1980-81 Cleveland Cavaliers Games Played/Started & Transac's

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1980-81 Cleveland Cavaliers Games Played/Started & Transac's

Postby MCT » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:35 pm

This is the ninth of a planned series of threads analyzing games played, games started and transactions for the 1980-81 season. Before reading any further, see the introductory thread below:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4961

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – PART I

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Cavaliers had a 28-54 record. They finished fifth out of six teams in the Central Division, and ninth out of eleven teams in the Eastern Conference overall. The Cavaliers did not qualify for the playoffs.

The Cavaliers used 18 different players for the season, seven above the minimum.

ROSTER AND TRANSACTIONS

OPENING NIGHT ROSTER

#Mike Bratz
Kenny Carr
Don Ford
Walter Jordan
Chad Kinch
Bill Laimbeer
*John Lambert
Mike Mitchell
Roger Phegley
Bill Robinzine
Dave Robisch
Randy Smith
Robert Smith

*I believe that Lambert started the season on the injured list; see the Notes/Discrepancies section below.

#I believe that Bratz started the season on the suspended list; see the Notes/Discrepancies section below.

Notable unsigned Veteran Free Agent: Bill Willoughby.

IN-SEASON TRANSACTIONS

In the list below, anything which is underlined is the subject of discrepancies or guesswork, or is the result of further research beyond my usual sources.

10/14/80 – Activated Mike Bratz from the suspended list; waived Robert Smith.

10/30/80 – Traded Bill Robinzine and two 1st round picks (1983 and 1986) to the Mavericks for Richard Washington and Jerome Whitehead.

10/31/80 – Traded Dave Robisch to the Nuggets for Kim Hughes, two draft picks (1981 3rd round and 1982 2nd round) and future considerations; placed Hughes on the injured list.

11/11/80 – Activated Kim Hughes from the injured list; placed Walter Jordan on the injured list.

11/17/80 – Activated John Lambert from the injured list; waived Jerome Whitehead.

11/27/80 – Bill Willoughby, who had been an unsigned Veteran Free Agent, signed with the Rockets; received a 1981 3rd round pick from the Rockets as compensation for Willoughby.

12/19/80 – Waived John Lambert; signed Mack Calvin as a free agent.

1/14/81 – Activated Walter Jordan from the injured list; placed Chad Kinch on the injured list.

2/7/81 – Traded Chad Kinch and a 1985 1st round pick to the Mavericks for Geoff Huston and a 1983 3rd round pick.

2/11/81 – Placed Walter Jordan on the injured list.

3/4/81 – Activated Walter Jordan from the injured list; placed Don Ford on the injured list.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

Lambert starting the season on the injured list:

I believe that Lambert started the season on the IL, although I do not have documentation of this. Lambert did not appear in any games until 11/22/80. The transaction column in the 11/18/80 Globe states that the Cavaliers “reactivated” Lambert (presumably the previous day, 11/17) at the same time Jerome Whitehead was released. It doesn’t say what he was being “reactivated” from, but the injured list seems to be the most logical reading; I’ve seen this wording in other transactions where a player had definitely been on the IL. Lambert was clearly not on the active roster at the start of the season, as the Cavaliers used their full 11-man active roster in three of their first seven games, including on opening night.

Bratz starting the season on the suspended list:

I believe that Bratz started the season on the suspended list, although I do not have as good of documentation of this as I would like. Bratz made his first appearance of the season on 10/14/80, in the Cavaliers’ third game of the season. He was definitely not on the active roster at the start of the season, as the Cavaliers used their full 11-man active roster on opening night. He also doesn’t seem to have been on the injured list, as it is my understanding that players placed on IL were required to miss five games before they could be activated, and Bratz only missed two. The Cavaliers’ waiving of Robert Smith on 10/14/80 appears to have been to make room for Bratz on the active roster. The Google News Archive has a few items that allow us to more-or-less piece the story together:

--An AP wire service story in the 9/23/80 Kingman (Ariz.) Daily Miner states that Bratz had not yet reported to Cleveland following his trade from Dallas eight days earlier. According to the article, Bratz had been involved in a contract dispute with Dallas prior to the trade, which is what had prompted the Mavericks to trade him in the first place. Prior to the trade, the Mavericks had been expecting Bratz to be one of their starting guards. The article states that Dallas had offered Bratz a multiyear contract for $85,000 a year, but he wanted $150,000 a year. (Note: While the article is not clear on this, Bratz doesn’t seem to have been a free agent, as none of this would make sense if he was. He must have been under contract for the 1980-81 season, but was looking to either renegotiate his contract or work out an extension.) The Cavaliers were expecting Bratz to report on the day the story ran, but a quote in the article from Suns player Rich Kelley, who had roomed with Bratz the previous season, suggested otherwise. According to Kelley, Bratz was in Phoenix: “He’s kind of gone underground. He told me he’d be here for three or four more days, and that hopefully something would happen then. I guess you could say he’s a holdout.”

--Transaction columns in the 10/9/80 editions of three newspapers – the Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Southeast Missourian, Prescott (Ariz.) Courier and St. Petersburg (Fla.) Evening Independent – show the Cavaliers making several moves to get their roster at the limit for the start of the season. These moves were presumably made the previous day, 10/8. One of these is placing Bratz on “a suspension list”, although I think that should actually read “the suspended list”. (These papers also show transactions for several other NBA teams. According to the notes from my Globe research, the transactions for all of the other teams appeared in the transaction column in the 10/9/80 Globe, but the Cavaliers’ did not.)

--The transaction column in the 10/10/80 Globe states that the Cavaliers “reached contract terms” with Bratz, presumably the previous day on 10/9. In the Google News Archive, the same day’s Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard has a slightly longer blurb indicating Bratz “ended his three-week holdout and reached contract terms”.

10/9 was the day before the regular season started, raising the possibility that Bratz could have been placed on the active roster on opening night, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. I don’t actually have a transaction showing Bratz being activated, but he clearly wasn’t on the active roster on opening night, and by all appearances there wouldn’t have been room for him on the active roster until Smith was waived on 10/14. I would guess that even though terms were agreed to on 10/9, Bratz may not have actually signed his contract until 10/14. Or if he signed earlier than 10/14, perhaps he needed a couple of days to pack and report, and was left on the suspended list until then. I’d ideally like to find more information on Bratz being placed on, and activated from, the suspended list.

Robisch-Hughes trade:

The NBA Register, pst.com, and both teams’ media guides state that the Cavaliers received Hughes, two draft picks (1981 3rd round, 1982 2nd round) and future considerations as part of the trade. b-r.com mentions Hughes and the picks, but not the future considerations.

The transaction column in the following day’s Globe (11/1/80) shows Hughes and “three future draft choices”, rather than two draft picks and future considerations. A search of the Google News Archive turns up an AP wire service article in several newspapers stating the same thing that the Globe did. The most complete version of this article that I found, in the 11/1/80 Lawrence (Kans.) Journal-World, identifies the three picks as “two second round and one third-round draft choice”.

It’s possible that the trade was originally supposed to involve three picks, but was later modified to turn one of the 2nd round picks into “future considerations”. Or perhaps there were conditions on some or all of the picks, and the conditions weren’t met with regard to one of the 2nd round picks. The 1981-82 NBA Register, published just a few months after the 1980-81 season ended, was already showing two picks and future considerations, so whatever happened to change things must have happened not long after the trade.

Willoughby compensation:

I don’t have any explicit documentation of what date the Rockets sent the 3rd round pick to the Cavaliers as compensation for Willoughby, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I am assuming that it happened at the same time Willoughby signed with the Rockets. Willoughby has to have been a fairly minor free agent and I don’t see why working out compensation for him would have needed to be a protracted process. (pst.com has it on the same date, but I’m not sure if Frank found a source explicitly stating that, or if he’s simply making the same assumption that I am.)

Calvin signing:

Calvin finished the 1979-80 season with the Jazz, but did not start the 1980-81 season on an NBA roster. According to the NBA Register, when Calvin signed with the Cavaliers on 12/19/80, he was a Veteran Free Agent. His contract with the Jazz apparently expired at the end of the 1979-80 season, and he remained unsigned until he was picked up by the Cavaliers in December. Despite his status as a Veteran Free Agent, I have never seen any indication that the Cavaliers had to send compensation to the Jazz. I suspect that either the Jazz had not offered Calvin a contract for the 1980-81 season, effectively placing him in the position of a player who had been released, or he was considered to be such a minor player at this point in his career that the Jazz did not bother to ask for compensation. Because of this, I refer to Calvin as a "free agent" when the Cavaliers signed him rather than as a "Veteran Free Agent". He may have technically been the latter, but his position was realistically much more like the former.

Elmore Smith:

The 1981-82 NBA Register has an entry for Smith. His career stats show him with Cleveland in both 1979-80 and 1980-81 with the notation “Missed Entire Season – Knee Injury”. This implies that Smith was with the Cavaliers in 1980-81 but was on the injured list all season. I have not found any documentation elsewhere of Smith still being with the Cavaliers in 1980-81, however (e.g., a transaction showing Smith being placed on the IL at the start of the season). I have not included Smith on the roster posted above. Note the following:

--The Cavaliers Media Guide has a 1980-81 team photo whose caption lists Smith as one of the players in the picture. I do not think the player IDs in the photo caption are entirely accurate, however, and I am not certain that Smith is actually in the photo.

--The Google News Archive has an AP wire service article from the 4/10/1980 Palm Beach (Fla.) Post with a list of players who became free agents at the end of the 1979-80 season. Smith is not on the list. If Smith was under contract for the 1980-81 season, this might make it more likely that he was carried on the IL during that season. If he wasn’t, he would have to have been waived, and I have found no such transaction. On the other hand, the list in that article doesn’t seem to be 100% accurate, as I have encountered a couple of players who aren’t on it but were in fact free agents during the 1980 offseason.

--If my theory that injured lists were limited to two players in correct, Smith being on the IL during the 1980-81 season would present a problem, as the Cavaliers appear to have had two other players on the IL between 10/31/80 and 11/17/80. I could be wrong about the limit being two, however (maybe it was three, but teams just rarely used the third spot), or the Cavaliers could have obtained a hardship waiver from the league to temporarily carry an extra player on the IL (such a process exists today, and may have been in place back in 1980-81). It’s also possible they started the season with Smith on the IL but waived him when they placed another player on the IL on 10/31/80 (though I have found no such transaction).

Injured list transactions:

As discussed earlier, I believe that John Lambert started the season on the IL. I believe that the Cavaliers placed a second player on the IL on 10/31/80, giving them two players on the IL until Lambert was activated on 11/7/80. (Note: everything in this section ignores the possibility that Elmore Smith may have spent some or all of the 1980-81 season on the Cavaliers’ injured list, and deals only with players known to have played for the Cavaliers in 1980-81.) For the remainder of the season after that date, I believe the Cavaliers had one player on the IL at all times. For details on Lambert, see the earlier discussion. Details on other moves on and off the IL are below.

On 10/30/80 and 10/31/80, the Cavaliers were involved in two trades. These deals saw them trade away two players (Bill Robinzine and Dave Robisch) and receive back three (Richard Washington, Jerome Whitehead, and Kim Hughes). While I don’t have any documentation of it, they must have placed a player on the IL at this time, in order to keep the active roster at the 11-man limit. That player appears to be the newly acquired Kim Hughes. Aside from John Lambert, Hughes is the only player on the Cavaliers’ roster who does not appear in the TSN box scores of either of the Cavaliers’ next two games after the trades (10/31 & 11/1). Hughes would not make his Cavalier debut until 11/11/80. Although Hughes does not appear to have been on the Nuggets’ injured list prior to being traded to Cleveland, some of the articles referenced above about the Robisch-Hughes trade state that Hughes had an injured knee at the time and was expected to be sidelined for the next three to ten days. The Google News Archive also has a UPI wire service article from the 11/10/80 Bryan (Oh.) Times which states that Hughes had “been on the injured list for more than a week” but was expected to be activated before the Cavaliers’ next game. This confirms that Hughes went on the IL at some point at or shortly after he was acquired from the Nuggets, and is consistent with his having been placed on the IL on 10/31.

Hughes being placed on the IL on 10/31 assumes a couple of things, which were touched on in the introductory post to this series. First, it assumes that at this time a team acquiring a player in a trade could immediately place the player on the IL without ever having put him on the active roster first. I don’t think this was allowed in the later years of the IL, but we’ve already seen one other instance where a team may have done that in 1980-81 (the Pacers with Don Buse). Second, it assumes that at this time a team acquiring a new player didn’t need to immediately clear a roster spot for that player, but may have had a certain length of time to do so, possibly by the time of their next game. This is definitely not the case today, and hasn’t been anytime recently, although I am fairly certain that it was in the past. The trade with the Mavericks on 10/30 would have left the Cavaliers one player over the 11-man active roster limit, but they couldn’t have placed Hughes on the IL until the following day, because they didn’t acquire him until then. But the Cavs didn’t have a game on 10/30; their next game after the 10/30 trade was on 10/31. Assuming that the trade on 10/31 happened before that day’s game, trading Robisch and placing the player they received in that trade (Hughes) on the IL would have gotten the active roster down to 11 in time for the game on 10/31.

On 11/11/80, Hughes made his Cleveland debut. While I don’t have any documentation of such a transaction, he must have been activated, and another player placed on the IL, on or shortly before that date. The player placed on IL appears to be Walter Jordan, who did not appear in any games between 10/31 and 1/14. The 11/10/80 Bryan (Oh.) Times article referenced above also states that Jordan was expected to be placed on the IL when Hughes was activated. Note that Jerome Whitehead did not appear in any games between 11/3 and the time he was waived on 11/17, and John Lambert did not appear in any games between 12/4 and the time he was waived on 12/19. It is conceivably possible that one or both of them spent some time on the IL, with Jordan on the active roster (but not actively playing) during those period. In the absence of any specific reason to think that’s what happened, though, the principle of “the simplest explanation is usually the right one” leads me to believe that Jordan was probably placed on the IL shortly after disappearing from the lineup at the beginning of November, and remained there continuously until shortly before he returned in January. If Jordan wasn’t going to play, and the Cavaliers weren’t going to sign a new player to fill the roster spot, why activate Jordan or place anyone else on the IL? Whitehead’s and Lambert’s inactivity is more likely a symptom that they were about to be waived than an indication that they were injured and on the IL.

Jordan returned to the lineup on 1/14/81. While I don’t have any documentation of such a transaction, he must have been activated, and another player placed on the IL, on or shortly before that date. The player placed on IL appears to be Chad Kinch, who did not appear in any games between 1/3 and the time he was traded to Dallas on 2/7.

When Kinch was traded to the Mavericks on 2/7/81, someone needed to be placed on IL to make room for the player acquired from Dallas in the trade (Geoff Huston). Per the Globe, that player was Jordan. Jordan did not appear in any games between 2/7 and 3/4. The Globe reported that Jordan was being placed on the IL in its 2/12/81 edition, however, suggesting that the move was made on 2/11. This may be another case of a team not needing to immediately make room for a new acquisition, but possibly having until the date of the next game to do so. The Cavaliers played on 2/7, then their next game after than was on 2/11. If the trade on 2/7 happened after the game on that date, and Jordan was placed on the IL before the game on 2/11, then the Cavaliers had their active roster down to 11 before the next game following the trade.

Jordan returned to the lineup on 3/4/81. While I don’t have any documentation of such a transaction, he must have been activated, and another player placed on the IL, on or shortly before that date. The player placed on IL appears to be Don Ford, who did not appear in any games after 2/25. Ford then presumably finished out the season on IL.

GAMES STARTED INFO

MEDIA GUIDE

As far as I can see, the 2013-14 Cavaliers Media Guide has no games started information for the 1980-81 season. In the history section, games started information only seems to go back as far as the 2011-12 season, although I noticed that 2007-08 oddly has it as well (even though 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 don’t). That makes three teams in a row with no data for 1980-81. For the 1980-81 Cavs, we will need to rely solely on the TSN box scores, as we did for the Bullets and Hawks.

TSN BOX SCORES

All but five of the TSN box scores for the 1980-81 Cavaliers appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order. The five exceptions were games on 10/11/80 (second game of the season), 1/23/81, 2/27/81, 3/13/81, and 3/29/81 (last game of the season).

--In the 10/11/80 box score, the first four players listed look like the expected starters with one forward missing. In the previous game, which was the first game of the season, Kenny Carr had started in the missing forward slot. Carr does not appear in the TSN box score of the 10/11 game, although b-r.com indicates that he did play (see the discussion under Carr in Part II below). For most of the next three weeks, Don Ford would start in the missing slot. Ford played on 10/11, but is the sixth player listed in the box score (the second player following the four expected starters). The fifth player listed is rookie guard Chad Kinch.

--In the 1/23/81 and 2/27/81 box scores, the first five players look like the expected starters, but with Laimbeer in the fifth position rather than the expected third position.

--In the 3/13/81 and 3/29/81 box scores, the first five players listed look like the expected starters, but with a couple out of order (Bratz is shown in the C slot, Laimbeer in a G slot).

For the last four games above, I am assuming that the first five players listed are the starters, at their usual positions. These players would have been my best guesses as to who started these games even if the box scores gave no clue as to who the starters may have been.

That leaves the question of who the fifth starter was on 10/11/80, with Carr or Ford the two most likely candidates. While Carr doesn’t appear in the TSN box score, it seems pretty clear to me that he did actually play. With the information at my disposal, either answer is just going to be a guess, but I am going to go with Carr. If Ford was the fifth player listed (following the other four starters), I might go with him. But with Ford in the sixth position (the second player after the other four starters), I’m inclined to lean towards Carr. Carr starting but being accidentally omitted seems like a more likely scenario than Ford starting, but being listed in a seemingly random slot in the box score, while Carr just happened to be omitted from the same box score. The latter scenario certainly isn’t impossible, though; again, this is really just a guess.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

From the TSN box scores, after making the assumptions discussed above, I am getting the following games started totals for the season:

Mitchell 82
Bratz 79
Laimbeer 70
Carr 68
Phegley 44
Smith 40
Ford 13
Robisch 11
Washington 2
Kinch 1

As with the other teams for which we have no media guide numbers, I’m pretty confident that the games started numbers I’m coming up with are at least good estimates. But there are a few anomalies in the TSN boxes that I wish I had a media guide to square up with. Who really started on 10/11/80, Carr or Ford? Why wouldn’t Laimbeer have started at center on 1/21/81? Why wouldn’t Phegley have started at guard on 1/13/81 and 2/17/81? Without media guide numbers to compare to, it’s hard to hold my games started numbers out as exact.
Last edited by MCT on Mon Jul 31, 2017 2:52 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Cleveland Cavaliers Games Played/Started & Trans

Postby MCT » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:39 pm

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – PART II

PLAYER INFORMATION

Players are listed based on a snapshot as of late February. This reflects the Cavaliers’ lineup after the trade with Dallas on 2/7, but before Don Ford apparently went out with an injury towards the end of the month.

MIKE MITCHELL

History: 1st round pick of Cavaliers in 1978.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 39.0 MPG): Mitchell appeared in every game the Cavaliers played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 82): Mitchell started every game the Cavaliers played.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

KENNY CARR

History: 1st round pick of Lakers in 1977. Acquired in trade with Lakers, October 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 81 G, 32.3 MPG): The only game in which Carr did not appear was on 12/12/80. Carr is also absent from the TSN box score for the game on 10/11/80 (the Cavaliers’ second game of the season), but b-r.com’s sortable box score and game log feature indicate that Carr played in that game. b-r.com credits Carr with scoring four points on two field goals; an examination of the TSN box scores reveals that the totals for the Cavaliers players listed in the box score are short of the team totals by those amounts. Either Dick Pfander or b-r.com must have noticed these discrepancies and determined that Carr actually played in this game.

Games Started (Regular Season: 68): According to the TSN box scores, with the assumptions discussed earlier, Carr started two consecutive games on 10/10/80 & 10/11/80 (first two games of the season), two consecutive games on 11/2/80 & 11/3/80, and 64 of the 65 games the Cavaliers played from 11/11/80 through the end of the season (all except the game he did not play in on 12/12/80).

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

MIKE BRATZ

History: 3rd round pick of Suns in 1977. Acquired in trade with Mavericks, September 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 80 G, 32.4 MPG): The two games in which Bratz did not appear were the first two games of the season, on 10/10/80 & 10/11/80. As discussed earlier, I believe that Bratz was on the suspended list at the time those two games were played. He was activated for the Cavaliers’ third game, on 10/14/80, and played in every game from that point on.

Games Started (Regular Season: 79): The three games Bratz did not start were the first three games of the season. He did not play in the first two games (10/10/80 & 10/11/80), then played but came off the bench in the third game (10/14/80). Bratz started every game from the fourth game of the season (10/16/80) on.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

BILL LAIMBEER

History: 3rd round pick of Cavaliers in 1979. (Note: Laimbeer played in Italy during the 1979-80 season – as far as I can tell he did not sign with the Cavaliers until the 1980 offseason – so even though he had come out of college a year earlier, he had no regular-season NBA experience prior to this season.)

Games Played (Regular Season 81 G, 30.4 MPG): The only game in which Laimbeer did not appear was on 10/22/80.

Games Started (Regular Season: 70): The 10 appearances that Laimbeer made in the Cavaliers’ first 11 games were all off the bench, behind Dave Robisch. He moved into the starting lineup on 10/31/80, after Robsich was traded. At that point, the Cavaliers had 71 games remaining. According to the TSN box scores, Laimbeer started all but one, which was on 1/20/81. Why Laimbeer wouldn’t have started that game is not apparent to me.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

ROGER PHEGLEY

History: 1st round pick of Bullets in 1978. Acquired in trade with Nets, September 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 27.7 MPG): Phegley appeared in every game the Cavaliers played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 44): Phegley started the first two games of the season alongside Randy Smith (10/10/80 & 10/11/80), apparently due to Mike Bratz’s absence, then came off the bench behind Smith for most of the rest of the first half of the season. Phegley returned to the starting lineup on 12/26/80, displacing Smith. According to the TSN box scores, Phegley started 42 of the 44 games remaining in the season at that point. The boxes show Smith starting rather than Phegley on 1/13/81 and 2/17/81; why Phegley wouldn’t have started those games is not apparent to me.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.

RANDY SMITH

History: 7th round pick of Braves in 1971. Acquired in trade with Clippers, September 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 26.8 MPG): Smith appeared in every game the Cavaliers played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 40): Smith started the first 38 games of the season (through 12/23/80). He then went to the bench behind Roger Phegley. If the TSN box scores can trusted, Smith also started two additional games later in the season in place of Phegley, which were on 1/13/81 and 2/17/81.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career (including 1980-81) except his rookie year of 1970-71, which is shown as SF.

RICHARD WASHINGTON

History: 1st round pick of Kings in 1976. Acquired in trade with Mavericks, October 1980.

Washington started the season with the Mavericks, but was traded to the Cavaliers on 10/30/80, with Jerome Whitehead, in exchange for Bill Robinzine and two 1st round picks.

Games Played (Regular Season 69 G, 21.8 MPG): When Washington was acquired, the Cavaliers had 71 games remaining. Washington played in 69 of those games. The two games in which he did not appear were two consecutive games on 12/20/80 & 12/23/80. Washington had played in 11 games for the Mavericks prior to the trade, giving him a total of 80 games played for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 2): The TSN box scores show Washington starting at forward on 12/12/80 (regular starter Kenny Carr did not play), and at center on 1/20/81 (regular starter Bill Laimbeer is shown playing off the bench).

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

GEOFF HUSTON

History: 3rd round pick of Knicks in 1979. Acquired in trade with Mavericks, February 1981.

Huston started the season with the Mavericks, but was traded to the Cavaliers on 2/7/81. The trade sent Chad Kinch in the opposite direction, and also involved each team sending a draft pick to the other.

Games Played (Regular Season 25 G, 21.7 MPG): When Huston was acquired, the Cavaliers had 25 games remaining. Huston played in all of them. Huston had played in 56 games for the Mavericks prior to the trade, giving him a total of 81 games played for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Huston did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

DON FORD

History: 6th round pick of Lakers in 1975, as a junior eligible. Acquired in trade with Lakers, February 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 64 G, 15.6 MPG): Ford appeared in 64 of the Cavaliers’ first 65 games (through 2/25/81). The only game in that period in which he did not appear was on 12/13/80. After 2/25/81, Ford did not appear in any further games, missing the last 17 games of the season. I am assuming that this was due to injury. While I do not have any documentation of this, I believe that Ford was placed on the injured list on or shortly before 3/4, so that Walter Jordan could be activated, and finished the season on the IL.

Games Started (Regular Season: 13): According to the TSN box scores, with the assumptions discussed earlier, Ford started 13 games out of a 15-game stretch in the early part of the season, running from from 10/14/80 through 11/8/80. That stretch began with the third game of the season; the two games in the stretch that Ford didn't start were two consecutive games on 11/2/80 & 11/3/80. The first two games of the season, and the two games on 11/2 & 11/3, were started by Kenny Carr. After 11/8/80, Carr took over as the regular starter, and all of Ford’s remaining appearances were off the bench.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position switches back and forth between PF and SF, with PF somewhat predominant in the early part of his career and SF predominant in the later part. Every season Ford played for the Cavaliers, including 1980-81, is shown as SF.

KIM HUGHES

History: Signed first pro contract with ABA, 1974. Acquired in trade with Nuggets, October 1980.

Hughes started the season with the Nuggets, but was traded to the Cavaliers on 10/31/80 as part of a package for Dave Robisch.

Games Played (Regular Season 45 G, 7.4 MPG): When Hughes was acquired, the Cavaliers had 71 games remaining. Hughes is credited with appearing in 45 of those games, but I only noted him in 44 TSN box scores. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Hughes in only 44 box scores. It is possible that Hughes was omitted from one box score in which he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score. A good candidate to check would be the game on 12/13, whose TSN box score lists only seven players for the Cavaliers. Hughes had played in 8 games for the Nuggets prior to the trade, giving him a total of 53 games played for the year.

Hughes does not appear in the box scores for the Cavaliers’ first six games after he was acquired. He then appears in the box scores for the next 15 consecutive games (11/11/80 through 12/11/80), followed by just 11 of the next 26 games (12/12/80 through 2/11/81), then 18 of the next 21 (2/12/81 through 3/24/81), before finishing out the season absent from the last three games of the season. As discussed earlier, I believe that Hughes was placed on the injured list at the time he was acquired, and was on IL for the first five or six games thereafter. Given his games played profile, Hughes may have struggled with injuries at other times in the season, particularly around the middle, but I don’t think he was ever on the IL again. Most of the games he missed were in groups of one or two games, although there were a few longer stretches (the most being six games).

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Hughes did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

MACK CALVIN

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1969. Signed as a free agent, December 1980.

Calvin did not start the season with the Cavaliers. He was signed as a free agent on 12/19/80, filling the roster spot vacated by releasing John Lambert.

Games Played (Regular Season 21 G, 6.1 MPG): When Calvin was signed, the Cavaliers had 46 games remaining. Calvin played in 21 of those games. I’m not going to list out exactly which games Calvin appeared in and which he didn’t, but his appearances in the TSN box scores do add up to his official games played total. It’s possible that injuries account for some of the games he missed, but it looks to me like Calvin may have also simply been one of the last players on the bench, especially after Geoff Huston was acquired in early February. When Calvin played in the last four games of the season, it marked the most consecutive games he had played in all year. His longest streak of absences was eight, from 3/11 to 3/22, a stretch that immediately preceded the final four games of the season.

Assuming that injuries were a factor, I don’t think that Calvin was ever on the injured list. The eight-game stretch described above was the only occasion when he missed enough games to have been placed on the IL. I believe that Don Ford was already on the IL at this time, and would ultimately miss the rest of the season. If Ford’s return wasn’t imminent, and the team wasn’t going to sign anyone to take Calvin’s place, there would have been no reason to activate Ford or to put Calvin on the IL.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Calvin did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

INJURED LIST:

WALTER JORDAN

History: 4th round pick of Nets in 1978. Signed as a free agent, August 1980. (Note: Jordan had no regular-season NBA experience prior to this season.)

Games Played (Regular Season 30 G, 6.9 MPG): The 30 games that Jordan appeared in fell into three distinct blocks, broken up by two apparent stays on the injured list. Jordan started off the season by playing in six of the Cavaliers’ first seven games (every game through 10/21/80, except 10/18/80). After that, Jordan made one more appearance on 10/31/80, then disappeared from the Cavaliers’ lineup for nearly two and a half months. While I do not have any documentation of this, I believe that Jordan was placed on the injured list in early November to make room on the active roster for the recently acquired Kim Hughes.

On 1/14/81, Jordan returned to action. He must have been activated on or shortly before that date, with Chad Kinch apparently placed on the IL to make room for Jordan on the active roster. Starting on 1/14/81, Jordan appeared in nine out of twelve games, a stretch than ran through 2/7/81. The three games in this period that he did not play in were on 1/20/81, 1/27/81, and 2/6/81. On 2/11/81, Jordan was placed on the injured list again, to make room on the active roster for the newly acquired Geoff Huston.

Jordan returned to the lineup again on 3/4/81. While I do not have any documentation of this, he must have been activated on or shortly before that date, with Don Ford apparently placed on the IL to make room for Jordan on the active roster. The Cavaliers had 14 games remaining when Jordan was activated, and he appeared in 13 of them, the one exception being on 3/11/81. With Ford’s absence, Jordan was the only real backup small forward on the roster, which may account for why he played so frequently during this period.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Jordan did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF; this is the only season that Jordan played in the NBA.

NO LONGER WITH TEAM:

ROBERT SMITH

History: 3rd round pick of Nuggets in 1977. Signed as a free agent, October 1980.

Smith started the season with the Cavaliers, but was waived on 10/14/80, apparently to make room on the active roster so that Mike Bratz could be activated from the suspended list.

Games Played (Regular Season 1 G, 20.0 MPG): The one game that Smith played in was on opening night, 10/10/80. By all appearances, he was on the Cavaliers’ roster at the time of their second game of the season, on 10/11/80, but did not play. The Cavaliers played their third game of the season on the day Smith was waived, but it’s apparent he was waived (and Bratz activated) before the game on that date. Smith did not play, and the Cavaliers used their entire 11-man roster in that game, including Bratz.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Smith did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

BILL ROBINZINE

History: 1st round pick of Kings in 1975. Acquired in trade with Kings, September 1980.

Robinzine started the season with the Cavaliers, but was traded to the Mavericks on 10/30/80, as part of the deal in which the Cavaliers acquired Richard Washington and Jerome Whitehead. Robinzine was traded to the Mavericks just 35 days (and 11 regular season games) after he was acquired from the Kings.

Games Played (Regular Season 8 G, 10.5 MPG): At the time Robinzine was traded, the Cavaliers had played 11 games. Robinzine had appeared in 8 of them. The three games he did not play in were two consecutive games on 10/16/80 & 10/17/80, and one game on 10/22/80. After the trade, Robinzine played in an additional 70 games for the Mavericks, giving him a total of 78 games played for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Robinzine did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

DAVE ROBISCH

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1971. Acquired in trade with Lakers, October 1979.

Robisch started the season with the Cavaliers, but was traded to the Nuggets on 10/31/80 for Kim Hughes, two draft picks, and future considerations.

Games Played (Regular Season 11 G, 33.8 MPG): At the time Robisch was traded, the Cavaliers had played 11 games, and Robisch had appeared in all of them. After the trade, Robisch played in an additional 73 games for the Nuggets, giving him a total of 84 games played for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 11): Robisch started all 11 games he appeared in for the Cavaliers.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career (including 1980-81) except for the portion of the 1975-76 season that he spent with the San Diego Sails of the ABA, which is shown as PF.

JEROME WHITEHEAD

History: 2nd round pick of Braves in 1978. Acquired in trade with Mavericks, October 1980.

The Cavaliers were the second of three NBA teams Whitehead played for in 1980-81. He started the season with the Mavericks, but was traded to the Cavaliers on 10/30/80, as part of a deal also involving Richard Washington, Bill Robinzine and two draft picks. The Cavaliers subsequently waived Whitehead on 11/17/80, to make room on the active roster so that John Lambert could be activated from the injured list. In January, Whitehead was signed by the Clippers, and would stick with them for the rest of the season. Between his three teams, Whitehead appeared in a total of 48 NBA regular season games this year: 7 with the Mavericks, 3 with the Cavaliers, and 38 with the Clippers.

Games Played (Regular Season 3 G, 2.7 MPG): The three games Whitehead played in for the Cavaliers were the first three games after he was acquired (10/31/80 through 11/3/80). The Cavaliers played six more games between 11/3 and the time Whitehead was waived on 11/17, but he did not play in any of them.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Whitehead did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

JOHN LAMBERT

History: 1st round pick of Cavaliers in 1975.

Lambert started the season with the Cavaliers, but was waived on 12/19/80. The Cavaliers filled his roster spot by signing Mack Calvin as a free agent. A week after the Cavaliers released Lambert, he was signed by the Kings. He would play the rest of the season with them, appearing in 43 games. Including the 3 games he had played for the Cavaliers earlier in the season, Lambert appeared in 46 NBA regular season games this year.

Games Played (Regular Season 3 G, 2.7 MPG): As discussed earlier, I believe that Lambert was on the injured list from the start of the season to 11/17/80. The Cavaliers played 16 games between the time Lambert was activated and the time he was waived on 12/19/80, but Lambert appeared in only three of them – 11/22/80, 11/28/80, and 12/4/80.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Lambert did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career. Note that even though Lambert’s position in the header is listed as “Center-Forward”, his primary position for each individual season of his career is shown as PF.

CHAD KINCH

History: 1st round pick of Cavaliers in 1980.

Kinch started the season with the Cavaliers, but was traded to the Mavericks on 2/7/81, as part of the deal in which the Cavaliers acquired Geoff Huston.

Games Played (Regular Season 29 G, 8.5 MPG): Kinch appeared in 28 of the Cavaliers’ first 35 games (through 12/17/80); the seven games in that period in which he did not appear were on 10/18/80, 10/22/80, two consecutive games on 10/28/80 & 10/31/80, 11/5/80, 12/6/80, and 12/13/80. After 12/17, Kinch only appeared in one additional game, which was on 1/3/81. I believe that Kinch was placed on the injured list on or shortly before 1/14, when Walter Jordan was activated, and remained on the IL until he was traded to the Mavericks in February. After the trade, Kinch played in an additional 12 games for the Mavericks, giving him a total of 41 games played for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 1): The TSN box scores show Kinch starting one game, on 10/14/80, which was the third game of the season. The first two games of the season had featured a starting backcourt of Randy Smith and Roger Phegley. For the third game, Kinch replaced Phegley. For the fourth game, Mike Bratz replaced Kinch. Bratz would continue to start for the remainder of the season.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG; this is the only season that Kinch played in the NBA.
Last edited by MCT on Mon Jul 31, 2017 4:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Cleveland Cavaliers Games Played/Started & Trans

Postby MCT » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:43 pm

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – PART III

PLAYERS BY POSITION

STARTERS

During our snapshot period, the Cavaliers used a starting lineup of Laimbeer at center, Carr and Mitchell at forward, and Bratz and Phegley at guard. Phegley only started for the second half of the season, having displaced Smith from the starting lineup in late December. The others started for most or all of the season, although Laimbeer and Carr didn’t take on those roles until several weeks into the season. Robisch started at center until he was traded on October 31, while Ford started most of the games the Cavaliers played at forward into early November.

b-r.com lists Carr as the PF and Mitchell as the SF, and in the backcourt, Bratz as the PG and Phegley as the SG (Smith is also listed as an SG). I agree with those assessments. All of the Cavaliers’ starters averaged 30 mpg except for Phegley; the way he and Smith split the season as starters likely kept both of them under 30 mpg. Mitchell led the team at 39.0 mpg.

RESERVES

On our snapshot roster, the reserve with the most mpg for the season, by far, was guard Randy Smith (26.8 mpg). Smith’s minutes are probably a bit misleading; they were undoubtedly so high because he started for about half of the season. Smith actually finished third on the team in scoring. At any point in the season, between Smith and Phegley, whichever of the two wasn’t starting was likely near the top of the bench rotation.

Other reserves on our snapshot roster who averaged over 20 mpg were Richard Washington (power forward-center) and Geoff Huston (point guard). Forward Don Ford was also in the everyday rotation until apparently getting injured in late February, although he averaged somewhat fewer minutes than the others mentioned so far (15.6 mpg). Ford was the primary backup at SF and likely saw some minutes at PF as well.

On our snapshot roster, the last remaining players off the bench were Kim Hughes (7.4 mpg) and Mack Calvin (6.1 mpg). At times, Hughes was more-or-less an everyday player; at others, whether due to injury or otherwise, he wasn’t. In any event, it doesn’t look like he got many minutes even when he did play, and I have to think that Washington was ahead of him on the depth chart at center. Calvin never really was an everyday player, and the acquisition of Huston couldn’t have helped his playing time.

With all of the roster moves the Cavaliers made over the course of the season, our snapshot roster was really only in place for a short time, from Huston’s acquisition on 2/7 to the point Ford dropped out of the lineup with an apparent injury after 2/25. After Ford went out, his spot was filled by activating Walter Jordan from the injured list, and Jordan took over as the backup at small forward. Jordan had been with the team all year, but had only played in 17 games prior to that point.

Who played backup point guard before Huston was acquired is an interesting question. The short answer is, Mack Calvin, but Calvin clearly wasn’t playing anywhere near all of the available minutes (similar to the situation at center, where Hughes was the only backup whose primary position was center, but probably behind PF-C swinger Washington on the center depth chart). Based on his stats, Randy Smith looks to have been a bit of a combo guard, and seems to have been capable of playing the point. Before Huston was acquired, I suspect Smith was being used for significant minutes in lineups where he was serving as the PG, making him more-or-less the de facto backup PG, in addition to playing at his primary position of SG as well. A need to use Smith this way may have even been a factor in moving him to the bench in December. Before Calvin was signed, there were no reserve guards on the roster with a primary position of PG, so the Cavs seem to have consciously headed into the season planning to use Smith this way. Chad Kinch, listed as an SG, may have also played some PG, but he didn’t play heavy minutes and disappeared from the lineup not long after Calvin was signed. I can’t see Roger Phegley playing much PG; he looks to have been a pure wing player. The midseason acquisitions of Calvin and Huston were presumably driven by the team realizing they needed more depth at PG.

POSITION NOTES

Center-Forwards

If you add up all of the minutes played for all of the Cavaliers’ players whose primary position was center, and do the same for all the players whose primary position was elsewhere, you’ll be left 785 minutes short at center (and 785 minutes over elsewhere). For most of the season, Laimbeer was the starter at center and Hughes the backup. Laimbeer averaged 30 mpg, but Hughes clearly didn’t come close to covering all of the available minutes behind Laimbeer. Those 785 minutes at center must have been played by someone whose primary position is shown as (power) forward.

That player appears to be Richard Washington, whose old b-r.com header lists him as a “Forward-Center”. The bulk of those 785 minutes at center were likely played by Washington. This would mean that he split his time roughly equally between center and forward. To the extent that playing center pulled Washington away from playing power forward, minutes at PF could have easily been covered by Don Ford. Ford’s primary position this season is shown as SF, but it is shown as PF for other seasons of his career, and there weren’t enough minutes at SF behind Mike Mitchell (who played very heavy minutes) to accommodate all of the minutes Ford played. Ford appears to have actually been starting at PF early in the season, when he was paired up with Mitchell.

The old b-r.com headers for Jerome Whitehead, John Lambert and Dave Robisch also show them playing both C and PF. Whitehead and Lambert played so few minutes for the Cavaliers this year that it’s hard to tell which they played more of, and they wouldn’t have had any real impact on the Cavaliers’ season as a whole in any event. Robsich was the starting center during the portion of the season he spent in Cleveland; I doubt that he played much at power forward, but again it’s hard to tell, and any minutes he spent at PF wouldn’t have a major impact on an analysis of the season as a whole.

Guard-Forwards

The old b-r.com headers for Roger Phegley and Randy Smith list their position as “Guard-Forward”. If you add up all of the minutes played for all of the Cavaliers’ players whose primary position was guard, and do the same for all the players whose primary position was elsewhere, you’ll be left 88 minutes over at guard (and 88 minutes short elsewhere). This suggests that a few minutes at SF may have been covered by someone whose primary position was SG, but not many; 88 minutes works out to barely a minute per game. To the extent that this was happening, Phegley – who was 6’6” and consistently had more rebounds than assists – was likely the one doing it. The 6’3” Smith may have played some SF earlier in his career but was likely a full-time guard by this point.

TRIVIA

Oldest Player: Mack Calvin, born 7/27/47 (age 33 throughout the season). Before Calvin was signed in December, the oldest player was Randy Smith (born 12/12/48, age 31 at start of season, turned 32 in December).

Played in ABA: Dave Robisch, Kim Hughes, Mack Calvin.

Longest continuous service with team: At the start of the season, John Lambert, with the team since the 1975-76 season. After Lambert was waived in December, Mike Mitchell, with the team since the 1978-79 season.

Highest original draft position*: #3 overall – Richard Washington.

Lowest original draft position*: 14th round, #187 overall - Mack Calvin.

Youngest Player: Chad Kinch, born 5/22/58 (age 22). Kinch was the only player on the team who was in his first year out of college. After Kinch was traded in February, the youngest player became Geoff Huston (born 11/8/57, age 23).

*Which player was chosen with the highest/lowest selection, by round and/or overall pick, with no regard to whether any players may have been drafted under circumstances not reflecting their “true” value (e.g., player was a junior eligible who had not committed to turn pro right away; player was already under contract to ABA, or thought to be likely to sign with ABA).
Last edited by MCT on Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Cleveland Cavaliers Games Played/Started & Trans

Postby Mike Goodman » Tue Apr 15, 2014 5:06 am

I'm surprised Randy Smith isn't considered a PG just about as much as he's a SG.
In Buffalo/San Diego, guards with at least 1500 minutes:
Code: Select all
1972       As/G   Ast%
Hazzard     5.6   25.3
Smith       2.5   13.8
Garrett     2.3   12.6

1973       As/G   Ast%
Smith       5.1   23.2
Wohl        4.6   22.0
Garrett     2.8   17.0

1974       As/G   Ast%
DiGregorio  8.2   30.1
Smith       4.7   18.7

1975       As/G   Ast%
Smith       6.5   25.5
Charles     2.2   13.3

1976       As/G   Ast%
Smith       5.9   23.1
Charles     2.5   12.3

1977       As/G   Ast%
DiGregorio  4.7   24.1
Smith       5.4   22.8

1978       As/G   Ast%
Smith       5.6   22.2
Williams    4.3   20.9

1979       As/G   Ast%
Smith       4.8   17.6
Free        4.4   17.1

After his rookie season, he led the team in Ast% 5 of 7 times; in Ast/G six times.
Then with Cleveland:
Code: Select all
1980       As/G   Ast%
Walker      8.0   29.5
Smith       4.4   18.5

1981       As/G   Ast%
Smith       4.4   23.9
Bratz       5.7   22.4
Phegley     2.2   11.8

Between 1970 and 1984, there are 62 players listed as G (not G-F) who played at least 10,000 NBA minutes. Randy Smith isn't listed (since he was allegedly a 6-3 forward at times), but his career 20.8 Ast% would place him 39th among the 62.
Others in the neighborhood : Lucius Allen, Ron Williams, Don Buse, Johnny Davis, Clem Haskins, Butch Beard, Jim Price, Jim McElroy, Fred Brown, Jim Cleamons, Brian Taylor, Henry Bibby, Jo Jo White (19.0 Ast%).
All are listed as PG and SG or simply as PG.
http://bkref.com/tiny/wNROM

Phil Smith has the next-highest Ast% (19.0) of any G who is not listed as a PG.
`
36% of all statistics are wrong
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Re: 1980-81 Cleveland Cavaliers Games Played/Started & Trans

Postby meej » Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:35 am

Kenny Carr played small forward in the Lakers, as he appeared significantly less bulky than he was seasons later as a PF with the Blazers. I think that he also played small forward for the 1976 Olympic US Team.

Walter Jordan played small forward in Spain.
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Re: 1980-81 Cleveland Cavaliers Games Played/Started & Trans

Postby wojoaderge » Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:38 pm

meej wrote:Kenny Carr played small forward in the Lakers, as he appeared significantly less bulky than he was seasons later as a PF with the Blazers.

next to Dantley and Wilkes?
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Re: 1980-81 Cleveland Cavaliers Games Played/Started & Trans

Postby meej » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:52 pm

I saw him the next season 1979-80, off the bench as a backup to Wilkes. Of course, they had both Spencer Haywood and Jim Chones as power forwards by then.

Anyway, I had always considered Carr as a power forward and it surprised me to see him play as small forward. I should check games from the previous season to see where he played when Dantley and Wilkes were the starting forwards.
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Re: 1980-81 Cleveland Cavaliers Games Played/Started & Trans

Postby MCT » Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:30 pm

MCT wrote:Elmore Smith:

The 1981-82 NBA Register has an entry for Smith. His career stats show him with Cleveland in both 1979-80 and 1980-81 with the notation “Missed Entire Season – Knee Injury”. This implies that Smith was with the Cavaliers in 1980-81 but was on the injured list all season. I have not found any documentation elsewhere of Smith still being with the Cavaliers in 1980-81, however (e.g., a transaction showing Smith being placed on the IL at the start of the season). I have not included Smith on the roster posted above. Note the following:

--The Cavaliers Media Guide has a 1980-81 team photo whose caption lists Smith as one of the players in the picture. I do not think the player IDs in the photo caption are entirely accurate, however, and I am not certain that Smith is actually in the photo.

Upon further research, I am fairly certain that Smith does not appear in the photo. There are two players in the photo who I believe are misidentified, and the player claimed to be Elmore Smith is one of them. As a result, I do not think this photo provides any evidence that Smith was still on the team's roster at the time the photo was taken.

One thing to note before delving into further details is that Jerome Whitehead appears in the photo. That is significant because Whitehead was with the Cavaliers for less than three weeks, from late October to the middle of November. Assuming that the identification of Whitehead is correct -- and I believe that it is -- the photo must have been taken within a fairly narrow window, and players who were never with the Cavs at the same time as Whitehead should not be in the picture (e.g., Robert Smith, Bill Robinzine, Mack Calvin, Geoff Huston).

In the top row of the photo, there is a player wearing number 3, who is identifed as Elmore Smith. The Cavaliers Media Guide does not show any player who was on the team in 1980-81 as wearing number 3. Whoever wrote the caption must have assumed the player was Smith based on his being the only player from anytime around this year who the Media Guide shows as having worn number 3 (the caption writer may have also been aware that Smith remained on the team's injured list for some length of time after playing in his last game, and thought Smith may have still been with the team at this point, even if he wasn't actively playing). The player is obviously not Smith, however. Smith was African-American, and the player wearing number 3 is clearly Caucasian; skin color aside, he looks nothing like other photos of Smith. The uniform number list on the APBR web site provided the answer to this mystery. For a short time after being acquired from Denver in a trade on 10/31/80, Kim Hughes apparently wore number 3. That is who the player wearing number 3 in the photo is. The Cavaliers Media Guide does not show Hughes as ever having worn number 3.

The top row also has a player identified as Dave Robisch. The player's uniform number is in the 20s, but the second digit is hard to make out. I suspect that the caption writer used a process of elimination to identify the player as Robisch, starting with a list of players who wore uniform numbers in the 20s, eliminating those who appear elsewhere in the photo and those whose second digit couldn't plausibly be what's shown in the photo (Mack Calvin wore number 21, but it seems pretty clear that the second digit on the unfirorm in the photo isn't a "1"), and was left with 25, which was Robisch's number. The player is clearly not Robisch, however. Robisch was white, and had a lanky build. The player is the photo appears to be black, and does not have Robisch's build; compare to the photo of Robisch in the 1979-80 team picture. Robisch was also traded the day after Whitehead was acquired, so it seems unlikely that they would both be in the photo. Hughes was in fact acquired in the same trade in which Robisch was traded, so based on my identification of Hughes as the player wearing number 3, Robisch can't be in the photo. The trouble is, if you eliminate players who are elsewhere in the photo, players who were never there at the same time as Whitehead (in addition to the second digit in the photo not looking like a "1", Mack Calvin wasn't signed until after Whitehead was gone), and Robsich (based on Hughes being in the photo), there is no one left who wore a uniform number in the 20s.

After thinking this through and looking at other photos of players who would have been on the Cavs' roster at the same time as Whitehead, I think the player may actually be wearing number 25, but I believe it is Richard Washington. Washington was acquired in the same trade as Whitehead, so he should be in the picture, but is not identified as appearing. Given our identifaction of Hughes, Washington is the only player with the team at the same time as Whitehead who is unaccounted for. Sources indicate that Washington wore number 31, but could he have worn a different number briefly right after being acquired, like Hughes? If the photo was taken soon after the trades the Cavs made on October 30-31, perhaps Washington's jersey wasn't ready yet, and he put on one of Robisch's old ones for the picture? (Washington and Whitehead both made their Cleveland debut in the same game, though, which was the day after they were acquired -- so why would Whitehead have a new jersey ready but not Washington?)

Another oddity about the photo is that there is a player in the top row wearing a jersey with no number on it. The caption identifies him as John Lambert, and I believe this is correct. (How did the caption writer misidentify players who look nothing like Smith and Robisch -- not even the same race -- based entirely on their uniform numbers, but manage to get the number-less Lambert right?) The numberless jersey may be related to Lambert's having apparently started the season on the IL; at this point, he was yet to be activated. I'd think the team would have made up a jersey for him even if he wasn't on the active roster, though. Given the fiscal situation of the NBA in this era, that this is the Ted Stepien-era Cavs we're dealing with, and that after being activated Lambert only played in three games before getting released, maybe they weren't willing to do that until it was apparent that Lambert was going to actually get used in a game.
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Re: 1980-81 Cleveland Cavaliers Games Played/Started & Trans

Postby MCT » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:15 pm

A while back, Mike G. posted some material in the Spurs thread, with position information for 1980-81 sourced from Neft & Cohen’s NBA Encyclopedia. I recently posted about this in the introductory thread to this series, noting that I planned to post and comment on this data on a team-by-team basis. See the eighth post in the introductory thread for more information.

Here’s what Neft & Cohen have for the Cavaliers:

Mike Goodman wrote:
Code: Select all
tm     player         pos   Min     
Cle   Mike Mitchell    F   3194         
Cle   Kenny Carr       F   2615         
Cle   Mike Bratz       G   2595         
Cle   Bill Laimbeer    C   2460         
Cle   Roger Phegley   gf   2269         
Cle   Randy Smith      G   2199         
Cle Richard Washington f   1505         
Cle   Don Ford         f    996         
Cle   Geoff Huston     g    542         
Cle   Dave Robisch     c    372         
Cle   Kim Hughes       c    331         
Cle   Chad Kinch       g    247         
Cle   Walter Jordan    f    207         
Cle   Mack Calvin      g    128         
Cle   Bill Robinzine   f     84         


MCT wrote:If you add up all of the minutes played for all of the Cavaliers’ players whose primary position was center, and do the same for all the players whose primary position was elsewhere, you’ll be left 785 minutes short at center (and 785 minutes over elsewhere). For most of the season, Laimbeer was the starter at center and Hughes the backup. Laimbeer averaged 30 mpg, but Hughes clearly didn’t come close to covering all of the available minutes behind Laimbeer. Those 785 minutes at center must have been played by someone whose primary position is shown as (power) forward.

That player appears to be Richard Washington, whose old b-r.com header lists him as a “Forward-Center”. The bulk of those 785 minutes at center were likely played by Washington. This would mean that he split his time roughly equally between center and forward. To the extent that playing center pulled Washington away from playing power forward, minutes at PF could have easily been covered by Don Ford. Ford’s primary position this season is shown as SF, but it is shown as PF for other seasons of his career, and there weren’t enough minutes at SF behind Mike Mitchell (who played very heavy minutes) to accommodate all of the minutes Ford played. Ford appears to have actually been starting at PF early in the season, when he was paired up with Mitchell.

This one is interesting, because Neft & Cohen have Washington as exclusively a forward (“f”); they don’t show him as playing significantly at center. Someone must have played those minutes at center called out in my analysis, though, and Neft & Cohen don’t identify an alternative candidate. Assuming Washington was a full-time forward also creates a problem with not having enough minutes available at forward for all the players who supposedly played there. I think my earlier conclusion that Washington swung over to play significant minutes at center as a secondary position makes more sense.

MCT wrote:The old b-r.com headers for Jerome Whitehead, John Lambert and Dave Robisch also show them playing both C and PF. Whitehead and Lambert played so few minutes for the Cavaliers this year that it’s hard to tell which they played more of, and they wouldn’t have had any real impact on the Cavaliers’ season as a whole in any event. Robsich was the starting center during the portion of the season he spent in Cleveland; I doubt that he played much at power forward, but again it’s hard to tell, and any minutes he spent at PF wouldn’t have a major impact on an analysis of the season as a whole.

Neft & Cohen have Robsich as exclusively a center. The other two are missing from the Cavaliers listing (they apparently didn’t play enough minutes to make the cut), but are shown as exclusively centers with the other teams they played for this season.

MCT wrote:The old b-r.com headers for Roger Phegley and Randy Smith list their position as “Guard-Forward”. If you add up all of the minutes played for all of the Cavaliers’ players whose primary position was guard, and do the same for all the players whose primary position was elsewhere, you’ll be left 88 minutes over at guard (and 88 minutes short elsewhere). This suggests that a few minutes at SF may have been covered by someone whose primary position was SG, but not many; 88 minutes works out to barely a minute per game. To the extent that this was happening, Phegley – who was 6’6” and consistently had more rebounds than assists – was likely the one doing it. The 6’3” Smith may have played some SF earlier in his career but was likely a full-time guard by this point.

Neft & Cohen have Smith as exclusively a guard, but think Phegley did play some forward (“gf”).
MCT
 
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