The Worst Case Scenarios for the Cavs’ Offseason

I keep searching for "Your favorite basketball team using the first overall pick on a European center with stress fractured feet" but nothing comes up.

I keep searching for "Your favorite basketball team using the first overall pick on a European center with stress fractured feet" but nothing comes up.

I keep searching for "Your favorite basketball team using the first overall pick on a European center with stress fractured feet" but nothing comes up.

I keep searching for “Your favorite basketball team using the first overall pick on a European center with stress fractured feet” but nothing comes up.

This upcoming NBA offseason is the most important offseason the Cavs have had since that guy from Akron left.  They hired a new coach, they have four picks in Thursday’s draft and they have a whopping $19 million in capspace that could be used to entice both potential free agents and potential trading partners (the Cavs could take back a bad contract or two to grease the wheels on a trade).

I don’t know what the Cavs are going to this offseason. No one does.

Oh, there are rumors. Paul Pierce? A trade with Dallas? Could they buck the experts and take Alex Len over Nerlens Noel? What about signing Greg Oden? And what about free agents? With $19 million available, the Cavs have room to sign just about any player they pleased.

The possibilities are practically endless.

However, endless possibilities also includes possible mistakes. Just because a team has a lot of caproom doesn’t mean they have to spend it. It’s one thing if you use to capspace to sign LeBron, Wade and Bosh. It’s quite another if you use it to sign Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

So I’m a little worried. The Cavs have stated that they don’t want to be in the lottery next season, so that means they’re looking to Win Now. Which is good! I’m ready for some meaningful basketball games. But sometimes a win now move can backfire down the road. Sometimes that money just burns a hole in your pocket.

Here are four things that I do not want the Cavs to do this offseason.

Trading out of the top four.

The Cavs tanked and ended the season with the third worst record in the NBA. Then they won the lottery and, much to the chagrin of non-Clevelanders, Dan Gilbert and co. celebrated winning the lottery (THE NERVE!).

I would like them to use that pick that they won and celebrated. They’re at the top of the draft. I want them to man up and take their guy. I don’t want to see them try to get cute and trade down.

All of this is, of course, predicated on the eventual deal they’d make. I’d be mostly ok if they traded down within the Top 4. But the only rumor I’ve seen attached to the top pick is this ridiculous “No. 1 for Derrick Williams and No. 9” deal. No. No no no no no no no. NO. If the Cavs do trade down, they have to still be in a position to grab someone like Porter, Oladipo, Len or McLemore.

This isn’t football. The Cavs aren’t going to get multiple assets or parts in a trade down. And if they do, the odds are good that the parts won’t end up equaling the player they could’ve drafted at number one.  The “four quarters for a dollar” deals never work in the NBA. There’s so few people in the field of play, you need the BEST guys, not a bunch of decent guys.

#BensAgainstLen

If you follow me on twitter, this should come as no surprise. After this past week where seemingly everyone and their mother predicted the Cavs could take Maryland center Alex Len with the first overall pick, I’ve gone on a few twitter rants about possibility of the Cavs taking Len.

  1. I don’t like the Cavs passing on Nerlens Noel. I think if Noel was healthy, we’d be pooping ourselves with excitement on possibility to draft him.
  2. I see a ton of “Noel’s an injury risk, take Len” arguments floating around the twitter and sports talk radio. But it’s not like Len is healthy either. Sure, unlike Noel, he’ll play in November but I think it’s dumb to pick a guy based on whether or not he’ll be available for the first two months of his rookie year.
  3. Alex Len’s injury is a stress fracture. In his ankle. He had surgery to repair it. That isn’t good.
  4. NBA history is littered with big men who couldn’t play due to bad feet. (Bill Walton, Yao Ming, Sam Bowie, Z, etc).

Denver Stiffs looked into Alex Len and his stress fractures and came up with this (emphasis theirs):

3.) By playing on a stress fracture could the injury have gotten worse? A simple search found this from Children’s Hospital:

The primary therapy for most stress fractures is simply to rest the injured foot or leg-restricting weight-bearing actions and all activities that involve stressing the injured area for a period of weeks or months. Your child’s doctor may also recommend a cast or walking boot in order to:

  • relax the stress on the leg
  • protect the leg from further damage
  • force the athlete to rest

For a more severe stress fracture, treatment options may include:

  • temporary use of crutches or a wheelchair
  • physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the injured muscles and tendons
  • surgery (less common, but is sometimes needed)

Let me emphasize that last part again.

=========>FOR MORE SEVERE STRESS FRACTURES, SURGERY IS UNCOMMONLY NEEDED<=========

“But Ben!” you say, “if he had surgery and the problem was fixed, what’s the big deal if doctors clear him to play?”

Read this bit about Yao Ming’s injury:

“When you look at the course of Yao’s career, stress fractures have been part of his foot,” Lowe said. “So to say he’s not at a risk to continue to have stress fractures would be crazy. So he is at a continued risk. The new position of his foot should … make those stresses lower.”

Dan Gilbert and company have told everyone who will listen that this is their last time in the lottery. They don’t plan on being back during the Kyrie era. So. For your last lotto pick in the Kyrie-era, you’re going to take a center who has already dealt with stress fractures? You’re going to pin your hopes that this guy’s feet will hold up over multiple 82+ game seasons?

That’s too big of risk for me. I’m out. During the MTAF pod, I was asked if it was a guy with Hakeem talent, would I still be so against and I answered “probably, ya”. I’m terrified of big men with feet issues. But let’s not pretend that Len is the next Hakeem. Dude has been compared to the next Z.

Now, I love Z. I rooted for Z. I own a Z jersey and some autographed cards somewhere. But I would not take Zydrunas Ilgauskas with the top pick in the draft, no matter how weak the draft is.

And I especially wouldn’t do it if he had already had stress fractured ankles.

[Related: NBA Draft 2013: The Cavs have a few options]

Trade Dion before the season.

The Cavs will eventually have to trade some of these non-Kyrie players. A player like Tristan Thompson or Dion Waiters could be packaged with a pick or four and get you a fairly nice haul. That’s fine. And to be expected, quite honestly. The Cavs aren’t going to find their entire starting five solely through the draft.

But I really like the potential of Dion Waiters. I love his first step, how he can get to the rim and that he can create for himself and others. I also love his on court demeanor. The dude gives a crap. He wants to beat you and he thinks he’s the best guy on the court1.

I don’t want the Cavs to trade that guy until we see what he looks like after his first NBA offseason. This is the first time he’s been able to work on his game with the knowledge of what it is going to take to play and succeed in the NBA.  Let’s see what this kid can do before we cut the cord.

I mean, have you seen Dion’s practice vines?! He destroys that cone!

Making a Big Splash in free agency. 

Look at the 2013 free agent list. LOOK AT IT.

It is not that enticing.

Sure, there’s some decent depth, but the talent level at the top is fairly sub-par (especially for the Cavs, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard ain’t coming here). By my count the best players after Paul and D12 are as follows:

Andre Iguodala, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.

Yuck.

Please Dan Gilbert, stay away from these guys. Now, I want to make the playoffs too. That is and should be the Cavs goal for this season. And I’m not opposed to signing some veterans in free agency. But I do not want them “making a splash” in the free agent market. Because after CP3 and D12, “making a splash” constitutes signing either Iggy, Millsap, or Big Al.

My reasons are both financial and basketball related. First, Iggy. He’s a wing who is known for his defense and his athleticism and he’ll be turning 30 during next season. He’s not a great three point shooter (or known for his outside shot at all) and I feel teams would pack the paint against Kyrie and Dion if the other Cavs on the floor are Iggy, TT and Varejao.

As for Millsap and Jefferson, both are undersized. Millsap is a 6-8 power forward and Jefferson is a 6-10 center. The Cavs already have undersized power forwards and centers on the roster in 6-9 Tristan Thompson and 6-10 Anderson Varejao. Jefferson worries me because you’d be paying a lot of money for a guy who hasn’t played on many winning teams over his career (so he’ll have bad habits, especially defensively) and Millsap worries me because, really, how far are you going when your highest paid player is a 6-8 power forward?

Would these guys be upgrades? Of course they would! There is no question that Iguodala is an upgrade to Alonzo Gee. But both Andre Iguodala and Al Jefferson made $15 million last season and Millsap took home $8.5 mil. All of them are still in their 20s. Are guys in their 20s going to be taking a pay cut to come to Cleveland? No? Well, do you want to overpay them to come here? Still no?

LOOK AT THE FREE AGENT LIST.

I’m all for the Cavs using free agency to improve their team. I’m not opposed to them adding salary. Go throw some money at Chase Budinger or Nikola Pekovic and see if Minnesota will match. I’m simply opposed to them signing a “Big Name” and hoping to win some positive headlines.

The possibilities for the Cavs offseason are endless. Chris Grant has done an excellent job setting up the Cavs to be big players in all kinds of transactions this summer. Asides from all the Alex Len rumors, I’m not overly concerned that Grant will screw this up. He’s spent wisely in free agency in the past and if you can think of a Grant-era trade that the Cavs have lost, I’m all ears.

But the Win Now rumblings coming from the Gilberts does have me a little concerned. The Cavs been patient in building this foundation and I don’t want to sit through three years of tanking only to have them screw it up now with a short sighted signing.

What are your worst-case-scenario for this Cavs offseason?

  1. which is also why I don’t like drafting Ben McLemore, there is zero chance Dion is taking that well []
  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’m getting a headache let this end soon!

  • Colin B

    Ben,

    Have you posted your thoughts on Anthony Bennett anywhere? If they are scared of Noel, I honestly believe he provides the best value. People are too concerned IMO about the standard “1-5″ lineup and where he would fit. The Heat were playing essentially 3 SFs at times in the Finals. Coaches can find matchups to benefit their team. Hell, if Mike Miller can stay on the floor regardless of his D, I would imagine Bennett could as well. Why not add someone with the most All-Star potential, especially if we are going to have to package some of these guys at some point, in a Harden type deal.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Bennett has his own injury concerns that and immaturity. His use though as you mentioned reminds me of that of McLemore since both PF and SG currently have starters.

  • Phil Smith

    This article is an embarrassment to WFNY.

    Sounds like a child upset about his toy being taken away from him.

    I like how he spun un-researched facts around to make his points….well done.

  • woofersus

    I agree with most of this. This probably isn’t the year to make a big free agency splash, so we’re probably looking more at bolstering the bench a bit. (frankly, I hope they consider Wayne Ellington and Shawn Livingston depending on what they get in the draft and/or trade) I also don’t like the idea of trading Waiters. I was skeptical last spring, but I really liked the potential he showed. He plays hard, has confidence, has better than average athleticism, can handle the ball and create, and finishes at the rim well. His shot will get better with some work, and while he may never be Ray Allen from the arc, there’s no reason he can’t be a very good multi-tool scorer and at least average from outside.

    What I don’t agree with is your assessment of the Noel/Len injuries. It seems like you’re saying that Len’s injury is too risky to draft him number one, but Noel’s isn’t. I don’t feel like you can argue both of those. Foot problems ARE very risky for a big man, and I would be much more concerned if this were a stress fracture in the foot rather than the ankle. It’s still a concern, but ankles are a heck of a lot less complicated than feet, and the NBA isn’t nearly as flush with cautionary tales about ankle problems. I know there’s a fine line between ankle and foot, though, and I have to assume the Cavs medical staff is aware of the exact nature of this stress fracture. Nonetheless it’s a red flag. So is Noel’s knee injury though. It’s not his first knee injury (I know the other one was different) and his spindly frame doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. In my mind these guys both represent injury risks, and the Cavs had better be sure the medical outlook is good and the upside is worth the risk.

    My reservations about Noel aren’t solely about his knees though. Len has the body of an NBA center and Noel does not. He’s only 6’11” and he weighs almost FOURTY pounds less than the too-skinny Tyler Zeller. People talk about how Tyson Chandler was super young and too thin, but he started out at 224 lbs according to his draft profile, so he’s only added about 16-18 pounds. Also, Chandler had only averaged single digit points and rebounds on his career, so he might not represent a shining example of tall and athletic upside we want at the first overall pick. Noel will add some weight, but he has narrow shoulders and a wiry frame, so he’s not going to magically become a beast down low. Also, while expect a 19 year old to be a little raw, his offensive game was extremely limited. He’ll get better, but he won’t turn into Kevin Durant. He did some amazing things on the defensive end in his half season at Kentucky, but that was in situations where he wasn’t physically outmatched most of the time like he will be in the NBA. Even if he does develop in to a defensive stud, is a mostly one dimensional player worth the #1 overall?

  • Mike Reed

    I think people are making way too much of Gilbert’s “we don’t want to be in the lotto again” comment. Of course he doesn’t want too, and he’s got tickets to sell. But that doesn’t mean he’s going on a war path starting with the head of Chris Grant if they fall short of the 8 seed.

  • dwhit110

    If Pekovic isn’t Ina tier above Iggy, Big Al, Milsap, he’s certainly at least on the same tier. You’re not getting him from Minn w/o spending at least 12MM per year, and that might be low-balling it.

  • Scut_Farkus

    What.

  • JeBron_Lames

    The truth is that there isn’t that “can’t miss” player in this draft. Noel might have the most upside when (if) he’s healthy but what is his ceiling? An undersized center with good shot-blocking ability with virtually no offense game?

    I think I’ll pass.

    However, then who do the Cavs take with the first pick (which is the right move by the way, because you just don’t risk not taking because it’s a “reach”)? I have moved to the Len camp only because his comparisons to an athletic Z have me convinced. Sure, he’s not a franchise player but he can complement the team very well. If the Cavs want to go big, go Len. If not, nab Porter and pursue a big man in the offseason.

    Speaking of which, I understand why Millsap and Jefferson are kind of “meh”, but Iggy, although old(er), has the perfect compliment to the Cavs’ situation. Without getting into the whole LeBron returning factor (I personally don’t want him back), I feel Iggy’s game works well with what the Cavs are trying to do. He plays great defense and is a consistent scorer, and best of all he doesn’t have to be “the man” to be effective. Leave that to Kyrie and Dion.

    In closing, I really like Pekovic but I feel the T-Wolves will match any offer. With Love coming back from injury, they will try a playoff with them before blowing it up again if needed.

  • architrance

    =========>FOR MORE SEVERE STRESS FRACTURES, SURGERY IS UNCOMMONLY NEEDED<=========

    This clearly stated it was from a Children's Hospital website and referenced children in the copy and pasted text. I'm sure it is uncommon for a child to get surgery for a stress fracture. Is it uncommon for a professional athlete to have this procedure? I really doubt it…

  • Ben Frambaugh

    “An undersized center with good shot-blocking ability with virtually no offense game?”

    How about a hyper-athletic center who is great at finishing PnR, off-ball cuts and in transition and is a guy with elite shot-blocking abiltiy?

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Pek has a nice offensive game…but he’s a sieve defensively. Not what we’re looking for here.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    He developed a stress fracture in his ankle after beefing up to 250 (an “NBA body”) and playing a season of collegiate basketball where he was almost always much bigger than his opponent.

    Tell me how that’s going to get better at the NBA level (longer games and many many many more of them.)

  • Ben Frambaugh

    The only real reason the Heat can pull that off is because of Lebron though. There is no answer for him in the NBA…so he allows you to be more creative with your lineups.

  • dwhit110

    Iguodala isn’t the “perfect compliment” because he doesn’t shoot very well. We need shooters to add floor spacing. Our next starting SF needs to be a threat from 3.

  • JeBron_Lames

    Still undersized and still no offensive game.

  • mews

    Worst case? We sign Larry Hughes 2.0; don’t see Grant making a dumb move like that. Iguodala’s a very solid third option; not leading us to any land, let alone the Promised one. Save the money. Trade for Love would be epic but doubtful; Granger a RISK. Fine with Noel, McLemore, Oladipo or Bennett (last two through tradedown). Love the thought of the trade up for Karasev; am I the only one who’d like to take D Thomas at the top of round 2?

  • Harv 21

    No doubt Noel will be a guy who alters shots on defense and gets lobs and putback slams on offense, but I think it’s possible he’ll be a defense-morphing Ben Wallace, but a version with a glaring flaw of being pushed around the paint by average centers. He’s explosive enough to draw his man out with the threat of a jumper and then drive around him – but this guy looks horribly uncomfortable shooting anything not a layup. Just watching his discomfort with free throws conjures up Chris Dudley.

    I hear the argument against Len’s feet – but Noel will have to develop skills and strength he appears to naturally lack just to not be a big liability in central aspects of a center’s game.

    In Len, I see the skill set to be a well-rounded all star. In Noel, I see a guy with a few really outstanding skills that can create a big impact if his coach and GM change the offense, defense and roster to try and hide his liabilities. Me, I’d swallow hard and go Porter or Aladipo, who I’m pretty sure will be great.

  • Lunch

    Noel, undersized? So how did Dwight Howard do so well?

    By the way, how is Tristan Thompson doing on his offensive game?

  • woofersus

    I’m not sure it’s a given that’s why the stress fracture happened. The doctors will have to decide whether they think there is a structural problem and if there is risk of recurrence or not. I freely admit it’s concerning. I don’t think that makes Noel any less scary though. It’s a concern for both, not either/or.

    For the record I’d prefer they take Porter, not either of the bigs.

  • LaundroMat

    “Millsap worries me because, really, how far are you going when your highest paid player is a 6-8 power forward?”

    This is stupid. How does which player has the team’s highest salary make any difference at all??

  • Cornelius

    I gotta say, as someone who has rehashed every possible draft debate with my friends a thousand times over, I could not agree with you more. Honestly, it’s like you peeled back my mind and wrote out all my arguments verbatim. No way can the Cavs pass on 18 year old Noel for 21 year old Len. I hadn’t even considered the severity of stress fractures, but I have been downplaying the severity of Noel’s knee. I’m with you on Dion, I’m with you on free agency, and I’m with you on trading down (although I think this would be less disastrous than the other 3 options, provided we found a decent return, i.e. better than D Will and #9). Keep up the good work. Here’s to hoping the Cavs see things the same way you and I do.

  • mikem12

    Why is no one talking Josh Smith to the Cavs? Unrestricted free agent on a team looking to shed cap space for D12. Take a big at #1 and sign Smith or take Porter at #1 and sign a big on the cheap (cough:Oden:cough) to save the cap space for next year.

  • FearTheRoo

    Drafting Len = Worst case scenario

  • Kildawg

    My WORST CASE scenario is that Chris Grant is replaced by a former player with no GM experience and puts us back into salary cap hell (i.e. Danny Ferry). Regardless of who us fans think the Cavs will take, we will ultimately end up pleased with who Grant selects (i.e. Thompson and Waiters, even Zeller; Kyrie was a no-brainer.)

  • mgbode

    that is not what I saw. He’s not quick (at all) on his help defense, but he can anchor things well. 82games.com shows that opposing centers averaged a 15.8PER against him (barely above league average). the Twolves defense was .01 worse with him on the floor (stiesma was quicker to help and this helped the defense overall).

  • mgbode

    and, with how Gerald Wallace has aged, I’d worry about the same with Iggy.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Yes, we get that. Noel doesn’t really have much of an offensive game either. His PPP (points per possession) in post ups was positively abysmal. He’s a good finisher in transition (so is Noel). He’s good with put backs (so is Noel.) He is a heady passer (so is Noel.)
    He does have better shot mechanics than Noel does…but that’s something that can be rectified. Noel will never make anyone think he’s the next Dirk Nowitzki with his form/range…but it can be worked on and improved to the point that it’s not a liability.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    In Len, I saw a guy develop stress fracture in his ankle after bulking up to an “NBA Ready Body”.

  • bossman09

    What in god’s name is the point of this article? I didn’t read it because speculating on “worst case scenario” is even more pointless than “best case scenario”. There are so many bad things that can happen that you couldn’t list them all. You don’t have to live in Cleveland for them to happen either – We could be Charlotte or Seattle.

  • BenRM

    This comment lacks the research I require in order to consider its point.

  • BenRM

    Because having big money tied up in a player who fails to perform creates problems. (I’m not saying Millsap wouldn’t perform, but I think that’s what Ben was implying.)

  • Harv 21

    absolutely valid concern, which is why I said I’d go away from centers here. If Grant is thinking the same thing, maybe that’s why he’s trying so hard to deal the #1, and also why a satisfactory deal may be so hard to swing.

  • LaundroMat

    …because all 6’8″ power forwards don’t perform?

    And even if this were so, if you had other players performing, who were making less than this underperformer, you could still have a very good team. The matter of who makes the most money on the team is entirely irrelevant to “how far” you are going.

  • BenRM

    Like I said, I don’t necessarily agree that a 6’8″ power forward won’t perform. But the matter of who makes the most money is entirely relevant to “how far” you are going. It creates roster inflexibility.

    If you have an expensive, under-performing asset, and you can’t move that asset because he’s under-performing relevant to his contract, it hampers what the team is able to do to continue to improve itself.

    If you are locked into Ben Gordon and Charlie V, you are in a bad spot for a number of years.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Because he’s a PF who (on offense) seems to think he’s a SF. He’s inefficient on offense (though a beast on defense.)

    Why pay max money for him (and that’s what he’s looking for) to fill a slot that we already have filled with a young guy who has made big improvements already?
    It leaves us with the same roster issues we have now…and less flexibility moving forward.

  • mgbode

    if we had a different roster, then I might be pushing for Josh Smith. but, with the poor outside shooting we already have, he just doesn’t make sense.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I honestly beleive that Grant is just doing due diligence. I’d expect most GM’s to do the same. Even last year, the Hornets/Pelicans GM was at least entertaining offers for the #1 overall (and Anthony Davis was a more complete prospect than Noel is.)

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Poor outside shooting is one thing. Iguodala is a poor outside shooter too…but at least he seems to know it. He doesn’t seem to take nearly as many crappy jumpers as Smith does.

  • mgbode

    I really want to see Dumars top those 2 signings this offseason. thing is, I don’t think he can do it.

    I see them going hard after Josh Smith (to help them replicate Indiana’s “big” lineup that gave Miami fits), but he isn’t on the same level as those other 2 guys because he can be a game-changer (just he’s sporadic at it). we’ll see.

  • mgbode

    yes, agreed. though Josh seemed to do a little better last year (he still took those inefficient shots for him, but he at least made sure he was behind the 3pt line unlike previous years).

    really, Josh should never have a possession where he has to create on offense. he is soooo good when he gets the ball while moving. and, he is so the opposite of good when he gets the ball while standing still. if only he could recognize it.

    regardless, that will likely be a problem a different team needs to solve.

  • BenRM

    In fairness to Dumars, I bought the Ben Gordon-hype as well. I knew he was a volume shooter type guy, but I thought he’d improve…

    …he didn’t.

  • LaundroMat

    I get that YOU don’t necessarily agree that a 6′ 8″ power forward won’t perform.

    The original post never made clear that the 6’8″ power forward would be an “under-performing asset.” That’s only what you take him to be implying. Maybe that is indeed what was intended.

    Just saying: the matter of the height and position of the player making the highest salary IS irrelevant — how well the player performs (as you’ve clearly stated, but the original post did not) is relevant.

  • homeyo13

    If the Cavs are planning on trading for anybody currently on the Mavs roster, can someone please make sure it isn’t Marion? I like the guy, but why not target Collison instead? Don’t we still need a back up PG? Am I missing something?

  • mgbode

    what you are missing is that Dallas needs to get rid of Marion to free up space for a run at Dwight Howard, so they are willing to pay us to take him off their cap (by giving us the #13 pick for a 2nd rounder or 2).

  • frankelee

    I guess NBA trades are for professionals only and should not be attempted at home. Trade one of your recent picks plus more picks to get back what exactly? If you answered, “Certainly no more than you’re giving up,” you might know something about how the league works.