The Cavaliers held their first official practice of the 2008/09 season yesterday, and were pleasantly surprised by what they saw, or felt. Mike Brown, whose long, drawn out practices have worn at veterans at times in the past , announced that only one of the two workouts per day would be "contact" practices, allowing for some of the older guys to stay fresher and avoid wear and tear. This is crucial for the Cavaliers, especially in the front courth where age is beginning to become a concern.
Both Cavaliers big men - Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace - had back issues late last season that surely affected their play during the playoffs. While the Cavs addressed the age "problem" among their big by drafting J.J. Hickson and Darnell Jackson, both are likely not ready to make a huge impact this season, though I expect Hickson to become more and more important to the Cavaliers as the season wears on.
The old guys won't be the only ones to benefit from the kinder, gentler, Mike Brown training camp. LeBron James is likely to see some extended rest during training camp in order to stay fresh after a summer filled with basketball.
For the Cavaliers it is going to be all about staying healthy, especially up front, and to Mike Brown's credit he is understanding that right from the start. While the Cavs have plenty of depth in the back court, an injury to Wallace or Z could be a big blow.