Starting this June, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be in full rebuilding mode. General Manager Chris Grant is armed with four draft picks and a very large $14 million trade exception that will expire in July.
Well that’s not the case.
Making poor draft choices and trades this summer could make the situation a lot worse.
With two high draft choices and a large majority of our team still under contract, I don’t see the Cavaliers getting worse.
But how much better can the team get after one summer? That will be entirely up to management, because they have two different options.
The first option is upgrading the roster by using only draft picks and then trading away some of the veterans like Antawn Jamison and/or role players like Daniel Gibson who don’t fit into Cleveland’s future.
This would allow the young players to get time playing together in Byron Scott’s system. More importantly, this would keep our overall record around the same as it was this year.
That might not sound too exciting, but it will give the Cavs a chance to draft high next year and possibly the year after. Imagine a team built around Kyrie Irving (compared to Chris Paul), 2012 draft prospect Jared Sullinger (compared to Kevin Love), and 2013 draft prospect Andre Drummond (compared to Dwight Howard).
The second option is trying to upgrade the roster to make a run at the playoffs in 2012.
With a great coach like Scott and a healthy season from our core guys, it is definitely a possibility. In the NBA, a team needs nine solid rotation players and a good coach to make the playoffs.
To be an elite playoff team, you need two to four of those players to be All-Stars. With Antawn Jamison, Baron Davis, Ramon Sessions, Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson and two Top Ten picks in the draft, the Cavs potentially have seven solid playoff rotation players.
Chris Grant could use the $14 million trade exception to fill in the eighth spot and a combination of our other players (Daniel Gibson, Luke Harangody, Christian Eyenga, etc.) could be packaged for the ninth player.
Personally, I like the first option. I would rather suffer for two to three seasons and then have a dynasty. Being a low-seeded playoff team just won’t cut it for me. The following slideshow will give realistic moves the Cavaliers’ management can make this summer to set the team up for future success.
With the (fill in the blank) pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Kyrie Irving.
That’s what I hope to hear David Stern say this June. Harrison Barnes and Derrick Williams have potential and fill a need, but I think Irving is the guy.
Kyrie Irving has drawn comparisons to Chris Paul. He has a high basketball IQ, quickness and has been touted as a “true point guard.”
He is the only guy in the draft that most experts say has a very good chance to be a future All-Star. With Byron Scott as our coach, how could they possibly go with anyone else?
With the (fill in the blank) pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Enes Kanter.
This will take a bit of luck. Most mock drafts have Kanter going a little higher than the eighth pick where the Cavaliers are most likely to select.
Kanter is big, tough and physical. He has impressed scouts in workouts and while playing in Turkey. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see him play for Kentucky this past year, as he was ruled ineligible after receiving paid benefits while playing in Turkey.
Kanter has been compared to Andrew Bogut and Marc Gasol. Those are two very solid centers.
If a guy like Andrew Bogut is the fourth or fifth best player on your team, then you are in good shape. Hopefully, the Cavs have some luck with the ping pong balls or they can make a trade to move up in the draft.
The Cavaliers will have the second pick in the second round, and I hope UCLA small forward Tyler Honeycutt is still available.
Honeycutt is projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick. If the Cavaliers use their first picks on a point guard and center, then this would be a great pick.
Honeycutt would fill a need that the Cavaliers have had all year at small forward. Honeycutt is regarded as a very smart basketball player, and his strong points include defending and passing. If Honeycutt can add some muscle and improve his scoring, he could be the steal of the 2011 draft.
The Cavaliers have the Thunder’s second round pick which will be around 55th overall.
It’s very difficult to find any value this late in the draft, so why not take a chance on Ohio’s own David Lighty.
Just before this year's trade deadline, the Cavaliers and Pistons had a deal that involved the Cavaliers sending their trade exception to the Pistons for Richard Hamilton and their unprotected 2012 first-round draft pick.
Hamilton rejected the deal with his "no trade" clause even though the Cavaliers were reportedly going to buy him out.
Hopefully, Chris Grant is able to pull off a similar deal with another team. This kind of move helps build for the future and it shows owner Dan Gilbert’s will to win no matter what the cost is.
Even if the Cavs can’t pull off a trade for an unprotected draft pick, I hope they don’t let the trade exception go to waste. I would rather not have the team go into “win now mode” by acquiring a high priced player, but it's better then getting nothing.
Why would the Cavaliers trade their best player?
Antawn Jamison is turning 35 years old in June and coming off a very good statistical year. Jamison averaged 18 PPG and 6.7 RPG last year.
He is in the last year of his contract, and I’m sure he wants to spend the remainder of his career on a contender. The point I’m getting at is the Cavaliers should “sell high."
Jamison is still worth a mid to late first-round pick at this point in his career, and it could be a win-win scenario for any trade partner that is trying to add one more piece to make championship run.
Daniel Gibson has been a loyal guy and a fun player to watch in his past few years with the Cavaliers. He was a big part of our playoff success in 2007 and hasn’t complained about his on-again off-again playing time the past two years.
He has been one of my favorite players the past four years, and I’m sure a lot of Cavs' fans feel the same way.
With all of that said, I think Gibson’s time has run out in a Cavs' uniform. I can’t see a one-dimensional player fitting into Scott’s system. Gibson’s dead-eye shooting doesn’t make up for his inability to defend or be a playmaker.
On top of that, if the Cavs take Kyrie Irving then Gibson goes down on the depth chart below Irving, Davis and Sessions. That, in turn, makes his trade value go down, because he won’t be getting as many minutes. The Cavs should “sell high” considering that Gibson is coming off one of his best years (11.6 PPG and 3.0 APG).
If the Cavs can get a decent draft pick with upside or a young talented center, then I think they have to make the move. If the right deal isn’t out there then hang onto him.
The draft is never a sure thing, and I definitely don’t have all the answers. I am a firm believer in building a small market team like the Spurs did with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. The Thunder, Hawks and Bulls are also good examples (to a lesser degree).
The picks and trades that I mentioned would make the 2012 Cavaliers a solid young team built for the future. A team that starts Irving, Davis, Honeycutt, Hickson and Kanter would be exciting to watch.
Varejao and Sessions would be two of the best bench players in the league and Lighty could share time with Honeycutt. The Cavaliers could also give players like Luke Harangody, Alonzo Gee, Manny Harris and Samardo Samuels another year to show what they have.
This team might not win a ton of games in 2011-2012, but they would be fun to watch. More importantly, the foundation would be set for the start of a dynasty.