How the Cavaliers Can Use the Mid-Level Exception To Get Back on Track

Cleveland ClevelandContributor IJune 2, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 30: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the hoop over Mickael Pietrus #20 of the Orlando Magic in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 30, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Just two weeks ago, Cavaliers fans like myself were preparing to face the Orlando Magic and coming off an 8-0 sweep of the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs. Now the Cavs must pick up the pieces of a disappointing  loss in the Eastern Conference Finals and look to the summer.

As much as it hurts to do so, I've started to evaluate some possibilities for the Cavs this offseason. It's quite obvious this team is going to have to deal with Orlando for the next few years.

I think, as most people have noticed, that the Cavs need a swing man with length who can possibly start. That would allow them to bring Delonte West off the bench for some scoring punch. The Cavs could use a younger big man with bulk who can handle himself in the low post and get 10 points per game. 

The Cavs should not be going after the higher-priced free agents like Ron Artest, Shawn Marion or Jason Kidd. There's no need to overpay for players on the downside of their careers who are not good enough anymore to Lebron's "Robin".

Also, I've been hearing a lot of rumblings of the possibility of bringing in Kidd, and I don't get it. What does he bring to the table that helps the Cavs? He is only 6' 4", so if he played point and Mo Williams or Delonte play the 2-guard position, the Cavs will still lack size in the back court.

And he doesn't solve the problem of adding athleticism or shooting ability. Unless he came for the veteran minimum, I don't see it. 

I don't think the Cavs should try and break the bank with any of these free agents; they should just try and find some good mid-level guys. Here is how I break down the unrestricted free agents available at reasonable prices:

Swing Men

Trevor Ariza

Ariza would've been perfect against Orlando, and I think we'll see that in the finals. His length and ability to guard players such as Hedo Turkoglu or Rashard Lewis would've been ideal. If he has a good finals performance, I can totally see his value skyrocket similar to that of James Posey a year ago. (As a side note, I know Posey had a tough year, but I wonder if the Cavs regret even a little not overpaying for him as he could've guarded Lewis or Hedo with his length.)

Matt Barnes

Barnes has some length and could be a solid athlete off the bench. In fact Barnes is very similar to Mickael Pietrus in that he can shoot the three-pointer and came from the Don Nelson system. Too bad the Cavs dropped him a few years back.

Hakim Warrick

Warrick improved his scoring this season, and if the Cavs are looking for someone with "length" there may be no player better suited. His block of Kirk Hinrich's last three-point shot in the national title game a few years back is exactly the image I see Warrick playing on defense against shooters. Lets face it, when guys like Mo, Delonte or Boobie run out and contest a three-pointer, it's futile against taller guys.

Low-post Guys

Brandon Bass

Bass is a solid low-post guy as a sixth man, and he has enough bulk to at least bother Howard a little. Bass is pretty efficient and averaged 8.5 points and four rebounds per game in only 19 minutes. He had a nice playoff series as well.

Rasheed Wallace

Wallace played a large role in helping the Pistons sweep the Magic during the regular season. His length inside certainly didn't hurt matters. He obviously wasn't the only reason, but he can still score on the baseline turnaround. If he gets his head on straight for one season I think he's worth paying.


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