August 26, 2014

A Cavalier Conversation: NBA Draft, Free Agency, Playoffs

The NBA is in full steam, and to celebrate the occasion, I brought along my brother Sam Rosen (@sjrosen18) to chat about some of the hot topics going on right now. Hope y’all enjoy our takes on topics ranging from the NBA Draft to the Cavs’ offseason and the playoffs.

1. Assuming that Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bradley Beal are the first three picks in order, what should the Cleveland Cavaliers do with the No. 4 pick?

Sam: Harrison Barnes is the logical pick at 4 assuming these three are off the board. Touted as the next big thing coming out of high school, Barnes never lived up to the ridiculous hype he faced at North Carolina. Hype is one thing, but pure talent is another. His size (6-8, 220 lbs.), his age (19 as of this writing), and his overall raw talent warrant a selection in the top 5 of any draft class. Barnes has all the tools to become an elite SF at the NBA level, and with proper coaching and a few years of seasoning, he could end up being the best player in this draft.

Jacob: I’m digging the new momentum surrounding UCONN’s Jeremy Lamb. Unfortunately, I didn’t see him in action more than once or twice this season, but just watching his play recently, and his ridiculous seven-foot wingspan, I’m starting to think he could be a more projectable player for the team’s future. Similar to WFNY’s Andrew, I’m not down with Barnes. I think there are way too many question marks there, and this pick here in 2012 needs to be someone we can rely upon immediately to A) score, and then B) provide clutch defense on the wing. Lamb was a more prolific college scorer and has the make-up to be a better all-around team player.

Sam: The obvious big name we didn’t mention here is Andre Drummond. While his size and potential are both huge, the bust factor looms too large in my mind to make him the 4th overall pick. If he figures it all out, he can be great, but I don’t think I’d go all in on a kid that seems to have no clue how to play offense at any level, let alone the NBA.

2. Then, should the Cavaliers try to trade up? What is a logical move the team should make overall?

Jacob: I don’t really think it’s worth it this time around. I want to get this pick right, but I think similar to the constant comments about the Charlotte Bobcats simply needing talented, warm bodies, so do we. Outside of Anderson, Tristan, Gee and Kyrie, there are hardly any other pieces that should be around in Cleveland for the long-haul. I want to make sure we use No. 4 and No. 24 wisely, then maintain our two first-rounders for next year. It’s too early to mortgage anything for a particular player, as we haven’t even come close to playoff competition yet.

Sam: If the Bobcats are listening, then Chris Grant should have them on speed dial. I believe Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is going to be star in the NBA, and anytime you have the opportunity to add a star, you do it. The Cavs were not fortunate enough to land in the top 2 in this year’s lottery, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to place themselves there. If the Bobcats are interested in adding another first round selection this year, the Cavaliers should offer #24 and a future lottery protected first round pick to swap #4 and #2. MKG has it all; defense, size, hustle, intangibles, and yes, even scoring. If the opportunity is there to grab him, you take it and don’t look back.

Jacob: The Bobcats are historically incompetent when it comes to the draft, so I wouldn’t put that out of the question, Sam. That’s just a big load to give away just for the ability to swap Lamb/Barnes for MKG. Yeah, this draft is shaping up to be much more of an Anthony Davis and everyone else collection than everyone else previously anticipated, but I still think we can find value, much like we surprisingly did with Tristan at No. 4 last year. Of course we need to listen, but I don’t want to give up next year’s valuable first-rounder if that’s the turning point.

3. What are some other offseason moves the team should make?

Sam: The Cavaliers should not chase after any of the big names in free agency as boring as that may sound. The plan is to build through the draft, and by throwing a large contract at someone such as Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo, or Ray Allen, it will make the Cavaliers better this year, but will drastically handicap any flexibility they have going forward. I believe it’s too early in the rebuilding process to start giving away big money contracts to free agents. The key to Chris Grant’s rebuilding process is to draft well, develop talent, and then add some veterans once the young guys are ready. The Cavaliers should fill the gaps this offseason with value veterans and short term deals to meet the new salary floor, but any thoughts of chasing the available all-stars should be put to bed.

Jacob: Sam hit the hammer on the head pretty good there. It’s quite obvious in my mind that the Cavaliers will not be a big player in free agency, something Tom Reed mentioned not too long ago. Of course, the team will have to spend close to $20 million to reach the new 85% salary floor in the CBA, but I could see us filling that gap mostly through the draft and a couple of cheap veterans. If you’re starting five is Anderson, Tristan, No. 4 pick, Gee and Kyrie, the obvious need is a backup big man to possibly complement No. 24, along with some more scorers to keep replacing the loss of Antawn Jamison.

Sam: I agree with your point that losing Jamison will leave a scoring void on the Cavaliers roster, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend big to find it. There should be plenty of value free agents as the market pans out that can come in and fill that role off the bench while helping educate Byron Scott’s young roster on how to play the game.

Jacob: Speaking of those role players off the bench, a few names I like of unrestricted free agents are the following: Mickael Pietrus, Chase Budinger, Bill Walker, Gerald Green, Michael Redd, Jordan Hill and Aaron Gray. Sure, some of those guys likely won’t be that available or that cheap, but we’re gonna need more warm bodies that aren’t just D-Leaguers soon. And that frontcourt is going to be a mess offensively.

4. Switching topics to the playoffs, what is the percentage chance that the Miami Heat wins the NBA Finals?

Jacob: Regrettably, even after last night’s abysmal performance, I’m still at about 40%. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Heat will crush the Celtics eventually, most likely in 5 games. So, if my mind’s made up at about 95% that Miami advances to the Finals, there’s no way my odds can be much less than 50-50 for whoever matches up against them from the West. Sure, the Spurs and Thunder have looked incredibly more dominant, but there’s always going to be that looming star factor hanging over everyone’s heads that maybe, at some point, LeBron and Wade will just take over. They’re going to win a title soon, and I’d honestly be a bit surprised if it’s not this year.

Sam: This is a very tough question to answer, and while trying to be unbiased because I may be the biggest Heat/LeBron hater there is, I still can’t put this at any higher than 25%. A lot of people say defense wins championships at this level, but I disagree. I believe offensive execution is far more important when the game slows down as it will in the Finals (assuming the Heat polish off Boston). From watching nearly every minute of the NBA playoffs I possibly can thus far, I can honestly say the Heat have no where near the offensive firepower the Thunder and the Spurs possess. Sure LeBron and Wade look great at times driving the paint and getting to the hoop at will, but in a 7-game series, when your opponent will be able to pick you apart on the opposite end (something the over-their-head Pacers and too old-and-slow Celtics haven’t come close to doing) like the Spurs or Thunder can do better than anyone in the NBA, I just can’t see the Heat winning more than a game or two.

Jacob: A game or two?? When was the last time LeBron only won a game or two in an entire NBA series? Yeah, you can point to Dallas in 2011, Boston in 2010 and of course San Antonio in 2007, but you have to say that at least one game this year he will just dominate. I can’t imagine a Finals going less than six games if the Heat are involved. No way. It’s going to be close, and whenever a game or a series is close, you can’t discredit star power like LeBron and Wade, no matter how much flack they get for their closing abilities all the time.

Sam: The Heat have star power for sure, but don’t forget games 1, 2, 6, and 7 will all be out West, as the Spurs and Thunder both own home court. And I think there is something more to LeBron’s lack of “closing abilities”. I genuinely feel he just doesn’t have it in him to step up and kill when the stage is the biggest, and that will aid the demise of the Miami Heat yet again in this year’s Finals.

5. So, who wins it all this year?

Sam: The San Antonio Spurs! Just what the general NBA public wants I’m sure (sarcasm). The Spurs and Thunder series is going to be epic, and I could easily see it going all 7, but at the end of the day I believe the Spurs will prevail and move on the face the East winner (even though I would have picked about 5 or 6 Western Conference teams to win the East had they played on that side of the bracket). This Spurs team is just too well coached, too smooth offensively, and has too many weapons to be beat 4 times out of 7. The Thunder will be their biggest test, but if they can get past them, I see no reason the Finals won’t be simply a formality.

Jacob: As I mentioned above, I have a hard time picking against the Heat. Of course I don’t want them to win, but I just continue to have a bad feeling about their ability to just turn it on at any moment. From there, I do like the Thunder to defeat the Spurs, although my odds on that are likely at about 60-40. So since I’m very confident the Heat will move on to the Finals, they are my odds-on favorites for now, if ever so slightly since the Spurs-Thunder are more closely packed together.

(NBAE Photo via David Liam Kyle/Getty Images)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    This kind of reminds me of the draft we just had with all of the discussions about moving up.  Personally I’d love to have MKG but honestly the Cavaliers can stay where they are and address needs without giving up anything. 

    As far as free agency goes I can understand the reasoning behind not doing anything but I don’t like it.  I hated it for the football team and didn’t accept it but for the Cavaliers I’ll be more understanding.  Largely because you have a smaller roster to compile and the fact that they have some building blocks already in place.

    That being said I’d throw my checkbook at Indiana’s Roy Hibbert.  He’s a restricted free agent and will command a very large contract but he’s also a 7’3″ All-Star center who would automatically elevate the Cavaliers.  But that’s just me.  I know it won’t happen but I can always dream!

  • Jack

    Lamb has way more question marks for me than Barnes. People ding Barnes for mental focus/assertiveness, but Lamb suffers the same crisis of confidence/interest…and I think more so. Disappears at times. Not assertive enough. When defense focuses on him, he backs down and falls out of his game. 

    Except Lamb’s shot betrays him because his form isn’t as good. He’s not very strong around the rim. He didn’t put up crazy numbers even though he played in a system that favored isolation and rewarded/encouraged individual offensive streaks (see: Walker, Kemba). He became the second banana on a team that he should have owned. Lamb was nowhere to be found in the tourney.

    Barnes actually stepped up and took/made some big shots, especially against OU. 

    Please, no Lamb. Kid is soft. Maybe somewhat more athletic, greater ability to slash. But we have Kyrie. Give me Barnes (or Beal – still worry about size here).

    I see Lamb as Paul George.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    if youre gonna dream, dream big shamrock.

    btw… a draft discussion that ignores thomas robinson??  sullinger called him the best player in the nation.  i think he’s our likely pick and i think he’s going to be very good.  

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I like Robinson but you also have Thompson and Varejao too, kind of a log jam.  I only saw Robinson maybe 5-6 times and while he’s an obvious physical specimen does he have any kind of range, mid-range shot?

    As of today I’d be happy with scoring whether it’s on the wing or down low but preferably both.  I don’t care in what order it happens as long as scoring is added.  Along with athleticism and versatility.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’m personally not high on Lamb or Barnes to be honest.  If you made me choose between them I’d probably pick Barnes because of his size and versatility.  I’m just not sold on Jeremy Lamb although he did excel when he had a playmaking PG in Kemba Walker alongside him.

    Alot of my feelings toward Lamb could be from all of the years stuck watching Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker.  I can’t convey how sick and tired I am of one dimensional shooting guards for the Cavaliers. 

  • Furzey

    To note: Baron Davis’ amnestied contract still counts against the salary floor for 2012-2013. I believe it is somewhere in the $14 million range, which combined with their draft picks should sit them close to the salary floor.

    http://nba-point-forward.si.com/2011/12/06/details-of-amnesty-provision-emerge/

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    yeah, i hear that a lot (at wfny).  cant take robinson because weve got AV /TT.  needs moar scoring.

    robinson averaged 18ppg (and 12 rebs) (compare to TT’s 8/7 in college).  that’s scoring ain’t it?  went 11 (pur), 18 (ncst), 18 (unc), 19 (osu), 18 (uk) in the tourney.  good play, under pressure, and against lottery picks (barnes 5-13, 13pts; sully 5-19, 13pts; mkg 4-7, 11pts; davis 1-10, 6pts) … 

    so… the logic is –> we have already have a work-in-process project PF and a high-energy over-achieving PF/C so we should pass on a scoring, talented, polished PF?  i really want to know the logic here because i’m missing it.  i will say i DO NOT want to convert this guy to a wing.  he’s build to be on the block.. do not screw around.

    the other prevalent opinion here is that it’s a 3 player draft and robinson ain’t one of them…  andrew and i have agreed to disagree on this.  so let me just reiterate my strong disagreement on this.

    TD, need a little help here.  do you think the cavs should pass on robinson (for barnes)?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I wasn’t saying pass on Robinson because of TT/Varejao I was simply stating that the Cavaliers have options at PF.  That being said Robinson would outscore both TT/Varejao.  I like him, I certainly like him more then Barnes and probably more then Lamb I just happen to like MKG, Beal and Zeller more. **Note: #4 is to high for Zeller I’m aware.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    can i ask another question?  why do we want to get busy with a short SG with the #4 pick in the draft?  im looking at SGs and BDL’s top 10 look like this:
    wade 6-4
    kobe 6-6
    roy 6-6
    johnson 6-7
    manu 6-6
    Iguodala 6-6
    tyreke 6-6
    s jackson 6-8
    j richardson 6-6
    kevin martin 6-7

    but bradley beal at 6-3 is going to buck this trend?  why do we think this?

  • Bryan

    I have not seen a single mock draft that has Davis, MKG and Beal going 1-3.  It is very unlikely to happen.  It seems like only people in Cleveland are obsessing over that unlikely scenario.  We will most likely have a shot at Beal at 4. 

    Given that, the more pertinent question is whether Beal should be the pick at 4 over Robinson, Lamb, and Barnes.  I like Beal, but its not obvious to me he is the best choice at 4 for us.  Lamb and Barnes have much better size.  Robinson is a stud, and I think he could work well in a 3-man rotation with TT and Varejao, with each getting 30 minutes. 

  • Zach

    With all due respect, Sam, what are you smoking?  As an aside, do you have any extra?  You want to give up 2 #1′s, protected or otherwise, to move up 2 spots for a SF without a jump shot?  My jaw is on the floor.  My reaction is provided in a cut and paste that I posted earlier on this subject:

    Here’s what I don’t get.  Let me start out by saying that I would love to have MKG.  Good athlete, high motor, pit bull mentality, ect.  What’s not to like?  He gets a free pass for medicore numbers as a freshman because he was on a team with 4 first rounders.  Well, so was Harrison Barnes.  Barnes had better numbers than MKG both as a freshman and sophomore, and he did it in a much better basketball conference.  Harrison Barnes biggest downfall is that he hasn’t lived up to the billing of the next LeBron James.  To me he’s like Paul Pierce.  Paul Pierce never averaged 20 in college because of Roy Williams, and so it went with Barnes.  He has great size (6’8″) for a SF, is super long and athletic, and has a shot currently that MKG could only dream of having in the next 5 years.  Besides, we already have a poor man’s MKG on the squad named Alonzo Gee.  I’d rather not duplicate the skills at the SF position.  Have Kyrie set up Barnes and move Gee to the bench as the energy sixth man, where he can play a majority of his minutes against backups instead of starters.  Finally, I’m not trading anything to move up two spots.  This is the deepest draft in years.  I want an Andrew Nicholson at #24, maybe a Mo Harkless, Tony Wroten, whoever.  Heck, maybe we can package #24 and one of the second rounders to move up 4-6 spots and grab Terrance Ross for the SG. Seems to me people have been reading too many glowing scouting reports on MKG.  I like him, but David Lighty put up better numbers and played really hard as well.  The example may be extreme, but c’mon man.  Lastly, I’d take Thomas Robinson at #4 before I moved up to #2.  Tristan comes off the bench as a PF/C.  Our first two bigs off the bench last year were Erden and Samuels.  Nuff said.

  • Sam Rosen

    My opinion of MKG is MUCH higher than yours, that’s where we disagree. I think he is going to be a superstar, and if you can get a superstar for two late first round picks, you do it. If you thought he was going to be a superstar, you’d agree. The difference we have isn’t with the trade, its our opinion on how good we think MKG will be. When I watched him, not just read his stats, I saw a guy who can be a 10-time All Star. I say that’s worth #24 and a 2014 late pick as well. Easily.

  • DQ

    People are craving for MKG over Barnes because of his attitude, work ethic defensive prowess etc.  UNC went to OT against Ohio University.  That is sad, great for OU to stay in the game and all but Barnes was a no show in that game when he should have dominated the smaller OU team by attacking and getting to line which he never does.  The knock on Barnes is how he was so hyped and failed to live up to any height but with his size and athleticism why did he settle for so many jumpers??  If your that big, strong, and athetic you have to exert your will on the opponent.  MKG relentlessly attacks the hoop and is developing a jumper.  His work ethic and coaching from the Cavalier staff will improve his jumpshot.  I see Kyrie and MKG driving and kicking all game long to get into the lane and get the defense scrambling.  Since Barnes doesnt attack the basket he would just be shooting J’s all day, yes he has a sweet stroke but sometimes the jumpers just dont fall and well you rely on your jumper to get your points instead of attacking the rim instead of the other way around your digging yourself into a hole.  Barnes also doesnt play much on the defensive side of the ball, doesnt rebound the ball particularly well but he did have 2 7 footers manning the glass in college.  MKG is just a basketball player plain and simple, he does what it takes to win and plays hard every minute he is on the court.  And it doesnt hurt that his best friend is Kyrie Irving and pairing them up again would be very fun to watch. 

    I hope Gilchrist falls to 4 and at 24 we take Nicholson a guy to stretch the floor to unclog the paint and kick it to for open jumpers which he can knock down. 

    As far as free agency goes, how would everyone feel about signing a guy like T-Mac??  I think he would be a solid addition to a young core because he was a stud before injuries and now just wants to play good basketball, he was good in the Celtics series for the Hawks and I feel he still has a few solid years ahead of him.  However T-Mac probably wants to play for a contender and come off the bench then be a starter on a team taking another trip to the lottery next year but who knows. 

    If Doron Lamb is sitting there at 24 and Nicholson is gone do we take him?

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    depends on if fab melo is there.

    BY THE WAY… scouting report:  a friend met fabricio de melo on a flight and said he was a good guy and seriously tall on an airplane.
    #themoreyouknow

  • Zach

    Yeah, we have a difference of opinion on the talent disparity between the two players.  I’m not sure I see a 10 time superstar in MKG.  You took a jab with the stats comment, but I watched at least 12 full Kentucky games this past season, including all six tourney games.  I watched at least that many UNC games over the last 2 seasons.  I think that once Barnes is free of Roy Williams, he’ll develop to his full potential. Roy put the lid on Paul Pierce in college, and all he has done is become a champion and  Hall of Fame player, one of the best Celtics of all time.  When I watch Barnes, I see a taller and more athletic Pierce.  It would be up to Barnes, Byron Scott, and Kyrie Irving on whether or not he got there.  I think he will, and thus I don’t want to trade this years second #1 and next year’s #1.  Lastly, I think you’re jumping the shark if you presume that next year’s #1 will be a late round pick.  It just may end up in the lottery again.  Too much.

  • Pete

    Those are Tristan’s numbers from this past year in the NBA. He averaged a 13 and 8 as a true freshman at Texas. In the Big 12.

  • Pete
  • Sam Rosen

    Like I said, we have difference of opinion on MKG’s future. Agree to disagree. Also, I said we would trade #24 and a lottery protected first round pick. Meaning, if our next 5 picks even are in the lottery, we keep them all. Not until this is a playoff team, hence late round pick, will the Bobcats recieve it.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    thanks, i didnt catch that (weird that draft express would run pro numbers.. whatevs).

    all the same i’ll stand by my position that robinson is a better all-around player than TT.  hell, i’ll stand by robinson being a better defense-only player.

    and i’ll probably continue to comment on the asinine pronouncements here that robinson isn’t in the class of beal or mkg. (or lamb or barnes or drummond… our writers here really dont think much of robinson.)  the bulk of the evidence indicates he’s far better than any of them.

  • porckchopexpress

    Only 10 all-star games?  When I META-watched him -not just watched him, I saw a guy who might single handedly make everyone else stop playing the sport.  The difference between you and me is when I make unfounded speculative projections about a 19 year old kid I go for the moon shot

  • Sam Rosen

    Cute response, but I’m still not backing off my original point.. I think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is going to be a superstar NBA player. How many all star appearances is irrelevant. I said 10 to emphasize my point that he is worth giving up 2 late first round picks for. By a mile.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    pork — he’s said ‘by a mile’ … so like, it’s not unfounded speculation now.  e.g., i think he’s going to be a superstar BY A MILE –> thus one must trade 1st round picks for him.  Q.E.D.

    next weekend can we hear from jacob’s sisters on who they like with our 24th pick?

  • Sam Rosen

    Everyone on here is so grumpy.. It’s ok that you think MKG isn’t that good. You don’t have to bleed all over the message board because you have a different opinion than I do. I think he is goin to be very good, so do a lot of people. A lot of people also don’t. It’s ok.. Breathe..

  • porckchopexpress

    Its not the message its the messenger. 
     “I WATCHED MKG, not just read his stats.” automatically sets you up for some ribbing.  Don’t like it?  Don’t be condescending.  Try some less - how do you say – cute responses. 
    Or try to explain in a little more detail what watching 20 games and listening to other people drool all over MKG’s work ethic solidfies him as a guaranteed superstar.  
    Your point seems to be that giving up several picks is worth it for a “guaranteed superstar”. His jumper makes 18 year old Lebron look like Ray Allen, he is a breathtaking athlete, but I have serious questions about his ability to create in a half court set, as he won’t be playing with ridiculous talent he did at Kentucky. I simply didn’t see enough of him being able to break a man down in isolation in half court opportunites for me to say “That is going to be the guy!”.  Not saying he can’t fix his problems, but even if he does, “Superstar” is a level that several years of drafting go without producing, and I think you are just getting caught up in the hype, and getting defensive that people aren’t being bowled over by your obvious basketball acumen - which seems to consist of telling us that MKG Is AWESOME. 

  • Sam Rosen

    I didn’t claim or be an expert or gurantee he would be a superstar. All I said was, from watchin him play, I personally believe he is going to be a great NBA player, and one the Cavs should try to draft. I think he will be a lot better than Harrison Barnes or anyone else in this draft beyond Anthony Davis. It is only my opinion, I could be wrong, and so could you. If he does end up being a star for the Bobcats, and Barnes is an average player for the Cavs, then I think you will end up agreeing with me that trading two late 1st round picks would have been worth it. If it’s the opposite, I’ll end up agreeing with you and say it would have been a bad move. The truth is neither of us have any clue at the end of the day, and we can only base our opinion from watching one or two short seasons of these teenage basketball players careers. We have arrived at different opinions of players, and that’s all there is to this arguement. I was not trying to be condescending, and I apologize if I was, but the only real difference we have is I think he is going to be much better than you do, and only time will tell who was right.

  • porckchopexpress

    For me its not the guy – I think MKG is going to be very good – its the position.  I feel like Lebron and Durant have created a “foolsgold rush” to find 3′s that can break their man down in the half court, and get off their own shots at will.  To me 2′s are far more critical to overall success.  Kobe, Pierce, Wade, Ginobili, are simply more diverse in their abilityt get shots off.
    I feel like Iguidala, and Granger are much more realistic for MKG.  At least from my perspective if you say Gilchrist is going to join that group then you are saying he is going drastically improve his outside shot, his dribbling ability and his body control when taking pull ups, turn arounds, or coming off screens. 
    Its taken Lebron 8 years to develop even the semblance of a baby hook to use in the post, Kobe’s total game took a decade. I’m just saying he might not be the plug and play superstar some people think he could be.

  • mgbode

    best one is Wade, who is basically the same height/build as Beal.  maybe he doesn’t get ther, but that’s the target.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    would love an nfl type combo site with measurements.  ive seen everything from 6-3 to 6-5 on beal.  nothing i can trust on wingspan or vertical.  without that, it’s hard to say if he can be compared to wade.  obviously he’s demonstrably shorter than everyone else on the list.

    as it stands, he look more like terry from the mavs.  good player… but not 4th overall good.  #allsimsaying

  • mgbode

    I like John Jenkins more than D.Lamb.

  • cle the incredibe

    I like mgk but I wouldn’t. Gv up a draft pick for him I would sit at four and hope robinson or barnes fall to me