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NBA Market Watch: Cleveland Cavaliers
by: Matt Kamalsky - Director of Operations
May 2, 2007
Many preseason projections had the Cleveland Cavaliers playing deep into the Eastern Conference playoffs, but few recognized the major problems the team would have eclipsing the regular season success they saw last season. While the team has a number of strengths, it also has one clear, glaring weakness holding it back.

LeBron James is certainly capable of carrying the Cavaliers deep into the postseason, but the team appears to be a piece or two away from being legitimate contenders for the NBA Championship. General Manager Danny Ferry has done a good job building the team around James, but the team is still in dire need of some kind of change at the point guard spot.

Using Larry Hughes as a principle ball-handler has been a shrewd maneuver by the organization overall however. Hughes has experience at the point and if it keeps him engaged and productive it may be the best option for the team going forward. With a number of tradable assets on the roster.

Roster and Financial Breakdown-


(Salary Cap projections were created taking the average increase over the past 5 seasons)

Record/ Overview:

50-32, 2nd place Central Division, 2nd seed Eastern Conference

No other players on Clevelandís roster have a more telling statistical relationship to the outcome of games than Eric Snow and Damon Jones. Neither player gets their name called frequently in Mike Brownís offense, but that doesnít detract from the way they can impact a game.

Eric Snowís defense is what keeps him on the court, but his lack of scoring ability puts undue pressure on his teammates when he is on the court. While most people would identify his lack of shooting range as the reason he doesnít fit in Clevelandís offense, his playmaking ability may be the real problem. Snow doesnít turn the ball over very often, which is a desirable characteristic of any good point guard. However, he doesnít create open shots for his teammates or draw attention from their defenders, which would go a long way towards making Mike Brownís offense less stagnant than it appears.

Damon Jones has an entirely different set of standards than Snow. Jonesís job is to make open shots, and play a little bit of point guard on the side. While he has been doing a solid job this season, he doesnít produce in other areas well enough to overshadow his poor shooting performances. With few other scoring threats coming off of the Cavalier bench, Jones has to become more consistent for this team to succeed with the pieces it has in place right now.

Daniel Gibson took over Snowís starting spot on January 30th and played rather well considering it was his first start in about a month and a half. Unfortunately, Gibson went down with a toe injury shortly before the All-Star break. While this shouldnít jeopardize his status as a rotation player, it could slow him down for quite some time. It isnít reasonable to expect Gibson to be the answer to this teamís point guard woes as a rookie, but he may not have much of choice.

Current Assets:

The Cavaliers do have a number of tradable assets they could parlay into a starting caliber point guard, but it doesnít seem likely that theyíd be willing to part with most of these players.

Expiring Contracts-

One of the few players off of the Cavalier bench that has legitimate value is Sasha Pavlovic. After putting up 24 points in a spot-start for the injured LeBron James, Pavlovicís value is the highest it has been since he arrived in Cleveland. Injuries to Daniel Gibson and the decline of Eric Snowís play thrust Pavlovic into the Cavaliers starting lineup. He responded by showing off the shooting stroke and perimeter game that made him a first round pick four years ago.

Pavlovic will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and if he continues to produce at the rate he has, Danny Ferry is almost certain to resign him. He was a decent player off the bench for the Cavaliers until late this season, but he came on extremely strong down the stretch. Pavlovic will probably garner a contract less than that of the average starting NBA small forward.

Amongst Clevelandís bench players, Anderson Varejao has the most value. Not only is he young, but he works extremely hard on both ends of the floor and has an uncanny knack for drawing charges. Since the Cavaliers donít have a legitimate backup center to Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Varejao is that much more valuable to this team because his hustle allows him to log minutes there. Varejao is currently in the final year of a three year deal, and resigning him will likely be one of Danny Ferryís top priorities this off-season. Ferry has made it clear that he doesnít want to deal Varejao, so donít expect to see him going anywhere in the near future.

Scot Pollard hasnít gotten a lot of the time for the Cavaliers, and his two million dollar deal will come off the books at the end of the season. Pollardís future with the team isnít entirely clear. If Cleveland has an extra roster space during the off-season, it wouldnít be surprising to see Pollard in a Cavalier uniform again next season for the vet minimum.

Dwayne Jonesís deal comes off the books at the end of the season as well. Jones has seen essentially no court time, but he comes at a bargain price. If the Cavaliers find themselves with an extra roster spot going into next season, Jones very well could get another look.

Total Cost: $5,772,015

Rotation Players-

Danny Ferry resigned Drew Gooden last off-season and Gooden responded with another season of improvement. Gooden definitely has some value on the trade market, but it wouldnít be worth it for the Cavaliers to move him. If they decided to swing Gooden for a guard, it would leave them with no depth in the post. Given the size of the contracts other comparable players have received over the past few years, Goodenís contract is rather team friendly. This fact makes him all that much more likely to stick around.

The Cavaliers will definitely be a team to watch over the next few seasons as they have a number of large contracts expiring in the not too distant future. Ira Newbleís contract will finally come to an end, and David Wesley should be ready to hang Ďem up. Newbleís expiring contract is much more valuable than his production, so he should be actively shopped next season. Wesleyís deal isnít huge, but if used with Newbleís and a couple of other attractive deals, Cleveland may be able to grab a piece that keeps LeBron in Wine and Gold beyond his option year.

Two seasons from now, the contracts of Eric Snow, Donyell Marshall, and Damon Jones will end. All three are getting up there in years, and havenít been the building blocks around LeBron James that Danny Ferry expected them to be. The threeís contracts total approximately 17.5 million dollars, which could be a sizeable enough sum to entice a team looking to clear cap space to inquire about them.

As far as Clevelandís needs are concerned, trying to package this trio in exchange for Ray Allen may be a very prudent move. Cleveland would certainly have to add value in the form of picks and players, but itís not out of the realm of possibility. Shannon Brown, Gibson, and Varejao in a prisoner exchange for Allen and one of the young centers Seattle boasts might interest a Seattle team thatís directionless and concerned with things other than winning at this point.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Larry Hughes are both playing the beginning of long, lucrative contracts. While neither has put up spectacular numbers this season, they are still very solid players. Both are still adjusting the Mike Brownís offense, and given their relative ages and skill levels, just arenít worth actively shopping. Danny Ferry could move either if the right offer came along, but that likely wonít be the case.

Total Cost: $55,337,563

Prospects-

Along with Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic, rookies Daniel Gibson and Shannon Brown are both worth keeping an eye on. Gibsonís promotion to the starting lineup earlier in the year could cause some problems for the Cavaliers in the long run. Gibsonís contract only runs through next season, and unless Danny Ferry makes the effort to resign him now, he will hit the open market. Depending on how he plays over the first few months of the next regular season, Gibson could be looking to get himself a nice pay raise in the near future. With the soon-to-be dead weight contracts of Snow and Jones hanging around Ferryís neck, itíll be interesting to see how Cleveland plays this out.

Shannon Brown could be locked up until 2010, so it doesnít appear that he will be going anywhere quickly. It would be wise for Cleveland to hang onto Brown, a player who has a lot of similarities to Tony Allen, and could prove to be the better complementary player than Gibson. Brownís defensive potential paired with Hughes and James may outweigh Gibsonís utility if Hughes continues to run the offense with frequency, something Gibson isnít that adept at anyways. A little patience and direct involvement with Brown could really yield dividends. Giving Brown sound structure and communication will be key however, as Brown is somewhat prone to drift if left without guidance for too long.

Total Cost: $1,384,325

Free Agency

The Cavaliers havenít had much success bringing in a starting point guard over the past few years. This off-seasonís class of point guards isnít all that exciting, but there are a couple of intriguing possibilities.

Milwaukee point guard Maurice Williams had been having an unbelievable season and may be one of the most underrated guards in the league. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, but he very well may have played his way out of the Cavalierís price range. Williams would be a great fit for the Cavaliers as he has proven his ability to score as well as distribute at a high clip. He should prove difficult to pry away from the Bucks and will likely be one of the more sought after free agents of the summer.

Steve Blake will also become an unrestricted free agent this off-season. Danny Ferry has attempted to acquire him in the past, so it wouldnít be surprising to see him try to sign him again. Depending on how Denver finishes the season, they may or may not show interest in Blake when the summer rolls around. Blake should be in the Cavalierís price range, but might not be the best long-term solution to their problems at point guard.

Another interesting player on the market this summer is Jason Hart. After putting up solid numbers for the Charlotte Bobcats two years ago, Hart could be looking to find a new home this summer. He hasnít gotten a lot of playing time in Sacramento, so he could be had on the market this summer for roughly what he was being paid after he left Charlotte. Hartís name has been connected to Cleveland in the past, so he will likely be on their radar again this time around.

Hartís game is reminiscent to Snowís right around the time he established himself with Philadelphia. Hart wonít be spectacular, but if given the chance to play a major role he might surprise a number of teams with his consistency and reliability running a team, much like Snow did.

The last player of the Cavaliers could have interest in is Chucky Atkins. Atkinsís ability to get the ball up and down the floor and hit from deep could make him an instant target of the Cavaliers. He has been a consistent producer throughout his career, and should be asking for right around what the Cavaliers want to pay. Atkins has never been known for his defensive prowess, but he can play one end of the court very well, and on nights heís as good as youíll find on the offensive end, which would help alleviate the scoring burden on LeBron and the recently resurgent Hughes.

The Cavaliers could also opt to pursue another veteran big man in free agency to solidify their frontcourt depth. If they spend mid-level money on the backcourt they probably wonít be able to spend much on whoever they try to acquire, so their options are very limited. Jamal Sampson and Dale Davis will be available, and if Cleveland decides to be more aggressive, Melvin Ely will be on the market as well. It also wouldnít be entirely surprising for them to give Dwayne Jones another chance to round out the bottom of the roster.

Draft

The Cavaliers do not have a first round selection in the upcoming draft due to an extremely questionable trade for Jiri Welsh. Their second round pick was part of the deal that landed the team Anderson Varejao and Drew Gooden. It wouldnít be surprising to see Danny Ferry acquire a second rounder to draft a player to stash in Europe or select a project player to designate to the NBADL. While there could be a number of interesting point guard prospects available late including Jared Jordan and Aaron Brooks, it would be surprising to see the Cavaliers take a point guard who wonít make an immediate impact.

Danny Ferry could look to dangle one of Clevelandís younger players to try to move back into the late first round, but this will be entirely contingent on what players are projected to still be on the board. The players the Cavaliers invite in for workouts should make their intentions to trade into the draft clear.
 


Feedback for this article may be sent to matt.kamalsky@draftexpress.com .

 

LeBron James
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 8"
Weight: 245 lbs.
Birthday: 12/30/1984
29 Years Old
Teams:
High School: St. Vincent-St. Mary
Previous Team: Cavaliers , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #1 in 2003 Draft
by the Cavaliers
Positions:
Current: SF,
NBA: SF,
Possible: SF
Quick Stats:
25.4 Pts, 5.5 Rebs, 7.6 Asts


Danny Ferry
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 230 lbs.
Birthday: 10/17/1966
48 Years Old
Teams:
High School: DeMatha Catholic
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #2 in 1989 Draft
by the Clippers
Positions:
Current: F,
NBA: F,
Possible: F
Quick Stats:
1.9 Pts, 1.2 Rebs, 0.3 Asts


Larry Hughes
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 5"
Weight: 183 lbs.
Birthday: 01/23/1979
35 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Christian Brothers
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #8 in 1998 Draft
by the 76ers
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
1.3 Pts, 0.6 Rebs, 0.8 Asts


Eric Snow
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 198 lbs.
Birthday: 04/24/1973
41 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Canton McKinley
Previous Team: Michigan State , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #14 in 1995 Draft
by the Bucks
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
1.0 Pts, 0.9 Rebs, 1.9 Asts


Damon Jones
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 185 lbs.
Birthday: 08/25/1976
38 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Ball
Previous Team: Houston , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: PG/SG,
NBA: PG/SG,
Possible: PG/SG
Quick Stats:
1.6 Pts, 0.4 Rebs, 0.7 Asts


Mike Brown
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 9"
Weight: 257 lbs.
Birthday: 07/19/1963
51 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Clifford J. Scott
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 3, Pick #22 in 1985 Draft
by the Bulls
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
5.1 Pts, 5.3 Rebs, 0.5 Asts


Daniel Gibson
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 190 lbs.
Birthday: 02/28/1986
28 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Jesse Jones
Previous Team: Texas , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #12 in 2006 Draft
by the Cavaliers
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: PG/SG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
5.4 Pts, 1.3 Rebs, 1.8 Asts


Sasha Pavlovic
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 7"
Weight: 210 lbs.
Birthday: 11/15/1983
31 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Partizan , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #19 in 2003 Draft
by the Jazz
Positions:
Current: SG/SF,
NBA: SG/SF,
Possible: SG/SF
Quick Stats:
7.0 Pts, 1.0 Rebs, 0.0 Asts


Anderson Varejao
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 230 lbs.
Birthday: 09/28/1982
32 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Cavaliers , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #1 in 2004 Draft
by the Magic
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: PF,
Possible: F
Quick Stats:
9.7 Pts, 6.6 Rebs, 1.4 Asts


Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 7' 3"
Weight: 258 lbs.
Birthday: 06/05/1975
39 Years Old
Teams:
High School: 4 School
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #20 in 1996 Draft
by the Cavaliers
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
5.0 Pts, 4.0 Rebs, 0.4 Asts


Scot Pollard
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 11"
Weight: 265 lbs.
Birthday: 02/12/1975
39 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Torrey Pines
Previous Team: Kansas , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #19 in 1997 Draft
by the Pistons
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
1.8 Pts, 1.7 Rebs, 0.1 Asts


Dwayne Jones
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 242 lbs.
Birthday: 06/09/1983
31 Years Old
Teams:
High School: American Christian Academy
Previous Team: Saint Joseph's , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: PF/C
Quick Stats:
0.7 Pts, 1.7 Rebs, 0.0 Asts


Drew Gooden
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 227 lbs.
Birthday: 09/24/1981
33 Years Old
Teams:
High School: El Cerrito
Previous Team: Wizards , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #4 in 2002 Draft
by the Grizzlies
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: PF,
Possible: PF
Quick Stats:
5.4 Pts, 3.3 Rebs, 0.8 Asts


Ira Newble
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 7"
Weight: 240 lbs.
Birthday: 01/20/1975
39 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Southfield
Previous Team: Miami OH , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: SF/PF,
NBA: SF/PF,
Possible: SF/PF
Quick Stats:
14.3 Pts, 2.7 Rebs, 0.3 Asts


David Wesley
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 190 lbs.
Birthday: 11/14/1970
44 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Longview
Previous Team: Baylor , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
2.1 Pts, 1.0 Rebs, 1.1 Asts


Donyell Marshall
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 9"
Weight: 218 lbs.
Birthday: 05/18/1973
41 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Reading
Previous Team: Connecticut , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #4 in 1994 Draft
by the Timberwolves
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: PF,
Possible: PF
Quick Stats:
3.8 Pts, 1.6 Rebs, 0.6 Asts


Ray Allen
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 5"
Weight: 198 lbs.
Birthday: 07/20/1975
39 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Hilcrest
Previous Team: Connecticut , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #5 in 1996 Draft
by the Timberwolves
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
9.6 Pts, 2.8 Rebs, 2.0 Asts


Shannon Brown
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 200 lbs.
Birthday: 11/30/1985
29 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Proviso East
Previous Team: Heat , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #25 in 2006 Draft
by the Cavaliers
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
4.0 Pts, 0.2 Rebs, 0.6 Asts


Tony Allen
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 214 lbs.
Birthday: 01/11/1982
32 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Crane Tech
Previous Team: Grizzlies , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #25 in 2004 Draft
by the Celtics
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
7.7 Pts, 4.2 Rebs, 1.5 Asts


Maurice Williams
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 189 lbs.
Birthday: 12/19/1982
32 Years Old
Teams:
High School: William B. Murrah
Previous Team: Timberwolves , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #18 in 2003 Draft
by the Jazz
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
10.3 Pts, 2.1 Rebs, 6.4 Asts


Steve Blake
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 172 lbs.
Birthday: 02/26/1980
34 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Oak Hill Academy
Previous Team: Trailblazers , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #9 in 2003 Draft
by the Wizards
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
4.7 Pts, 2.1 Rebs, 4.3 Asts


Jason Hart
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 181 lbs.
Birthday: 04/29/1978
36 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Inglewood HS
Previous Team: Syracuse , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #20 in 2000 Draft
by the Bucks
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
0.5 Pts, 0.5 Rebs, 1.3 Asts


Chucky Atkins
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 168 lbs.
Birthday: 08/14/1974
40 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Maynard Evens
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
2.7 Pts, 0.7 Rebs, 1.0 Asts


Jamal Sampson
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 11"
Weight: 235 lbs.
Birthday: 05/15/1983
31 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Mater Dei
Previous Team: California , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #18 in 2002 Draft
by the Jazz
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
14.0 Pts, 15.0 Rebs, 2.0 Asts


Dale Davis
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 11"
Weight: 230 lbs.
Birthday: 03/25/1969
45 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Stephens County
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #13 in 1991 Draft
by the Pacers
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
1.8 Pts, 3.0 Rebs, 0.3 Asts


Melvin Ely
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 240 lbs.
Birthday: 05/02/1978
36 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Thornton Township
Previous Team: Fresno State , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #12 in 2002 Draft
by the Clippers
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
15.8 Pts, 5.5 Rebs, 1.3 Asts


Jared Jordan
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 183 lbs.
Birthday: 10/14/1984
30 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Kingswood-Oxford
Previous Team: San Sebastian , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #15 in 2007 Draft
by the Clippers
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
6.8 Pts, 2.9 Rebs, 6.2 Asts


Aaron Brooks
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 161 lbs.
Birthday: 01/17/1985
29 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Franklin
Previous Team: Bulls , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #26 in 2007 Draft
by the Rockets
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible:
Quick Stats:
10.3 Pts, 1.6 Rebs, 3.0 Asts


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