LeBron is good as LeGone—Unless…

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Cavs

The facts:

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 .

Technorati Tags: NBA,NBA Draft,NBA Playoffs,Cavilers,LeBron,James,Suns,Varejao,free agent,trades,Wallace,NBA Salary Cap,Miami,Portland,cap tax,Stoudemire,Turkoglu,Shaquille O’Neal,Shaq,Pavlovic,Kobe,Bryant,Lakers,Magic

LeBron is LeGone.

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LeBron2 LeGone

LeBron LeGone

LeBron is LeGone.

LeBron’s exit from the playoffs says something about his future in Cleveland. His failure to speak at the post game press conference says a lot more.

Forget about him not shaking hands with his opponents. This wasn’t widely reported but he didn’t shake hands because he was so tired of carrying 11 guys plus his coach on his shoulders that he couldn’t raise his hand above his waist. Really, Dwight Howard showed as little class as LeBron by taking a meaningless 3 point shot as time ran out. One still picture of LeBron’s face showed his frustration and his anger about the shot, the team, the situation and the future of the Cavs.

LeBron not showing up for the post game press conference was a mistake. The sports world is coming down on his head for opting out of the post game chat with the media. He will be fined and I am sure that he is fine with that (excuse the pun). He should have gone and at least made an appearance. Given how much class he has shown from day one of his career, I can excuse him totally for not taking the meaningless question from a meaningless member of the media “how do you feel about losing in the playoffs?”

What failing to show up says about him staying in Cleveland is much more important. I doubt he will even consider taking GM Danny Ferry’s calls about a contract extension under the current circumstances. The Cavs as they are now constituted will NEVER win an NBA Championship even with LeBron. Even a talent as great as his can not go 1 vs. 5 and win. And that is the singing group we saw in the playoffs—LeBron and the 4 statues.

LeBron has made up his mind about coming back in 2010-2011—He is not going to do it. The only way that the Cavs can possibly change his mind is to make monster moves this off season. Even if they do make a couple of monster moves, they still might not even be the 2nd best team in the East. In my opinion, Orlando is better now, and next year will have all star PG Jameer Nelson back from injury. Boston gets injured Kevin Garnett back next year and should face Orlando in the NBA East finals next season. The ONLY way that the Cavs can keep LeBron is to make some monster moves very soon.

I fully expect to see the Cavs do little or nothing this off season. Ferry believed that bringing in PG Mo Williams was the key to putting the Cavs over the top and into an NBA championship. NOT SO MUCH! In a future article I will put a couple of real plans together. Despite my wishing that Kobe Bryant would come to Cleveland, we all know that will never happen.

What the Cavs MUST have is a front court scorer that can rebound as well. They also need a reliable 3 point shooter that demands coverage. That will open up options for LeBron for drives to the basket.

So given the current situation, what will LeBron do? First, he will not sign a contract extension with the Cavs in this off season. We all want to see what Ferry will do to improve the team in the off season. The Cavs 2 picks in the 09 draft are not going to have an impact this season if ever. There is not much potential help in the unrestricted FA list. The one guy most talked about is Utah PF Carlos Boozer. With Utah he has been a 16 point/10 rebound guy and both numbers would be welcome by the offensively stagnant Cavs. But that won’t happen because Boozer stabbed the Cavs right between the shoulder blades by telling them he would resign then sneaking out of town to join the Jazz.

Another really nice addition would be the Magic’s Hedo Turkoglu. But Turkoglu has a better chance of winning multiple championships with Orlando that he would in Cleveland and he knows it.

So, LeBron is LeGone. As much a Cavs fan as I am, I can only tell the championship starved Cleveland fans enjoy next season. The Cavs will turn into pumpkins in 2010-11 and beyond.

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 .

Technorati Tags: NBA,NBA Draft,LeBron,Kobe Bryant,Cavilers,Magic,Jazz,Turkoglu,news conference,Nelson,Brown,Ferry

The Cavs are a 1972 Comet with a Ferrari engine.

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Our Comet is old and looks slow. But the horsepower provided by the engine will eventually tear the car apart.

The Cavs won last night. Lebron James, the Ferrari engine, had a direct hand in the last 32 points by his team. He either scored or had an assist on each of those shots. The problem for the Cavs is no matter how this series turns out the team needs to be reworked this off season if they want to have any chance to keep Lebron in town after June 2010.

The Cavs are fine as they stand for the regular season. They feed nicely on the Knicks, Wizards, Pacers and such. They can win at home against the Bulls and Celtics. The problem is that in the playoffs, they have one REALLY bad match-up—The Magic. And unless the Cavs can win a title this year or next, Lebron is most likely going to go to a team that can. Could you even imagine how good the Magic would be with Lebron? Would you rather spend the winter in Orlando or Cleveland?

If Lebron went to the Magic, that team would win 6 or 7 straight titles.

Due to the Bird exception in the salary cap, the Cavs are going to be able to offer Lebron more money than any other team. But money is not what motivates Lebron. He is a winner. He doesn’t want to be saddled with a team that wins in the regular season but falls short in the playoffs.

What the Cavs have:

In the NBA, it is not a question of what a team should do to improve. It is a question of what a team CAN do to improve. With guaranteed contracts, NBA players are a lot like the Scud Missile under Saadam—You can’t fire it and you can’t make it work. But the Cavs should have a lot of wiggle room in the 09 off season.

Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak, and Lorenzen Wright are unrestricted FA at the end of the season. That should free up over 29 mil in salary cap. In addition, Zydrunas Ilgauskas has an early termination option (ETO) in his contract. The team could lose him as well freeing up another 10.8 mil.

After next season, Sasha Pavlovic and Ben Wallace are free agents in addition to James with his player option. Together the three will provide 33 million in free money.

Anderson Varejao has a player option. If he doesn’t like what the Cavs are doing, he is likely to go. He has played fairly well this season. He is not starting quality but would be an excellent off the bench energy player for a contender.

What the Cavs need:

The series against Orlando makes one thing clear—to win championships they are going to have to beat the Magic in the playoffs over the next few years. They can not do that now.

The most critical needs for the Cavs are a reliable 3 point scorer and a quick big man with the feet to defend Howard and rebound. The Cavs had a chance to bring Ohio State alum SG Michael Redd to Cleveland a couple of years ago but did not. He is a consistent 3 point gunslinger.

The plan of all plans for the Cavs (that will never happen but should):

Kobe Bryant has an ETO in his contract this season. He want the max contract but he wants to win more. Bring Bryant in to pair with Lebron. You have 33 mil next year to give to Lebron. If Bryant comes in, Ilgauskas will stay. That would provide the Cavs with the scoring they need and one more outstanding defensive force. You can find another D player with a little scoring ability for the mid range exception.

Would Bryant come to Cleveland? Good question. To win a couple of titles, he might. There is no question that Bryant wanted to prove that he could win a title without Shaq. But given a chance with a short contract, he might be willing to come.

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 .

Technorati Tags: NBA,Playoffs,Cavilers,Magic,salary cap,Howard,Lebron,James,Redd,Bryant,Kobe Bryant,Knicks,Wizards,Pacers,Bulls,Celtics

NBA Commissioner Stern is breathing again.

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nba

The Commissioner’s wife was ready to dial 911 last night during the Laker Nugget game. Had the Nuggets won, she would have had to make the call. But when the Lakers won game 5 to take a 3 games to 2 lead in the series, she was able to go to bed without fear.

The NBA’s worst fear was that the final would not include either Lebron James and the Cavs or Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Stern and the networks can live with only one of the super stars of the league in the finals.

LA should win the series with the Nuggets in 7 games. Orlando will probably win the Cleveland series in 6 or 7 games.

Orlando is an outstanding team. They have the future of the all star center in Dwight Howard. But Howard is not a brand name yet. If he ever gets the offensive side of his game together he will become the dominant C in the league. In addition to Howard, the Magic has 4 other players scoring in double figures in the Cavs series. They are balanced and dangerous team.

Orlando will be dominant in the East for several years. As good as the Magic is now, it will be better next season when potential star Jameer Nelson comes back from injury. Their core players will be together for several seasons. Cleveland is a younger roster but their big men like Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace are old and are not getting faster with age. The youth of the Cavs is at the end of the bench. And the lack of production from the Cavs bench is a major reason the team has fallen two games behind the Magic.

The Nuggets are coming on as well. This was the first time Denver got past the first round of the playoffs in a number of years. They will have gained a lot of playoff experience this season. They will be back again to challenge the Lakers for several years to come. The Nuggets’ key players are not as young as Orlando so their time at the top of the West will be shorter.

And what about the Cavs’ future? A lot will be determined in Cleveland tonight. Even more will be known in Orlando on Saturday. If the Cavs win the next two, they have a chance to survive the Magic. The chances of that are slim and none. And slim is on life support. But I will discuss that tomorrow. We will know more then.

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 .

Technorati Tags: NBA,Playoffs,Cavilers,Nuggets,Magic,Lakers,James,Bryant,Howard,Stern

The Cavs are in SERIOUS trouble.

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Saturday’s Niblets will return next week. Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend and thank a Veteran for his or her service to our freedom.

In 50+ years of watching basketball, I have never seen anything close to what I saw last night from Superman Lebron James. Forget the fact that there was only one second left. Forget the fact that the Cavs were 2 points behind. Forget the fact that they had given back a 23 point lead. This was The biggest shot in Cavs history because their survival in the series depended on the shot going in. The Cavs chances of keeping Lebron in town after 2010 depends a lot on winning a championship or two.

I consider myself qualified to make such a statement. I have been a Cavs fan since they came into the league. Along with a few thousand other fans, I suffered through the Walt Westley Bingo Smith era. I was there when in the old downtown arena the Cavs beat the Lakers for the first time. When the team needed to raise money and sold stock, I bought some.

I also suffered through the playoff losses to Michael Jordan. But this team was different. It had a killer instinct that previous Cavs teams lacked. Or at least it seemed like they did.

The fact that the Cavs lost 2 games at home in the playoffs against the Magic after having leads of 15 and 23 points is inexcusable. The Cavs lost that game last night. It was Lebron that won it rather than the Cavs as a team.

There are a number of things that point to a Magic win in the series. First, the Cavs can not seem to handle the pick and roll. Time and time again the Magic ran the P&R and got totally open shots because the Cavs defenders were too slow to provide defense on the ball. The Cavs were doubling Dwight Howard down low. The Magic adjusted and began to make the extra pass to a wide open 3 point shooter with great success. The Cavs never adjusted to the change and got burned. I am not convinced that Howard is enough of an offensive threat to warrant doubling the entire game. The Cavs have to get more pressure on the outside shooter to win the series.

At one time in his injury history, I was convinced that the word Ilgauskas was Greek for “man with bad feet.” I realize now that it refers to a 7 foot Greek statue. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is no match defensively for any of the Magic big men. Away from the basket Z is a defensive liability on anything that can move faster than a lamp post. Lebron is the only Cav with length that has the feet to guard any of the front line members of the Magic. Obviously, he can’t guard 3 guys at the same time.

The Cavs shot selection was abysmal. Mo Williams is in a slump shooting 13 for 40. No one other than Lebron is stepping up to fill in. When the Magic were making their comeback late in the 2nd quarter, time after time, the Cavs were taking long 2 point or 3 point shots. Ilgauskas was outside taking 15 to 18 foot 2 point shots with no one under the basket to provide an offensive rebound. That is just dumb. The Cavs are not a 3 point team. They don’t have a wealth of players that can hit those shots regularly. They are much more of a half court offense.

The successful Cav half court offense depended on ball movement. That requires movement of the players without the ball. In the critical period of the game with the Magic cutting the lead, the majority of the Cavs were standing around on the offensive end of the floor. They have to get back to Cavs offense—half court moving the ball around the floor and 4 guys without the ball working to get open. The Cavs seem to forget what got them the leads they have been able to build against Orlando.

Rebounding, particularly offensive rebounding has also been nonexistent in those periods when the Magic are making their charge. When the Cavs are cold from the outside, they have to get those second rebound shots to slow the charge. They go blocks of minutes without an O rebound.

While the Magic bench is providing excellent support, the Cavs bench has vanished. Joe Smith and Aleksandar Pavlovic have to step up on both ends of the floor. They haven’t so far in this series. Ben Wallace needs to provide more D than he has so far. Daniel Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak have been ignored totally.

The Cavs that are usually careful with the ball at the O end of the floor were giving the ball away like the Federal Government hands out money. That would be trouble for any team. It is ten times worse for a team that lacks the team foot speed to get back on defense after a turnover.

Worst of all, the Cavs seem to have lost their killer instinct. During the regular season, the Cavs would either get the lead of a dozen points then blow it up to 20 or more or at least finish off the game with the key shots and defensive stops to win. They are doing neither in the two games against the Magic. That has to change if the Cavs are going to get to the finals.

To win this series, the Cavs are going to have to figure out how to stop the P&R. Early in the game the Cavs were doubling the ball and getting stops. The Magic adjusted and began making the extra pass to an open 3 point shooter. The Cavs did not adjust and lost the lead. If they can’t figure out how to stop the P&R with the players that they have, they will get rolled right out of the playoffs.

Some of the pressure will transfer to the Magic for the two games in Orlando. To win the series, they really need to win both games. While the Magic may be able to win another game in Cleveland, they can’t count on that.

There is pressure in any playoff series. The situation has just escalated the pressure a bit on both teams.

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 .

Technorati Tags: Cavilers,NBA,NBA Playoffs,Magic,James,1 second,Jordan,Lakers,Howard,Ilgauskas,Williams,Smith,Szczerbiak

Lebron's teamates had the most expensive seat in the house.

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Lebron

Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals was a debacle for the Cavs. The loss was potentially devastating for the Cavs chances of getting their star the only thing he doesn’t have and wants—an NBA title. The problem was not rust after the long layoff. The Cavs started fine and built a double digit lead. The problem wasn’t an off night for Lebron—he scored 49. I can’t believe that the Cavs took the Magic lightly because they had just finished off the NBA champion Celtics.

The problem was that the other 4 starters for the Cavs had the most expensive seat in the house—standing on the floor watching Lebron take on the Magic alone.

I am a self admitted Cavs fan. That aside, I couldn’t believe that with less than 15 seconds left, the Cavs kicked the ball out for a 3 when they were only 1 point behind! With all star big man Dwight Howard on the bench with 6 fouls, take the ball to the hole!

The thing that worries Cav fans the most was watching the Cavs in the 4th quarter turn into Lebron and the 4 statues. He can do a lot but can’t beat the Magic all by himself.

This was the kind of game that the Cavs won regularly even when the Magic got close and took the lead in the last 2 minutes. They would come back and hit the last couple of shots then get a stop at a critical juncture to preserve the win. But Lebron’s mates were just standing there.

This was potentially a very expensive loss. The Cavs have to win a championship this year or next and preferably both in order to keep Lebron from leaving as a free agent. The key to this series will be games 2 and 3. If the Cavs come back and win the second game in Cleveland and then go to Orlando and win game 3 everything will be fine. But if the Cavs can’t take back home court advantage in the 2 games at Orlando, they could be in trouble.

Orlando has as good a team as the Cavs and maybe better. The Magic has no answer for Lebron. But Cleveland seems to have no answer for Howard. Rashard Lewis has been outstanding in the playoffs. Hedo Turkoglu has also been strong for the Magic.

For the Cavs Delonte West has stepped up during the playoffs but both Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are several points under their scoring per game in the regular season.

There is nothing in the NBA more exciting than watching Lebron James live in person. Cav fans will just have to hope the other 4 players on the floor don’t stop playing to enjoy the James show. If they do, the Cavs will be watching the finals from their living rooms.

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 .

Technorati Tags: NBA,NBA Playoffs,Cavilers,Magic,eastern conference finals,Howard,James,West,Turkoglu,Lewis,Ilgauskas,Williams,Celtics

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