The 2010 NBA Draft is tonight and although it may be the only night this summer that the LeBron James free-agent saga is not the focus NBA world, James will still affect it.
And even though the Cleveland Cavaliers do not have a single pick in this year’s draft, they should pay close attention tonight, and nearly everything they should watch for revolves around James and his unknown destination.
For starters, Cleveland needs to keep an eye on what the other teams going after James do in the draft to make their club more appealing to the King.
It’s impossible that John Wall falls to them at three, but just because New Jersey is going to draft James buddy from Kentucky that doesn’t mean the Cavs shouldn’t pay attention to what the do.
Maybe the Nets take Wall’s teammate Demarcus Cousins in an attempt to entice James to New Jersey considering how close he became to Kentucky’s basketball team this past season.
Also, Cousins could turn into the effective big man that would help the King win the crown he so desperately desires, adding more reason for James to bolt Cleveland.
Aside from having the superstar ingredient, the recipe for an NBA title calls for an effective big man.
In recent history, the San Antonio Spurs had two—Tim Duncan and David Robinson. The Los Angeles Lakers had Shaquille O’Neal for their first three with Phil Jackson and Pau Gasol for their most recent two.
Going back a little further, Houston had Hakeem Olajuwon in the mid-90s.
After New Jersey picks at three, the next of the so-called LeBron suitors with a selection is Chicago at 17.
Cleveland should just beware of what the Bulls add to lure James to Chi-town.
The Knicks don’t have a pick in the first round, but Dan Gilbert and company shouldn’t completely ignore them. New York has two in the second and would love to make some kind of move that gets James’ attention.
Another thing Cleveland should watch for, is an opportunity to trade guard Mo Williams. If they are going to part ways with him, there is no better time to do it than on draft night.
GM’s are eagerly looking to find ways to improve their team on draft night, even if it means giving up a little more than what they probably should.
To get the most for Williams, the Cavs should try to trade him tonight. Possibly to Portland for a package, that involves the Blazers first round selection at 22.
If trading Williams doesn’t land Cleveland a pick in the draft, the Cavs should try to see if they could buy their way into it.
Apparently, it costs $2 million to move up 10 spots in the draft. On Monday, the Blazers paid Golden State $2 million to move up from the 44th pick to the 34th .
Surely, a team will be looking for some cash to cover luxury tax expenses in exchange for a draft pick.
Perhaps Phoenix, assuming they intend to resign Amare Stoudemire, would be willing to surrender the 46th pick for about $3 million to help cover the expenses it may cost to resign Stoudemire.
With the recent statements by Chris Paul that he wants to win and that’s all he cares about, it will be interesting to see what New Orleans does with its first round selection. It could indicate whether it would be worthwhile for the Cavs to pursue Paul.
Cleveland should also keep an eye on Toronto. Depending on who the Raptors take will likely influence whom the Cavaliers would potentially offer in a sign-and-trade for Chris Bosh.
Some mock drafts have the Raptors taking Luke Babbitt out of Nevada, probably signaling the departure of the unhappy Hedo Turkoglu. Others have them taking Cole Aldrich from Kansas or Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson to replace Chris Bosh if Toronto is unable to resign him.
If the Raptors take Aldrich or Patterson, JJ Hickson is probably of no value in a trade for Bosh.
One last thing the Cavaliers should watch for is a way to replace their seven-footers. Even if Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O’Neal both return to Cleveland, neither one will be the long-term big man for the Cavs.
Igauskas and O’Neal would be lucky to have one more semi-productive year.
Going back to what I mentioned earlier about big men and NBA Championships, securing a presence in the middle for the near future would be a huge for Cleveland in their attempt to resign James.
If any opportunity came about for the Cavs to get Hassan Whiteside from Marshall or Solomon Alabi from Florida State, they should jump all over it.
Whiteside led the NCAA in blocks last season with 5.4 per game and Alabi was an effective shot-blocker at Florida State.
Both have room to improve offensively, but size, wingspan and athleticism can’t be taught—both have all three.