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 .