Cleveland Cavaliers: No More Excuses
Before we go forward, we must look back.
Since the emergence of LeBron James to NBA royalty, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been trying to find the perfect recipe to mix with him for a title.
In 2007, LeBron put the team on his back and carried them to the NBA Finals. But they were easily disposed of by the experience and overwhelming talent of the San Antonio Spurs.
General Manager Danny Ferry knew he needed to bring in more talent. He wanted to surround James with a better supporting cast.
At the same time, he tried to maintain the integrity of the team and keep contract flexibility for the 2010 free agent class only a few years away at that time.
In a trading deadline blockbuster during the 2007-2008 season, he brought in Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, and Joe Smith.
Unfortunately, a fourth seed in the postseason led the Cavs to a playoff series without home court advantage. Many blamed this for their early exit in the second round to the eventual champions, Boston Celtics.
It was said in some circles that the closely contested game seven of that series would have gone in the Cavs' favor if it was in Cleveland instead of Boston.
So last offseason, Ferry went out and acquired Mo Williams to guide the team and possibly be LeBron's No. 2 man. In addition, the team committed themselves to "one goal," which meant they were gunning for home court advantage throughout the entire postseason and a title.
The team ripped off a franchise-record 66 wins. They dominated the first two playoff series, easily sweeping Detroit and Atlanta.
They had the coveted home court advantage and several players were stepping up to give James the support every Cavs' fan had been begging for throughout his career.
But once again, they fell short as Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic created match-up problems that Mike Brown and the Cavs could not overcome.
That brings us to the 2009 offseason. There were more moves by Ferry to shore up the lineup and address those problems Orlando presented for the Cavs.
First, the "Shaquisition." Ferry worked a low-risk trade with the Phoenix Suns to acquire Shaquille O'Neal for center/forward Ben Wallace and guard Sasha Pavlovic as well as a draft pick.
Last season, O'Neal averaged 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds a game and appeared in his 15th All-Star Game.
In addition, Ferry signed Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon.
Parker is a guard/forward who can start. Last season with the Toronto Raptors, he averaged 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and career highs of 3.4 assists and 1.3 steals in 33.0 minutes per game. He will fit in well with the defensive-minded Cavs and add some much-needed offense as well.
Moon is a forward who plays the same position as James but will find a way into the lineup. He is a solid outside shooter who can rebound and play defense. He averaged 7.2 points per game last season and 4.6 rebounds.
Overlooked in the midst of these signings was the re-signing of Andy Varejao, who brings plenty of hustle and energy to the team. He gets into the head of opponents and takes charges like few in the NBA do. He has also developed a good relationship with LeBron on the court, as the two feed off each other.
O'Neal should be able to guard anyone down low without the need for a double team which will alleviate some of the stress on the perimeter. Parker and Moon add athleticism and length on the perimeter so the undersized Delonte West won't be worn down guarding the Rashard Lewis' or Hedo Turkoglu's of the world.
That brings us to the current season.
There are no more excuses for the Cavaliers.
LeBron now has a legitimate No. 2 in O'Neal and there are quality role players surrounding them. They have height, shooters and ball handlers. They have athleticism and a mix of youth and experience. There is depth at every position.
The team chemistry was well documented last year as they enjoyed their pregame rituals like the photograph poses.
The core of the team has been together for several seasons. Mo Williams has been through a post season as an integral part of the team. The coach has plenty of experience.
This year MUST be the year.
Get home court.
Beat the teams in front of you.
Bring home the title to this starving city bleeding wine and gold!
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