Today is the four year anniversary of LeBron James going on ESPN and telling the world that he wasn't going to play for the Cavaliers. I wrote the following as a note on Facebook that morning. I didn't write for a website then. I watched a lot of basketball, but my understanding of the intricacies wasn't all there. Maybe it isn't today.
I was never mad about LeBron leaving. I was really sad. Those teams were fun. This note shows the delusion and denial I tried to hold onto. We might get good or bad news today. I don't know. We have Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins. We have Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. We have ways to improve. Today is better than four years ago.
Here it is ..
LeBron may not actually leave. It certainly looks like Miami, or maybe even the Knicks or Chicago but we really won't know anything until 9:10pm. I don't want to go into whether or not he owes the Cavs anything, or if he is abandoning his hometown, or whether or not he quit on the team in the playoffs last year. As of right now there are two people that I would immediately blame were he to actually leave.
The first is Dan Ferry, the former General Manager. The Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall, Larry Hughes contracts were unconscionable, and led to a trade that had us paying Ben Wallace 20 million dollars a year for two seasons. Our flexibility was severely hampered and it led to a situation where once we were just about free from a terrible contract we would trade it for another terrible contract with a player who was past his prime. Shaq and Jamison come to mind. We held on to Wally Szcerbiak's contract instead of dealing him for an inside presence because we wanted to keep team chemistry and then watched him airball 10 footers while Dwight Howard shredded us inside in the eastern conference finals.
The second is simply Chris Bosh. If he would have gone to Cleveland in a sign and trade LeBron and Bosh would have been able to play together with Mo, Jamison, Varejao, et al. a very good core that would have absolutely contended for a title. But he didn't want to come to Cleveland.
But the whole point of this was to look at what the Cavaliers situation is post LeBron. We won't be playing on Christmas day anymore, and you won't find us playing Boston and LA on sunday afternoons on ABC. But thats ok. The games will be on Fox sports Ohio and Austin Carr is better to listen to anyways. More importantly though, what will the team look like?
PG: Mo Williams
PG: Sebastian Telfair*
PG/SG: Daniel Gibson
SG: Anthony Parker
SG: Delonte West**
SF: Jamario Moon
PF: Antawn Jamison
PF: JJ Hickson
PF: Leon Powe
PF/C: Anderson Varejao
*untradeable, virtually unusable
**certain to be traded and/or released and/or go to jail
Outside of the fact that Varejao isnt big/quick enough to guard Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol, I actually like our bigs. Leon Powe will be healthy and he was a pretty productive player for the Celtics. JJ will almost certainly regress with LeBron gone but new coach Byron Scott has said that he wants to run which could accentuate Hickson's athleticism. His defense can only get better, right? Jamison can still be a good offensive force which will be even more important with LeBron gone, though we saw how much trouble he has defensively against KG and the Celtics. Still, against most teams our bigs can hold their own.
The rest of roster presents a lot of problems. Mo Williams is essentially a black hole defensively and his offense comes and goes. With Delonte likely on the way out Gibson or Telfair's minutes are likely going to go up, and neither are defensive all-stars. And, if I'm honest with myself, Delonte probably wouldn't be much help anyways with his head as it is. Anyway, Moon and Anthony Parker wont have the wide open spot up threes they had when LBJ was setting them up. I'm curious to see what happens to Mo's offense without LeBron as well. He might average 20 points a game but itll be on 43% shooting.
The Cavaliers will have about 13 million dollars to spend either on free agency or through making trades. Delonte has a partially non-guaranteed contract and will almost definitely be traded. Almost everyone on the Cavs roster will be available in trade talks, though no one will want to touch Jamison's contract. 29 million for 2 years of Jamison's declining knees just isn't all that attractive. They need to get better on the wing, Moon was a Harlem Globetrotter a couple years ago and that is all they have. Larry Hughes is a free agent and can replace some of LeBron's scoring, and he's a proven team player (gotta keep a sense of humor in times like these). As the team is constructed its the 6th or 7th seed in the East, though the team should still find some ways to improve before the season starts.
Of course, the answer has always been Allen Iverson.