Hopelessly jet-lagged and unable to sleep at 3 a.m., let me toss out a few thoughts.
--People in Houston tell me that David Wesley has nothing left and looked bad at the end of last season. I don't believe that's 100 percent true, everyone in Houston looked bad at the end of last season. If you look at his stats, he's been a steady performer even as he's aged. If you start him and expect 33 minutes a game, as the Rockets did due to mass injuries, I can see why you'd think he's done. Now I'm a once bitten by Lucious Harris, twice shy kind of guy, so I'm leery of signing another "shooter" who is about to be 36. But the Cavs didn't give him much money and there a good chance he'll contribute significantly in at least 20-25 games.
UPDATE: After reading the blog, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy wanted to get his thoughts out on Wesley. He wrote: "David was injured at the end of last year as he came back prematurely from a rib injury to try and help us win even as most veterans who were on the last year of their contract would have worried more about their upcoming free agency than their team. That is who David is. Team first type of guy. He can still shoot, he can defend points or 2’s and even though he may have lost a step here or there, he is bull strong, smart and competitive. He came off a knee surgery to start last year and It took a bit for him to get rolling. But after the first month of the year he played very well and only the rib injury prevented him from finishing strong. The Cavs got a good player and a hall of fame type of guy and competitor."
I thank Jeff for sharing his thoughts, he obviously respects Wesley. I think the perception that Wesley struggled at times last season plus the fact that the Rockets decided to go look for younger shooters this offseason contributed to the feelings I got from Houston.
Also, I want to answer a couple questions in the comment section. The Cavs have signed Wesley to a two-year deal but the second year is not fully guaranteed, only a small part of it is. This protects the Cavs and enables them to trade him next summer to a team that could just waive him and not pay his salary (like an expiring contract, it makes him an asset to a team looking to dump a player or cut salary). For his willingness to take on a second year, Wesley probably got a few hundred thousand guaranteed to him. This is a standard practice now in the NBA. Also, as Van Gundy mentioned, the Cavs believe Wesley can be a physical defender and feel that matches up with Scot Pollard, another physical guy they signed who can guard multiple positions.
--I'm very tired of answering e-mails, many of them from Kobe fans apparently wearing blinders, who insist the U.S. needed better shooters to win the worlds. I know the games were on in the middle of the night, but did any of you actually watch the games? You think the U.S. had offensive problems? Are you kidding me?
Look at these stats, the U.S averaged 104 points a game and shot more than 50 percent from the field. They shot 37 percent from 3-point range, which is the same as champion Spain and better than Greece and Argentina. Yes, sometimes they settled for too many 3's but it wasn't like they weren't making them. In the game they lost they scored 95 points in just 40 minutes.
All in all, the defense was respectable. They held their opponents to 83 points a game and 46 percent shooting. They had a few bad periods of defense, which cost them the game against Greece. They were slow to make fixes and didn't seem to be properly prepared for that game and it cost them. Now, I wrote all about their flaws after every game, but I can't believe some of the stuff I'm reading.
If you don't believe me, read Truehoop, which if you are a fan you should be reading regularly anyway.
--I saw Donyell Marshall today at the Wesley press conference and he looks like he's in great shape. It appears he's lost at least 10 pounds, perhaps more. Danny Ferry told me Marshall has been working out hard all summer. Last season as 'Yell's 3-point shooting dropped significantly after a hot start, some scouts suggested to me that it appeared as if he legs were going. I have no idea if that's true, but it appears he felt he needed to get in better shape.
--After Gooden finally signs his deal in the next day or so, the Cavs will be right up against the luxury tax threshold of $65.4 million. That is counting about $3 million in bonuses Larry Hughes and Marshall can get if the team reaches certain milestones, which they did last year making them so-called "likely bonuses." I know there are rumors out there about trades and whatnot, but before you consider any of them realize the Cavs won't be taking on an additional salary this season. They do, however, have about $1.2 million in wiggle room in money for Eddie Basden and Stephen Graham, deals that are not fully guaranteed.