2011 NBA Offseason: Cleveland Cavaliers

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: 19-63)

2011 NBA Draft Team Grade:

Kyrie Irving was obviously the no-brainer at No. 1, but after that, the Cavs’ draft confused me. I think Tristan Thompson is a reach at No. 4 and will never be a great NBA power forward. Then getting nothing of immediate help out of their two second-round picks for a team that is clearly in need of more talent, especially on the wing, seems like a waste. (Team Grade: Don’t Get It)

Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:

1. Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
Irving is the best player in this draft so the Cavs made the right decision in taking him first overall despite already having Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions at the point. More importantly, Irving provides Cleveland with a new face of the franchise that will lead the post-LeBron re-building project. (Pick Grade: Makes sense)

4. Tristan Thompson, F, Texas
WOW! I am not that high on Thompson and think he is more of a late lottery prospect. He can rebound and is athletic but not a scorer from outside of eight feet. I guess Jonas Valanciunas� contract situation scared them off. Plus, doesn’t Cleveland already have Antawn Jamison and J.J. Hickson at power forward? (Pick Grade: HUH?)

32. Justin Harper, F, Richmond (TRADED TO ORLANDO)
This pick makes more sense since the Cavs dealt Harper to Orlando for two future second round picks. However, I can’t help but think that there were some wing players available who could have possibly helped the Cavs’ re-building project. (Pick Grade: Meh)

54. Milan Macvan, F, Serbia
Macvan is a tank but has a decent mid-range game. He probably won’t come to the NBA soon, but might pay off down the line. I still thought there are better players on the board who could have helped out the Cavs this season on the wing (Moore, Lighty, Hopson.) (Pick Grade: Meh)

*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

2010-11 Season Summary:
From beasts of the East to laughing stock of the league, this season the Cavs hit rock bottom harder than Charlie Sheen after a 48-hour bender with two Playboy bunnies and a porn star.

Cleveland suffered through a NBA all-time worst 26-game losing streak that was actually met with confetti falling from the rafters at Gund Arena like the team had just won the NBA title. Add in LeBron’s Decision and Dan Gilbert’s open letter to the fans, and it has been an interesting past year for the Cavs’ franchise.

Cleveland already faced the daunting challenge of playing without LeBron this past season. It certainly did not help that cause that veteran starters Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison struggled with injuries while starting center Anderson Varejao missed the final 51 games of the season due to a torn tendon in his ankle.

The injuries thrust guys like Christian Eyenga, Manny Harris, Alonzo Gee and Samardo Samuels into significant roles. Those players were lucky to even be on a NBA roster let alone see quality minutes. So it is no surprise that the Cavs finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference when they were trotting that type of talent onto the court on a nightly basis.

Sensing the need to build for the future, the Cavs pulled the trigger on a pretty big deal prior to the trade deadline, sending Williams and Jamario Moon to the Clippers for Baron Davis and a 2011 first-round pick. It was a very risky move for Cleveland to make considering Davis has two years worth $28.8 million left on his contract and started the season riding the pine in L.A. since he was out of shape. Still, the Cavs felt adding a lottery pick was worth the roll of the dice and Davis actually played pretty well in the 15 games he suited up for Cleveland.

Outside of that, there was not much for the franchise to get excited about except for the continued development of power forward J.J. Hickson. The third-year player showed flashes of his ability especially after the All-Star break when he averaged 16.8 points and 10.4 boards per game despite having to play a good portion of his minutes out of position at the center spot.

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Anderson Varejao/Ryan Hollins/Semih Erden

PF: Antawn Jamison/Tristan Thompson/Samardo Samuels/Luke Harangody

SF: Omri Casspi/Christian Eyenga/Joey Graham

SG: Alonzo Gee/Daniel Gibson/Manny Harris

PG: Kyrie Irving/Baron Davis/Ramon Sessions

NBA Free Agents:

SG-Anthony Parker (UFA)

Offseason Transactions:

Cavs acquire SF Omri Casspi and future first round pick from Kings for PF J.J. Hickson

Cavs trade PF Justin Harper to Magic for two future second round picks

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $54.6 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. A face of the franchise: It took the Bulls a decade to replace Michael Jordan in finding a new face of the franchise, and the Cavs are dealing with that same challenge. Even though it is one of the weakest draft classes in quite some time, Cleveland needs to hit a home run with at least one of their lottery picks. None of the prospects will be an immediate savior for the team, but if the Cavs make the most of their two selections, they should be able to add two players who can be important building blocks for the future.

2. Wing Help: When Alonzo Gee, Christian Eyenga, Manny Harris, Jamario Moon and Joey Graham combine to start 83 games for your team, there is no wonder you finished with the second-worst record in the league. Add in the fact that Anthony Parker is a free agent, and the Cavs need to find a serious upgrade on the wing.

3. Don’t Forget About that Trade Exception: The Cavs have until July 11 to use the $14.5 million trade exception acquired from the LeBron trade. The exception can be used in addition with a player currently on the roster or individually for another player which gives Cleveland trade flexibility considering they’re over the salary cap and do not have a lot of trade chips currently on their roster. If they can find a team looking to dump a player’s salary and pretty much get him for nothing in return, it is a strategy the Cavs should definitely pursue as long as it does not further kill their salary cap situation. If not, Cleveland’s best plan of attack might be to sit on the exception rather than roll the dice on a deal that could set the team’s re-building project back even more.

4. True Center: Anderson Vaejao and J.J. Hickson are both better suited playing the four which means Ryan Hollins (who has a player option on the final year of his contract) and Semih Erden are the only true centers on the roster. Cleveland does not have much flexibility in free agency, but should look to land an affordable big man who can be a defensive presence in the paint since the team was second to last in the NBA in blocked shots this past season.

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