Posted on: September 21, 2010 3:13 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 3:28 pm
The misnomer about LeBron James leaving Cleveland is that people thought fans in Northeast Ohio were mad at him for leaving. Wrong. They were mad at him for the way he left. So with the first post-LeBron training camp around the corner, the Cavs’ brass are hoping the fan base is as realistic and patient as they will be as they recover from the Decision and all that it wrought. Internally, the Cavs have moved on. They have a new coach with rebuilding experience (Byron Scott) and a new front-office team with a lot of promise and assets at their disposal (GM Chris Grant and VP of basketball ops David Griffin).
Personnel-wise, no one inside the organization is putting any limits on what this team can do. The bad: They lost LeBron, and simply won’t recover in the short term. The good: They still believe they have the defensive foundation that Mike Brown built, along with enough shooters (Anthony Parker, Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson), former All-Stars (Antawn Jamison) and defensive dynamos (Varejao) to be competitive until the opportunity to pounce on a major personnel upgrade presents itself. Until then, here’s your preseason primer on the Cavs without you-know-who:
Training camp site: Independence, Ohio
Training camp starts: Sept. 28
Key additions: Ramon Sessions (trade), Ryan Hollins (trade), Joey Graham (free agent), Christian Eyenga (draft)
Key subtractions: Shaquille O’Neal (free agent), Delonte West (trade), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (free agent), Sebastian Telfair (trade), plus franchise identity, millions in ticket/merchandise sales, and the very soul of a tortured, doomed sports populace (i.e. some guy named ... oh, never mind).
Likely starting lineup: Williams, PG; Parker, SG; Joey Graham, SF; Jamison, PF; Anderson Varejao, C.
Player to watch: J.J. Hickson. He’s the guy the Cavs refused to give up in any trade scenario for Jamison or Amar’e Stoudemire. With you-know-who out of the picture, Hickson should benefit from increased touches and has a chance to be a bright spot as the otherwise dismal post-you-know-who era begins.
Chemistry check: Williams and Jamison both thought they were coming to Cleveland to win titles with you-know-who. Well, with you-know-who having taken his you-know-whats to South Beach, it will be interesting to watch how these veterans approach a daunting rebuilding project.
Camp battles: Graham, Jamario Moon and Jawad Williams will have a lively competition to replace you-know-who at small forward.
Biggest strength: If you take the glass-half-full approach, this is actually the ideal opportunity for Scott to re-establish a winning culture and instill his usual combination of defense, toughness, up-tempo offense and conditioning without getting pushback from cranky veterans who have grown tired of him. (That comes later.) Also, as difficult as this is for Cavs fans to swallow, the Cavs acquired some very useful assets in the sign-and-trade transaction that ultimately sent you-know-you to Miami. With multiple future first- and second-round picks, expiring contracts and a $14.5 million trade exception, the Cavs are positioned nicely when the right opportunity presents itself. They could’ve burned cap space this summer on average players as an emotional reaction to you-know-who’s departure. But Grant doesn’t – and won’t – operate that way. He will be unemotional and methodical, which is how Cavs fans should want him to be. The addition of Griffin, the former Suns executive, gives Cleveland a keen and connected personnel man to team with Grant; it has the makings of one of the finest front-office tandems in the league.
Glaring weakness: Who’s going to score, defend, perform chase-down blocks, sell tickets, toss talc, pose for idiotic pregame mock celebratory productions, star in hour-long reality TV shows stabbing his hometown in the back, and generally just save the world? Someday, someone besides you-know-who.
Posted on: July 14, 2010 12:28 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2010 12:30 pm
The Nuggets bolstered their front court Wednesday by agreeing to terms with Al Harrington and Shelden Williams, while also bringing back one of their own free agents, guard Anthony Carter, people with knowledge of the deals confirmed to CBSSports.com.
In giving the full mid-level exception to Harrington -- five years, $34 million -- the Nuggets are now out of the running to match the Raptors' four-year. $18.8 million offer sheet for restricted free agent Linas Kleiza.
Harrington, 29, is a good teammate and proven scorer whose presence will help the Nuggets survive the absence of injured big men Kenyon Martin and Chris "Birdman" Andersen at the start of the 2010-11 season. But Harrington's erratic, often puzzling offensive play could present a problem for a Denver team that already has its share of free spirits.
Luke Ridnour's four-year, $16 million deal with the Timberwolves only bolsters belief around the league that Minnesota will trade Ramon Sessions, one of the many point guard GM David Kahn has assembled. Charlotte, having lost starting point guard Raymond Felton to the Knicks, is the most sensible destination. A person with knowledge of the Bobcats' dealings said the club has yet to engage in such talks with the T-Wolves.
Of far more importance regarding the Ridnour signing is what it says about Ricky Rubio's future in Minnesota, when Kahn already has Ridnour, Jonny Flynn and Sessions (for the time being) to play the same position. The Knicks have coveted Rubio since draft night in 2009, but Kahn continues to steadfastly refuse to entertain trade offers for the Spanish sensation, who will play at least one more season in Italy -- at which time Kahn will persuade him to play for the Timberwolves or acquire three more point guards.
The Hawks want Shaquille O'Neal to eat up some minutes in under the basket and sell some tickets. The Cavs like Marvin Williams, who was drafted under Cleveland GM Chris Grant's watch when Grant was a front-office employee with the Hawks. A sign-and-trade with O'Neal getting the veteran's minimum or close to it -- about the best he's going to do at 38 -- makes perfect sense . But at this point. a person who would be involved in such discussions told CBSSports.com Wednesday it has never been discussed. Give it time.
Posted on: June 15, 2010 8:00 pm
LOS ANGELES -- With Tom Izzo's decision Tuesday to stay at Michigan State, the Cavaliers are right back where they've been since their stunning playoff loss to the Celtics: in LeBron limbo.
Izzo couldn't come to terms with leaving East Lansing without knowing if he'd be coaching LeBron James or not -- even if it was for $6 million a year. LeBron has strategically removed himself from the Cavs' coaching search, and in fact hasn't said a word publicly about the organizational demolition that the loss to Boston fueled. Unless you count the Larry King love fest on CNN, James hasn't publicly addressed the firing of coach Mike Brown or the unceremonious departure of general manager Danny Ferry.
Word is that while he didn't reject the notion of Izzo coaching the Cavs, he didn't entirely endorse it, either. In any event, LeBron apparently wouldn't even speak with Izzo about his intentions when it comes to his impending free agency. In fact, one person who has been in contact with the Cavs' front office said LeBron has been incommunicado with team officials, as well.
So once again, the Cavs are held hostage by LeBron. They can't move forward with any serious offseason plans -- franchise-shaping plans -- until they know whether LBJ is staying or going. Cavs GM Chris Grant has the least enviable job in the NBA, other than the media relations director of LeBron's next team, whatever that might be. (I'll expand on that another time, but for now, to say that LeBron is high maintenance is like saying Shakira has been known to slightly gyrate her hips from time to time.)
Two NBA team executives told CBSSports.com Tuesday that the Cavs were busily proceeding with their coaching search even before Izzo's decision became public, with much of the focus centering on former Hornets coach Byron Scott. One of those people said the Cavs were screening numerous candidates. But Scott, or any other candidate, would want the same information Izzo was unable to glean about LeBron's future. And Scott's situation also will be affected by how the Finals end for the Lakers. If Phil Jackson decides to step down, Scott is the most plausible candidate waiting in the wings to replace him.
Those executives also said Grant was performing his due diligence on the trade front, asking several teams about acquiring draft picks. The Cavs have no picks in the 2010 draft, having traded them to Washington (first round) and Phoenix (second round). But even in that pursuit, the executives said Grant's hands are tied because he can't possibly know what kind of trades to make if he doesn't know whether LeBron will be on the team. Grant is trying to proceed as though LeBron will stay, but as Izzo's situation proved, that's an exceedingly difficult tightrope to walk.
Posted on: June 4, 2010 2:23 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2010 11:00 pm
LOS ANGELES -- In what the team is describing as a "mutual" parting of ways, Danny Ferry is out as general manager and will be replaced by assistant GM Chris Grant.
After five years as GM, Ferry's contract was up and the team announced Friday that he and owner Dan Gilbert agreed not to renew it. The move comes as superstar LeBron James is about to become a free agent, with the prospect of him leaving the Cavs threatening to devastate the city and organization.
Welcome to the hot seat, Chris Grant.
Hired as GM two years after the Cavs drafted LeBron, Ferry spent much of that time establishing a winning culture and doing everything possible to appease James by surrounding him with talent the King regarded as championship caliber. Despite Ferry's efforts -- which included acquiring Mo Williams, Shaquille O'Neal and Antawn Jamison -- the Cavs never achieved the right mix. Williams never developed into the consistent No. 2 scoring threat, especially in the postseason; the O'Neal gamble backfired; and Jamison came up small in his first -- and possibly last -- postseason run with James.
With coach Mike Brown and now Ferry out, the fallout from Cleveland's surprising loss to the Celtics in the conference semifinals has been swift and far-reaching. All Grant has to do now is hire a coach, keep LeBron, and surround him with enough talent to win a championship. It's a pretty tall task; just ask Ferry.
And with the restless Gilbert calling the shots -- and no doubt watching LeBron's hour-long interview on the Larry King Show Friday night for clues as to what he'll decide come July 1 -- the Cavs' situation is in the ultimate state of flux. Speculation immediately focused on whether Gilbert had a power play in mind for a big name to take over as the Cavs' coach and president of basketball operations. The name most often linked to the Cavs, due to his relationship with James, is that of Kentucky coach John Calipari, who recently refuted the notion that he would leave Lexington for a return to the NBA.
With a coaching vacancy and the path cleared for Gilbert to lure a big name to replace Ferry, the Cavs are now on equal footing with other potential suitors for LeBron that also have an opening to hire the coach of his choice. On his CNN interview, which aired Friday night, James reiterated that he does not want to hand-pick his next coach, but made a point of saying that there are several coaches that would intrigue him. James also said he is "far from close" to making a decision.
Although Commissioner David Stern said Thursday night that he has been assured "at the highest levels" that there would be no so-called free-agent summit, James said in the interview with King that he does, in fact, plan to discuss his plans with other top free agents -- and that he was interested in learning their plans. According to James, top players getting together to decide where to play -- and with whom -- was an opportunity for them to determine how to "better the league."