Like any good, red blooded, American I woke up on our nation’s birthday and had a craving for a big, succulent, meaty steak. A nice choice piece of beef, washed down with a few IPA’s, along with some laughs from friends and you’ve got yourself a quality Fourth of July.
The problem however, was that the red, white, and blue festivities would not start until the evening and I was stuck craving the rib eye in my fridge at noon.
While I knew the steak would be best after I had gone to the store for A1 and veggies, and after my friends had arrived with suds and jokes, but I couldn’t help but entertain the thought of firing up the grill, and having that puppy in my stomach by the time the Tribe game got underway.
I knew I needed to eat, but I didn’t want to make a choice for lunch that I’d regret come dinner time so I bummed a burger off my roommate.
While not nearly the steak I was craving, the burger came at a good price (free), temporarily satisfied my hunger, and still left me in a good position for dinner time.
LeBron is the steak, Earl Clark is the burger, and Chris Grant is the brainier, less hungover version of me.Make no mistake, Earl Clark is not the future for the Cavaliers. On a two year, $9 million deal, and with the Cavs’ owning a team option for year two, the former Laker is making his way to Cleveland as about as low of a risk signing as you can have.
Clark is nowhere close to being the steak that LeBron is, both literally and figuratively, but at 6’10” and an average 3-point shooter he gives Cleveland someone with the ability to stretch the floor and the length to guard multiple positions as he showed under coach Mike D’Antoni in L.A.
“It also gives us a guy that’s extremely versatile,” D’Antoni said of Clark’s emergence into the rotation. “He can guard all from 2s to 3s, actually 1s to 3s to 4s and can even switch to a 5…His energy and his length on defense, his body is just alive, and it’s given us a good jolt.”
While not a top free agent, he’s a cheap option with unique skills that are coveted. Much like I enjoyed the bites of my burger that had the stuffed jalepeno and cheddar in it, I’m certain there will be enjoyable moments of Clark as well.
During his first real stretch of playing time with LA, Clark recorded 11 double-doubles in 28 games and was regarded as a revelation for L.A. in what otherwise was a very dismal season.
But in Clark’s final 24 games in the Purple and Gold his play dropped off dramatically, managing just one double-double and a performance in the first round playoff series against San Antonio that would have made Omri Casspi grimace.
Clark is enticing due to his threat to shoot the three, length, and athleticism but Earl Clark is not a long term answer for the Cavs. I give Chris Grant and his staff credit for inking a guy that has enough attributes to his game we can yap to our friends about, but the signing of Clark is not moving the needle for me.
The Cavaliers won 24 games last year, they’ll need to double that have a shot at the playoffs next season. This team needs to get better, much better, and if Earl Clark is the big addition to the rotation this off season then we’re all most likely in for another long year of basketball and another trip to the lottery.
My head gives credit to Grant for avoiding potential long term disaster contracts in the form of Josh Smith, and Igoudala, but my heart wants to win now, and wants new players who will help the Cavs be a substantially better team in 2013-14 than they were last year.
I believe in the development of Irving, Dion, and Tristan, and I know Grant HAS to leave the team with a chance to make a run at LeBron in 2014, but I’m starting to fear it could be another long winter on the shores of Lake Erie and another May praying for ping pong balls to bounce our way.
Follow Ryan Jones on Twitter @Czarjonesey7