Archive for the ‘Player Grades’ Category

Your Comprehensive 2015 Cavs Free Agency Guide

Monday, June 29th, 2015

lovejames

Well, Jensen Karp blew up Twitter last night when he tweeted a get-together pic between KLove and the King (pic edited). I guess that’s as good a way as any to kick off the madness that will be the 2015 NBA free agency period. So, release the NBA suits! In less than 48 hours, teams can start recruiting free agents (12 AM EST, July 1st). Of course, any free agency talk for Cleveland starts with the fact that LeBron James has officially opted out of his contract and is now a free agent. Of course, everyone expects the King to re-sign with the Cavs, and the official line is that he is taking a “wait and see” approach with regards to the Cavs and free agency. Windy reports.

Last week, Cavs general manager David Griffin said the team had been in regular contact with James since the end of the Finals and that he was “very engaged” in discussions about the roster. Sources told ESPN, however, it is James’ intention to stay somewhat removed from the Cavs’ free agency until other free agents are handled.

Translation? James’ cap hold of $21.6 million is less than the free agent contract he will sign later this summer, of about $23 million dollars. But, for maximum flexibility, it may help the Cavs to “officially” sign him last of all. In light of this, let’s take a look at the Cavs options in free agency, both with their own free agents, and prospective ones.

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Grading the Haywood Trade Options

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

4014260800306_l

Friday, we discussed the ins and outs of the Brendan Haywood contract and the assets it could garner. “It’s Gold,” I noted, as the team which receives Haywood can immediately waive him for no money, or even trade him again to a team with cap room to receive a sizable exception (who can then waive him or trade him again). Haywood’s contract is going to get passed like a giant tub of popcorn at an Inside Out matinee.

As we discovered yesterday, the Cavs cannot receive players back in any sign-and-trade deals because they are over the luxury tax apron. This means the Cavs have four options with regards to Haywood.

  1. Release Haywood to save Dan Gilbert at least $30 million in payroll and luxury tax payments.
  2. Trade Haywood for a $10,522,500 trade exception to be used at some point later in 2015-2016. This gives Cleveland much less flex flexibility than does trading Haywood this summer when his contract can be combined with other players’ and they can take back up to $13.25 million in salaries with Haywood’s contract alone.
  3. Hold on to Haywood and trade him sometime after Dec. 15th, when players signed during the summer of 2015 can be traded. This is the option I’m sure Haywood would enjoy, as he’d be payed around a third of his $10 million contract.
  4. Trade Brendan Haywood for a player or players currently under contract. Those players have to have salaries totaling approximately $7-$13.25 million dollars. Also, the Cavs only have this year’s first round pick, a bunch of future second rounders, and a 2018 first rounder to bargain with. Ted Stepien, eat your heart out.

So lets explore some possibilities for option four, with our standard CtB grading system. Please note that salaries are approximate and based on this year’s salaries, which could be slightly different from next season’s.

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Galvanized Pipe

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Jr Pipeline

Try, for a moment, to imagine the trepidation of Cavs fans (or just read through the twitter replies) when the #WojBomb detonated.  The Cleveland Cavaliers, fragile, rudderless, running out of time, prepared a jersey and a locker for J.R. Smith.   J.R. Smith?!  With Smith’s reputation, it was almost inconceivable that Cavs GM David Griffin would risk further dysfunction on a team that needed to get righted quickly.  The season was not yet completely unsalvageable, and Smith, for all his documented transgressions and the deafening chorus on his inability to be coached, could be considered one of the few role players in the NBA that could win a game by himself.  Still, it was like calling for a Hail Mary on 3rd and 8 with a minute and three timeouts remaining.

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All-Star Roundup, and who Would Help the Cavs? — w/ a Haywood Contract Update

Monday, February 16th, 2015

LeBron moved into second place all time in All-Star game scoring with 30 points last night– including 15 in the first eight minutes — but he missed his third MVP trophy when Russell Westbrook went off for 41 points to lead the West to an All-Star game victory last night.

There was a flurry of fluff over the weekend, and it’s impossible to list every interview or soundbite, but one thing of note, LeBron James was elected Vice President of the NBPA, joining president Chris Paul as the top players in the union power hierarchy. Count me in the group that thinks having two max players at the top is bad for the rank and file NBA guys. Their focus is going to on improving contracts for the guys at the top of the salary structure, not the middle or the bottom. Of course, I’m an old school prole. I’m always wary of the rich. If there’s one guy who knows how to leverage his image for gain, it’s James. For all the LeBron news about him holding court at the All-Star game, click here.

J.R. Smith provided my highlight of the weekend (above), by participating in the NBA All Star Weekend fashion show, SI reports.

With the All-Star game in the books, the talk now turns to the NBA trade deadline, which is Thursday the 19th at 3PM. The Cavs are in the middle of a few rumors, but nothing is really concrete. Let’s take a look at who’s out there in trade or as a free agent, and who could help the Cavs. While the Cavs’ biggest needs are probably another big and another guard, they’d add a wing if the price was right.

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Shawn Marion, by the Numbers

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Over this last weekend, “The Matrix” committed to the Cavs. Shawn Dwayne Marion has been an all-star, an NBA champion, and an offensive and defensive Swiss Army knife throughout his career in the NBA. But Marion is also 36 years old, has played 15 seasons, and has just under 39,000 regular season minutes under his belt (eighth among active players). There’s no doubt that as a veteran minimum signing, Marion is worth having on the team. He’s a bargain at that price, if just for his experience and professionalism alone. But coming off a mediocre season, it’s worth exploring whether the Cavs should commit significant minutes to Marion. Is he still a solid performer, or has the game mostly passed him by?

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What To Expect From Jarrett Jack

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Golden State Warriors Jarrett Jack gestures during their NBA Western Division quarter-final playoff game against the Denver Nuggets in Oakland

 

As Cavs: The Blog’s chief Bay Area Stuff correspondent, I have a decent amount of experience watching Jarrett Jack: New Cavalier. The zippy bic-domed point guard was somewhat talismanic of the Golden State Warrior’s dream 2013 playoffs. Whereas Stephen Curry was incinerating defenses and inventing new colors, Jack was firmly earthbound, yet still effective. His drives and passes tended to stretch the limits of sanity, but he was solid as a third guard, especially in a small lineup with Curry and Klay Thompson. He is nominally the only other point guard on the roster besides Kyrie Irving and Matthew Dellavedova, so he is firmly entrenched there, but with such a liquid roster, the question of fit is a fairly open one.

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Scouting the Playoffs: Round 1 — The East

Monday, May 6th, 2013

An entertaining first round of the NBA playoffs concluded this last weekend.  How does this concern the Cavs?  Uh…

…Oh.  Right.  There’s quite a few players in the playoffs right now who will be free agents in the offseason.  In addition there’s several players who played who’ll be tempting trade targets.  Let’s look at some.

Miami Vs. Milwaukee: Miami won this one handily.  Miami’s free agents are Ray Allen, Chris Anderson, Mario Chalmers, Juwan Howard, James Jones, and Rashard Lewis.  None of those guys are probably on the radar for the Cavs.  Mario Chalmers and James Jones might be interesting pickups, but James Jones played only 5 minutes.  Hailing from my home town of Anchorage, Alaska, Mario Chalmers would allow the Cavs to have employed every single Alaskan to play in the NBA, joining prestigious Cavs alums Trajan Langdon and Carlos Boozer.  However, he had a particularly meh first round averaging 6.5 points off of .517 true shooting and 4.5 assists per game.  Tough to grade anyone on Miami.  This series was like a butterfly hitting a Buick.  I admit, I didn’t watch a game.

In looking to fill the Anthony Parker/Luke Walton role of seasoned veteran who plays too many minutes, the Cavs could do a lot worse than Mike Dunleavy, who at least offensively acquitted himself well, scoring 19.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per 36 minutes, with shooting splits of .567/.438/.889.  Just don’t ask him to guard LeBron though.  And if you come to Cleveland, Mike, please rock the ‘stache.

Honorable mention: Samuel Dalembert who might be a decent 4th big, only got to play 9 minutes, continuing his career trend of massively underplaying his contract.  Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings got torched by Miami’s guards, but aren’t realistic options anyway.

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Thoughts on James Harden Part III: It’s Never Too Soon to be Thinking About June.

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Ah... Summer.

In my last installment of this series, I wrote about what the plan needs to be from here on out for the Cavs.

The Cavs have to start trying to contend in 2013-2014.
In 2013, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson will be on the 3rd year of their rookie scale contracts, leaving two seasons for them to play before they’re eligible for extensions.  Additionally, the best dollar for dollar player in the NBA, Anderson Varejao will be on his ridiculously underpaying contract at less than $10 million a year for 2013-2015.  Further, the only salaries the Cavs have to pay next year are Andy, Dion, Irving, TT, Gee, and Zeller: the core.  This comes in at $27.6 million.  Given the cap holds for another top 5 pick, and a 15-30 pick , we can estimate a cap hold of around $5-6 million.  So, the Cavs will have a total salary of roughly $34 million.  Given a cap of $58 million, this gives the Cavs $24 million to play with.

Now that we’re in the dog days of December, and the worst part of the Cavs’ schedule, it’s nice to look ahead to a happier time when visions of all stars will be dancing in our heads.  The end of June will mark the start of NBA free agency, that lovely time when career scrubs who’ve had one good year get massively over-payed, and old vets get minimums to be player/coaches.

When I wrote the above, I did not count for the cap holds for the qualifying offers and non-guaranteed contracts of the other members of the team.  As can be seen on the link, the numbers for Casspi, Miles, Pargo, Samuels, Sloan, and Leuer add up to just over $10 million in cap room, all or any of which can be renounced.  Miles, most interestingly has a completely non-guaranteed 2013 salary which can be a nice trade chip for next year in a trade-and waive scenario.  This gives the Cavs anywhere from $14-24 million to play with depending on who they want to keep.  Remember, they MUST spend 90% of the cap, which means around $54 million total.  This means that the Cavs will need to spend a minimum of $10 million on free agents in 2013  just to get to the salary floor, and that’s if they keep all their draft picks and restricted free agents at around their qualifying offers.

I’ve written many times that the new CBA is going to change everything.  Teams over the luxury tax threshold are going to have to make hard choices about who they want to keep.  Only the mega-rich are going to be able to go well over the tax threshold for extended periods: New York, Brooklyn, L.A., and maybe Miami.  With that said, the Cavs plan should be to pluck free agents and restricted free agents from teams that are in danger of going over the luxury tax.  With that in mind, let’s start looking at the 2013 NBA free agent class.

The Max Guys:

In a word, these guys are “the balls”: the Ron Burgundys of their fields: the all stars.  They are getting max salary or close to it.  Most of these guys are going to be re-signed by their current teams, and if they’re not, the odds of them coming to Cleveland are about as high as the odds of the Browns running the table and winning the Super Bowl this year.  Players include Chris Paul, Monta Ellis, Manu Ginobili, Paul Pierce, and Dwight Howard.

There’s one player in this group who might be the longest of shots to sign with the Cavs:

Andre Iguodala: Long coveted by the Cavs, Iguodala has an early termination option that he will exercise unless he gets hurt.  He currently makes $16 million, and would be a fantastic player for the Cavs with his defense, finishing, leadership, and ability to play without the ball and run the floor.  Unfortunately it’s going to take $17 million plus per year to sign him and make Denver think twice.  Also, he’s currently sporting a 14.2 PPG/ 3.8 APG /5.2 RPG/ 1.2 Stl /13.64 PER line (the per game averages will follow this format throughout this post) which is below average efficiency.  He’s also 28 and has a game founded on athleticism and hustle.  He would be a big risk on the back end of a 4 or 5 year deal, but he would give the Cavs instant credibility, as he’s respected around the league.

The Just Below Max Guys:

Most of these could get a close to max contract if the situation worked out right for them.  These are the guys that are going to be using teams like the Cavs for leverage, and we can probably only afford one of them.

O.J. Mayo: Breakout year for him with a 20.9/3.5/3.9 19.25 PER.  The Mavericks fleeced the rest of the league signing him for a paltry $8 million over 2 years last summer.  Unfortunately for them, he will, barring injury, decline his player option for next year and hit free agency looking for a substantial increase on his $4 million dollar per year salary.  Given the future (hopefully) strength of the Cavs back-court, he would be a tough guy to commit $12 million+ per year to.  The Mavs have $44.4 in other salary commitments and they need to pay Darren Collison, so they may or not elect to keep Mayo.  Knowing Cuban, they will probably elect to re-sign mayo, but  if they bow out, there will be plenty of other suitors.

Josh Smith: A VERY intriguing player who would probably be in the max group if he was having a better year.  At 17/3.6/8.4/2 blocks 17.4 PER, he’s been coming on of late, but is shooting only 45% from the field, but a mind boggling 38% from three.  He’s a player who’s always thought he was a stretch 4, who couldn’t shoot like it, yet this year he just might be the player he’s always wanted to.  Also, 82games has him at a net of +9.3 points per 100 possesions.   Smith is 27, and probably has 1 good contract left in him, especially since he’s a player that relies on athleticism and will probably have 23,000+ minutes in his career by year’s end.  Unfortunately, he’s a bit of a head case and the longshot of longshots.  It would take the max and a major dissatisfaction with Atlanta for him to leave.  Additionally, since Atlanta has only $18 million in Salary commitments next year they’ll be able to match any offer.  They’ll be competing with the Cavs for free agents.  Danny Ferry has done an awesome job flipping the Joe Johnson albatross for flexibility.


That's right, I may make more $$ than any other player this offseason.


Al Jefferson: One of the last true centers left in the NBA, big Al has one of the most polished post games in the league.  At 17.4/2/10.7/1.2 BLK &  21 PER, he is having a very good year.  But big Al seems to have good years when his contract is up, and the worry at 27 is that this is his sign and retire deal, especially given his large size and somewhat sketchy injury history.  Given that he brings a very rare combination commodities in the NBA: size, rebounding, and a post game and already makes $15 million, he could command a very large salary of around $19 million per (the NBA max).  The Jazz have 26 Million in commitments, and a lot of holes to fill.  The choice for the Jazz will probably come down to him and…

This one's for Dani.

Paul Millsap: The #1 mentioned 2013 free agent at CtB.  At 14.6/2.6/8.2/1 BLK 18.9 per game, he has had to play a lot at the 3, given the Jazz’s crowded front court, and has stretched his game out past the 3 point line shooting 50% this year, on only 1 SPG, but 46% in general from the floor.  He’s 27 and has a game predicated on athleticism and strong shooting play and around the basket .  With decent durability, he can probably be a good get on a 4 year deal.  He would immediately move TT to the bench, and be a decent 2nd or 3rd option in the Cavs offense.  My guess is it will take about $13+ million a year to pry him away.  He or Jefferson may have to come by sign and trade.

Kevin Martin: The sharpshooter OKC acquired from Houston is currently making $12.5 million, and scoring 15.4/1.7/2.4/1.2 Stl 18PER, shooting .465/.478/.931.  He’s a lights out guy, and would not be a bad player on the Cavs, but at 29, and with the need to overpay him ($13-$14 million to get him), he’s probably not what we’re looking for, even though his offensive skills probably won’t decline too much with age.   He can play either wing position, but isn’t much of a distributor.

David West: A very solid player who at 32 (note the age, Andy trade proponents) sports a line of 17.3/2.7/8.6/1.1 BLK 20.5 PER for the Pacers.  He might be worth overpaying for 2 years to bring some professionalism to the team and work with Tristan Thompson for 2 years, especially given their similar body types.  West currently makes $10 million, and keeping this rate of pay up or even a modest raise for a couple years wouldn’t hurt the Cavs much.  I like him very much as a fall back plan for the above bigs, or even in addition through sign and trade.

Reuinted, would it feel so good?

Andrew Bynum: Who would’ve been solidly in the top tier just 5 months ago, is currently hemorrhaging future money with his knee issues and meh attitude towards basketball.  He’s currently paid $16.7 million and will probably have to sign a make good contract this off season.  If anyone gives him long term big money, he’ll sign it.  This is Gilbert Arenas in 2008 all over again.  The Cavs should RUN from giving a long term deal to a guy with Bynum’s attitude and and knee issues.  If they could take a flyer on him on a 1 year deal with a team option, he might not be a bad gamble.  It will be interesting to see how dumb teams are when it comes to Bynum.

Does it ever get old?

The Intriguing RFAs:

The restricted free agents’ current teams all have the ability to match any offer that the Cavs would give, as long as they extend the player a qualifying offer.  Large RFA offers usually really irritate the teams that own the players rights.

This is my "happy to be in Sacramento" face.

Tyreke Evans: 15.5/3.7/4.9/1.3 STL 17.85 PER is the line this year for the mercurial player from Sacramento.  2010’s rookie of the year has been trapped on the league’s most dysfunctional franchise for the last four years, and had his role shifted in the offense multiple times.  The results have been sketchy to say the least, and he’s currently battling a mysterious knee ailment.  However, he can attack the basket, play three positions, and seems desperately in need of a leader to follow.  He has a $6.9 million dollar qualifying offer that the Kings will probably extend.  Given his remarkable similarity to Iggy’s numbers, but his increased efficiency, wouldn’t he be the perfect high risk/high reward player to bring in on a front loaded contract that the Kings might think twice about matching?  Say $13 million for 2 years, dropping down to $10 million in the 3rd and a 4th year team option?  This also keeps with my plan of pissing off all the other teams by tying up their cap money in restricted free agents.

Brandon Jennings, Darren Collison, & Jeff Teague: Good players, but we don’t need another alpha point guard.  However, the fact that they’ll be taking up other teams’ time and money will be good for us.

Gerald Henderson: 13.3/1/2.7/1.3 Stl / 19.31 PER, Henderson has a $4.3 million dollar qualifying offer, and is currently a very efficient scorer, though not much else, and a lot of that is coming off an otherworldly 63.6% from 3.  He will undoubtedly regress to the mean.  But could be a high value wing.  It will probably take a $10.5  million+/per year offer for his Airness not to match, which is probably a little rich for Gerald Henderson.  Alonzo Gee is a homeless man’s Gerald Henderson at a third of that price.

Tell me he and Andy wouldn't scare you a little.

Tiago Splitter: 6’11” 240 pound 27 year old super sub for the Spurs.  9.2/1.2/4.7 21.5 PER.  A teammate of Varejao’s on the Brazilian national team.  I’m sure Andy would love to play with him, and he’s probably due for a big pay raise.  With a $5.9 million QO, he will probably get most of the money captain Jack is making this year, stretching his salary to $9 million+.  We could probably overpay to get him at $11 million, which would make for a strange dynamic with Andy, and I’m wondering how much of his numbers are the magic of Popovic.  Still, he might be the most intriguing of the restricted free agents.

Conclusions:

Ideally, we could get one of these guys, and then one of the guys who’ll be featured at the top of Thursday’s article, ToJH (might be time to drop that since none of it is even about James Harden) Part IV: the Mid Tier Free Agents.  As for the guys on this list, my vote is to make a run at Tyreke Evans and/or Tiago Splitter.  Evans is the only quality affordable wing on this list, and a Splitter/Andy lineup would be a thing of beauty.  Tie up those teams cap money if they match, and then if that doesn’t work out, go after David West.  I like Josh Smith and I like Al Jefferson, but I think they’re simply going to cost too much money, and the odds of us getting them are too low.  Being smarter with Dan Gilbert’s money will help the Cavs trade for guys like that or pick them at pirates’ terms when they need to be traded.  As for Paul Millsap?  I think he’s fine, but the guy at the top of  Thursday’s installment in this series is an even better value.

Bubble Watch: Cavs Roster Decisions Loom

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

This post is not about the starters.

With one preseason game to go, the current Cavs roster stands at 17 players.  With an NBA roster limit of 15 players, 2 players are not going to make the team.  To complicate matters, teams often don’t like to keep more than 13 or 14 players for flexibility, payroll reasons, and because only 12 players can dress for a game.  While it is true that the Cavs can assign 2 players to the D-League, they must currently be on the inactive list.  So at least 2 players on the Cavs roster will not make the team.

So who’s on the bubble?  We’ll break the Cavs roster down into four groups, and look at each player’s chances of making the team.

Group 1: The Green Zone.

These guys are safe, and barring an earth shattering trade, they will be on the roster opening day.  They’d pretty much have to be caught running naked through the streets of Cleveland, ala Frank the Tank, to not make it (warning PG13 rated link).  Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varajao, CJ Miles, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, and Tyler Zeller represent the “core” of the Cavs right now – the guys we’re building around.  None of them are going to be waived or bought out unless they decide to “streak the quad,” and maybe not even then.  Odds of making the Cavs: 100%.

Group1a: Omri Casspi

I was going to put Casper into group 2, but he’s played so well in preseason that to say he’s only on the team or not because of his contract is doing him a disservice.  But I don’t think that the Cavs brain trust considers him part of the “core” just yet.  In the last year of his rookie contract paying him $3.8 Million this year, Omri has everything to gain by playing well this season.  Odds of making the Cavs: 99.99%

Group 2:  The Contract Men

Two Lukes and a Boobie: guys whose chances of making the team hinge around their contract.

Luke Walton: In the final year of a 6 year, $30 million dollar contract, costing the Cavs $6.1 Million this year, it seems highly unlikely that the Cavs will buy out or waive the elder Luke.  Why?  Because they don’t want to play a guy that much money to do nothing, and because he’s bad enough that once he’s off the Cavs, he’s probably out of the league.  Which means he probably won’t take a buyout.  While his preseason play hasn’t set the world on fire, it hasn’t been too bad.  With a decent game against Orlando, he showed that he can at least play NBA basketball in a meaningless game for 11 minutes.  The expiring contract could be a big chip at the trade deadline too. Look for him to stick at least till February, and fill the Anthony Parker memorial “stately veteran” role for the Cavs (but thankfully not actually play very much).  Chances of making the Cavs: 90%.

#1 in your programs, #1 in your hearts: Daniel "Boobie" Gibson

Daniel “Boobie” Gibson: Also in the final year of a 5 year, 21 million dollar contract (can you believe this is going to be his 7th year with the team?  He still seems 12 to me).  He’s on the hook for just under $4.8 Million.  The catch?  Only $2.5 million of that is guaranteed.  What I don’t know, and what I’m hoping someone can tell me, is does that mean whenever he’s released, the prorated portion of his contract is due, or once he’s earned $2.5 million he can be released without owing him any money?  He could be a release candidate because he’d save the Cavs 2.3 million.  More likely: his contract is another trade deadline asset.  Because he’s one of the Cavs stately vets, a relentlessly milquetoast twitterer, and a class act since he’s been with the team, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t in the Q opening night.  March is another story.  Odds of making the Cavs: 87%.

Luke Harangody: Unofficial mascot of CavstheBlog, Harangody is something of an enigma.  A shorter, less athletic version of Brian Scalabrine, most of us here at CtB don’t quite understand why he’s on the team, or why he was given a restricted free agent guaranteed contract for seven figures.  I like to think of him as the goofy yet loveable landscaper who’s going out with your hot grad schooled cousin.  You don’t know why he gets to try to score, and conventional logic would dictate that he should have been released for a better prospect years ago.  In both cases, he’s literally out of his league, but you enjoy watching him try to fumble his way through your grandparents’ anniversary party (the “preseason” of family functions) and trying to keep 6’10” pogo sticks off the board.  Still, you wouldn’t mind doing Jello shots with him at the family golf outing.  But there are a lot of players on the roster, and if they want your cousin to go out with Kevin Jones, Grandpa Gilbert may just have to slip ‘Gody $1.1 Million to go away.  Odds of making the Cavs: 70%.

Group 3: Definitely Maybe

These guys are probably on the roster, unless they try to get a Ricky Davis triple double against Indiana tonight.

Jon Leuer: A low risk waiver pickup from this offseason.  He came to Cleveland when Houston traded Milwaukee for him and then waived him when they tried to either get Howard or get awful.  Leuer’s had flashes, but is shooting 33% and 25% from the field and 3 this preseason, and is struggling to score and rebound against stronger, more athletic players in the last couple games.  Still the praise was effusive early on, J-Leu has a high basketball IQ, and had a good rookie year.  He seems like a solid prospect.  Odds of making the Cavs: 85%

Samardo Samuels: The big bodied Jamaican purportedly got in shape this offseason, and dropped his body fat to 8%.  He definitely looks more cut, and his preseason play, when he gets minutes, has been decent, scoring 23 points on 60% shooting and grabbing 11 boards points in 59 minutes.  His preseason minutes beg the question though: is Scott not playing him because he knows what he has, or because Samardo has used up all his chances?  I would not mind seeing him go, because I believe the Samardo we’re seeing now represents his ceiling.  He’s still not a great rebounder, still takes dumb shots, but at least he’s hit some this preseason.  On a minimum contract he costs the Cavs only a roster spot, but the news that he trained this offseason with Antawn in an attempt to emulate ‘Twan’s pick and pop game scares me a little lot.  Odds of making the Cavs: 65%

Group Three: There can be only two (or maybe one).

These guys are all playing for one or two spots (or maybe three) and the privilege of playing in garbage time and in the D-League.  The question about these guys, is do the Cavs want to carry three point guards?  (Or two or four if you consider Boobie and Dion point guards or not).   A Highlander-esque beheading contest will probably not solve the debate.  (If you’re under twenty-something, just ignore this reference).

I might never have another chance to post this picture.

Donald Sloan and Jeremy Pargo: Sloan has shot decently this preseason.  (44% FG and 60% 3), but his 1.2 assist to turnover ratio isn’t exactly scintillating.  Pargo has been the better distributor at almost 5 dimes a game, with 3 turnovers, but his 19% FG and 25% 3 shooting has been awful.  Sloan definitely has better steal numbers, and played in Byron Scott’s system last year.  But we have not watched practice either…  Odds of making the Cavs: 0% (for both to stick).  Individually: Sloan: 50%;  Pargo: 25%.

Kevin Jones: An intriguing prospect who led the big east in scoring and rebounding.  He had 5 rebounds in 13 minutes against Orlando, and attempted no shots in two games, which tells us nothing.  He has long arms, but was a doughy 11% body fat at the combine.  From his college scouting report, I like him better than anyone else in group three.  With comparisons to Chuck Hayes and Udonis Haslem, and a rank in the top 5% in postup scoring in college, I’d much rather see him stick and get some run in Canton than anyone else in this group.  He most likely hurt his draft stock by hiring his brother as his agent, but has early second round talent and an intriguing skill set.  Odds of making the Cavs: 35%

Michael Eric:  To call him a long shot would be insulting Raja Bell, Rudy Ruettiger, and Vince Papale.  He does not have any stat lines in the NBA.com database, nor a profile on DraftExpress.com.  He’s been compared to Serge Ibaka because they’re both tall and from Africa and can block shots.  The difference ends if you watch Eric play, which I did for all of 3.5 minutes in Canton.   He was ambulatory.  Odds of Making the Cavs: 10%

Conclusions:

What probably happens is that Eric and Pargo are cut, and that ‘Gody and Jones end up in the D-League.  After cuts, Eric and Pargo probably do too.  Life at the end of the roster won’t be fun for them.  Sometimes it is hard to remember that this is a job and a dream for these guys, and being flippant about their prospects for playing even 5 minutes a game seems funny in the moment.  It’s probably not that funny when the choice is between garbage time, per diem, private jets, and luxury hotels; or flying coach out of Akron, playing for $35,000 a year, and checking each hotel on the bedbug registry.  Such is life on the bubble.

Giving out grades: Antawn Jamison

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

So the time has come for this.

I think Antawn Jamison is a very nice man, and a very skilled basketball player. He’s always gracious to the media and fans, and has clearly worked very hard on his offensive game to have been an effective scorer well into his thirties.

That said, I loathe Antawn Jamison very, very much. People often say they have an “irrational hatred” for a player. I believe that I have a very rational hatred towards Antawn Jamison. To borrow a line from Broadcast News, Antawn Jamison, while being a very nice man, is the devil.

Offensively, Jamison’s only notable skill is the ability to create shots. That means that he is able to heave the ball in the direction of the basket at a greater rate than most players who play is position. He is a decent finisher at the immediate rim. That much he has going for him. Everything else is overrated.

Jamison favors an array of unorthodox flip shots and floaters from the paint instead of simply trying to power his way to the basket and draw the foul or finish hard. When they go in, it’s very pretty, and the broadcasters will inevitably comment on how unusual and impressive that part of Jamison’s game is.

However, there is a reason why nobody’s mid-post game looks like Jamison’s — those shots don’t go in very often, and he’s prone to forcing them at inopportune times. Jamison made 46.2% of his shots from the 3-9 foot area, and his free-throw rate was miserably low.

As an outside shooter, Jamison is overrated as well. Jamison made 30% of his shots from 10-15 feet, 37% of his long twos, and 34.6% of his threes. He finally started shooting a lot more threes than long twos this season, which is good, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that he’s a ball-stopper with those outside shots and not nearly as effective of a shooter as he thinks he is. Oh, and he finished 59th among power forwards in assist rate.

Then there’s the defense. Oh lord, the defense. The Cavs were terrible at both offense and defense last season. The offense is understandable — the player the offense was built around left, and the Cavs didn’t have the talent to put up points on a regular basis. The defense, on the other hand, was embarrassing and inexcusable. It was disappointing to watch the Cavs’ offensive futility. It was infuriating to watch the Cavs give up wide-open layups and threes to any team that wanted them on a nightly basis.

When the Cavs had a truly horrible defensive breakdown, which was often, I’d rewind the DVR to see what happened. A shockingly high percentage of the time, Antawn Jamison was at the root of the problem. When he’s involved in a play defensively, the Cavs played 4-on-5 in 2010-11. He’s not a post defender, he can’t stop guys off the dribble, and he’s horrifyingly bad in the pick-and-roll.

The last point was particularly glaring — he’d glide over the screen like he was thinking about showing, allow the ball-handler to go past him without offering resistance, and jog back to his man, creating a four-on-five situation. It happened over and over and over again, and it was excruciating to watch. Words cannot describe just how bad Jamison’s defense was. At mid-season, I wrote that I’m not sure if Jamison could successfully defend a woman’s right to vote. It was easier to get penetration against Antawn Jamison than it was against Jenna Jameson. I joke, but it was truly awful and team-crippling, especially when the guy is supposed to be a locker-room leader. How is a team supposed to play defense when their supposed best player clearly couldn’t care less about it?

I believe successful teams are built around defense and efficiency, especially when they don’t have a superstar. Jamison was not efficient, and his defense was an insult to all that man has achieved since the discovery of fire. And all of this happened after Jamison got abused by Kevin Garnett so badly in the 2010 playoffs that he legally must name his next child Big Ticket Jamison.

That said, Jamison did make nearly three-quarters of his free throws this season after shooting a Shaq-like percentage during his first season with the team. CATCH THE FEVER!

The good news is that Jamison has a big expiring contract. Maybe some team will be foolish enough to take it on. Lord knows it’s happened before. For now, we can only hope.

2010-11 Grade: D Minus

Outlook for the 2011-12 Season: Please, please trade him. I can’t watch him play basketball any more.