Those who follow me on Twitter – which I highly recommend, by the way – have been aware of this mailbag feature which I have been drumming up over the last week or so. All of the questions below were submitted by followers of mine, in a forum which I aim to repeat weekly from here out. Have something you want answered? Feel free to send it over via tweet or email and I’ll try to get it answered in a subsequent edition. Do enjoy.
Q: With Andy out for the season, what kind of trade do you see happening that strengthens the Cavs in the long run? – Gino Van Montfort, @montiforti
A: It’s going to be a tough balance because trades that will strengthen this team in the long run will not be pretty in terms of near-term performance or public relations. The two biggest trade chips in terms of talent are Daniel Gibson and Mo Williams, two players whom the fans of Cleveland like as well as players whom have embraced the city during the worst of times. Trading either of these hard-working guards will be a signal that this will be a from-the-ground-up endeavor.
For what it is worth, both players have drawn interest from teams throughout the league, but the Cavaliers front office has been very conservative in wanting to ensure that whatever move they make undoubtedly helps this team and is not done merely for the sake of making a move to appease the restless. A lot of fans are clamoring for Chris Grant to “blow things up,” and to do such will involve trading players who still have value. While it may not be received well out of the gate, it will be the only way to obtain the assets needed for a strategic rebuild.
For what it is worth, I’ve been told that the team appears willing to give J.J. Hickson more of a leash to see what he can do now that he will be playing the role of starting center more often than not.
Q: Would any lotto teams trade their first-rounder to Cleveland if we take a bad contract with the Traded Player Exception? Maybe Detroit, Philly, Los Angeles Clippers or Charlotte? – Jason Keppler, @Keppler_jason
A: At present time, Philadelphia and Charlotte are tied for the eighth seed in the eastern conference, so neither are a lock to be lottery teams. The Clippers, while historically awful, have won seven of their last 10 games and continue to look better as their young, talented nuclues grows together.
That said, the only way that the Cavaliers will be able to acquire an early-round draft pick will be to take on a bad contract in the meantime. Baron Davis is always an option, Andre Iguodala continues to be in the mix. As reported this past weekend, we are seeing an unprecedented number of trade exceptions due to all of the player movement that has occurred over the past year. Thankfully, what the Cavaliers have in their pocket is an owner that is willing to do what it takes to get back to a level of prominence.
As long as Dan Gilbert owns the Cavs, the team will always have the flexibility to take on a bad contract if it means getting better in the long term. Fans can be frustrated with the current level of play, but successful rebuilds start at the top of the organization and the Cavs have a solid foundation in place with Gilbert and Scott. While we will not know what is in store until it happens, I would give the Cavs a better chance of maximizing their Traded Player Exception than any of the other teams out there in a similar position.
Q: Do you think the in-game environment at The Q has gotten out of hand? What happed to the the days of the crowd organically coming up with it’s own chants, or being able to measure the appropriate weight of a situation on its own? Do I really need a picture of Michigan’s logo to know I should make noise during an opponents’ free throw? Free the fans in 2011! – James McMeechan, @jmcmeechan
This may be a testament to the ADD generation or a confluence of events spurned by a laundry list of advertisers, but there is no doubt that some of the in-game environment has gotten to be a bit much at times. Now that the team has introduced a second mascot, I do not see this slowing down at any point in the near future.
Unfortunately, when a team is in the fourth quarter of a 20-point deficit, a good portion of fans may need a little fire lit under them to ensure that their vocal support extends for the entire 48 minutes of play. Also not helping the situation much will be the lack of high-profile games that the Cavs will have in the coming years. Until the Cavs have “vuvuzela night,” I do not think that the Michigan (or Steelers) logo is going anywhere.
Q: We heard of Cavs gathering evidence for tampering case. Is that still ongoing, or has team stopped pursuing issue? – Eddie Sportas, @EddieSportas
When asked about the case, a league source chuckled before responding with, “Wasn’t this like two months ago?”
While I cannot confirm that the team (Dan Gilbert in particular) has stopped the investigation, the backlash following the realease of said news was enough to force the prosecuting parties to take a step back and consider finally letting things go. Gilbert’s letter to the fans following “The Decision” was perceived as a rallying cry at a moment of high emotion. A high-cost case of a player who was ultimately traded for multiple draft selections and a valuable exception was ultimately seen as desperate and unprofessional. Given the “winning culture” that has been repeated incessantly over the last several months, all of the dollars spent prior to the leak may just be a sunk cost.
Q: If the Cavs do end up with the 1-3 pick is there a player like John Wall, Derrick Rose or Tyreke Evans that could instantly help the team? Is Kyrie Irving worthy of the #1 pick? – Derek Stapinski, @DerekStapinski
A: Not only is this becoming an era of top-flight guards like those you mentioned, but speculation is that the Cavs will look to land Byron Scott his point guard of the future to go along with what he had in New Jersey with Jason Kidd, and New Orleans with Chris Paul.
Unfortunately, Irving – who is still atop many mock drafts, for what it’s worth – has been unable to stay healthy and has not provided much for league scouts to see at this level. There is also the chance he stays in school beyond this year, but sources close to the situation say that this is highly unlikely with Duke’s pipeline of guards that soon follows.
I’m a big fan of Baylor’s Perry Jones due to his size, athleticism and upside, but the Cavs presently do not have a large need at power forward. North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes is one to watch over the next several weeks as well. Fact of the matter is that I expect the cream to rise to the top between now and when we hear “One Shining Moment” on a late night in early April.
Of course, these “needs” can change by the summer if the team is blown away by an offer and decides to part ways with JJ Hickson – which I reiterate is not a desire at this point.
Q: I would like to know if the Season Ticket prices will be reduced for next season, due to the Cavs’ losing record this season? – Carolyn Cooper, @Cavalette23
A: As the Cavs (and Dan Gilbert alike) have been in a bit of a PR recovery mode this season, it would be very surprising if the team were to raise average ticket prices for upcoming season. That said, a reduction would be equally as surprising, making a bit of a price freeze the most likely option.
I emphasize “average” above due to the flexible ticket pricing policy that the Cavaliers have implemented. Purely speculation on my end, but I foresee an increase in the face value of marquee games (Miami, Boston, Los Angeles Lakers) with the prices being lowered a bit for games that are not considered to be as large of a road show.
It’s worth mentioning that the team’s season ticket renewal process starts this month and they will be providing package discounts to all those holders who place a down payment by March 25th. This is a development to watch in the spring months as I envision plenty of seats still being available.
Image courtesy of Dawn Griffin/WFNY