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December 11, 2014 Updates

This time, Love returns to OKC for the first time with plenty of reinforcement. But his career adjustment hasn’t been entirely smooth. Now more of a secondary option, Love’s numbers and efficiency have understandably dipped. But he’s still averaging 17 and 10 a night. And the Thunder knows he’s more than capable of detonating. “He doesn’t have to do as much as he had to do in the past,” Brooks said. “But he can still have games where he gets 20 rebounds and hits seven 3s. That’s what he’s done his entire career. It’s his body of work.” Oklahoman

December 10, 2014 Updates

“The reason I never asked for a trade or anything is because I always knew we were going to turn things around,” Varejao told SLAM. “When you have an organization that wants to win, like we have in Cleveland, they did everything. They tried everything they could to get players here. And it just didn’t work out. We didn’t make the Playoffs, but I saw that we were trying to get better every year. It wasn’t one of those things that like, ‘Oh OK, LeBron left, Z left, that whole team that we had that went to the Finals, they left,’ and then nobody cares anymore. It just wasn’t like that. SLAM

“We were trying to get better. We were trying to do things the right way. Nothing really changed from when we had LeBron there during those last four years. I’m talking about treatment from the owners, to the organization, to the players. We had everything the same way. On the road, in Cleveland, the practice facility, the food, everything that we had, it was all great. The goal of winning never changed. That’s why I never asked for a trade.” SLAM

Varejao is also on an individual track that may very well end with his jersey being retired by the Cavaliers someday. But even after watching Cleveland celebrate the guy he first learned about in Barcelona, when Z’s jersey was raised to the Quicken Loans rafters last season, that’s not anything Andy’s trying to think about. “I actually never thought about it,” Varejao said, when asked about the possibility of his No. 17 being eventually retired by the Cavs. “I’ve had people telling me that I would be the next. But that’s something that I don’t really think about. I’m still playing right now, and I’m only focused on winning.” SLAM

Jasikevicius, a Euroleague legend who played with Varejao in Barcelona, told Zydrunas Ilgauskas that Anderson was a young player worth lending a helpful hand and watchful eye. From the day he first arrived in Cleveland, that’s exactly what Ilgauskas offered. “It was Z who really helped me a lot with everything when I first joined the Cavaliers,” Varejao said. “He really tried to take care of me. So I just try to do the same with the younger guys now when they come from overseas, the same things that Z did for me when I got here.” SLAM

James believes Dellavedova reminds him of a former teammate that helped the Heat win two titles. "I had Norris Cole on my team in Miami," James said. "He was the same type of guy. We called him the pit bull. You just put him out there on anybody and he's always going to be successful and know you can never discredit how he goes about the game and how hard he plays. You put him out there for 20 seconds and it will be the hardest 20 seconds he ever played, like he'll never play again... Everything they do won't show up in the box score but teammates and people that know the game know he made an impact." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Guys across the locker room were lavishing praise on Matthew Dellavedova, who had six points and five assists but contributed so much more than that. He kept alive offensive rebounds for which he didn’t get credit. He picked up Amir Johnson on switches out of the pick-and-roll, then boxed Johnson out long enough for the Cavs to gain possession on rebounds. He also drew an offensive foul at the start of the big fourth-quarter run. Akron Beacon Journal

December 9, 2014 Updates

"His basketball IQ is probably off the charts," Karl said. "He's got to package it with his team, with his comfort zone, with his coaching staff, with his preparation, and it just doesn't happen in 10 games. I mean, for a rookie coach, it might take a season. He might not feel comfortable until the 75th game of the season." Before coaching his 17th, last Thursday at Madison Square Garden, Blatt acknowledged "there's a lot to learn" about the "particular characteristics and nuances," from the rules to the length of the game, as well as "the severity of the season." Bleacher Report

Fratello called NBA players an especially "funny breed" in that sense, craving routine. "So when you are coaching an NBA player, if he knows what to expect, he knows when he's going in, he gets himself mentally into it," Fratello said. "But when you're jerking him in, jerking him out, the majority of them don't take that as well." It's better, Fratello believes, to "eliminate an excuse" by offering a steady plan. "But it's tough to do that if you don't know what it is that you're trying to get to," he said. Bleacher Report

Blatt has trimmed James' by nearly two per game since James took the unusual step of publicly endorsing a reduction for the better of himself and the team. But entering Monday's romp, which allowed all three stars to sit early, James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love still ranked third, fourth and 11th in the league in minutes, respectively. Fratello thinks more players could earn trust over time, since it generally takes 20 regular-season games for some veterans to get into "NBA game-type shape." Monday, Blatt also spoke of now recognizing the need to distribute minutes more widely due to the compacted schedule. "You have to think going forward," Blatt said, "in terms of the load and the minutes that you can play guys, considering what's coming down the line." Bleacher Report

George Karl is not alone among those recognizing something else: that the European principles Blatt had been expected to bring to Cleveland are revolutionizing NBA offenses. "You know, the European style is draw-and-kick basketball, open space up, let the ball attack the defense and find the mistake," Karl said. "And [the Cavaliers] have a lot of that in their offense. But I'm not into this European thing. You know, I steal from everybody. And I guarantee the NBA has 90 percent of the best stuff, and Europe might have some. But I think they've stolen from us more than we've stolen from them." Bleacher Report

As long as you find some way to win, as Blatt has done lately, there's little cause for worry. "Because even if you are doing a s----y job, winning brings credibility and confidence to players, and that's the only thing that gets in the way of you not becoming good, is not having enough time," Van Gundy said. "No one's good right away. You either have enough good players to cover up for your mistakes, which I had in New York, or you don't. And as you're learning how to coach, and how you are going to schedule, and how you are going to practice, or just however you go about doing the job, if you get enough time, you'll be good. It's just, can you get enough time?" Bleacher Report

The protestors, who alternated chants including "Shut it down, shut it down, Eric Garner, Michael Brown!" and "No justice, no peace," gathered in front of the two-year-old arena to demonstrate against recent decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of New Yorker Eric Garner and Ferguson, Mo., teenager Michael Brown. "I think people who may not be aware of these protests or may want to turn a blind eye might be watching this game," Khadijah Brown, a 31-year-old graduate student in social work, told USA TODAY Sports. "We're here, and we're putting it right in front of them and they can't ignore it. We have to have our voices heard." USA Today Sports


It will be very hard to surpass the No. 1 player on the list – especially now that he's back..


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