Saturday, July 10, 2010

The 800 Pound Elephant.

Welcome to LeBastards!

Despite it rarely being publicized in the last few days and weeks, LeBron James, once a Cleveland sports' staple,  became a free agent.  And then, after a lengthy (and much publicized) week, bolted for the greener pastures of South Beach where he will team up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to attempt a championship run, or six, for the Miami HEAT.

Since it's no use crying over spilt milk, let's discuss if the Cavaliers need to blow up and rebuild, or if they can, with a few additions, continue on as a moderately successful team for the near future?

We have officially signed-and-traded LeBron to the HEAT for two first round picks, two second round picks and a $14.5 million trade exception.  The trade exception allows us to potentially keep our current free agents while still having more money to spend than we would if LeBron had just signed with the HEAT outright.  My thoughts on the matter are that Cleveland now has an excellent opportunity to put together a very talented, if "star-less," team in the next few years.  We need to build a solid team from 2-12 that can compete for the playoffs every year without a star, and then add the #1 guy a few years down the line to complete the process.  More specifically, a star with pride and one who WANTS to be here.

Recent rumors are that Shaq wants to go to San Antonio and team up with Tim Duncan to prevent Kobe from playing for another championship and that Z is strongly considering following LeBron to South Beach and compete for a championship there at the veteran's minimum.  Assuming both of these players leave town, that leaves the Cavs with 4 big men on the roster: Anderson Varejao, JJ Hickson, Leon Powe and Antawn Jamison.  Andy is a great hustle big man off the bench, JJ is has All-Star potential at the Power Forward position (however, this is a do-or-die season for him), Leon is a serviceable big man who (used to) show flashes of brilliance from time to time (it is yet to be seen if he can still do this, after his knee injury), and 'Tawn is 'Tawn.  JJ Hickson needs to start this year at the PF position.  He has the potential to be a perennial All-Star but (this being his third year in the League) he needs to show he's more than just a "prospect," or he will suffer the same fate as Stromile Swift.  Anderson Varejao needs to not start this year.  I've always been a big believer than Andy is much more effective and efficient in a sixth-man role, where he can come in and provide instant energy for small bursts throughout the game, whereas in a starter role, Andy's flaws as a decision maker and shooter are exposed.  Leon is not a starting PF or C at all, and 'Tawn is a scorer who should probably start this season at the 3 position, and see where we go from there.  The glaring need amongst our big man core is a bruising Center who can play tough D and collect rebounds like pennies at the homeless shelter.

So, looking through this year's free agent class, who is available that fits this role?  Ben Wallace is out there, but unless he's playing for Detroit he's next to useless.  Luis Scola is available, and I think he would fit this role real nicely, along with being a low-key enough guy to actually not mind playing in Cleveland.  Al Harrington is also available, and although he doesn't necessarily fill the skill sets we need, I would recommend putting in an offer for him.  He's clearly talented and can score the ball, which is what the Cavs will need more of than anything else next year.  Al and 'Tawn would make a decent enough combo, too (assuming they don't get in each other's way).

Looking at the rest of the roster, we have Anthony Parker, Mo Williams, Jamario Moon, Jawad Williams, Delonte West, "Boobie" Gibson, Bassy Telfair, and Danny Green.  If new head coach Byron Scott opts not to start Jamison at the 3, we then need a starting-caliber Small Forward.  Jamario Moon is a great athlete and a good on-ball defender, but he's too much of an offensive liability to start.  Richard Jefferson is available for hire, and would be an absolute perfect fit for these Cavs. He can also be had for a relatively low price, also.  I would recommend that R-Jeff be our number 1 target this off season, likely via sign-and-trade with San Antonio.

Rumor has it that Al Jefferson is being shopped by the Timberwolves, as are Tyson Chandler, Emeka Okafor,  Hedo Turkoglu, Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, and Jose Calderon by their respective teams.  Jefferson would be a nice pick up, but I doubt that the Cavs would have enough prospects to excite Minnesota in a trade.  Chandler and Okafor would fit the glaring hole at Center I mentioned earlier, and our trade exception would probably be of interest to Charlotte and, especially, New Orleans.  Gilbert would be an incredible pick up, as would Baron Davis and Jose Calderon, assuming Mo Williams is involved in the trade. Turkoglu would be an excellent pick up to slide in at the 3, and he voluntarily signed with Toronto last year, so he obviously has no problem playing in smaller markets.  If we can't work out a trade for R-Jeff, I think Turkoglu should be our next focus, assuming he's still on the market by then.

Rumor also has it that the Cavs are about to make an offer to Atlanta Hawk's restricted free agent Josh Childress, who has been playing the past few season for Greece-based Olympiacos.  He's a good player who can play ball.  Definitely not a home-run, but the Cavs can't land a home-run right now, and they don't need to.  Not for a few more years, at least.

Sorry for the long first post, there was a lot that needed to be thrown out into the Internet!  Do you agree with me on this, or are you of a completely different opinion?  Sound off in the comments below, I'm dying to read your thoughts!

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