The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

To do list…

Posted by disappointmentzone on 15 June 2007

The Cavs were swept by the Spurs last night. No big surprise there. The Spurs, as they demonstrated in the first three games (and the entire season there unto), are clearly a superior team. For starters, the Spurs have players who can shoot well. So what do the Cavs need to do this off season in order to be in a position to win at least one NBA Finals game? Here’s a quick list:

* Bring in an offensive coordinator whose job will be to oversee the entire offensive scheme the Cavs run next season. Mike Brown should have total control over the defense — he’s clearly a wizard in this area — but limited control over the offense. He’s still young enough (and one hopes wise enough) that he should be willing to play ball with delegating some authority to another coach.

* Bring in a shooting guru to teach LeBron James proper shooting form. Anyone with any basketball sense and working eyes can clearly see that LBJ’s form is terrible. I have no idea how he’s made it through four seasons without anyone correcting his form, but now is clearly the time. Just look at Tony Parker. When Parker entered the league he had a terrible jumper. Then in 2005 the Spurs hired a shooting coach. In 2007 Parker is nearly unstoppable on offense because he can consistently live make mid-range jumpers. Being able to do so only opens up more room for him to get inside, where he is lethal. The same goes for Wade, who is best known for his acrobatic dunks and layups, but whose games actually centers on his ability to kill teams from 18 feet. LBJ is getting by right now on pure innate ability. Just think of how good he could become if he added skill to that list.

* Speaking of shooting, Larry Hughes hesitates on the top of his jumper and snaps his wrist way too hard. He does this on free throws, too, for reasons passing understanding. He would benefit from working with a shooting coach. So would Daniel Gibson. He has decent form but his shoot lacks the sort of arc required to be consistently accurate. He also needs to work on a running teardrop shot (what used to be Parker’s bread and butter). It’s fun to watch him jump against the taller players in the league, but it’s not a sound strategy for long-term success.

* Pavlovic needs to enroll in LBJ’s Finishing School. Pavs is almost the opposite of LBJ in that Pavs can shoot quite well and has the athletic ability to get to the rim, only he lacks the skill required for finishing once he getst here. Strength is probably also an issue here — not only upper body strength, which seems obvious, but lower body strength. He just doesn’t explode off the ground very well. That makes finishing much harder.

* Somehow, someway, get rid of: Hughes, Snow, Jones, and Marshall. Their contracts and unproductive basketball play really hurt the team.

* Somehow, someway, sign: Pavlovic and Varejao. Varejao might have played himself into a smaller contract than he was in line to receive entering the playoffs by furthering his reputation as a flopper and a maverick on the offensive end. Pavlovic probably played himself into a larger contract. I would focus more on trying to keep Pavlovic because he’s a more well-rounded player, but active big men are hard to find. Locking both into contracts would be a boon. Signing one would be nice. Failing on both would be terrible.

* Somehow, someway, bring in: a point guard. I am not of the opinion that the Cavs need to brake the bank this off season attempting to sign a Billups-type PG. Frankly there are no PGs available this year who blow my hair back, mostly because signing any of them will require a Hughes-like contract. I would be patient and try to lure a second-tier PG, one who can make a mid-range jumper and whose best asset is basketball IQ. Why? Because Agent Zero is opting out of his contract next season and if I were Danny Ferry I would do everything in my power to sing Arenas. The Cavs can’t afford another hefty contract this upcoming season (unless Hughes is traded) but it is entirely within the realm of possibilities that, with a few savvy trades, the team could be in a position to sign Arenas in 08. If you aren’t scoring at home, that would give the Cavs with one season with LBJ and Arenas, which should be enough to entice The Chosen One to re-up with the Cavs.

Not signing a Headline Point Guard his off season would also further Gibson’s development, which would make him a valuable asset since he’s rookie contract expires after next year. If the Cavs could lock him up before then to a reasonably long-term deal (3 years) at a fair price all of a sudden the team has another trading chip. Of course, this is assuming that Gibson’s development stays on track. But I don’t think that’s a huge assumption given what we know about Gibson.

* Further expand the team’s international scouting. If there’s one thing the Spurs have made clear it’s that foreign-born players are not novelties. The Cavs need to be ahead of the curve on this.

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19 Responses to “To do list…”

  1. Erik said

    No way I want Arenas in a Cavs uniform. The guy might be a great shooter, but he’d be the second coming of Ricky Davis from a team standpoint. He’s a total knucklehead who would say all the right things about fitting in around LeBron, then go out and take shots away from LeBron because he’s too busy jacking up his own shot to worry about anything else, including things like defense.

    Arenas was a “pure” point guard several years ago, but once he discovered he could go off for 50 points in a game if he simply concentrated on his own shot and nothing else, that’s exactly what he’s done. He is anything but a team player. He’d be poison for the Cavs. And if Eddie Jordan can’t reel in Arenas’ ego, Mike Brown won’t be able to.

    It’s probably all a moot point anyway. I think there is a better than 50 percent chance Mike Bibby ends up with the Cavs by next season, based on how close the Cavs came to acquiring him in February. Bibby is more the type of point guard the Cavs need. He’s a good ball handler who will look to pass and will allow LeBron to move without the ball more often. Also Bibby, while not an elite perimeter shooter, is good enough (career .371 from beyond the arc) that he can make defenses pay for collapsing on LeBron.

  2. It’s hard to see the Cavs taking on another huge salary this upcoming season unless major changes are made to the roster. Taking on a big salary next season, when a number of contracts expires, seems much more likely and is what I favor.

    I have yet to hear much about Arenas being a bad teammate. He’s never played with a dominant post player, has played with a number of quality guards, and none of those guards have had problems with him (as far as I know; I could be wrong).

    No one is going to take away shots from LBJ–there are plenty of shots to go around. And as we learned this season there needs to be someone else involved in the offense if the Cavs are going to do anything.

  3. Erik said

    It’s not so much that Arenas is a bad teammate. Probably the opposite, he has a charismatic personality like Damon Jones.

    It’s just that Arenas has become used to being the first option on offense, and I don’t know how he’d react to becoming the second option in Mike Brown’s system, which would likely reduce him to a spot-up jump shooter waiting on the wing for kickout passes from LeBron.

    My feeling is that Arenas would become frustrated and blow up a lot of possessions trying to get his points instead of looking for who has the best open shot.

    Combine that with the fact that Arenas plays virtually no defense and is a below-average passer, it just doesn’t seem like the Cavs would get their money’s worth. The only way Arenas can hurt an opponent is when his shot is falling. If he has one of those zillion-shot, nine-point games like he did coming back from injury over the winter, he is going to be a detriment.

    Also, with LeBron getting in Arenas’ head with the Cavs-Wizards series on the line last year, I have to question Arenas’ mental toughness. It seems like he’s kind of easy to rattle, particularly if his shot isn’t falling.

    I think Arenas is one of those guys, like Damon Jones, who thinks he’s better than he actually is. If the Cavs want to build a championship-type team, they can’t have too many guys like that, overestimating their abilities. They have enough already. They need guys who know what they can do, not guys who think they know what they can do.

  4. matt said

    The bigger question is: where is a possible destination for Hughes, given the recent history of mediocrity and injuries? What team is going to take his salary burden from the Cavs? There is no way to efficiently trade Hughes away without getting about 30 cents on the dollar. But, he does need to go….

  5. The Cavs are going to have to absorb some of Hughes’s contract, I’d imagine.

    Arenas is really good. Top 40 in the league good. If you go by Wins Produced Arenas is about twice as good as Bibby. If you go by PER Arenas is better than Bibby: 24 to 16 last season, 20.8 to 17.1 career.

    Bibby is closer to a true point guard than Arenas and Arenas is much closer to a combo guard than he is to being a point guard, but if he plays with LBJ I’m not sure that matters: I think they compliment each other well.

    He might have a big ego but so does LBJ. Would putting them together necessarily be a problem? I’m not sure.

    The Cavs are going to have to take a big gamble to sign Bibby–again, Bibby is owned a tone of money over the next two seasons–and so the question to ask is which gamble is bigger: A huge contract to a player who is league average or a huge contract to an above-average player with an ego? When in doubt I’d sign the above-average player. Just ask Kobe Bryant. Those early 2000s Lakers teams sure looked pretty good with two huge egos playing together.

  6. Erik said

    Those early 2000s Laker teams also had Phil Jackson for a coach. There is a reason why the Lakers canned Del Harris and paid roughly the GNP of Switzerland to hire Jackson. He was the only coach in the league who could get Shaq and Kobe to harmonize enough to win titles.

    If I were a betting man, I’d say Mike Brown ends up being far closer to Del Harris than to Phil Jackson — execpt for the whole looking like Leslie Nielsen thing, of course.

    My point is that yes, you want talent over simply having a locker room that sings Kum-Bi-Yah together, but it’s not a guarantee of success. If Phil Jackson wasn’t chanting Buddhist mantras or burning incense or whatever he did to promote symbiotic harmony with Shaq and Kobe, they never would have won titles. Even then, is still all fell apart within five years.

    I just don’t want someone coming in here thinking they’re going to be co-superstars with LeBron (unless that person happens to be a like-minded superstar with the street cred to back it up like Kevin Garnett) and then pissing LeBron off, polarizing the locker room and becoming another hurdle the team has to clear to win a title.

    The conversation begins with talent, but it doesn’t end there.

  7. Will said

    According to their Win Scores Pavlovic is not nearly as productive as Varajao – yet you would rather resign Pavlovic? Same thing with getting rid of Snow – he’s also a more productive player than Pavlovic. I think the Cavs should make getting rid of Hughes their #1 priority this offseason; even if they can only realistically get 50 cents on the dollar they could still easily end up with a more productive guard given the overemphasis on scoring by seemingly every single GM.

  8. Erik,

    I understand what you are saying. I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I think Arenas can transition into a productive (in all sense of the word) player on the team, but there is reason to believe he can’t or that the structure isn’t there to ensure that he does. We probably don’t have to worry one way or another–I really can’t see Ferry being able to sign Arenas. He’s opting out of his contract one season too early.

    ____________

    Will,

    Varejao is quite productive–one of the best on the team, actually. I’d like to see Ferry sign Varejao. I also think Sasha is improving. If you look at his eFG% and TS% he has been progressing very nicely since he entered the league. This season he had an eFG% of .514 and a TS% of .553. For comparison’s sake, LeBron had a TS% of .554. and an eFG% of .507.

    Pavlovic’s problem is that he utterly ordinary in all other facets of the game, if that. He doesn’t grad a bunch of rebounds nor does he dish out a bunch of assists. That said, I think you can chalk up his lack of assists to the role he was given on the team. Like Drew Gooden the offense was never run through Sasha. This is not to excuse Pavs from not getting assists, it’s just to point out that he wasn’t always in a position to dish out assists. Same with rebounding.

    While I realize that rebounding requires skill, a lot of rebounding is hustling and positioning–things I think Pavlovic can learn as he gets more comfortable in Brown’s system. So I’m willing to hold out on casting a final verdict on Sasha. On a team short on shooters/scorer, Sasha is valuable because he is one of the best shooters/scorers.

    As for Varejao, he needs a lot of work, but he’s a beast on the boards and if the Cavs can somehow get by without scoring for the center position–like if they can bring in scorers to play in the backcourt–then I think he’ll fit in nicely in the medium term, especially if Z is still around.

    Getting rid of Hughes has been my #1 hope for the Cavs since I started this blog last year. The Cavs are keeping Snow. I can’t see him leaving before 08/09. With all those expiring contracts that season the Cavs will be in good position to make some trades.

  9. Josh said

    It’s hard to figure out where the Cavs go from here. For every player who would improve the Cavs (Kidd?), it seems like another team would be able to make a more competitve trade offer.

    I’m not sure Varejao is worth exceeding the Cap. I think resigning Pavlovic makes more sense.

    There’s some guys I like on the free agent market who I think could play better then the contract they’ll likely get (Pietrus comes to mind) but I’m not sure they fit a real need.

    If Stevie Francis gets bought out, maybe that’s worth a gamble, but probably not?

    I just cant think of any realistic moves they could make that would improve the team and not leave them further in cap hell.

  10. Steve Blake.

    Sign Blake, resign Pavlovic, make a competitive offer to Varejao.

    If the Cavs do this I’ll consider the off-season a success.

  11. Josh said

    I forgot about Blake, who would be a nice choice. The worry there is that Portland and maybe Miami jack up the price and the Cavs have to give him the full MLE.

    I don’t love Ridnour’s game but he seems like the type of guy who could fit with a up-tempo offense that Lebron needs and maybe could outplay his contract. Kurt Thomas wouldn’t be a bad addition to the front-line on a short term deal. I also wonder whether Morris Peterson wouldn’t be worth a look if the terms were right.

    Imagine had Ray Allen or Michael Redd signed with the Cavs and Ferry hadn’t had to chase Hughes.

    By the way, if I am the Bulls I’d push way harder for KG then Kobe. Say Gordon, Deng and Ben Wallace have to go to LAL, can a core lineup of Hinrich, Kobe, Nocioni, TT win a title?

  12. Will said

    Mo Williams, Matt Barnes or Luke Walton. Unlikely, but all are far superior to Blake. If the Cavs stay the same I don’t think there’s any way they’ll end up in the Finals again; they got lucky this year. With one of these guys I think they’d have a great shot (assuming they don’t give up Varejao in the process). Then again Hughes would probably still start, so maybe not.

    Boobie, Barnes, Bron, Gooden and Z/Varejao. I’d call that the prohibitive favorite in the East.

  13. I don’t see the Cavs staying the same. There will be roster changes this summer. I think Blake is a good stop gap until the team can afford to bring in a really great PG. What the team can’t afford to do is burden themselves with another huge contract, which is what they’ll have to do with, say, Mike Bibby. It would be the same mistake the team made when they signed Hughes to such an inflated deal. Blake can shoot and dish out assists. He’s not much of a defensive player, but Brown must realize that not everyone can be a defensive superstar.

    Josh–If I were the Bulls I’d take Kobe over KG if only because KG has so many miles in his legs. Actually, I need to look at their contract situations. KG is still an elite player and could definitely mentor TT. Kobe has never been a good teammate, so that’s a knock against him, especially with an impressionable supporting roster, which the Bulls would have.

    Of course, if I were running the Bulls I would have gone after Gasol last season more aggressively. KG fits into that mold more than Kobe, so perhaps I’m actually more in favor of the Bulls getting KG but as a Cavs fan I am hoping they’d get Kobe instead.

    I like where the Bulls are. One good trade could put them an arm’s length ahead of everyone else in the East.

  14. Josh said

    I don’t think Barnes will fit as well in another teams offense as he did Golden State’s. He’s a real streaky shooter who some team on the basis of 10 games will give a huge contract to and the Cavs should stay away. I like Mo Williams if the money’s right. I love Walton’s game but worry he’s not a good enough shooter to play with LBJ and is better off in a triangle offense.

    I saw Z at the Indians game last night. He’s not that big in person, surprisingly so.

  15. Haze said

    So, are we still renaming this blog? Because I always thought Happy Happy Fun Place sounded bumpin.

    And I seriously have no idea why anyone wants to keep Verasio. he granny tosses the ball amd he’s going to get his ass kicked one of these games for his defensive-offensive fouls.

  16. Will said

    Pavlovic for Calderon. I would love this.

  17. josh said

    Sign and Trade Varejo a future # 1 and Snow or Jones for Kyle Lowry and Hakim Warrick.

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