Tuesday, July 07, 2009


From ESPN:

The Cleveland Cavaliers got some bad news followed by some potentially terrific news on Sunday. In a last-ditch effort to recruit Trevor Ariza away from the Houston Rockets, LeBron James told Ariza he would remain with the Cavaliers past 2010, according to a person close to Ariza.

Even that wasn't enough to get Ariza, who verbally committed to join the Rockets last Thursday, to change his mind and go to Cleveland.

But the Cavaliers will gladly settle for the consolation prize; if indeed James' statement to Ariza was more than an empty sales pitch.

"Trevor asked LeBron if he would be in Cleveland after next season," the source said. "And LeBron said, 'I'll be there. Of course, I'll be there.'"

James could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Couple things.

First, I completely agree that LeBron's lack of commitment hurts Cleveland's chances in Free Agency. I don't see how it couldn't. If he's telling potential FA's that he's sticking around, it will only help Danny Ferry do his job.

Second, while I don't buy all the hype about Houston's Dork Elvis GM, I do think it's interesting that he's targeted Ariza. For all the potential and so-so stats, Ariza did just start on the team that won the NBA title. I'm not a fan of throwing a ton of money at a guy who's still considered unproven, but he's young, he's won (been through the playoff wars) and he's crazy athletic. Do we really think his jumper won't improve?

Third, I'm all for the Cavs still trying. Look, they HAVE to get younger. And if that takes trying to sign potential FAs out of their verbal agreements, then go for it. A title is a title is title.

At the end of the day, whatever happens with Ariza, I think this has to considered a good thing. LeBron is telling other NBA players that he plans on sticking around. That doesn't suck.

UPDATE: He said/she said:

LeBron James did not tell Trevor Ariza he would stay in Cleveland past 2010, according to sources close to the Cavaliers' superstar -- contradicting what a person close to Ariza said Monday night.

That source said that James told Ariza he planned to remain with the Cavaliers past next summer, when he can become a free agent. James could not be reached for comment Monday night, but on Tuesday, sources who spoke to James said the story told by the person close to Ariza was wrong.

All I know, is that it's gonna be a long long year...


Erik said...

In the end, free agency is probably a lousy way to add pieces for a team like the Cavs. LeBron's long term commitment to the organization is the only thing standing between the Cavs and wasteland status. Cleveland is just not a desirable NBA FA destination. The winters are cold and the increased taxes mean less money in the pockets of Cavs signees.

If the Cavs can't offer the most money, they lose on all the other points. When the Cavs offer their MLE, and a warm weather team offers their MLE, suddenly the Cavs money looks like old Confederate money to a FA.

If LeBron isn't going to put his pen where his mouth is and re-up this summer, the Cavs should probably just count Shaq as their one big score, focus on re-signing Andy, try to bring back Wally and Joe Smith for vet-minimum type deals, and move on from there. They're not going to entice any FA worth a damn to sign here without LeBron's signature on a legally-binding document. Even then, it will be an uphill battle.

I still maintain that the best way to improve a team in the NBA is 1) drafting, 2) trades and 3) free agency. The first two takes all the mitigating factors, like climate, tax structure and the player's decision-making process, out of the equation. If you're in a market like Cleveland and you're pinning your hopes on free agency, you're asking for trouble.

Ben said...

I think they're gonna have to seriously consider trading Zydrunas.

I won't like it and odds are that he'll be bought out and rest a month, but they HAVE to consider it.

I mean, your back-up center is an $11 million expiring contract. You only got so many options...

Erik said...

I'm starting to agree as more FAs find different dance partners.

Assuming Marion is gone to Dallas, who is left? Frye? He's not coming here if Phoenix wants him. McDyess? He really wants to stay in Detroit. Kleiza and Childress are RFAs. I can't think the Hawks would want to see Childress go to the team that swept them out of the playoffs. They'd probably be more apt to match a Cavs offer, even if they have other needs.

That leaves guys like Dahntay Jones and Anthony Parker. Maybe if you can get Parker for BAE money, it's worth it, but Ferry had better not overpay someone like Jones or Parker just to sign someone.

Z's contract is the only piece left that can net the Cavs anything worth having. He's not going to play anywhere else but here, so you'd have to think a trade/buyout/re-sign scenario is worth examining.

The question is, would Z forfeit a large chunk of his salary for this year? Remember, this is the last season of Z's career in which he'll earn anything above MLE-level money.

Graham said...

Very much agree about drafting Erik.

The Cavs draft since LeBron was chosen in 2003 consists of:

Jason Kopono, Luke Jackson, Shannon Brown, Daniel Gibson, Ejike Ugboaja, J.J. Hickson, and Christian Eyenga.

- no producers for the most part, particularly with Boobie falling off.

Prior to LeBron (let's go back 3 years):

Chris Mihm, Desagna Diop, Brendan Haywood, Jeff Trepagnier, Dajuan Wagner, Carlos Boozer.

- one good player among junk, and we botched his situation miserably.

Plain and simple, the Cavs are poor at drafting. Add that to a few bad signings in Hughes, Marshall, and D Jones, and we were set back fairly signficantly I would say.

Thankfully, Ferry was able to bring in Mo Williams which was absolutely HUGE in terms of building around LeBron. But its a real testment to LeBron as a player that this team is so good. Frankly, his supporting cast hasn't been that great, and certainly inferior to those of his rivals (Magic, Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, etc.).

Erik said...

Of course, if they hit on any of those pre-LeBron picks (i.e. draft Amare instead of Wagner), chances are the Cavs never fall far enough to land LeBron.

Since '05, Ferry just hasn't had a ton to work with. No first-rounders in '05 and '07, the 25th pick in '06, the 19th pick in '08 and the 30th pick in '09.

Now, a lot of fans will instantly point to the Spurs as evidence that a team should be able to find stars late in the draft. But they're the exception. Generally, you're not going to find much more than bench pieces and project players where the Cavs have been drafting the past five years.

If you're a contender built around veterans, youngsters just aren't going to get a lot of chances to crack the rotation on a team like the Cavs, so their playing time is going to be extremely limited.

Hickson showed a little bit of something early last year, but now he has back problems. Shannon Brown probably should have stayed the full four at MSU. Eyenga was drafted expressly so that the Cavs wouldn't have to sign him this summer -- first-round contracts are guaranteed, second-round contracts don't have to be.

Boobie is what he is. He's a second/third stringer who got hot at the right time, and maybe became overvalued in the process. But he's not a deadeye 3PT shooter and never really was. Give hima chance to get healthy for next season, and water will probably find its level somewhere between '07 playoffs Boobie and '08-'09 disappointing Boobie.

Maybe the real crime in all of this was Pax screwing up the 10th overall pick in '04 by drafting Bobby Brady. That was the last time the Cavs had a lottery pick, probably the last time they really had an opportunity to add a NBA-ready starter through the draft.

There was also letting go of Boozer and Kapono, but I've already rambled long enough.

Graham said...

Luke Jackson was/is a disaster. You can't miss like that when you have LeBron locked down.

And its certainly fair to argue Ferry doesn't have a ton to work with. But the bottom line is, we haven't drafted well and its hindered our future. I'm not trying to lay blame, but the point is the Cavs organization has been miserable in the one area where you cannot miss.

Like I said, thankfully Ferry has made some solid trade moves after the Hughes signing (and Paxson deserves credit for Gooden-Varejao deal). But mostly LeBron saved a sinking ship.