Saturday, March 22, 2008

ZOMG! LeBron to NYC!!!!111!!1!eleventy!!

You're not helping.

This is annoying.

You sir, need a better website.

(and yes, I know its just going to keep happening)

Right now, we're witnessing one of most remarkable seasons that a NBA player has ever had (and, to quote Mike Brown, "he's frickin' 23!"). LeBron is averaging 30-8-8 and he's bringing it every night. He's becoming a dominant force on defense (anyone who says Kobe is significantly better defensively hasn't been watching LeBron this year) and he's become unstoppable on the offensive end.

This kid has a chance to be the best basketball player of his generation and he has a really good chance to put himself in the all time discussion. And he players for the Cleveland freaking Cavaliers. Obviously, if he leaves the Cavaliers, it will suck.

But if he does leave, it will be in two seasons. Not this year. Not next offseason. 2010. At the very least, they have three more playoff runs. So, I dunno about you, but I'm gonna try to enjoy it while I can. I'm gonna watch every game possible, I'm gonna write about it and I'm going to read anything I can get my eyeballs on.

It's that last one that gets me. Any type of national analysis of the Cavaliers is filtered through the "LeBron is leaving" lens. Every time someone interviews Brian Windhorst or Danny Ferry, the "is LeBron leaving" question always pops up. LeBron waits a day (a day!) to sign his extension and Bill Simmons basically shits his pants.

I haven't seen this for any other player, for any other franchise (and by the way, who do you think needs a big market more, LeBron 'third man ever to appear on the cover of Vogue' James or Chris 'having the best season for a point guard ever' Paul?) in any other sport. Is there another player that gets this type of treatment (when he's in the first year of his new contract!). Meanwhile, I'm trying to follow the career of possibly the best basketball player of the 21st century and I keep getting sidetracked by all the speculation of where he might go.

Look, maybe he leaves, maybe he doesn't (and if he does bolt, it will be for basketball reasons, not location). Right now, on March 22, 2008, I don't care. In 2010, I'll care. But three offseasons away? Nope.

And even then, should I worry?
James on whether he has ever thought about playing for the Knicks: ''No, that might be worse than that fan running out on the court.'' James on whether he's ever thought of leaving the Cavs: ''You don't think about it. I am in a great situation. I am home, my family gets to see me play, the organization has been nothing but great to me. I have no reason to think about going anywhere else at this point.''

12 comments:

graham said...

I'm not concerned about his relations with Jay-Z, the Nike contract, or the glam of NYC as much as I'm concerned about the Cavs inability up to this point of builidng solid and consistent support around James.

The supporting cast is simply not there. And if I'm James, I'm not only worried that its not there but also that the roster is and will be likely be flux for some time. Z will be gone soon, AV likely won't be back, Sasha is consistently inconsistent, Wallace is not nearly the player he was, West is essentially a backup, etc.. Only Boobie is a guy who will be part of any future core.

Unfortunately, it appears when James has to make a decision he will see a Cleveland organization in constant turnover - both in his time here and looking forward.

I don't want sound pessimistic but I don't think enough attention has been paid to the inability to put guys around him and what that's gonna look like when he has to make a decision. And, I don't think FA is the best way to build consistency - it had to be done through the draft for the most part. Something that hasn't happened for a variety of reasons (trading picks and poor drafting).

James won't go to NYK, and maybe not NJN. But I wouldn't be shocked one bit if he left for an organization that generally has a more effective and competent organization - one that is geared for present and future.

If he leaves for those reasons, you can't blame the guy.

Erik said...

I'd be a lot more worried if we were sitting here today talking about a Cavs team that has yet to make it out of the first round of the playoffs in LeBron's first four seasons.

Time will tell what LeBron does, but from his own mouth, we know A) he likes the atmosphere surrounding the Cavs organization, B) he likes playing in a place where his family and friends can hop on I-77 anytime they want to and come see a game, C) he thinks highly of his teammates, though he does want to see Ferry continue to make moves to improve the team, which is only natural.

Ferry has brought in quality players to play with LeBron. All-stars? No. But it hasn't been a steady stream of Ricky Davises and Darius Miles clones since LeBron got here. Ferry (and Paxson in his own curious way) have tried to brng in solid, team-oriented guys who specialize in doing at least one thing well. Some have worked out, like Gibson and Varejao, and others haven't, like Hughes and Marshall.

That's a big reason why you won't see Gilbert Arenas in a Cavs uniform. Anyone who thinks Arenas is the "missing piece" because he can shoot is missing the point, IMHO. Arenas is a selfish player.

Chances are, the teams that could give LeBron a better chance at winning a title are the teams that don't need him, and probably can't afford him because they have tons of money wrapped up in other players, like San Antonio, Detroit and the Lakers.

In short, maybe the grass isn't always greener elsewhere, and maybe the grass isn't as brown here as we think it is.

graham said...

The problem that I'm pointing out is there is seemingly going to be/has to be a good deal of turnover at the time he needs to make a decision, due to contracts, age, or the Cavs will want to bring in new talent.

Combined with the fact that there really is no "core" to speak of to build around LeBron at this point outside of Gibson (who is himself probably not a starter). Maybe Sasha, but maybe not.

James is going to look around and see Z and Wallace nearing the end, AV jetting, and holes at SG and PG (I'm going under the assumption that West isn't our PG of the future, which most would agree he is not). Ferry should be able to fill one of those spots via FA, but probably not much more realistically. And one of those signing MUST be a number 2 option or else the Cavs have major issues

The odds are in the Cavs favor IMO, but there are some real causes of concern when looking at turnover.

I hate the garbage the media puts out about NYC, but that doesn't mean the Cavs don't have a lot of work to do to get James to sign again. And I say that as one who was born and raised in Akron, and would hate to see the kid leave.

Erik said...

The Cavs definitely have a lot of work to do, and that's a good thing. Ferry and Gilbert should remain vigilant about improving the team, not just to keep LeBron happy, but because they want to win a title themselves.

There is no doubt that the Cavs are now an older team thanks to the trade. I wrote a column about that on my blog. And in two years, yes, this frontcourt will need an injection of new blood.

But I think the whole "LeBron is going to see a decaying team around him in 2010" argument assumes that Ferry won't be able to make additional moves in the next two years.

We all know about the contracts that Ferry will be able to deal this summer. A package of Wally ($12M), Jones ($4M) and Snow ($7M) could yield a nice player from a team looking for cap relief.

I also think there is a high probability Ferry will look to draft a C/PF this year. Roy Hibbert and Kevin Love are high on my list. If Ferry starts to address the aging frontcourt issue this summer, he won't have an avalanche of moves to make in two years.

Also, I don't think it's a given that Andy is gone after next season. If the price is reasonable, the Cavs will bring him back because they'll hold his Bird rights. And I don't see how Andy's market value is going to skyrocket over the next year. In the end, he's a good role player off the bench, nothing more.

If he didn't fetch $10 million a year this past summer, chances are he's not going to fetch $10 million a year in 2009. But that's jumping ahead. The more pressing concern is at what price to keep Boobie and Delonte this summer.

RockKing said...

GREAT post Ben. It sucks as a blog writer, too, because it makes it hard for us to just enjoy what we're seeing in LeBron, because we're always sucked into responding to all these news stories, reports, blogs, etc, etc, etc. And if it's this bad now, just imagine what it's going to be like in that last season. Ugh.

Ben said...

I think that's what bugs me the most about this talk is the idea that LeBron is going to leave because of what Danny Ferry did at the trade deadline in 2008.

"Sure, they made a nice move, but will it be enough to get LeBron to re-sign?" seems to be the prevailing conventional wisdom.

If the Cavs started to have seasons similar to KG's final years in Minnesota (or AI's in Philly) then I'd be worried. If they started offering the Willie Greens of the world 5 year contracts, I'd be scared to death. But they aren't.

Ferry isn't throwing away draft picks. He's not overpaying to keep his own players (see Gooden, Sasha and Varejao). He's not taking on long term contracts and he's given the Cavs a good degree of flexibility.

Like I've written before, if the Cavs were going to be starting Hughes and Pavlovic in 2010, there'd be no doubt in my mind that James would be out the door (and no Cleveland fan could blame him).

But I believe that the lack of moves over the last couple years has led many fans to believe that the front office was happy with the roster and didn't want to change things up (rather than realizing that they needed to stay patient).

In my opinion, the Cavs need to get more players like Damon Jones and Ben Wallace; not necessarily their skill level, but players that have had playoff success sans LeBron James. They need players who are confident in their own abilities and talents, who have won before.

Z, Gooden, Hughes, Marshall... all of their NBA success came with LeBron... they were dependent on him. The other players never had any swagger, because everyone knew that they were riding on LeBron's coattails .

Anyways, I think things are going in the right direction. They have draft picks, they have some trade bait and they have LeBron James.

And they have two more years to do something.

graham said...

I'd love to see Ferry hit a home run with the upcoming draft, and would feel much more comfortable if he did.

It will be hard considering where the Cavs will be drafting, but it won't be impossible. Hypothetically, if Ferry cold grab a stud, then it might seal LeBron's fate, b/c you gotta figure we will acquire some very solid players via FA this summer or the next.

Can't say I'm real high on Love though.

Ben said...

I like Love... I think the Cavs could pair him with Varejao much in the way they use Z with Andy or Z with Wallace. One defensive big man, one offensive big man (aka slow guy with post moves and a nice set shot).

I bet LeBron and Love could run a sweet pick and roll (or those outlet passes... that'd lead to at least one dunk a game)

Erik said...

The only problem with Love is that he's 19. Very polished for 19, but 19 nontheless. I know LeBron took to the NBA game like a fish to water, but when a player comes into the league after just one year of college, there will always be questions about his maturity and ability to handle pressure.

But if this dude is the Next Kevin McHale that everyone seems to think he is, I wouldn't blink if he was there and Hibbert was not.

I'd still take Hibbert first because he can be groomed as Z's replacement, whereas Love is solely a PF. But that might be a moot point. It appears that Love's draft stock is rising, and if UCLA makes it to the Final Four with Love as a major reason why, I highly doubt he'll be there when the Cavs draft.

Really, though, the chance to draft Love or Hibbert is reason enough to not finish with 50 wins this year. I want a pick in the teens. Neither one of them will sink to 20.

Erik said...

Here's an additional thought: What about Joey Dorsey from Memphis?

He's pretty much the spitting image of Ben Wallace. Of course, you probably don't need two Ben Wallaces on the same team, but it's no secret that Ben Wallace isn't really Ben Wallace anymore.

Ferry needs to find Z's replacement, but he's also going to need to find Wallace's replacement soon. Why not get him while the man himself can still tutor him?

Ben said...

I don't know enough about Dorsey to say yay or nay.

However, I do think the Cavs are in position to be drafting "the best player available". While the team is decent, none of the starting spots are set for the long term. West and Pavlovic (and Gibson) are all in the mix and satisfactory, but they won't stop the Cavs from taking a stud guard if he falls.

I think they'd focus on the bigs, but while it's a need, it's not a pressing one.

Plus, whoever they draft could end up being trade bait anyways.

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