Fact 1: Given the debacle of 08-09, unless the Cavs do something spectacular, LeBron is LeGone. The Magic were better than the Cavs this year and the Magic will be significantly improved with the return of PG Jameer Nelson next season. The Magic’s key players are getting better.
Fact 2: The Cavs are likely to be worse next season unless they make some spectacular and admittedly desperate moves. Ben Wallace has already mentioned retirement. Despite his efforts, he is no where near the player he used to be. If some team offers Anderson Varejao a deal, he is likely to go. While he is not the answer for the Cavs, his departure will hurt the Cavs more than his arrival will help another team.
Fact 3: Mike Brown is not the kind of coach that is likely to be able to convince LeBron than the Cavs have a future. The Cavs should look for a high energy high profile offensive minded coach immediately.
Fact 4: Cleveland without LeBron could not attract a free agent offering a magic carpet ride through Shangra La. The ONLY hope the Cavs have for any kind of future is to do whatever the team can to try to keep LeBron.
Fact 5: The salary cap for 2008-09 was $58.680 million. The Cavs had one of the highest salary totals in the league last year. It was around 94 million.
Fact 6: Any team that goes above the salary tax level of 71.15 million pays a dollar for every dollar above that level. That meant that the Cavs had to give the league around 23 million in tax penalty payments.
Fact 7: There were only 2 teams, Miami and Portland, under the salary cap. And they were only popcorn money below the cap.
Plan 1 Amar’e Stoudemire (Pheonix 2008-09 Statistics PPG 21.4 RPG 8.10 APG 2.0)
Stoudemire is coming off an injury and there is reason to believe that the Suns are thinking about reworking their team. There are also rumors about the Suns needing to drop payroll to get under the tax level. Stoudemire is only 27 and is a consistent 20+ point 8+ rebound guy. Having another shooter to draw attention is critical. He would make Zydrunas Ilgauskas better by giving the team a 3rd rebounder. Stoudemire would create a very tough front line match up for opponents and someone that could slow down Dwight Howard.
Plan 2 Hedo Turkoglu (ETO) (Orlando 2008-09 Statistics PPG 16.8 RPG 5.30 APG 4.9)
The Turk has already announced he plans to opt out of the contract with the Magic. If the Cavs could land him, he would not only help Cleveland but hurt their prime opponent. A great thought if they could pull it off. Don’t hold your breath. Turk is looking for BIG money. He may not find it but other teams have a better chance of giving it to him than the Cavs.
Plan 3 Shaquille O’Neal (trade only) (Pheonix 2008-09 Statistics PPG 17.8 RPG 8.4 APG 1.7)
There has been a lot of talk about the Suns trading Shaq to the Cavs for Aleksandar Pavlovic and Ben Wallace. Shaq MIGHT be willing to take that trade for one reason—to beat Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in a final. Shaq has only 1 or 2 seasons left at best. He would be a short term fix that would not entice LeBron to stay. But it might get LeBron a title as a thank you for what he has done for the Cavs.
The bottom line: No team can afford to lose a key player and stay competitive. Because they are all over the salary cap, they have only a mid level exception to bring in a free agent. That is expected to be around 6 million next season. The teams will do whatever it takes including overpaying marginal stars because they can’t afford to take any big money free agents.
The only chance the Cavs have is to make a trade but they just don’t have much to trade with. The Cavs have to do something but there are very few options. Look for them to try but I can’t see them being able to do much.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .