I've gotten a steady stream of e-mails from fans in various degrees of anger over the last week at the state of the Cavs. It is understandable, especially after they way the team performed in Toronto and in Boston this week. I've been around the block quite a few times now as this is my fifth season covering the team. As I wrote in the paper, preseason may not count but it does matter. Right now, the team is playing lousy in every phase. So the 1-6 record might be worth discussing, but the execution and focus level have been extremely lax and there's no refuting that.
From day one almost a month ago it was clear that the Cavs had lost their swagger because of the Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic holdouts were collectively weighing on the team's minds. They have been asked about it virtually every day since and right now they are playing like their minds are elsewhere. The players have now accepted that neither will be there on opening night and so far they are not accepting the challenge.
There's also a lot of venom for Danny Ferry coming to my inbox as well. Fans are upset over the inactivity over the summer, which many seem be believe made the Cavs worse even though I do not agree with that logic. But added to the inability to get the contracts done I can understand why there is a furor.
However, as they build their case to me for their anger, many are mistaken as just how this current roster was put together. So let me go over it for you from the past two regimes with just a tad bit of perspective.
Jim Paxson: --Drafted LeBron James. He is the only Paxson draft pick left on the roster. --Signed Ira Newble to a five-year, $15 million contract. --Traded for Anderson Varejao and signed him to a three-year contract. --Traded for Drew Gooden. --Traded for Eric Snow and paid his 15 percent trade kicker as he was at the start of a four-year, $25.6 million extension that he'd signed with the Philadelphia the year before. He certainly knew the contract but did not sign him. --Traded for Sasha Pavlovic. --Traded first round pick in 2007 away. The 2005 first round pick was dealt for Wesley Person by Wayne Embry.
(EDIT: This is not a complete list of Jim Paxson's moves, of course. This is not meant to be a breakdown of the Jim Paxson era. This is simply how the CURRENT roster was put together.)
Danny Ferry: --Signed Larry Hughes to a five-year, $60 million deal with incentives that could earn him $12 more. He's hit about $5 million of those so far. The Wizards had offered Hughes six years and $54 million when Ferry made the offer. --Signed Donyell Marshall to a four-year, $22 million deal. New Jersey and Washington were both offering Marshall three-year contracts. --Signed Damon Jones for a four-year, $16 million deal. Miami was offering a contract of fewer years. --Signed Zydrunas Ilgauskas to a five-year, $53 million deal. Was able to get him to take nearly a $6 million pay cut from the season before to help free up salary room. Perhaps in exchange, he went to five years instead of the four the may've team wanted at first. --Drafted Shannon Brown. --Drafted Daniel Gibson. --Signed LeBron James to a three-year, $43 million contract. --Signed Drew Gooden to a three-year, $20 million deal. --Signed Dwayne Jones. --Traded for Cedric Simmons --Signed Devin Brown to a one-year, $1.1 million deal.
Now, when you rant you will be better informed. As for the current situation, the Cavs certainly need to do something to help the roster and the morale of the team. Even if it is a minor move, it may help the overall outlook. In my many conversations with Cavs coaches and front office members I am always told reasons why the Cavs don't want certain players. They put a high value on character. They want players who value defense. They want versatile players that are tall and long, which make them better defenders. All of this makes sense and following a long-term plan is the Spurs, and now the Cavs, way.
However, there are also players who do certain things well and become available from time to time. Maybe not the perfect recipe for what the Cavs want, but that doesn't mean they can't help. Any sort of talent injection at this point would be a help. Still most signs are pointing to them sticking to their philosophy and riding out what sure looks like a coming storm.