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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alex Len’s injury is a stress fracture. In his ankle. He had surgery to repair it. That isn’t good.
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):
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?”
“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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
which is also why I don’t like drafting Ben McLemore, there is zero chance Dion is taking that well [↩]
Ben has been writing about the Cavs for WFNY since 2011. Known as the "town bicycle of Cavaliers bloggers" and a librarian by trade, when Ben's not tweeting about the Cavs (@WFNYBen) or curled up with a book, you're likely find him on a disc golf course.