Friday, March 1, 2013

Cavs Corner: Bring on March!

The man, the myth, the legend...
7-5 ladies and gentlemen.  The Cleveland Cavaliers had a winning record in the month of February.  That's the first time a winning month has occurred since The King departed to South Beach.  Post All-Star break, the team has won four of five and now sits at 20-38 overall.  Since starting 5-23, the team has gone a very respectable 15-15.  Barring a miracle, the team won't have enough time left to snag a potential 8th seed playoff spot but a finish as high as 9th is very much a reality.  They are nine games back of that playoff spot with only 24 games to go.  However, the 9th spot is only three games in front of them.  Some will point out tanking for the lottery in the draft.  I'll be the first to tell you, it's not worth it...this year.  Seriously, there's no consensus #1 pick and the player with the most upside, Nerlens Noel, blew out his knee.  They'll get a good player no matter where they pick in the lottery.

What's even more encouraging?  The last two games.

In Chicago this past Tuesday night and back home against Toronto on Wednesday, the Cavs put together two VERY impressive wins.  They hadn't beat Chicago in 11 tries and finally put together a great performance winning 101-98.  To back it up they handed the Raptors a 103-92 defeat the next night.  The best part?  Kyrie Irving didn't play.  He's resting a sore knee.  Okay, it's not the best, I'd much prefer him healthy but for the team to step up in his absence says a lot about how far this team has come since November.  Dion Waiters really took it upon himself and dropped 25 points in the Bulls game and then 23 points versus the Raptors.

I have to give a shout out to Luke freakin Walton.  He has found the Fountain of Youth in the wine and gold.  He's been a leader on the floor along with Shaun Livingston taking the place of Irving at the PG position.  The vets have really made an impact on this team as multiple players are reaching double digits in points.  It's a well balanced club and everyone knows their role.  It's fun to watch.  With 14 games this month, including on my birthday, holllllllaaaa, the Cavs would like to finish strong.  I hope they can finish the season with 30 or more wins and snag the 9-10 seed in the East.

This week they'll continue their five game homestand against the Clippers (tonight), the Knicks on Monday, Utah Wednesday and Memphis next Friday.  They'll visit Toronto on the 10th before coming home on my 26th birthday to take on John Wall and the Wizards.

Over at the Fear the Sword, a popular Cavs blog I read on SB Nation, there's a good piece on their current contract situation.  Since the Cavs made no moves at the trade deadline, they are rolling with what they already have.

Rookie Contracts:  Irving, Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller all will be under their rookie deals for the next two seasons after this one.  They are the core of the team.  Irving is an All-Star.  TT is vastly improved.  Waiters has done a 180 since opening night and I imagine Zeller with a full offseason of working out will be a pleasant surprise next October.

Likely Returning Players:  Alonzo Gee, CJ Miles, Wayne Ellington, and Andy Varejao.  Gee is under contract.  Miles has a team option (team will decide) so I'd imagine he'll stay.  Ellington will become a restricted free agent but will most likely negotiate a Alonzo Gee-type three year deal.  Andy is under contract and with his age along with injuries will most likely stay a Cav until the deal runs up.  We'll just take what we can get out of him.

Contracts Expiring:  Daniel Gibson, Livingston, Walton and Omri Casspi.  It's pretty much a lock Gibson is done as a Cavalier.  Suffering from a plethora of injuries the past couple of seasons, Boobie has fallen out of the rotation.  He had a good run but don't let the door hit you on the way out.  This will come as a shock to some but I expect Livingston AND Walton to be resigned next season.  You won't have to pay Luke over 6 million dollars anymore and Livingston has been a great pick up.  Casspi will be an RFA like Ellington but won't be tendered a qualifying offer making him a free agent as well.  He stinks.

Other Commitments:  I laughed out loud realizing they pay money to Baron Davis through the end of this season but his "contract" finally comes off the books.  They are going to have a ton of cap space and will need to fill some of it to hit the salary floor.  The big question will be what happens with Mo Speights.  A great big man to come off the bench, the guy has provided a big body and quality points.  He's really helped Zeller in the rotation.  Unfortunately he has a player option for $4.5 million next year which means he decides where he ends up.  The Cavs are probably interested in retaining his services but after next year, he could demand more money.  The Cavs are saving enough cap space to make a run at a max player in 2014 to pair with Irving...cough, Lebron, they won't overpay for a player like Speights.  But you never know with guys.  Maybe he loves it here and wants to stay.

They of course will have to pay whomever they draft this year too.  It will be a lottery pick and a late first rounder (from Miami) unless the Lakers end up making the playoffs in which case Cleveland can opt to swap the Lakers pick with the Miami pick.  So let's keep cheering for Showtime out west.  They are two games out of the 8th spot in the West and we could always use a better draft pick!  I expect General Manager Chris Grant to do something similar this year with grouping picks to get a guy already drafted (like they did with Zeller) or move up if they feel necessary.  Who knows, maybe they'll trade for actual veteran help.  The point is, I can't envision this team putting anymore than two more rookies into the already super young rotation.

Until next time nerds...