Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cavs Corner: We're Only Halfway??

Walton and Zeller exemplify the whiteness, holla!
After a gross 1-4 final, long road trip of the season, the Cavs will head back to the Q at 10-32 on the season.  I won't beat around the bush here any longer.  I was hopeful to start the season but it's now blatantly obvious.  The Cavs are terrible.  They are easily on pace to be a top 5, if not top 3, perhaps even the number 1 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft.  At 42 games, the Cavs have played more games than most teams.  Some teams have only played 37 games.  Furthermore, of the 42 games, the Cavs have played only 16 at home!  Is in an all encompassing explanation?  Ha, no because even at 4-12 at home so far, the team still stinks.  To me, it almost gives this team a pass.  We expected better but next year is year three of the rebuild.  It truly is a process and since LeBron ain't walking through that door any time soon, the team is slowly developing their young players.  Well at least not until next summer...ssssss

I've already stated it will be very tough to trade Varejao at this point.  I don't think there's any point in bringing him back at any point this season to play useless games.  Varejao still has two years left on his contract and at age 30 and his injury history, it will take a bold move by GM Chris Grant to sell this guy to another team.  Having said that, teams are always looking for a solid big man to add to their rotation.  In playing less minutes, Andy is still a very quality trade piece.  I'm okay with whatever the team decides to do.  Using that at as starting point, here's kind of my breakdown of the roster looking forward:

Doubtful to Return Next Season:

  • Luke Walton has an expiring contract and is likely to be gone by this year's trading deadline.
  • Daniel Gibson is in the same boat and hopefully teams overlook his injury history and we trade him.
  • Omri Casspi has been a disappointment since coming here in the Hickson trade and I don't foresee him returning after this year.
  • Jeremy Pargo, while showing excitement at times, just isn't consistent enough to warrant quality back up minutes to Irving.
  • Jon Leuer was a big who can shoot that was hopefully going to spread the floor.  Unfortunately, you know, he stinks.
  • Kevin Jones has been an able body but at only 6'8" and unable to play any kind of guard position, KJ will struggle to make this team next year.

Likely to Return:

  • Shaun Livingston has been a bright spot since being picked after Sloan was waived.  Coach Scott really likes him.  I actually think he gets a contract offer for next year.  He's a veteran and knows his role.

Definite to Return:

  • Kyrie Irving is the superstar you build around but the team has learned their lesson from the last time they did this.
  • Tristan Thompson has grown leaps and bounds this year and really looks like a great piece for the future.
  • Dion Waiters actually had a good road trip over the past five games.  His key is consistency and shot selection.
  • Tyler Zeller has been a roller coaster but as a seven footer who can run the floor, he just needs to bulk up and he can be a force.
  • Alonzo Gee is best served coming off the bench but as a guy who doesn't turn down a defensive assignment, he's been a pleasant surprise.
  • CJ Miles has finally hit his stride with the team and is a 10-15 points kind of guy.  I like what he brings.

Upcoming Schedule

FINALLY!  In their next 12 games, the Cavs only play two on the road.  At worst, the team will at least not have to travel a bunch.  They got winnable games versus Boston, Milwaukee, Toronto, Detroit, Charlotte, Orlando, and Minnesota before the All-Star break (Feb 15-17 in Houston).  I'll be back then to see if the Cavs will make an impact on that game.  I hope Irving makes it as a reserve.  He deserves it.  You will probably see Waiters, Thompson and possibly Zeller in the rookie/sophomore game or the Rising Stars Game as they call it.  Barkley and Shaq pick the teams so it should be fun!  Irving lit it up last year for Team Chuck.

The trade deadline follows the ASG the following Thursday on February 21 at 3pm.  To me, it's time the front office starts its molding of next year's squad.  Varejao, Walton, Gibson, Casspi, and Pargo all need to be considered tradeable pieces.  The team is looking at seven, eight if you count Andy, in returning pieces that will make an impact.  Zeller and Gee are better served coming off the bench.  One of either Waiters and Miles also will be a second unit player.  With Livingston, that's half the potential roster off the bench.  This year determined one thing:  We don't have quality starting basketball players.  The Cavs need impact players and those don't come guaranteed in the draft.  They come from free agency and trades.  Let's make it happen!  There are so many bubble teams in the East and West that will be sellers that General Manager Chris Grant will be well advised to have a conversation with each and every single one of them.  

Verdict:  The team must be more than competitive next season. That means be in the hunt for a playoff position.  The East isn't amazing.  Coach Byron Scott as well as GM Chris Grant will need to show they have built a franchise capable of winning more games than they lose.  They both deserve to see this rebuild through but after next season and they still stink?  Well you can guarantee there will be a couple of hot seats here in Believeland.