Tribe Doesn’t Need Big Splash, Just Need to Address Holes.

The Cleveland Indians are not a good baseball team.  That is implied by their 51-53 record as of this morning.

It is easy to say the Tribe shouldn’t do anything before the trade deadline because they aren’t consistent and are hovering around the .500 mark.

However, if you look at the American League as a whole, the Tribe is just 3-1/2 games out of a playoff spot and they are pretty much in the same boat as the Yankees, Blue Jays, Mariners, and Royals.

Those teams are around the break even mark too, and they certainly are not phoning in the rest of the season.

Neither should the Indians.

Last year at around this time, the Tribe was five games out of the second wild card spot and they wound up winning 92 games and won a post-season berth.

Now we acknowledge it would be darn near impossible for Terry Francona’s crew to go 21-6 in September again to make the playoffs, but it is incumbent on the front office to shore up the problems that have beset this baseball team since April.

And that would be finding consistency in hitting, and reliable starting pitching.

Reading other sites and listening to fans talk about the deadline, you hear people discussing pitchers like Jon Lester and David Price, two guys likely with higher price tags than the Indians are willing to look at.

However, the reality of the matter is GM Chris Antonetti just has to replace the guys who aren’t performing with players who are better than them, they don’t have to be all-star caliber players.

What we mean is that Antonetti merely has to get a starting pitcher better than Justin Masterson, Zack McAllister, Josh Tomlin, T.J. House, or Danny Salazar.  He doesn’t need to get Lester or Price.

That’s how you improve your team.

On the offensive side, he just needs to upgrade over Ryan Raburn or Nick Swisher.  You don’t need to get Giancarlo Stanton, not that Miami is going to trade him.

Based on the sabermetric statistic WARP (wins over replacement player), there are three Indian players received significant playing time that are not as good as the average player at their spot–David Murphy, Raburn, and Swisher.

There is no question that Swisher isn’t going anywhere because of his contract, but if you can find hitters better than Raburn and/or Murphy, then you’ve made your team better.  And isn’t that the job of management?

Last night, the Tribe handed McAllister a 5-0 lead in a game that needed desperately.  He didn’t do the job, which is pretty much something he’s done since his first four starts of the year.

And the game winning HR was given up by Nick Hagadone, a guy who is very familiar with the route between Cleveland and Columbus, and a guy most known for not having a good grasp on throwing strikes.

The night before, the game winning blast was allowed by John Axford, whose performance has ebbed and flowed all year-long.

These are the guys Francona has to turn to when he needs victories?  To me, it says the front office isn’t being diligent in improving this baseball team.

If the Indians do nothing in the remainder of the month, they deserve all of the ire and vitriol their fan base will heap upon them.  We’ve all seen the warts on the 2014 edition of the Tribe.

Doing nothing just re-emphasizes their lack of trust in the current administration and ownership.


Tribe Needs A Bat, Need A Starter More

The major league baseball trading deadline will be here a week from today, and most of the American League playoff contenders have made moves.

Oakland, Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York have all tried to strengthen their clubs heading into the stretch run.  The Indians have not made a move yet, even though it appears they desperately need to do so.

Does the Tribe need a quality hitter, a starting pitcher, or some more help in the bullpen?

Certainly, the offense is inconsistent to be sure, but Cleveland still ranks 5th in the league in runs scored, so even though it can be maddening to watch the Indians’ hitters being baffled by the likes of Minnesota’s Anthony Swarzak, they do have games where they put up enough runs to win.

To us, the biggest problem Terry Francona has is getting enough innings out of his starting pitchers on a night to night basis, particularly when that night’s starter is not named Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer.  Since the all-star break, here are the number of innings Tribe starters have pitched:

Bauer vs. DET                       6 IP
Kluber vs. DET             8-2/3 IP
McAllister vs. DET       5-1/3 IP
Tomlin vs. DET            4-1/3 IP
House vs. MIN                     5 IP
Salazar vs. MIN                   5 IP
Bauer vs. MIN                     6 IP

The lack of length provided by the starters means Francona has to go to an already overworked bullpen and lean on them heavily every night.  Eventually, you have to think that will come back to bite the Indians.

This isn’t something new, either.  It has pretty much been this way since the beginning of the season, and it is a tribute to the skipper and Mickey Callaway that they have managed to keep the relief corps performing at a high level all season.

It would be another thing if the McAllisters, Salazars, Houses, and Tomlins were providing these short outings allowing either zero or one run, but they aren’t.

Tomlin has now been mediocre in seven or his last eight starts, the exception being his one-hit masterpiece against the Mariners at the end of June. Every other start is basically around five innings, allowing around four runs, with of course, an obligatory long ball allowing in the mix.

House is also below average at this point in his career, he can give you five or six frames, pitching in and out of trouble usually, but allows around three or four tallies.

Salazar needs to show better than in his last start, where the Tribe gave him a 3-0 lead early, only to watch him load the bases with walks right after getting the lead.  He did escape unscathed, but the number of pitches made in that inning forced him out after five innings.

Yes, this group is capable of going out there and throwing seven quality innings every once in a while.

That’s the point, once in a while isn’t good enough.  If GM Chris Antonetti can’t find someone who can be closer to Kluber and Bauer, and can be counted on to get deeper into the game soon, it doesn’t look like the Indians can stay in the race for the long haul.

And spare us the “what if Justin Masterson comes back” scenario as well.  That’s a hope, but the front office simply cannot count on that happening.

The competition in the American League standings are making moves to shore up weaknesses.  Here’s hoping the Tribe doesn’t provide its fans with another case of “we tried, but we couldn’t get anything done”.


One More Opinion on Getting Love

Since the return of LeBron James to the Cavaliers, the biggest speculation around town is whether or not the Cavs should deal Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick in the draft to obtain Kevin Love, one of the league’s premier players.

Because Love is just 25-years-old, it really is a no-brainer.  Love IS one of the NBA’s top 20 players, and that’s conservative.  Wiggins MAY be one of the league’s top 20 players someday.  It is just that simple.

Here is looking at it another way.  James will turn 30 years old this December, meaning he will be the LeBron James he is right now for another 4-5 years.  That’s the kind of window Cleveland likely has to win titles.

Now think of Kyrie Irving, the first overall pick in 2011, now entering his fourth year in the NBA.  We can all agree that Irving is a very good player right now, but he’s not an elite one at this point.

Let’s say that Wiggins has a similar career path as Irving.  He makes an impact his rookie season, and gets a little better each year in the league in his second and third seasons.  As we just said, that would make Wiggins a very good player, but he still wouldn’t be an elite player.

Kevin Love is that right now.

Some fans have painted a picture of Love as a “stretch four”.  To us, that is selling the big man out of UCLA short.

Rashard Lewis is a stretch four.  Ryan Anderson is a stretch four.  Yes, Love is a very good shooter with three-point range, but he’s also one of the top rebounders in the sport, capable of getting 20 in a game.

He also has the best outlet pass since Wes Unseld played in the league in the 60′s and 70′s.

He’s a lot more than a stretch four.

The other question about Love is his defense.  He’s not regarded as a great defensive player.  We say that the first thing about becoming a solid player when the other team has the ball is desire.  And don’t you think that Love, and Irving for that matter will pay more attention on the defensive end of the floor, particularly when the game’s best player is on their team and demanding everyone give maximum effort on that end of the floor?

Also, coaches can scheme defensively to hide weaker defenders or provide help to those players.  Good coaches teach a sound defensive philosophy that will help any player who wants to get better on defense.

A team led by James, Love, and Kyrie Irving would become an instant championship contender.  All three can score, and James and Love are both very good passers.  James and Irving can get to the rim with the best in the league, and a defense that collapses on them will have to deal with Love on the perimeter and near the basket.

However, the real point is this.  The Cavaliers can be a title contender by getting another of the league’s elite players in Love, and if you have to give up a player who has never played one minute in the NBA, the question is why wouldn’t you do it.

Outside of James, who was the last first overall pick, or any rookie for that matter, who stepped right in to the league and was a force immediately.  Even if Wiggins is someday going to be a great player, it likely will not be for three to four years, at which time LeBron James will be nearing the end of his dominance.

It really shouldn’t even be a question. If you have to give up Wiggins to get Kevin Love.  You have to do it.


Cavs’ Griffin A Man of His Word, So Far

When he was hired as Cavaliers’ GM, David Griffin said the team needed to improve its basketball IQ, and get some players who can make shots.

So far, Griffin is a man true to his word.

Of course, it helps a great deal when the best player in the league decides he wants to come home and play for your team.

LeBron James was the smartest basketball player on the court when he was here previously, and with even more experience, it is doubtful he has lost his ability to play the game the correct way.

James took a lot of heat early in his career so making the right basketball play, that is to say, he hit the open man rather than force up a bad shot.

We can remember times when James wasn’t in the game where the Cavaliers took poor shots when the team needed a basket. We said at that time the rest of the Cavs could have learned from watching the younger LeBron play basketball.

His younger teammates should be in learning mode, and when the teacher happens to be a four-time league MVP, if they aren’t willing to gain knowledge from James on how to play the right way, they likely will not be in the wine and gold for long.

Griffin’s other two free agent signings help with the shooting problem the team had last season.

Last year, Cleveland didn’t have a lot of consistent shooters from the perimeter. Yes, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters had their moments from outside, but their strength is more taking the ball to the basket.

Signing Mike Miller and James Jones as free agents addresses the need for players who can put the ball through the hoop from outside.

And they should get plenty of open looks with the way James, Irving, Waiters, and rookie Andrew Wiggins can go to the basket.

Miller, now 34 years old, enjoyed a bit of a career renaissance this year, playing his most minutes since 2009-10. He’s a lifetime 46% shooter from the floor, including 41% from beyond the three-point circle.

Last season with Memphis, he shot 46% on three pointers.

Jones is more of a three-point specialist, with more than half of his shots in his career coming from behind the arc.

He will be 34 years before the season starts and he’s made 40% of his threes over his career.

Neither Miller nor Jones will be starters.

Miller will probably be a rotation player, backing up at both the off guard and the small forward spots.

Jones only played in 20 games for the Heat last season, so he will probably be used as a specialist, playing in situation where three-point shooting is needed, maybe for plays at the end of a quarter.

The point is, both of these signings are minor in terms of neither player will be getting 30 minutes per night, but they are bringing a skill set needed on the wine and gold, and also another veteran presence for a team that doesn’t have many experienced players.

They will help James get the message to the young players and relate what is needed to win an NBA title.

Neither player is killing the Cavs in terms of salary cap space.

So far, Griffin is keeping his word in terms of rebuilding this franchise. It helped immensely that James returned to the franchise, but getting shooters, something lacking for Cleveland, is a great help too.


Tribe Front Office Needs Realistic Viewpoint

The Cleveland Indians have hit the all-star break and are very clearly in contention for a playoff spot despite a .500 record for the first 94 games of the season.

The big question is can the Tribe put together a strong enough second half to make up the 3-1/2 games currently separating them from the American League’s final playoff spot.  Right now, that belongs to Seattle.

The other serious contenders to play in the wild card game are Kansas City, Toronto, and New York.  The first wild card spot looks like it belongs to the Angels.  Quite frankly, several other teams could get back in the mix with a good hot streak too.

All four of the primary contenders are looking to add to their roster and to be fair, Tribe GM Chris Antonetti has said he is looking to upgrade the Indians as well.

As we have written in the past, the Tribe has been a slave to inconsistency throughout the roster for much of the season.  The only real steady players this year have been Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Mike Aviles on the offensive side, and Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and the back-end of the bullpen (Scott Atchison, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen).

Management’s problem in evaluating the rest of the roster is that they look at the good side of each player’s streaks as what they truly are.  For example, yesterday it was said that Asdrubal Cabrera was getting hot at the plate, on a 7 for 16 run.

However, he’s put together three or four good games in a row before, and then follows that with a 2 for 13 streak.  That’s the kind of player he is, and he’s not the only one, he’s just the one picked for this example.

Look, not all major league players are great, nor are they steady day in and day out.  However, you have to recognize that the one’s who can’t maintain regular production are not good players, and the team should be looking to improve at that spot.

The worst thing for a coach or manager to deal with is inconsistency.  It drives them crazy if they don’t know what to expect when they put a player into the game.

It’s even worse for a starting pitcher, and that’s been the Tribe’s biggest problem as to why they haven’t been able to put together a long winning streak.

Justin Masterson has been mostly terrible since the middle of May.  Josh Tomlin almost threw a perfect game against Seattle, but that was really his only good start in a six start span.

Zack McAllister started out 3-0 in his first five starts, but hasn’t won since.  T.J. House has pitched well in some games, but has had trouble pitching five innings in several others.

It’s difficult to put together winning streaks when three fifths of your starting rotation can’t give you a solid six innings on a regular basis.

The lack of consistency is the biggest reason the Indians need to pull the trigger before the end of the month and they should look to bring in a right-handed bat, a spot Ryan Raburn hasn’t been able to handle thus far (.197 average, 2 HR), and a starting pitcher who can provide six or seven solid innings on most nights.

The biggest bait Antonetti may have is 2B Jose Ramirez, hitting .298 with a .353 on base percentage at Columbus.  Ramirez is blocked in Cleveland by Jason Kipnis, and probably should be playing in the big leagues now.

Here’s hoping that the Tribe is willing to do something substantial at the deadline.  It’s tough to rely on going 21-6 in September every year.


James is Back, Would You “Love” to Add More?

Now that LeBron James has returned to the Cavaliers, sports fans in Cleveland needed something else to worry about.

They were provided that yesterday when it was revealed that James signed only a two-year deal and can opt out after one.  People in social media started the angst rolling shortly after the news broke.

Look, it would be a real shock if LBJ invoked the opt out after the 2014-15 campaign and went to another team after the heart warming essay he issued on revealing his love for Northeast Ohio.

Unless Dan Gilbert wrote another letter blasting him or new coach David Blatt benched him, what James and his management group did was simply a business move.  With a new television contract coming and the salary cap increasing, James put a mechanism in place to ensure he will be the NBA’s highest paid player for the balance of his career.

He stated in his essay that he intended to finish his career as a Cavalier, and all fans of the wine and gold should take him at his word on this.

So relax and enjoy the fact that LeBron James will be wearing the wine and gold of the Cleveland Cavaliers once again.

Where does the organization go from here?  First, the rebuilding process is over and the Cavs are now contenders for an NBA title.  Although fans want and are projecting that this upcoming season, it really isn’t likely, but certainly David Blatt’s squad will be in the playoffs.

And remember that the Cavs did win 33 games last night despite a poor coaching staff.  They probably are much closer to a .500 team than their record would indicate.

The rumors abound that Cleveland is in the mix for free agent to be (after next season) Kevin Love.  The power forward’s critics will point out that Love has never appeared in a playoff game.

However, that is merely the luck of the draw.  If the Timberwolves were in the Eastern Conference, they would have made the post-season with their 40-42 record.

Love averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game last year, and is a 38% shooter from beyond the three-point line.  He also will not turn 26 years old until September.  He’s played for the US Olympic team which won the gold medal in 2012 t00, where he played with James.

If GM David Griffin can get him without dealing this year’s top draft pick, Andrew Wiggins, why wouldn’t you make that deal?  And if Dion Waiters needs to be included, that shouldn’t be an impediment.

Trading draft picks?  So what, the Cleveland roster is still very young and dealing some of the first round picks accumulated by the Cavs’ front office wouldn’t be a hardship to the franchise.

After all, they just moved two former first round picks in Sergey Karasev and Tyler Zeller to create cap space to sign James.

Love’s defense has been questioned, but good coaches can scheme around that and playing defense is mostly about effort and James will make sure his new teammates know that it is worth the work.

Also, wouldn’t it be incredible to see Love fire one of his three-quarter court outlet passes to James streaking down the court?

Even if Cavs do not make another huge move, they should be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.  One issue is the division which probably has the two other top teams in the conference in Indiana and Chicago.

The Cavs could finish with the second best record in the East and be the fourth seed.

The philosophy of the Cavalier front office changed when James agreed to sign here on Friday.  They have a chance to win a title next season.  Again, not to say they will, but if they can add an all-star player without giving up Wiggins, who could be a special player in two to three years?

Why not?




The Prodigal LeBron Comes Home

As Al Michaels said in 1980 at the Olympic hockey championship, this impossible dream comes true.

That’s how it feels in Cleveland today with the announcement by basketball’s best player, LeBron James, that he is returning to northeastern Ohio to resume his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While everyone (us included) spewed venom over James’ departure four years ago, we have to explain our feelings this way. We are Cavaliers fans, and we support people who play for the wine and gold.

So, those feelings are set aside today.  If Dan Gilbert and James can sit down and set aside the situation that occurred after the latter took his talents to South Beach, then fans can put them aside as well.

Because in basketball, where only five players are on the court at one time, one player makes more of a difference in this sport than in baseball and football, so a talent like James makes the Cavaliers an instant contender for a championship.

Perhaps we are quick to forgive James because it’s been 50 years since a Cleveland professional sports team has won a championship, but remember this: In 2003, when the Cavs drafted James with the first pick in the draft, he had to play here.

This time, he wanted to come home and play for the Cavs.

And because of that, most fans will give LeBron the benefit of the doubt and will welcome him back with open arms. After all, we are a forgiving society.

Even around the country, James has improved and repaired his reputation. Most fans outside of Miami were disappointed with him leaving Cleveland, and his return is being viewed with favor by most of the US.

Even if the Cavs don’t make any more moves (which is doubtful) this off-season, the wine and gold already have a player better than anyone James played with in his first stint with the Cavaliers in Kyrie Irving, a two-time all-star.

That’s no disrespect to all of the players who made the playoffs a yearly event at Quicken Loans Arena prior to 2010. It’s simply the truth.

And since James has always been a gifted passer, he should be a good fit for new coach David Blatt’s offense which features ball movement.

Now, James comes back to the franchise as a championship player, one who can set the tone for a still very young roster. He can show them how difficult it is to win an NBA title.

And it is a much bigger story for him and his “brand” to come back to the area where he grew up, and now he can raise his family here and watch his children go the St.Vincent-St. Mary and play in the gym that bares his name.

Seriously, when was the last time a great player in his prime decided to play in Cleveland, Ohio?

Whatever contempt you had for James when he left should be tempered that the best basketball player in the world, and someone who is known throughout the planet has decided to work in our city.

Coupled with the Republican Convention coming to town in 2016, it’s been a helluva week for northeastern Ohio.


Will Tribe Make a Move? History Says No.

The Cleveland Indians are heading into the All-Star break in the middle of an important homestand.

They took two of three from Kansas City and now are in the midst of a four game series with the Yankees and finish it off with a three game set with the White Sox.

The Tribe needs to get at least six wins while at Progressive Field.

With the Oakland A’s pulling off a huge trade on the fourth of July, and the Angels and Yankees making minor deals to help their ballclubs, so far the Indians haven’t done anything despite a roster that needs some help if they are going to stay in the post-season race.

The question is will they?

It would go against the pattern of this franchise since the Mark Shapiro regime took over in 2001.

In 2007, a year in which the Indians won the division, the only move made near the trading deadline was to re-acquire OF Kenny Lofton for a minor leaguer. While Lofton helped Cleveland down the stretch, it wasn’t a bold move.

Last season, GM Chris Antonetti dealt another low minor leaguer to St. Louis for left-handed reliever Mark Rzcepczynski, who certainly helped shore up the Tribe bullpen.

The one big move the front office made was in 2011, when Manny Acta’s crew got off to a quick start, Antonetti did make a bold move in dealing his past two first round picks, Drew Pomerantz and Alex White to Colorado for RHP Ubaldo Jimenez.

Jimenez was wildly inconsistent for much of his tenure here, although he was tremendous down the stretch last season as the Indians made the playoffs.

However, the scorecard on the big righty is 2-1/2 seasons in Cleveland, with a half-year of being a stud pitcher. That’s not enough of a return when you give up two first round draft picks, even if they don’t succeed for the organization they were traded to.

As a matter of comparison, the A’s traded two first round picks to obtain Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, a deal that looks to be a better one than Cleveland made three years ago.

So, if you are hoping the Indians are going to make a big splash at the trade deadline, you are probably going to be disappointed.

If they wanted to make a megadeal, they would have to part with their top prospect, SS Francisco Lindor, and that’s not a move we’d be willing to make for a player who may only be with the Tribe for the next year and a half at best.

However, the Indians still have depth in their system in the middle infield and the bullpen, and have some well regarding pitching prospects in the lower minors.

If they don’t make a move, they are counting on a lot of luck to stay in the race. They will need Nick Swisher to emerge from his three-month slump and for Justin Masterson to suddenly put it all together.

Right now, those things don’t seem likely to happen.

Instead they go out and get a career back up in OF Chris Dickerson from Pittsburgh to help out while Michael Bourn is out. Nothing against Dickerson, but wouldn’t it be better to see what Tyler Holt can do?  Holt has some upside, Dickerson has a proven record of mediocrity.

And why not give some of Bourn’s at bats to Ryan Raburn and/or Mike Aviles if you don’t want to give a rookie the bulk of the playing time?

If the Tribe doesn’t stay in contention, they have only themselves to blame because these weaknesses have been visible for at least a month, and the front office has done nothing to address them.

Doing that would be a bold step. The history of the front office is they are only bold sellers, not bold buyers.


Tribe’s Biggest Enemy: Consistency

The numbers say the Cleveland Indians should be going after a pitcher.

After all, the Tribe ranks 5th in the American League in runs scored, while the pitching staff’s ERA is 11th out of the 15 AL squads.  Sounds simple, right?

However, we believe that GM Chris Antonetti should be looking for a starting pitcher and a bat to help the offense as well.  Why?  Because, even though Cleveland is in the top half of the league in scoring, most of the hitters in the lineup are inconsistent to say the least.

Outside of Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes, the Indians’ batters go through streaks of being either real hot or real cold.

That’s mirrors the team’s hitting, either they score 5 or 6 runs a night for a week or so, or they go through periods like last week when they get one hit in back-to-back contests.  There is no consistency to the Cleveland attack.

Let’s take Jason Kipnis for example.  Since the beginning of last season, here are his monthly batting averages:  .200, .261, .419, .272, .250, .287, .234, and .255.  So, in the last eight months, last year’s All-Star representative has two good months and one unreal one.

He’s supposed to be one of the Tribe’s best players.

How about Asdrubal Cabrera?  His monthly breakdowns are as follows:  .226, .278, .204, .221, .242, .220, .274, .243.  That would equal two solid months and the balance being mediocre.

Carlos Santana is a key to the Tribe offense because he’s one of the few Tribe players capable of hitting 20 HR in a season.  His last two seasons break out this way:  .389, .200, .250, .294, .240, .271, .151, .169, .308.  You get the picture.

We understand that not everyone can be steady as she goes, and we certainly know that Brantley and Gomes have periods where they go 1 for 14 and 2 for 19 too.

But that isn’t 1 for 44, like the streak David Murphy just ended.

When Kipnis, Cabrera, and Santana are all going well, the Indians’ offense is very productive, the problem is when you have those months where the three aren’t producing, it’s a tough team to watch.

And that’s why the runs scored statistic is misleading.  Yes, Cleveland ranks high in the league in scoring, but they also are among the leaders in games in which they score less than three runs in a contest.

The inconsistency also extends to the starting pitching, where Corey Kluber and really, Trevor Bauer can be counted on the provide the same type of outings every time they take the hill.

Yes, Josh Tomlin threw a one-hitter against Seattle.  In his other four starts his June 12th, the “Little Cowboy” has pitched 20-2/3 innings, allowing 18 runs.

Justin Masterson’s struggles are well-documented, as he has pitched less than five innings in four of his last seven starts.  He really has had only one quality outing since May 3rd, that being a seven inning, one run performance against the Angels.

So perhaps Antonetti’s biggest challenge is to bring in some players who are steady, guys who Terry Francona can count on a nightly basis.  Maybe it’s a solid .270 hitter, or a starter who can provide six or seven decent innings per start.

They may not have to be all-star type players.  Just ones whose performance isn’t up and down like an elevator.

The times when the Tribe players are all hot are a joy to watch, but too often it is followed by a losing streak.  That’s why they have sat around the .500 mark for most of this season.


Another Good Week for The Wine and Gold

When the NBA free agency period kicked off on July 1st, the front office of the Cleveland Cavaliers made news immediately, even though they didn’t add a player.

Instead, they kept one of their own, signing Kyrie Irving to a five-year contract extension which will keep him in the wine and gold through the 2019-20 season.  No shorter deal like the one inked by LeBron James following his rookie contract.

Thus ends the speculation that Irving was not happy in Cleveland and wanted out as soon as possible.

We believe Irving wasn’t happy during the last season, and his disenchantment had every thing to do with the lack of respect he had for his coach, Mike Brown.  The hiring of David Griffin as general manager and David Blatt as coach changed the two-time all-star’s mind.  He now has a good feeling for the future of the franchise.

We have said this before, when coaches don’t play the right people, or design plays that do not work, the players lose confidence in them.  To be sure, the total focus on defense in training camp which limited the offense early in the year did not sit well with Irving, and we suspect other players as well.

Remember, Irving played at Duke, coached by the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, who has won three national championships while there and is also the coach of the US National team, piloting two gold medal squads at the Olympics.

In short, he’s one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of the sport.

Imagine what the point guard thought when he saw Brown’s simplistic offense with little or no movement and totally designed on Irving’s (or someone else’s) ability to take his defender off the dribble.

You get the picture.

Remember when there were reports shortly after Luol Deng was traded to Cleveland regarding how Deng couldn’t believe the mess here.  Deng played for Krzyzewski at Duke and then was coached by Tom Thibidoux in Chicago, two excellent coaches.

This is not to denigrate Brown, who by all accounts is a great guy and has paid his dues in the sport, but he’s not cut out to be a head coach in the NBA, and probably will not get a chance to be a head coach in the association again.

And this criticism of Brown doesn’t excuse the poor roster construction put together by former GM Chris Grant.

His roster was a collection of guards who like to have the ball in their hands (Irving, Dion Waiters, Jarrett Jack) and players more suited to play power forward in the NBA (Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett, Earl Clark).

And he seemed reluctant to deal with strength, trading one of those players to fill obvious needs at small forward, shooting guard, and center.

From Irving’s point of view, he now sees a GM willing to make moves to improve the roster.  He sees Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick, who can play the #2 or the #3, and is an athletic freak, a guy who can run the floor with him.

He sees a coach who has won everywhere he’s been, and has a feel for both ends of the floor.

He sees a plan for this franchise going forward and he saw a chance for success.

That’s the reason for his change of heart and the reason he will wear the wine and gold for a long time.