((This is my first time posting here, so go easy))
Man what an offseason! Have the Cavs made even 1 bad decision? Regardless, there’s still much work to be done and because I’m such a huge Cavs fan, I’m going to give consultation to the franchise for free! Below are a few specific recommendations for the franchise going forward.
Lebron James: From Oath-Breaker to Savior, it’s amazing what can change in 4 years. We have the best player in the world. Read that last sentence a few more times. However, he’s also about to turn 30, and his return to Cleveland was certainly influenced by the fact he won’t stay young forever (theoretically). So Cleveland, please keep this in mind. You need a roster that can squeeze as much Lebron magic as possible out of the smallest workload possible, wherever that happy medium may be.
Lebron needs to be a mentor, or a development coach, to the young talent we end up keeping. He’ll set a good example just by being there and allowing Waiters, Thompson and Irving to see what it takes to be great, but we need him to do more. Ask Lebron to help develop their basketball IQ, take on a watchful big brother role, teach better moves on the court, all the things our system needs its players to have.
My impression is that Lebron is here for the duration of his career, and that he wants to build something special. He wants to be the Tim Duncan, Dirk and Kobe of the Cavs. Lebron has lost 3 times in the Finals, twice to Duncan, and even were he to wind up with 6+ titles, there’s just something about the way Jordan won his championships, his unrivaled hatred of losing, that won’t let me view Lebron as greater.
But wouldn’t a top 5 all-timer bringing a championship to his home town, a title-starved city yield a top-3 legacy? What if he won 2, or 3? What if 2014 was the start of the Cavs becoming ‘Spurs East’ for the next 12 years? That’s what we want to build Lebron, and if we’re going to do it, we need you to accept responsibility like your letter says you will and be more, much more, than just a player.
Andrew Wiggins: I watched him play Friday. Wow! I was amazed at what I saw. He’s so athletic and so raw at the same time it’s fascinating. I’m the sort of fan that daydreams about our players if they reached their absolute ceiling and let me tell you, Wiggins may not even have a ceiling. If he does max out his potential (and that’s a big if) and we trade him now for Love, we’ll end up losing that trade in a few years.
Although I was surprised to hear Griffin say Wiggins was going to be a 2, it would make the Cavs starting unit ridiculously tall and athletic. One of the problems with our defense last year was that we were often undersized when we played small, with the 6-4’ Waiters stuck guarding a forward or big guard. Wiggins would inversely be bigger than most 2 guards, and could switch onto multiple defenders. Him and Lebron, when motivated, could theoretically shut down the perimeter and provide rim protection via earth shaking blocks and timely help defense.
Offensively, I don’t see any anything that prohibits Wiggins from becoming a star-caliber scorer aside from development. Once he gets more control over his movement and learns where he wants to get to, he’ll be able to get his shot anywhere. Speaking of which, his shooting was fairly bad, but his form was good. He can definitely become a decent shooter. Again, Wiggins is 19 years old, so I’m really speculating what he might look like in 4-5 years under Lebron’s wing.
On the flip side, we already mentioned James is turning 30, and the only reason Wiggins might get flipped for Love is to take advantage of the last few Lebron god-mode years. I look at this situation like this: We can win the East, when you can potentially reach the Finals, you’re contending. The Cavs, as their core stands now, they could potentially have a 10 year window with Wiggins! But, if you were to look at each individual season and speculate just how strong your chances are, these first couple years might not be too strong.
So the real question is, do you want a 5-7 year window with Love that gives you a really strong chance each year, or 10+ with lower odds? Thankfully, the Cavs seem to be run like an actual proficient organization these days and are aware of this, as they are refusing to trade Wiggins for now. It also says a lot to Lebron James that Love coming wasn’t a requirement (assuming this is true). Because James is committed to leading our young talent, we can tell the Minnesota we don’t NEED Love to make Lebron happy, so we don’t NEED to hand over a king’s ransom (maybe a little pun intended).
Personally, I think the Cavs should trade for Love, but Minnesota only has 2 options. I get that Love is a blue-chipper, but why should we really have to include Wiggins? You can’t even get Thompson from the Warriors (a great player but you take Wiggins over him any day). If I’m Cleveland, here’s what I tell the Wolves. Look, Love doesn’t want to be there, and it’ll look better on your organization if you move earlier than keep him somewhere he doesn’t want to be. I can’t give you Wiggins. I’d like to, but Dan loves him too much. So here’s what I can do
1. ((I don’t know where Tristan Thompson stands in all this. If him being a Cavs was a selling point for Lebron, pay the man and retire his jersey. But if we’re open to constructing the best roster for now and the future, I’d rather deal him.)) I’d offer Thompson, Waiters, Heat 1st round pick, Cavs 2015 1st and 2016 2nd for Love. Waiters nearly averaged 19 points a game in the 2nd half and in the right system could be a star, you’re getting two 1sts and a 2nd and a double-double guy who doesn’t mind cold weather.
2. Assuming Thompson is off-limits, I’d sadly throw in Anthony Bennett in his place. Also, I’d throw in a 3rd 1st rounder if it sealed the deal. Waiters is the centerpiece they’re getting back, but he could be that type of player in the right setting. And when you’re rebuilding, there’s no reason that setting can’t be in Minnesota. More on Waiters later.
If the endgame comes and that’s still not enough (presumably because Klay Thompson becomes available), I go back to Minnesota with a final proposal. Alright, I talked to Dan, and I can get you Wiggins, but he’s a stud, and by far the best asset you’re going to get. Plus this is costing me job security because he likes the kid that much so work with me.
1. ((Thompson Scenario)) Tristan Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, 2016 Cavs 1st. Wolves get the potential superstar, plus a 10-10 guy and a very late 1st rounder. Cavs get their 3rd star while keeping the valuable picks they’ve accumulated to add youth and complementary pieces down the road, something the Heat couldn’t effectively do.
2. Bennett, Wiggins, Cavs 2016 1st. It sucks that we’d have to hand over Bennett with Wiggins because I think he could shine in Blatt’s system next to Bron and crew. Bennett also looks to be in great shape, and for the most part gave good effort Friday. But if you’re getting Love, you do it.
To sum it up, other pieces will need to be thrown in to make it work, but these are the foundation for offers the Cavs should accept. Any other main pieces would be too much in my opinion.
Dion Waiters: My favorite player. He’s got so much potential, but his attitude and approach to the game really hold him back. The Cavs, if they keep him and can get him to buy into their new culture, would not need Love to have a big 3. It bugs me how under the radar Dion has gone. He’s flashy and makes exciting plays. His numbers have trended upwards (his scoring isn’t much different than Russell Westbrook’s was in his sophomore year) and he put on quite the show during All-Star Weekend that drew national attention. He then went on to have a terrific 2nd half of the season and he’s not given his due. Maybe the media thinks his mentality will keep him from realizing his potential. I don’t know. But he’s not being treated like a guy who was a passable number 1 option on offense when Kyrie was out.
That’s why I didn’t propose any deals including both Dion and Wiggins. I’d rather give up Waiters than Wiggins, but I’m definitely not giving up both. Waiters is a starter in this league with a chance to be more, but as a 2 guard, he doesn’t check all the boxes Griffin wants for his ball club (length, basketball IQ) and although Wiggins doesn’t check all the boxes either, He’s easily the guy you keep.
Free Agency: At this juncture, I think the Cavs are wise to chase the guys they’ve been linked to: Birdman, Ray Allen, Mike Miller, etc. All have championship experience and could effective in small roles. And not only that, they’re also a nice injection of veteran stability that will help develop the type of culture we need around our young players. I would see if you couldn’t convince Allen to take on a shooting coach/role player type role.
It’s a shame Paul Pierce doesn’t like Lebron. He would be a nice addition to our bench, and could show Bennett a thing of two if he’s still around. He’s not coming though, and that’s ok.
Ultimately, the Cavs as a franchise are in the best shape they’ve ever been in. The problems David Griffin has to deal with now are much more pleasant than what Chris Grant had to solve. Choosing a 5-7 year championship window over a weaker 10+ one is a problem nearly every team in the league wishes it had. No matter which way we go, I’m excited for the chance the Cavs have to win titles!