and unfair to these NBA players. Gilbert was NOT patient in hiring Brown. There are still some very very good caliber coaches out there available that have a record to getting to playoffs WITH BALANCE more than Mike Brown. They knew the frustrations Lebron had with him and still chose to hire him anyways.

  4. jordy says:

    Maybe lebron will come back in the summer to help his ohio playing team to get back in the postseason

  5. sports fan says:

    This team will get it together sooner or later. I think they’ll make the playoffs but barely.

  6. Z says:

    I’m sorry, did I stumble onto TMZ?

  7. Rihanna says:

    Shine Bright Like a Bynum!

  8. ron52nge says:

    Kyrie Irving must change his Number to a two digit # not exceeding #20.

    Let Kyrie be a pure “Shooting Guard” and see how he will be.

  9. ron52nge says:

    Kylie Irving must change his number, he must wear a TWO Digit number not exceeding #20.

    For Cleveland to go to playoffs; THEY CAN MAKE IT!
    Rotation of player must be off good combination.
    Kyrie Irving points production is an Offense, and let other handle the point guard position.
    He is always pressured in distributing the ball, allow him to become a “SHOOTING GUARD” and he can score 30+ per game.

    If Cleveland adapt the Spurs style then this team can beat best teams looking at their rooster.

  10. nanceswat says:

    this writer seems to be attempting to stir up drama.

    if i were nba.com, i might find a different writer who provided actual game oriented perspective. the sport itself is good enough.

  11. Mrcleve21 says:

    The real problem is Mike Brown he has no clue on offense and he struggles with nurturing talent. As long as he is the coach the Cavs will always struggle.

  12. beyne says:

    Cavs thinking about playoffs?

    lol

    Just tank for Wiggins, this trash team would get swept by Indiana or Miami

    This is nothing but fluff to keep season ticket holders happy, and recreational Cavs fans still interested

  13. jb says:

    This is not a crisis but cavs are not playing good ball at this point and it is bcuz none of the players but Irving know there role on the team so I say its more of Mike browns fault to this point because of rotation not playing Bennett and just not consistent coaching.

  14. pokie says:

    Wow. That is a lot of spin. Bottom line: Teams make the playoffs, not players.

  15. dustydreamnz says:

    I think as long as they get on they can make the Playoffs. A starting 5 of Irving, Waiters, Clark/Gee/Miles, Thompson, Bynum and Jack on the bench isn’t bad. If you start knocking Irving you end up having a go at most players in the NBA, 41 points last game. How many can do that?

  16. Tony C says:

    I believe that what’s going on here is young players not understanding that to win games, they must play defense first. In Mike Brown’s system, it’s all about team defense not indifidual defense particularly. I watched a lot of Cleveland games when Lebron was there and he bought into Mike Brown’s “team defense first” attitude. These young players only understand getting points and have no concept of stopping a team from scoring by playing together on the defensive end first, and then it will flow to the offenseive end. I watched one game a week or so ago and I knew the team was in trouble. It starts with Irving. He has bo buy in to Mike Brown’s defensive philosophy and the others will follow. So, I believe the abrupt team meeting was a breakthrough for those idiots. Finally, they are tired of looking lost on the court and hopefully will get with Mike Brown’s program.

  17. lakers & Knicks says:

    imagine if the cavs get the first pick again. I don’t know why they drafted Anthony Bennet. Every one was surprised and btw Dion Waiters wasnt even worth the 4th pick he was more like the 8th pick. Same with Anthony.

  18. Tom Manchee says:

    Even now they are 1 game out of the playoffs so don’t know how this is a crisis

  19. Based on Stats says:

    Relax. This is a team for te future…not now. Waiters, Irving, Bennet, clark, are all good young pieces. I believe Irving and Waiters are perennial all stars and Thompson has been a baller and a definite double double guy if he’s given minutes..waiters will need a bit more help I admit. But they are still getting it together. Bynum is still relatively you do despite being injury prone and varejao is coming back from heart surgery not knee surgery so he’ll come around. jack is a ever reliable source of offense. Id also like to point out that none I these players except varejao are over 30. Mike Brown needs to make up his mind on his rotations and give his starters there 30-35 min and stop trying to play everyone 20 min because it stops the flow of the game.

  20. Game Time says:

    The problem is not Kyrie, it’s a defensive issue with the team. They are young and this is their first season with a new coach. Things will take time and they can build some chemistry as the season goes on. This is not an all out disaster, and people are blowing it up for more than it really is. A “players only” meeting shows great maturity on Kyrie’s part and the team. They are serious about winning. They could have just brushed the loss off. I’d wager by mid season the Cavs will be in playoff position for the 6th to 7th seed.

  21. Cavs Fan says:

    The problem has to do with Kryie Irving . I know people love his showmenship and Pepsi commercials but he is not a point guard. He doesn’t play hard. I don’t understand why people are down on Waiters when he actually attempts to play defense,involve his teammates, and plays hard when he’s not complaining about calls. Kryie is the issue the writers have to stop trying to make guys stars when there not. Outside of his shooting and ballhandling Kryie has zero of the intangibles to be a star player . He doesn’t play hard every night , he doesn’t show intensity , he doesn’t play defense, involve his teammates I can continue . I would hate to see the Cavs do the same thing to Dion that they did to Ron Harper. Steve you saw in the game against Chicago when Kryie was trying to play hero ball and failing at it . Dion was making the taller Jimmy Butler look foolish. He brought the Cavs back in the game , involved his teammates , played defense and scored over a great defender while Kryie looked horrible . If any one should be getting benched it should be him . I don’t believe in showing favoritism towards a player when he has done nothing to earn it . Kryie has not taken the cavs anywhere but the lottery. He’s done for his own Brand than the Cavaliers.

    • TRIPWWG says:

      Then you guys should go ahead and trade him to the highest bidder…

    • trae mCALL says:

      HMMM yea kyrie is alot better than waiters he was the best player by far in the USA camp which includes Pual george AND OTHERS LOOK IT UP THIS IS NOT AN OPINION IT’S A FACT the cavs are going thought a new system it’s only been 10 games theres 72 to go its a long season which we have alot of issues that’ll b done by the 30 or 40 games.

    • qq says:

      I kind of agree with you, Kyrie is an iso player. hes not a good defender and playmaker. But he`s young and need to develop that.

  22. Jimmy Buckets says:

    WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP SAYING THIS IS A PLAYOFf TEAM!?!?!?!?!?!

    Kyrie – OVERRATED TO THE MAX, jarred jack is a better player. Its the whole big fish in a puddle mentality for kyrie in cleveland. Anywhere else decent he would be chewing bench

    verojao – trash

    Waiters – trash

    Bennet – trash

    Bynum – his steller reputation speaks for itself

    I just dont get how people think this team will make the playoffs. Seriously I just dont get it

    • Rick says:

      Your arguments of “trash” sure do speak to your ability to present valid arguments, you moron.

    • J O E says:

      Kyrie is overrated? Brah i bet you were saying that about Lebron too lol. Kyrie not overrated and Jack is not a better player than him over all. Lol Waiters isnt trash. Nor is Verajo lol. Mike Brown isnt that good a coach tho. I’ll say that.

    • king stank says:

      U must dont watch basketball

      • Jason says:

        Kyrie is not at all overrated. I don’t see the need to justify this, anyone with half a brain knows it.
        Varejao is not trash, he’s good at what he does: rebound, play the pick & roll, bring energy.
        Waiters is not trash, he’s a bit inconsistent still, but you can see his upside.
        Bennett… well, I didn’t agree with him going #1 in the draft, but I guess that’s what happens when you have little to work with. They already had Tristan Thompson at PF and he’s a little undersized already, so they can’t really move him over to center and put Bennett in at PF, and I don’t see Bennett playing SF effectively. I just think it was a stupid pick.
        I’m not a big fan of Bynum either, I haven’t seen enough maturity and good health to believe in him just yet.

        I still don’t know about playoffs just yet, though.

    • Mr.Mike says:

      They got a good team together, just need to learn how to play with each other.
      Look at Boston when they put Garnet and Allen alongside Pierce, or when LeBron and Bosh joined Wade in Miami.
      I’m sure the Cavs are gonna get better, Bynum should just face facts and retire tho..

  23. David says:

    I’ve never read such nonsense. There is no evidence presented at all about these accusations, and the author contradicts himself multiple times. Not much to write about this week??