RAISING THE CADAVALIER - many, many thoughts on the Cleveland Cavaliers by ROBERT ATTENWEILER

Posts Tagged ‘Sacramento Kings’

NBA Basketball

2011/06/30

What Happens When Chris Grant Cockblocks Your Pre-Lockout Post…

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Leave it to the Cavaliers front office to ruin my last pre-Lockout post.  I was all prepped to talk about the team’s lineup following last week’s draft (it featured a bit espousing an Irving, Beardly, Jamison, Thompson, Hickson lineup and talked about how the team’s frontcourt going forward, while log-jammed, was log-jammed with a versatile bunch of bigs, all of whom could play the 4 or the 5 – Jamison excluded here – and that the team was willing to do what I cleverly referred to as “wait and Gee” on its wings – the pun referring to bringing back Alonzo Gee (a move I still espouse) and then waiting on better options to become available).

Well, with just hours left to work a deal that could pass through under the current CBA, Cavaliers GM, Chris Grant, found his better optionHe traded J.J. Hickson (a.k.a. The Hickson, a.k.a. Hicksonmania, a.k.a. … seriously, I’m sitting here trying to think of anything else anyone called him and the best I’m getting is “J.J. Miss-Some” which, I’ll be the first to admit, shows an embarrassing lack of effort and imagination) to the Sacramento Kings for 6’9” forward Omri Casspi (a.k.a. … well, um, nothing that I know of) and a protected (or, if we’re being honest, more well-guarded than the Pope) first round pick.

Later, in a conference call with the media, Grant sited his long-held interest in Casspi’s game, as well as the opportunity to achieve greater roster balance (i.e. make room for a player – Tristan Thompson – they like better than the one they already had – Hickson) and continued financial flexibility (i.e. rhey have a year longer to anticipate Casspi’s crippling contract demands than they had with Hickson).

But when you come right down to it, Grant gave up on a 6’9” player with career averages of 9.1 PTs and 5.7 REBs in favor of a player the same height with career averages 9.5 PTs and 4.4 REBs who is under his rookie contract for another three years and a first round draft pick that they will eventually use in some other trade.  Call me a pushover.  I’m into it.

In fact, Chris Grant is running a hot streak with me.  Fresh off talking myself into the Tristan Thompson pick (hey, if you’ve got the guy rated #3 on your board and he’s available at #4, you take him, right?  Isn’t all the Thompson backlash just “draft the best player available unless you already have a player at that position who drifts mentally, defensively, falls in love with his jump shot and thinks he’s our team’s best player (aside: he thinks it because he’s been told that … so, that’s not on him), then you draft for need”) – and I am on board with Tristan Thompson, Grant turns his starting power forward who – and let’s be clear about this now – will most likely never reach his full potential (or what we have perceived as his full potential) and, in fact, developmentally is probably at about what he’s going to contribute to a basketball team for a player who can actually hit a jump shot, rebounds fairly well for a small forward and has people constantly using words like “tough,” “mean streak,” and “fire” when describing him.  Great.  Bring it.  Grant is taking clear steps to bring in players who are tougher, better leaders, and better defenders than what he had on the roster a year ago.  Of course, Antawn Jamison is still on the roster, so we still suck defensively … but we suck less.  Your 2011-12 Cavaliers: We suck less! Thank you, Chris Grant.

Now, I realize that I’m saying a bunch of stuff about J.J. Hickson that I would never have said if he were still on our team.  But it’s all stuff that I very quickly believed to be true – which probably means I knew it to be true all along.  And I liked watching him play.  Motivated J.J. was a joy to watch – he could out-athleticize almost anyone in the NBA … and then you wouldn’t hear his name for a quarter and a half until he showed back up at the end of a tight game bricking jump shots.

What this means for the Cavs:  They have a roster that makes more sense.  We can probably pencil in Casspi as the starting 3 (although maybe if they resign Gee, they start him because he’s a more athletic defender next to…), defensive sieve, Antawn Jamison, will probably start at the 4 – but don’t expect him to get starters minutes – Varajeo will be our starting center and I’m pretty convinced that we’ll see an Irving-Beardly starting backcourt sooner than later.  Maybe you start Thompson at the 4 and Casspi at the 3 to have an inside-out presence that could benefit by having two gifted passers together in the backcourt – or maybe your bench is Ramon, Boobie, Casspi, and some combination of Thompson, Samardo Samuels and Semih Erden (You know what?  I’m smelling another trade and it’s got Ramon Sessions written all over it.).  That’s not a perfect team.  But it’s got some parts.  It’s got some depth.  It’s got some guys who can do some things on the basketball court.  All we can ask, really.

What this means for Sacramento Jesus… I mean … this could be ugly. No wonder the Kings protected their first-rounder so long.  I can’t imagine this move working for them.  You’re telling me that a Jimmer-Tyreke-Salmons-Hickson-Cousins team works?  I certainly can’t see them stopping anyone … not a single player … I could score on that team.  But I just answered my own question.  I would not want to coach them, but I will sure as hell watch them.

NBA Basketball

2010/12/06

THE CAVALIERS LOST WEEKEND

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Dear, Cleveland Cavaliers:  at the risk of sounding like I’m trying to pick you up at a bar, may I please say, “Heaven must be missing an NBA team because that resounding crash we just heard was obviously you all falling from the sky.  And hitting the ground hard.  And shattering into hundreds of pieces.  And then being balled up and collectively slammed to the ground again.  And then I think a dog peed on you.”

Byron Scott questioned the existence of your balls.  You lost to (when everything shakes out) one of the better teams in the league by 29.  Then you lose to one of the weaker teams in the league (based on record and them missing their leading scorer) by 34.  Luckily, the growing frustration of these two losses finally moved you to action: a 10 point loss in Detroit to the Pistons (who also suck, by the way) will allow us all to stand tall, shoulders back, head up, forks plunged deep into each of our eyes.

The good news: we may not have to dismantle the team to end up in the high end of the lottery in June.

The bad news: if that’s the case, how do we get rid of these guys?

Clearly, teams are going to look at the Cavs struggles and start to kick the tires on trades for players like Anderson Varejao and Mo Williams.  In the interest of finding something to be optimistic about, let’s look at who we have that someone might want and what, if anything, we might get for him.

Chris Grant has got to be kicking himself at not seeing that this team was built with a balsa wood bottom just waiting for the chance to drop out.  But I don’t blame him.  We may still end up winning some games and playing some respectable basketball, but the tendencies that led to this weekend’s performances (and, yes, the weekend begins on Thursday) – poor defense, lack of effort on either end, seemingly having no idea what might work on offense, doing whatever they felt like rather than sticking to a plan – do not bode well for us over the course of the season.

See, if Chris Grant had known this was going to happen, he would have been much more receptive to a trade that was rumored during the summer: sending Mo Williams to Sacramento.  What we would have gotten back is unclear – but five months ago you could have said the words “Mo Williams” and “former All-Star” in the same sentence without throwing up a little in your mouth.  Mo would look great with the Kings (he doesn’t play defense, Tyreke Evans is LeBron Lite) and we could have maybe gotten a first round pick from them or, barring that, one of their excess of big men such as Jason Thompson, who they recently were reported to be offering the Hawks for Jeff Teague (and which the Hawks turned down).

Do I want Mo to be traded for a power forward/center who averages 6.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in just over 17 minutes a game?  Not straight up, I don’t.  But would I be willing to do that if the Kings included a first round pick (or maybe a couple second rounders that we might be able to convert into first round picks at some point)?  I would listen to that offer.  Thompson is 6’11”, 24 years old and has shown to possess … god, what is that thing … I haven’t seen it in a while … Oh, yes.  Talent.

Do the Kings make that trade? Right now, I doubt we get much more from them than Thompson, if DeMarcus Cousins head-caseness hasn’t made them less likely to get rid of one of their bigs.  And I don’t see much reason for them, sitting at 4-14 to see Mo as their ticket to the playoffs.  Deals with teams who end up not being as good as they think they will be happen during the summer (when they still think they’re going to be good).  The mid-season deals are usually with contenders and, therefore, usually mean you’re getting less for your players, especially where picks are concerned.

Mo remains an important piece to the Cavaliers.  Everything being equal, I’d love to see Mo stay.  I like watching him play.  I like rooting for him.  But Mo also remains a very flawed important piece to the Cavaliers, one who can clearly be shut down by good teams with good players.  He has offensive talent, but he needs space to be effective.  That space used to be provided by LeBron James.  It could be provided by other players either here or elsewhere, but the Cavaliers are no longer a team that allows Mo Williams to look as good as he should.  He also has two more player option years after this one at roughly $8.5 million each.  Very reasonable, given the right trade partner.

I still don’t think you trade Varejao. I think that, as long as he doesn’t run himself into the ground while we remain not good, you keep a 28 year old, 6’10” guy who every other team in the league would want.  Come the trading deadline, I’d guarantee (but won’t because I have no way of validating this claim) that Grant gets besieged by calls about Varejao.  Even if you do decide to trade him, you don’t have to hurry.  Barring injury, people will continue to want Andy for the duration of his (again) very tradable contract (thank you, Danny Ferry).  And I think he’s worth at least a first rounder and some type of player (now, I’m not saying good) to the right team.

But then, see, we have Antawn Jamison.  I pushed so long for us to trade for Jamison that it really hurts me that we’ve ended up at this point.  I don’t see his deal as unmovable, but let’s at least say it’s very selectively movable. Based on his combination of age, bad knees and $15 million salary next year, the fit for Jamison will have to be (as we thought it was for us last year) perfect.  And we shouldn’t hold our breaths about what we might be able to get back.  That $15 million makes him more tradable next year as an expiring deal (and those deals happen – especially as part of a package – no matter how much a players skills have deteriorated), but I can see a few teams out there who we might get to bite this year.

I’m going to throw three names out: the Dallas Mavericks, the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks.

Do I think he’ll go to Dallas?  No, not really.  But I could see him fitting back into that team as frontcourt scoring off the bench and Mark Cuban doesn’t shy away from taking on contracts.  I’m dangling the Bulls out there – again, thinking of Jamison as being a bench option, but I could see him working really well with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.  But he’d probably work in a way very similar to Carlos Boozer.

The team I’d be keeping on speed-dial is the Knicks. If they continue to play well – and their recent play suggests that they should be in the mix for the 5-8 seed in the East.  But the Knicks are, by no means, a finished product.  They could use Jamison’s veteran presence (his good veteran presence … not the bad part of it that we’re trying to dump) on a team that hasn’t experienced much success yet.  Again, he’d probably be coming off the bench, but he’s a good enough scorer and rebounder (and a poor enough defender) to possibly make a very good showing in Mike D’Antoni’s offense.  The problem is that the Knicks want to sign Carmelo Anthony this summer and Antawn’s deal might make that tough for them to do – unless they’re able to deal him to a team that wants the eventual cap relief after the season.

Or maybe I’m just used to the Knicks making moves that help out other teams more than them.

Come on, Donnie Walsh, call up your inner-Isiah and help the Cavaliers out.  You know you want to.