Cavaliers making it hurt a little to those who care
NOV 29, 2013 2:49a ET
• When it comes to the Cavs, I admit, I'm neurotic. Or maybe I should say passionate. Basically, I get agitated when things aren't going well, and my Tweeting fingers start typing like mad. Then I hit the delete button, because I'm not sure if I'm being fair. Sometimes, I have a tendency to act irrationally and be overly critical.
• The reason I'm telling you this is because I always try to offer some perspective. The team often sells one thing (very positive news) and angry fans sell just the opposite (constant criticism and negativity). The word "media" is derived from "medium," meaning in the middle. That is where I always try to be -- but the fan in me doesn't always allow that. I want the Cavs to do well. When they don't, I can occasionally lose (at least a little) self-control.
• So, what I'm about to write is straight from the heart … and mind. It's observation, it's irritation, it's wanting to see a team do well and watching it do just about everything but. Of course, it's also just basketball. But it means a lot to this city, and I can certainly appreciate that. In the world of pro sports, the NBA was my first love long before I figured out a way to make a living off of it.
• Now, onto the Cavs …
• Backup guard Jarrett Jack has been a constant source of disappointment for me. When the Cavs signed him over the summer, the buzz was strong. I cautioned that Jack was a role player who was coming off one good season with Golden State. Before that, he was more or less a journeyman. Cavs fans gave me lots of grief. They seemed to think he was a steal. I eventually started to believe it, too.
• Jack is a great guy who is a positive influence in the locker room. That's important. And there are nights when he brings all those good vibes to the court. There are nights when he shoots well and directs the offense. But those nights haven't been nearly enough. Overall, Jack commits too many turnovers and makes way too many poor decisions with the ball. He rarely finds the open man. He telegraphs passes. He tries to squeeze the ball through double teams in the post. I loved what I saw from Jack in the preseason. But I don't trust him with the ball today.
• That's definitely not intended to bury the guy. The Cavs need him. Nor can you accuse Jack of failing to go all out. (By the way, don't you just love when coaches and athletes talk about a lack of urgency, but don't actually name the guilty parties?) But Jack needs to be better, period. On the bright side, I think he's just in a bit of a funk. I have complete faith he can snap out of it. And for the Cavs' sake, I'd better be right.
• While on the topic of point guards, I've received tweets and emails saying the Cavs should consider trading Kyrie Irving. Just stop. That's just paranoia. If you think Chris Grant has done a lousy job as general manager (and I know some of you do), trying letting Joe Couch Potato run the team. That actually happened to the Cavs once, and his name was Ted Stepien. No sense in reliving that nightmare here.
• I've also received tweets and emails asking if Dion Waiters could be traded, and if so, what the Cavs could get in return. The answers are absolutely and I have no idea. Something is going on with Waiters -- whether it's punishment in the form of him coming off the bench, a lack of chemistry with Irving, etc., I don't know. I just know that Waiters and the rest of the team appear to be at odds. That doesn't mean they are. It just means that's how it appears to someone who's covered this game a long time. Sometimes, I'm wrong. But every once in a while, I'm right.
• In this case, I hope I'm wrong. I hope all is just dandy with Waiters and the Cavs. I hope he flourishes and I hope he does it in Cleveland. I think he possesses loads of talent. But I'd be lying if I didn't say his production has been a bit, well, uneven. That's OK by me, though. Waiters has played just a little more than a year in the NBA. I can be patient.
• What I'm losing patience with is the overall product. For their own good, the Cavs need to get in the playoffs. I think they can do that just by standing pat and continuing to grow under Mike Brown. Some nights I feel like checking myself into a psych ward for believing that -- but I'm sticking to it (for now).
• As Waiters said before the loss to Miami on Wednesday, it's only Thanksgiving. We're still more than a month away from the middle of the season. Hundreds upon hundreds of things can change, for better and for worse. Not just for the Cavs, but for the entire league. Ask the Chicago Bulls if, eight days ago, they expected to be without Derrick Rose for another year. I can only imagine how many different trade scenarios Bulls fans are coming up with these days.
• The Cavs need to win at least one of their next two games (they play the Rose-less Bulls at home Saturday). If not, they'll be 4-13. That's not insurmountable. But at some point, and very soon, things must start turning around. I spoke to another writer after the Heat loss and he said the Cavs need to win BOTH weekend games if they want to keep their fan base from forming a mutiny, or worse, from losing interest altogether. The Cavs are coming dangerously close to the latter in year No. 4 of this so-called process. Process, progress, whatever. Just win a game.
• Finally, there are times when I think today's pro athlete is much too sensitive when it comes to criticism from coaches or teammates. Sometimes, I wish someone would just stand up and utter the words: "We stink!" Celtics great Larry Bird did it once, 20-some years ago, and it worked. His team responded.
• Later, Michael Jordan tried the same line during his comeback with Washington. It worked for a while -- the difference, of course, being that the Celtics had Bird, Kevin McHale and others, and the Wizards really did stink. I don't think the Cavs stink. But I kind of wish someone who matters would say they do. Wouldn't hurt to try, because at the moment, nothing else is getting results.
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