Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Cavs need more guards

So the Cavs signed David Wesley. I'm not opposed to this; if the Cavs can play him between 20-30 minutes a game, I think they've picked up something very useful. If they play him 30+ minutes a game like the Rockets did....

The Cavs now have a ton of guards, lets review:

David Wesley
Eric Snow
Damon Jones
Larry Hughes
Sasha Pavlovic
Luke Jackson
Ira Newble
Shannon Brown
Daniel Gibson
Stephen Graham
Eddie Basden

Look at that list, pretty impressive, no? Everyone of these players have some kind of significant problem. Back to the list:

Wesley - 6'1'' shooting guard
Snow - old and can't shoot
Jones - CAN shoot, can't do much else
Hughes - poor jumpshooter and injury prone
Pavlovic - young(ish) and clueless sometimes
Jackson - bad back, has been employed by the Cavs for 3 years, has played for about 45 minutes
Newble - kind of like the anti-superstar, by being on the court he actually makes his teammates worse
Brown - undersized shooting guard, rookie
Gibson - combo guard, 2nd round rookie
Graham - probably won't be on the team, but he has a guaranteed deal
Basden - I'm still not convinced this guy actually exists

So on a roster of 15, 11 are guards (not one of who is a bona fide point guard aka someone who can play point AND shoot the ball). That leaves these guys to round out the team:

LeBron James
Drew Gooden
Scot Pollard
Anderson Varejao
Donyell Marshall
Zydrunas Ilgauskas

17 guys for 15 spots, somebody is leaving. The easy way to go is to cut Graham and Basden and bring the total down to 15. Brown is going to have to find room for a lot of these guys, and this is a bit troubling:
Last season, coach Mike Brown usually only played three guards.
Three? So is it Wesley, Brown and Hughes? Hughes, Wesley and Jones? I'm sure Brown is going to try to play four guards and give James a rest (move Hughes to 3). But there has to be a trade coming, right? 11 guards?! And here's the best part, what's the Cavs weakness?

Point guard!!

You'd figure Wesley will get minutes and at least one rookie will see some meaningful time (probably Brown, but Gibson could play some point), meaning Jones and Snow could be on their way out. But for what? More forwards? I really like the core of front court, Gooden, Varejao and Marshall splitting the 4 with Z and Pollard manning the pivot. The Cavs don't need any bigs, they need a point guard, which happens to be the position of the guys they want to get rid of.

If the Cavs were to package Snow and/or Jones with Varejao, it could net them an actual point guard. Think trading Varejao is far fetched? Not so says Brian Windhorst:

What happens next summer when the Cavs will be close to or over the luxury tax and Varejao's a free agent?? I assume they will have to look at trading a large salary. Who would be most likely to go from among Z, Larry Hughes, or Gooden...I'm assuming Snow is untradeable?

Brian Windhorst: Varejao is a hot potato. He's not a starter and his numbers don't suggest a huge contract but he's hired Dan Fegan and there will be outside interest. I've heard the Cavs have actually tested the trade waters on him, even though there is perception that's he's untouchable. I know they offered him to at least one Central Division team this offseason

Now that Pollard is in town and Gooden is locked up, if the Cavs think they could get a starter for Andy, it wouldn't hurt them a whole lot at the 4. Not that I'd like to see Varejao leave, but a legit point guard could put this team in the finals.

Who could that point guard be? I don't know, I'm not a guy who deams up trade scenarios, cause mine always look like Newble, Snow and Jones for KG (actually I'd give the Wolves Hughes and Varejao, take Ricky Davis and give either Jackson's or Pavlovic's expiring contract). But you get my point, something's gotta give.

Update: this is and update from Windhorst's blog (so this is an update of and update?)

After reading the blog, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy wanted to get his thoughts out on Wesley. He wrote: "David was injured at the end of last year as he came back prematurely from a rib injury to try and help us win even as most veterans who were on the last year of their contract would have worried more about their upcoming free agency than their team. That is who David is. Team first type of guy. He can still shoot, he can defend points or 2’s and even though he may have lost a step here or there, he is bull strong, smart and competitive. He came off a knee surgery to start last year and It took a bit for him to get rolling. But after the first month of the year he played very well and only the rib injury prevented him from finishing strong. The Cavs got a good player and a hall of fame type of guy and competitor."

I thank Jeff for sharing his thoughts, he obviously respects Wesley. I think the perception that Wesley struggled at times last season plus the fact that the Rockets decided to go look for younger shooters this offseason contributed to the feelings I got from Houston.

Also, I want to answer a couple questions in the comment section. The Cavs have signed Wesley to a two-year deal but the second year is not fully guaranteed, only a small part of it is. This protects the Cavs and enables them to trade him next summer to a team that could just waive him and not pay his salary (like an expiring contract, it makes him an asset to a team looking to dump a player or cut salary). For his willingness to take on a second year, Wesley probably got a few hundred thousand guaranteed to him. This is a standard practice now in the NBA. Also, as Van Gundy mentioned, the Cavs believe Wesley can be a physical defender and feel that matches up with Scot Pollard, another physical guy they signed who can guard multiple positions.

If Wesley is healthy and can play at a high level, he could start in place of Snow. However, they still would need to trade some guys for playing time if nothing else.


Erik said...

People are having heart attacks over the Cavs guard situation. It's not that bad.

Newble and Jackson shouldn't be on that list. They're small forwards.

Wesley is undersized, but he must have been doing something right to last 13 years in the league.

Snow is a true point guard. No, he can't stuff a stat sheet, but when you're sharing a lineup with LeBron and Larry Hughes, who both need their touches, maybe that's a good thing. Snow shot well enough in the playoffs.

Hughes gets a bum rap as a guy who can't shoot. LeBron also got a bum rap as a guy who couldn't shoot. LeBron gets the benefit of the doubt because he's LeBron. Hughes cracks a finger and all his shortcomings are magnified unfairly. He's actually a much better shooter than fans give him credit for.

Graham and Basden, for all intents and purposes, shouldn't be on that list either. Neither has a completely guaranteed contract, and both will probably be cut before the end of camp.

My guess is that Pavlovic, in the walk year of his deal, will be pawned off in the near future. Jackson might be as well.

Is the Cavs' guard situation ideal? No. Is it a disaster? No.

Ben said...

Oh I agree, this isn't a disaster.

I probably came off as a chicken little with the Cavs guards, but I think they have a pretty decent rotation of guys right now.

My thing is, a lot of Cavs fans think that after last years 2nd round run, the Cavs are going to step it up to at least the Eastern Conference Finals, and I don't know if this back court could do it.

Part of it is that I love these two draft picks (all the papers had the Cavs taking Gibson in round one, and they got him in the second). I really want to see these kids on the floor at some point this year, and with all these guys shoved into 2 spots (because James plays 43 minutes a night, if these guys are out there, they're playing a guard spot, even though they're more natural at the 3) I'm wondering where these minutes are going to come from.

I agree with you on Hughes, he's not as awful or a 'sure injury' as people make him out to be, but you have to admit James has improved his shooting (well, in the NBA at least, at the Wolrds he wasn't exactly lights out).

Pavlovic and Jackson are both in walk years, so the safe bet is on one of those two. But I keep hearing Jones out there as well, and if they can just get some draft picks for next years (deep deep) draft, I'll be happy.

You just figure that Wesley, Jones and Snow would get the bulk of the minutes, with the leftovers going towards the rookies. And if Jones gets traded, that means more minutes for Brown and Gibson, which I am all for.