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Cleveland Cavaliers

Now what?

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 13, 2010

The stunning and premature exit from the postseason has left the entire Cavaliers roster in flux. The GM is in the final year of his contract, the coach is almost assuredly out, not to mention the uncertainty surrounding the King and his court. Here is a look at the franchise's key figures and the likelihood they are still on the roster when training camp starts in the fall.
GM Danny Ferry Outlook: With little cap space, Ferry has overhauled the Cavaliers' roster the last two seasons with creative trades. He has given coach Mike Brown all the pieces he needed for a championship, but obviously it didn't work. Dan Gilbert gave his blessing for Ferry to continue adding payroll to win this season, knowing he might be stuck with a few bad contracts in a couple of years. Based on his recent comments, Gilbert might be upset enough to clear the deck of everyone -- including Ferry. Stay or go? Stay
Coach Mike Brown Whispers started after last season that Brown was in trouble after the Cavs lost to Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals. After the team regressed this season, Brown is assuredly out. He has been given every piece he could've asked for, yet still couldn't even deliver an NBA finals appearance, let alone a championship. His obsession with defense left the offense clumsy too many times. His rotations were inconsistent and left reserves unsure when -- or if -- they'd enter the game. LeBron James always seemed to merely tolerate his head coach, but their relationship appeared to deteriorate as the postseason progressed. Including the postseason, Brown is 314-167 in five years in Cleveland. He could very well be coaching in the NBA next season, but it won't be here. Stay or go? Go
Shaquille O'Neal He hinted earlier this season he'd like to return, but right now that's all in flux. The broken thumb came at the worst possible time, since he never seemed to find his rhythm in the playoffs following a fairly productive regular season. The most disappointing aspect is O'Neal never even got to do what he was brought here to do: match up with Dwight Howard in the Eastern Conference finals. O'Neal felt like a mercenary this season. He was reclusive, kept to himself and was nowhere to be found while rehabbing the thumb. The last two teams O'Neal has played for, the Cavs and the Phoenix Suns, both underachieved badly with him on the roster. Is it a coincidence? Hard to tell, but the Suns are back in the Western Conference finals without him. Stay or go? Go
Zydrunas Ilgauskas He'll never admit it publicly, but Ilgauskas was stung by how he was treated this season. He became a bench player for the first time in his career, he was stung by how Mike Brown handled the night he was supposed to become the franchise leader in games played and finally he was traded midseason for Antawn Jamison. Ilgauskas swallowed all those feelings and returned anyhow for a chance at a championship. He didn't get it and now will become a highly sought-after free agent, even though he turns 35 next month. Ilgauskas hinted at retirement before this season began, but his agent, Herb Rudoy, told me he was so overwhelmed by the interest around the league after he was released by Washington that he will almost assuredly play next season. Don't be surprised if he even receives a multiyear deal. It just won't come in Cleveland. Stay or go? Go
Mo Williams Drew the ire of fans and coaches for his erratic play the last two postseasons. Despite his scoring outburst in Game 6, Williams was awful offensively and even worse defensively. His liabilities are a big reason the Cavs struggled defending Rajon Rondo. The problem is his contract. Williams is signed through 2012, with a player option through 2013, worth $26 million. In order for the Cavs to move him, they'd have to take back a bad contract. Stay or go? Stay
Delonte West West lost his starting job to Anthony Parker because of off-court problems and was never able to regain it. Now he has a pending court case in Maryland on felony weapons charges and could be looking at jail time this summer. His attorney has done a masterful job of delaying the trial so West could play this season, but now it's time to face the judge. He is entering the final year of his deal next season and probably isn't a candidate to get traded. It's just a matter of how much jail time, if any, he'll receive and if he'll be out in time for training camp. Stay or go? Stay
LeBron James The summer Cavaliers fans have dreaded has officially started. No one has any idea what James is thinking right now, perhaps not even James himself. It won't be a surprise if James lands on an operating table to repair his elbow next week. He'll take the next seven weeks to recover and clear his head while weighing his options. Remember, he could still simply exercise the option on his current contract and go through all of this again next year. But the looming cuts in a new labor deal with the league will likely prevent that from happening. Despite New Yorkers' passionate pleas, the Knicks just aren't a viable option if James truly wants to win a championship. Even if he joined Chris Bosh in New York, the Knicks would still be at least a year or two away from being legitimate title contenders. If James is to leave, the team that gives him the best team to win now is Chicago. James called Derrick Rose one of the top three point guards in the league during their first-round playoff series, when he got an up-close look at just how close the Bulls are to contention. With Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, the addition of James would immediately make the Bulls the best team in the East. Not to mention, James could follow Michael Jordan's path and restore the glory to Bulls basketball. Knowing LeBron, he's going to draw this out and soak in the attention. At some point, Ferry -- provided he's still the GM -- will call James and ask him who he wants to be the coach. The answer likely isn't going to be Mike Brown. If James can hand-pick the next coach, if he wants Shaq back and believes they can win a championship together and if he feels any remorse for getting injured at the worst possible time, James just might be back after all. Then again, he's 25. If he signs another three-year deal and fails again with the Cavaliers, he's 28 and suddenly becoming Alex Rodriguez, who was the best player in baseball with no championships for much of his career. James may decide he's given Cleveland seven years and done all he can do. It just might be time to start over elsewhere. Stay or go? Go

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