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Cleveland Cavaliers

The offseason begins

By admin Published: June 19, 2007

For the last several weeks I have been collecting information on the Cavs' thought process and options for this summer.  Of course, it is poor form to be writing about the offseason while in a playoff run.  So I horded it all, piled it together and dumped most of it into this story, which has a bevy of information (despite what the headline implies).  If you can't bear to go to the link, let me sum it up for you very quickly:

--Based on my read of the winds at the Q, the Cavs won't be going to the wall to keep Anderson Varejao.  The buzzword these days is flexibility, I think the Cavs would rather let him walk than pay him crazy money (like, say, $8-$10 a year as has been predicted by some).  But it is going to be hard to determine what he's worth because there aren't comparable players.  That said they would prefer to sign him.   Read the story for a complete understanding.
--Dan Gilbert has cleared Danny Ferry to go into the luxury tax.  By the way, this is no small feat.  Just ask some other GMs.
--Carlos Delfino switching teams impacts Sasha Pavlovic.
--The Mike Bibby deal is probably dead.   The Kings wanted most of the Cavs' expiring contracts.  Now, they can't really make the same deal.  Never say never, but do yourself a favor and don't harp on it.
--The Cavs are interested in Theo Papaloukas.  Who, you say? This guy.  The team loves his grittiness.  Problem is, he can't shoot and the Cavs don't need more guards who can't shoot and they know this.  Small chance of him being signed.
--Sarunas Jasikevicius would love another shot to play for the Cavs, not sure if the feeling is mutual.
--Earl Boykins is a shoot-first player and a poor defender.  I respect the hell out of the guy, but I'd be shocked if the Cavs sign him.  However, I have different thoughts and sources on Steve Blake.
--Do you know the Cavs could trade Damon Jones, Ira Newble and David Wesley for up to an $11.1 million player while the other team would only be responsible for around $4.6 million in actual dollars next season.  Dude, read the story.  Those guys are assets, trust me.  UPDATE:  I've gotten some e-mails because some people aren't understanding this (which is why you should read the story).  The Cavs can and will kick in as much as $3 million in any deal.  Wesley, Jones and Newble combined cap numbers are about about $9.4 million next season (add the 20 percent rule in trade and you get a little over $11 million in return value potential).  Reduce the Wesley buyout plus the payment and hard cash due to cover the Cavs players is close to $4.6-$4.8 million depending on some things.  Now, here's where I should point out that the Phoenix Suns love Drew Gooden, they spent all last summer trying to get him.  Plus they really want to kill payroll and have been floating Shawn Marion's name.  That's not a rumor, OK, that's just me thinking out loud.  By the way, new Suns GM Steve Kerr and Danny Ferry are tight.

Now, here's some other things I need to say heading into this summer:

--The correction of the offense starts with LeBron James.  The reason his jump shot was terrible in the Finals was because he lost confidence in it.  He lost confidence in it because he can't trust it.  He can't trust it because he's not fundamentally sound with it.  He's not fundamentally sound because he's always changing his form.  Remember those five days or so when he was hopping one inch on his 3-pointers a la Ira Newble?  Same with free throws, he changed his form, what, three or four times this season.  Want to hear something shocking?  His highest free-throw percentage of the last eight years was when he was a freshman in high school.  He needs to get a correct form and then be consistent with it.  He knows this.  Whether he does it with a personal coach or whatever, it needs to be done.

Second, it doesn't matter whether LeBron has Jason Kidd playing next to him, if he's going to dribble the air out of the ball he is going to be easy to defend.  Sometimes the offense stops working because he stops it.  I have had a few NBA players (not on the Cavs...don't get me in trouble) tell me they think LeBron is a selfish player at times.  I don't believe that, I think he wants to be the ultimate team player but he needs to refine some tendencies.  Perhaps he needs some better teaching of how.  But here's the thing I know about him, he's only going to change something when he's good and ready.

Third, he's got to trust his post game more.  He's not comfortable down there and so he rarely posts low.  It isn't Mike Brown who tells him to post 22 feet from the basket.  Again, it makes him easier to defend and the Cavs' offense less potent.

--Larry Hughes needs to go back and watch the film from the first 10 games when he took over at point guard.  He was distributing, not just shooting.  Larry is a quality player and he really helps the team when he plays well, but he's got to figure out what he is.  Also, I personally believe he and LeBron have some on-court chemistry issues.  There are times when Larry just won't pass LeBron the ball, I've seen it numerous times.  That has to be ironed out, too.

--Mike Brown has made the players respect him for his defensive coaching, he's pounded it into their heads and got them to buy in.  But he has no cache as an offensive coach, the players don't show him the same respect on that end.  Not sure I know how he can fix this, but I know bringing up the issue of adding another coach to deal with offense gets a prickly response at One Center Court.

--Over the last few weeks, I've read at least 10 or 12 stories where the writers predicted a free agent will "get the full mid-level exception of $5.5 million."  In my view of the market, that's not happening.  Teams aren't using the full mid-level much on players anymore, call it the Jerome James market correction.  Four years ago, like half the teams gave it to one guy (please see Cardinal, Brian and Hudson, Troy).  Last year, there were only a handful of players who got it and most of them didn't work out, either.  Consider Vlad Radmanovic, Jared Jeffries, Nazr Mohammed and Mike James to name a few.  The market for the full mid-level is so weak this summer that even the Knicks say they aren't using theirs.  Guess there won't be filet mignon at the annual agents' convention this year.  Most teams will use pieces of it, that includes the Cavs.

--As far as I can tell the following star-type players are potentially on the trade market: Vince Carter, Jason Kidd, Rashard Lewis, Zach Randolph, Bibby, Kobe Bryant, Shawn Marion, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, Pau Gasol, and Ron Artest.  This has the makings of a crazy summer.  The Cavs are looking to make a major trade and I have no doubt they will be trolling the waters.  As I mentioned before, they have some assets to work with even if they are not obvious.

--I am wondering if this is the summer/fall when the Cavs are able to join the elite teams who get free veteran players.  You know, key additions who come to a team after a buyout or something and take a cut-rate contract trying to get a ring.  Like Alonzo Mourning in Miami, Michael Finley in San Antonio, Chris Webber in Detroit, Jalen Rose in Phoenix, etc., etc.  Cavs may show some interest in Grant Hill, but trust me, there will be others in the near future available, too.

More to come in the coming weeks.

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