Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Cleveland Cavaliers (Last Year: 24-58)
2012-13 Season Summary:
The development of the young Cleveland team experienced a hiccup as its top-three players all missed significant time due to injury. Kyrie Irving took the next step as the face of the franchise making his first All-Star Game, but he suffered a couple different injuries that forced him to sit out 23 games.
Anderson Varejao was having himself an All-Star caliber season, averaging 14/14 a night, but surgery on his quads was the first injury before a major medical scare involving a blood clot in his lung. It continues to be one thing after another for Varejao, who has only played in 81 games combined in the past three seasons. 2012 NBA Draft First-round pick Dion Waiters went through his own nagging injuries, too.
As a result, the Cavaliers had to plug the holes for the time being. Tristan Thompson saw a larger role and showed some improvement from his rookie campaign. Rookie Tyler Zeller was serviceable in the middle, but proved what many believed entering the 2012 NBA Draft; that he is best suited an as NBA backup. Cleveland also made a great trade with the Grizzlies, pretty much stealing Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington for practically nothing.
2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Anderson Varejao/Tyler Zeller
PF: Tristan Thompson/*Marreese Speights/Kevin Jones
SF: *Alonzo Gee/^C.J. Miles/%Omri Casspi
SG: Dion Waiters/#Wayne Ellington
PG: Kyrie Irving
NBA Free Agents:
*PF-Marreese Speights (RFA)
#SG-Wayne Ellington (RFA)
%SF-Omri Casspi (RFA)
^SF-C.J. Miles (TO)
F-Luke Walton (UFA)
SG-Daniel Gibson (UFA)
PG-Shaun Livingston (UFA)
PG-Chris Quinn (UFA)
2013-14 Team Salary: Approximately $33.3 million
NBA Offseason Team Needs:
1. Small Forward:
Irving, Waiters, Thompson, and Zeller. The Cavaliers have added bright young pieces at every position but small forward. I think Cleveland should draft Georgetown small forward Otto Porter with the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft since his ability to be a glue guy would be an outstanding addition. If the Cavaliers decide to take Nerlens Noel instead, their best bet might be sticking with Gee and Miles for another year, unless they can land a quality young small forward via free agency or trade.
2. Guard Depth:
Cleveland found temporary solutions behind Irving and Waiters last season, but Shaun Livingston is an unrestricted free agent and Wayne Ellington is a restricted free agent. I wouldn't mind Ellington returning as a backup, but if I'm Cleveland, I don't sign him to an extension. The Cavs should also look for a better point guard option especially Irving has been unable to stay healthy during his first two years with the team.
This has been the case for the past couple of offseasons now. Cleveland's front office has played it smart by building through the draft and not blowing its cap space on overpriced, mediocre free agents. The Cavaliers still aren't in a position to land a big name free agent, so they need to stick to the script and let time take its course rather than trying to accelerate the rebuilding process and making a costly mistake in free agency.
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