NBA Market Watch: Preview-Cleveland Cavaliers

NBA Market Watch: Preview-Cleveland Cavaliers
Oct 12, 2007, 07:15 pm
Off Season Overview:

The Cavs had an exciting and unexpected run to the championship series last season before being humbled by a deeper, better-rounded Spurs team. Still, the work that GM Danny Ferry has done in such a short time cannot be overlooked.

Ferry has added talented youngsters Daniel Gibson, Cedric Simmons, Shannon Brown, Sasha Pavlovic, and Anderson Varejao to a team that was loaded with low-ceiling mid-level veterans and no real salary cap room to negotiate with.

The team had been dealt a major blow when future all star Carlos Boozer bolted for Utah, a move that cost Ferry’s predecessor his job. Ferry recognized the need for another complementary star to place along side all-everything LeBron James, and nearly had his man until Ohio native Michael Redd decided to stick with the Bucks. The team instead landed one-year wonder Larry Hughes for a contract well above his production level, chalk the move up to a rookie mistake made under duress.

This off-season the team finds itself being criticized for the moves they haven’t made. The team still has two prominent hold-outs in Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic, two key members of the Cavs rotation and their future.

The additions of Devin Brown and Cedric Simmons were unheralded and lacked the impact that Cavaliers fans were hoping for from a team striving for a title. Simmons especially has the potential to be a true asset to this team’s future and should be up to speed by the time Big Z is looking at the back nine of his career. But a team that came within striking distance of a title is expected to make more noise than such a subtle, yet savvy, move would garner.

Depth Chart:

[c]courtesy of Synergy Sports Tech: Figure represents NBA offensive percentile ranking[/c]


The greatest asset Cleveland has is its superstar LeBron James. James is arguably the best player in the NBA and easily one of the five best in the business. His presence and a rock solid rebounding and defensive team will allow the Cavs to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture for the next three years.

The team has one of the deepest frontcourt rotations in the league as well as one of the more versatile. Ilguaskas, Gooden, Varejao, Marshall, and Simmons can cover just about any type of size and speed match up an opponent can throw at them. The amount of attention LeBron draws enables these frontcourt players to position themselves for offensive rebounds and each has enough offensive savvy to remain a threat in one-on-one situations.

Team defense is really where the Cavs excel. Coach Brown has been criticized for his overly simplistic offense, (slow and LeBron-centric) but the team’s ability to limit points in the paint, depress opponents field goal percentage, and eliminate second chance baskets must be commended.


Despite the steady veteran leadership and stout defensive effort the team still remains woefully one-dimensional offensively.

There have been innumerable personnel moves made before the Ferry era that have led to this dilemma and the problem was exacerbated when the team committed franchise dollars to the oft-injured and underachieving Hughes.

There was some mid-season disharmony within the organization due to Coach Brown's extremely limited offense, which the players were none too fond of. Brown has made it a point of emphasis to jazz up the offensive attack this season-something LeBron surely had some input in-but the team still lacks somewhat in the personnel department in terms of truly diversifying their attack.

Unless one of their younger players steps up, Gibson and Shannon Brown come to mind especially, this team will continue to struggle creating offense against the top-tier title contenders. San Antonio exposed the Cavs limitations in the finals last season and they themselves enjoy and three-pronged attack that is in stark contrast to the one man band Cleveland appears to be at this time.


There is no questioning the Cavaliers are amongst the better teams in the East and certainly a top ten team in the league. They earned their stripes taking down the formidable Detroit Pistons and deserve their rightful ranking amongst the Elite of the conference.

The team should enjoy an excellent regular season yet again, especially if the contract issues with Varejao and Pavlovic are cleaned up quickly. The continued maturation of Daniel Gibson, the promising early showing from Shannon Brown in training camp, and the addition of Cedric Simmons represent a solid long-term future for building around LeBron James.

However, the next few off-seasons will be very crucial for the direction of this franchise. It is unlikely the Cavs have enough to win a title over the next couple of seasons, though stranger things have happened. But if the team remains a bridesmaid again this season there will be tremendous external pressure to make reactionary moves in order to have the appearance of progress.

Based off the team’s current financial outlook, it is probably not feasible to acquire the type of complementary star player this team needs to truly content for a title against the teams with greater star power. The team has been the victim of numerous short-sited moves in the past and it would be a shame to see that happen again.

If a candidate for stardom doesn’t emerge from within the organization it may be in the team's best interest to stave off political pressure to make a move for the sake of doing so and focus on the ‘09/’10 season when the club should have some salary cap wiggle room to make a truly impactful move.

Two seasons from now the Cavs youthful core of Simmons/Varejao/Pavlovic/Brown/Gibson will have had ample time to develop and up their league-wide value. All of these players have a good chance to be more valuable commodities two years from now, which will truly be the key year for the franchise as LeBron will be entering the final year of his deal.

There has been enough external pressure for James to take off to a larger market after his deal is complete, so establishing an effective plan to keep him happy in wine and gold should be the real focus of management going forward. Until that time, the team and its fans should enjoy a highly competitive team with burgeoning youngsters that could yield dividends down the road.

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