If the 2011-12 NBA season becomes completely canceled (something not out of the realm of possibility), the assets acquired in the deal which ultimately sent LeBron James to Miami could play a integral role come this spring.
ESPN’s Chad Ford recently penned a piece discussing the possible outcomes of the 2012 NBA Draft in the event there is a complete cancellation of the 2011-12 season; we have already seen the first two weeks canceled and a potential decertification of the NBPA would be equivalent to a “six-month reset button,” as one league source put so poetically. In Ford’s words, the league has several options as to how they will approach a draft that will be rife with talent: re-do the lottery with the 2011 odds, have a league-wide lottery which would equal-weight all 30 teams, or merge the two in a weighted lottery akin to that of the NHL.
In two of the three scenarios, the Cavaliers would have a fairly decent advantage in terms of getting compensated for James packing his bags last offseason. The first is obvious; the Cavaliers won 19 games last season and would have the second-best odds at the first-overall selection, picking no later than fifth overall. The second option, which would seem insane from a poor-record point of view, might not be so bad after all. Here’s what one GM said to Ford:
“How is it fair that teams like the Lakers or Mavericks or Heat have an equal shot of winning the lottery? You’re saying LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh need the No. 1 pick the same way a depleted team like the Cleveland Cavaliers do? I don’t think so.”
Eu contraire. In the deal which sent James’ to Biscayne Bay, the Cavaliers – on top of acquiring a slew of draft selections – earned the right to swap picks with the Heat in 2012. Alas, if the Heat were to “win” an equal-weighted lottery, Chris Grant and company would gladly take that pick from them, slotting Pat Riley’s top-heavy squad down to wherever the Cavaliers would have selected otherwise.
Also worth mentioning is the Cavaliers getting the Sacramento Kings’ pick in 2012 if JJ Hickson’s new employer falls out of the “lottery.” All hypothetical, sure, but with the league more worried about the upcoming season rather than ironing out what-ifs, it’s what we have to work with.
That said, an NHL-type lottery could ultimately be the worst-case scenario for the Cavaliers as this scenario calls for past-season records (plural) to come in to play. Yes, the Cavs were deplorable last season when it came to wins and losses, but they provided NBA-best records in the two seasons prior. This is undeniably the most level-headed of options, but not one that can properly account for the fluctuation in a handful of organizations; teams like Phoenix and Utah could also be burdened, further grouping Dan Gilbert with Robert Sarver.
At this stage, its fruitless to fret about the unknown. Just know that as the 2012 NBA Draft draws closer, the Cavaliers will have options at their disposal.