The Cleveland Cavaliers have made a splash with the recent acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal. The Cavs had the best record in the NBA last year, yet were exposed against Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Cleveland seemed confident that they had enough offensive firepower to win the championship. Obviously, they were wrong, as LeBron James, though magnificent, was the only one doing anything.
In addition, the Cavaliers could not defend wing players or big men, as Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, and Dwight Howard dominated the Cavs, who had no answers (other than LeBron).
Getting Shaq for peanuts was a nice move by Danny Ferry, as they now have a big who can adequately defend Howard. However, Shaq alone will probably not be enough to win a title.
The Cavs still need a mobile power forward who can guard the Lewises and knock down shots. They also need another perimeter defender so that LeBron does not have to do everything. Getting another player to increase depth would be nice as well.
Cleveland will have a lot of money to work with thanks to Wally Szczerbiak's expiring contract of almost $14 million. The Cavaliers should sign Rasheed Wallace, acquire Matt Barnes, and re-sign Szczerbiak.
Rasheed Wallace would be the top priority by far. Cleveland needs more mobile big men than O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Anderson Varejao just won't cut it.
Wallace could be that guy, as he has given Dwight Howard fits in the past and could do a reasonable job on Howard.
In addition, Wallace is a great shooter for a big man, something that would prove invaluable with LeBron's penetration and Shaq's inside play. Wallace would get a lot of open shots and can hit a three-pointer.
Wallace also can create his own shot and is very efficient in the post. He would give the Cavs a very good offensive piece, and James and O'Neal would keep his temper in check. Wallace would likely sign for around $7 million.
Second on the list would be Matt Barnes. I know he isn't a guy a lot of people think of, but Barnes is a good defender and a very tough player. He has the size to match up against the bigger forwards, and would give LeBron a chance to rest.
He plays good man-to-man defense, can block shots and make steals, and is an above-average team defender. He isn't afraid to stick his nose in crowds to grab rebounds and will do a lot of the dirty work.
Barnes is a good shooter who can create, provided he isn't over-relied upon. He certainly wouldn't be in Cleveland, so he would be just perfect. Barnes is a very cheap player who the Cavaliers could probably get for less than $2 million.
Once that is done, the Cavs could look to re-sign Szczerbiak for around $5 million, probably less. Wally would give them good shooting coming off the bench and would definitely help the depth at the shooting guard and small forward positions.
If Cleveland finds that they somehow don't have the money for these moves, then they could look to trade J.J. Hickson and/or Darnell Jackson, each of whom would give the Cavs enough flexibility to get things rolling.
Though it wouldn't be a roster move, there is one other thing I feel the Cavs should do. I know it sounds dumb, but they should move Mo Williams to the bench and have Delonte West start at point guard.
I know Williams is good, the Cavs would have enough firepower in their starting lineup with LeBron, Shaq and Wallace. Having Williams in the game would diminish what he is able to do, and he wouldn't make as much of an impact.
Williams could be the sixth man like Jason Terry and Manu Ginobli. When the Cavs need some instant offense, they'd just have to insert Williams into the lineup and he could help spark the team. His minutes only be slightly diminished.
The lineup would be:
PG-Delonte West, Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson
SG-Matt Barnes, Wally Szczerbiak
SF-LeBron James, Darnell Jackson
PF-Rasheed Wallace, Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson
C-Shaquille O'Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Let me know what you guys think.
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