From the Canton Rep:
Making the media rounds this past week, LeBron James answered two questions that have dogged the Cavs since their season ended.
What do the Cavs need to win a title? Is James determined to opt out and leave Cleveland in two years? James dealt with both topics on ESPN 850 WKNR’s “Munch on Sports” Wednesday.
“We’re one and a half players away,” James said in regards to how close the Cavs are to winning a title.
One and a half?
James didn’t really elaborate. But from here, that means another legitimate All-Star level player and perhaps a promising rookie who contributes by the end of next season. More on those options below.
As for the rampant speculation that he is gone to New York in two years — either to revive the Nets with buddy and part owner Jay-Z or to resuscitate the Knicks — James didn’t sound like a guy eager to pack his bags.
“At this point,” emphasis on those three words, James does not foresee himself heading elsewhere. Translation: If the Cavs get back to the NBA Finals and prove they are capable of being a regular there over the next five to 10 years, James won’t be so quick to jump at his bite of the apple.
With the NBA Finals over (someone can wake up the Lakers and tell them it was all a bad dream) and the draft this week, things will begin to heat up for the Cavs.
They have the 19th pick Thursday and no second-round pick. They also have two key restricted free agents they will look to keep, guards Daniel Gibson and Delonte West.
After that, anything can happen to upgrade the roster. The Cavs could look to move up in the draft and/or add another pick later on. And they could try to pull off the blockbuster trade that so many want to see from them, though, that won’t be easy.
So what will they do?
The Cavs can’t get any deals done at this stage of the summer and have only the 19th pick as their immediate way for improvement.
Cavs fans don’t like this one, but GM Danny Ferry might be wise to let the dust settle some and see which teams go to tear-down mode and dump talent. Remember, the Celtics didn’t steal Kevin Garnett from the Timberwolves until a month after the draft.
If the Cavs stand pat on draft night, look for them to go big at No. 19. They have a rapidly aging front line with their youngest big man (Anderson Varejao) in a position to bolt next summer.
If GlenOak’s Kosta Koufos is still there at No. 19 it will be hard for the Cavs to ignore the most skilled 7-footer in this draft.
But the guess here is Koufos is gone by the time the Cavs pick. His workouts in Vegas and for individual teams have reminded everyone just how freakish of an athlete he is — 7-foot-1 with good athleticism, the ability to shoot with range, handle and pass. And, oh yeah, he’s a good kid by all accounts.
With Koufos likely gone, the imposing Roy Hibbert, a four-year player at Georgetown, could be the pick. He should be able to come in and help from the start as a rebounder and defender.
Also a possibility is 7-0 DeAndre Jordan, who left Texas A&M after one season. He’s very athletic but extremely raw, having averaged just 7.9 points and 6.0 rebounds in his lone college season.
The summer ends with the Cavs having Elton Brand as their starting power forward and a rookie wing-type player with the ability to contribute to the rotation by next postseason. This could be the “one and a half player” that makes the Cavs a legit threat to win it all.
Talk of acquiring another shooter always dominates Cavs’ trade rumors. But a greater priority could be finding a scoring threat in the paint. Brand would be the answer.
The Clippers being the Clippers, they are due to blunder away a super talent and the former All-Star forward fits into that category, having averaged 20 and 10 for his career. Coming off last season’s Achilles injury is what could make Brand available, so there is that concern.
He returned to play in the final eight games, which is not enough of a sample to confirm his health. But if the Cavs and their doctors feel comfortable that Brand is not too much of a health risk — and the Clippers don’t want to deal with his future contract demands — he could give James the secondary option he needs.
As for the rookie wing-type player, someone along the lines of Rodney Stuckey comes to mind. The Pistons got the strong, combo guard with the 15th pick last year after two high-scoring seasons at Eastern Washington. Stuckey dealt with an injury early on, but wasted no time settling into Detroit’s rotation by the playoffs and looks to be a long-term contributor there.
Who’s that guy later in this first round?
Chris Douglas-Roberts of Memphis could be. He’ll come out a bit older and more experienced than Stuckey after three seasons with the Tigers. He’s also a much higher-profile guy, having helped Memphis get to the Final Four.
But he has some basic ingredients that should intrigue the Cavs — size (6-7), versatility, ability to defend and a knack for scoring. He’s best at slashing but has developed a decent shot, making 41 percent of his 3-pointers last season from the shorter college distance.