What it will come down to for Chris Grant and the Cavalier coaching and scouting staffs will be the best fit long-term. Kanter is undeniably more ready to step in now and flash his offensive skills, and you will have to wait a little longer to see Valanciunas’s full impact. If defense, rebounding, and pick and roll offense are a greater need, Valanciunas is your man. If you’re looking for more of an offensive option and a tough, physical finisher in the post, then Kanter should be the selection. I feel that the Cavaliers’ decision may in part be made by Minnesota (or a trade partner) and Utah ahead of them, and only one of these two will be there at number four. Right now, I’m leaning a little bit toward Valanciunas, but I would not be disappointed at all with Kanter.
I will abstain since I know very little about either prospect. Discuss, People Who Know Things.
I know last week’s developments with respect to Carlos Boozer are a source of extreme disappointment for you. I want to assure you that I feel exactly the same way. Like you, I believed in Carlos.
Several days have now gone by. This has helped me to gain perspective. I hope this letter will do the same for you.
First, Jim Paxson has taken a tremendous amount of criticism in the media for what happened. As the team owner, I made the decision not to pick up the option on Carlos’ contract. Any criticism should be directed to me, not to Jim Paxson. I want to be very clear that any fault is mine.
Up until late last week when the trust was broken, I believed in Carlos Boozer, the player, and Carlos Boozer, the person. That is why I tried to do what he said he wanted. We tried to do right by him, by the team and by you in trusting in his repeated insistence that if we showed him respect, he would show respect to us.
Carlos and his agent first approached us in December of 2003, stating his desire for financial security as well as his desire to remain in Cleveland and be a key part of the future of this franchise. He and his agent made it very clear that if we respected them, and provided the security he was looking to gain, he would respect us. Given his record on the court, with the franchise, and in the community, we had every reason to believe his commitment.
Over the course of several months, we had multiple meetings that involved Carlos, his wife and his agent. In our most recent meeting on June 30, Jim Paxson and I told Carlos we had two options. He could play this year on his existing contract and test the market for free agency next year, or we could elect not to exercise the option if we had the understanding with him that as soon as legally possible he would negotiate a contract with us for the maximum we could pay him under league rules.
I told him that as we could not have an agreement at that time given the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, we would have to trust one another’s intentions. I said I define trust as his intention to stay in Cleveland and enter into a long term contract with us as soon as possible under the league rules. In that meeting, we were clear with him that he could make more money in the open market a year from now than we could pay him by redoing his contract this year. I told him he needed to understand that and we did not want him to later think we had taken advantage of him. Jim told him, “There are at least seven teams that have cap space right now who will want to pay you more than we can now. We don’t want to lose you. Why would we not pick up the option?” Carlos said “Because we’d like long term security and we want to stay in Cleveland.” Carlos went on to say that he was happy to be a Cavalier and never indicated any concern with his role on the team or his relationship with Coach Silas.
Carlos, his wife and his agent – all of whom were in that room — knew what our maximum ability would be to pay him. Both Carlos and his wife responded that they wanted financial security now and therefore were anxious to pursue the second option of entering into a long term contract with us as soon as possible and that they would live with any consequences from this decision.
Carlos’ agent then said he wanted to go to another room to talk with his client and his wife alone which they did. When they returned, his agent said he had again explained everything to them so that they understood everything involved and said that their thinking had not changed.
Jim Paxson then told him, “We’d like to begin, as soon as permissible, to negotiate an agreement that we can sign on July 14th.” Carlos responded, “That’s exactly what I want. I want to get this done as quickly as we can.”
Over time Carlos had told Jim and me repeatedly, “If you show respect for me, I will show respect for you.” So, in the June 30 meeting, I reminded him of that and said, “We are all counting on what you said in earlier meetings and again today.” He responded, “That’s right and you can trust me on that.” I asked if we could all trust each other? Carlos, his wife and agent each responded “Yes.” At that point, believing so strongly in Carlos, I said we would not pick up his option. Our intent, as soon as we could do so, was to re-do his contract. The quotes you saw in the media July 1 about his desire to remain here were entirely consistent with what he told us.
In the final analysis, I decided to trust Carlos and show him the respect he asked for. He did not show that trust and respect in return. That’s what happened. I wanted you to hear it directly from me. The decision was mine and I take full responsibility.
We currently have no intention of matching Utah’s offer to Carlos. In order to match it, and within the restrictions of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, we would need to make player personnel moves of such a magnitude that it would have significant negative impact on our team moving forward. We are continuing to look at every possible option that will allow us to improve our team and continue to build on the tremendous momentum we have experienced in recent years. More than ever, we are committed to bringing a championship to this city. Thank you for your continued support of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
We’re back again for week two of the imitable series, Drawings from the Notebook of Chris Grant, and this week I brought the goodies.
First off: A tribute to Nick Gilbert, whose exploits this week have been well documented.
What’s not to like? Potentially that this is the second week in a row I’ve stuck a high profile Cav onto the preeminent staple of the LeBron advertising campaign…but I like to think that it’s an act of usurpation (I absolutely looked up that word) rather than remembrance.
Also, I wanted to try my hand at architectural and/or banner design. (Let’s just say that if I built it house it would fall, and if I designed a banner it would, um…go off the side of the page.)
We can argue semantics about the relative weakness of the draft (I think Mo and Kevin have been doing a good job of arguing to the contrary), but it is strong at the top (the very top), and that’s where we are.
Kyrie Irving is a player, and if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to land someone of note at number four as well. (And if we’re lucky lucky, maybe we can pop back in around 8 or 9 and land Leonard or Singleton too. I’m an optimist.) That’s an incredible start for a rebuilding franchise, and really, an incredible start in rebuilding the image of the Cavaliers into something more positive than “the team that LeBron left and whose owner subsequently flipped out.”
Tuesday night was a good night, and hopefully the foundation for many a good night to come.
Three more little trinkets before I’m off until next Sunday:
1. I was so totally won over by Nick Gilbert that I had my friend (the inimitable and mysterious AJS, who colored everything I’m posting here today and who made the banner below) Photoshop together an actual Nick Gilbert “What’s Not To Like?” banner.
2. Should you be the type of person who likes to print out all your internet readings and compile them into some sort of self-manufactured book-type-binder…I made you a Drawings from the Notebook of Chris Grant bookmark. In no way was it a picture I messed up width-wise and then converted into a bookmark.
3. And lastly, the following is a candid photo taken by my brother’s girlfriend of my brother and me watching the lottery. It was taken between picks 4 and 1. We were both nervous, but apparently I’m the only one for whom that manifests itself in the stance of a six-year-old girl.
“I think I’m the No. 1 pick because I have more star quality I would think. I’m just a bigger person. Just trying to fill in for a big star like LeBron like they’re missing. That missing piece. I think that’s me.”
I think someone over at Ball Don’t Lie mentioned this yesterday, but: savvy move, Derrick Williams. There is a very slim chance he’ll be drafted number one, but playing up the whole “I’m not afraid of anyone or anything” persona is smart.
Alec Burks' ball-handling is one of his many strengths.
One of the Cavs’ biggest weaknesses this season was their offense. As I detailed in my profile of Jimmer Fredette, Cleveland ranked 29th in the league in field goal percentage. A glaring hole in the roster is the need for a scoring wing player.
Alec Burks led the Big 12 in scoring, dropping just over 20 per game. Would the 6-foot-6, 200-pound sophomore shooting guard from Colorado offer some hope for the Cavs?
Burks is an efficient slasher on offense who breaks down defenses with penetration. He does a great job getting to the rim, where he finishes well from either side of the basket and draws a ton of fouls (7.9 FTA/game) and converts his free throws (82.5%). He’s creative and patient when he skies to the rim, able to contort his body and finish in traffic.
Burks’ excellent ball-handling ability aids him greatly in his penetration game. He’s a confident ball-handler who often brought the ball up the court for Colorado, and he attacks one-on-one off the dribble using body fakes and crossovers.
What makes Burks a true nightmare for college defenses is his passing ability. For a high-usage (25.5%) player, he is a surprisingly willing passer, driving with a mentality to set up teammates as often as he looks to score. He had more assists than turnovers this year (1.13 ratio).
Burks rebounds very well for his position. He averaged 6.5 rebounds per game this year. His athleticism, anticipation and height give him an edge over other shooting guards.
For all his offensive game, Burks’ biggest weakness is his lack of a reliable jump shot. He made just 29% of his 3s as a sophomore (35% as a freshman). It hasn’t affected his offensive efficiency much in college (63% TS, 1.24 PPP), but he must improve his shooting to keep NBA defenders honest or they will play off him and dare him to make jumpers. Burks’ poor body control when shooting on the move or off the dribble hurts him here, as his limbs flail a bit and he seems off-balance.
Burks below-average jump shooting would be less of a problem if he showed better shot selection. He seems too willing to settle for contested long twos, a death knell against sophisticated NBA defenses.
Many have questioned Burks’ defense, and indeed he was a poor isolation defender this year and prone to committing fouls. He shows a willingness to play hard on D most of the time though, and he’s good at using his length to contest jump shooters.
How he fits with the Cavs
Alec Burks has a good chance to be a solid NBA shooting guard. His athleticism and skills combined with his young age (he doesn’t turn 20 until July) make him an intriguing prospect. If he can improve his outside shooting, he will be a complete offensive weapon in the mold of James Harden, whose play-making ability in the pick and roll has helped the Thunder greatly this postseason.
Picking Burks fourth overall would certainly be considered a reach by most, as he’s currently projected to go 10th overall on both draftexpress.com and nbadraft.net. However, there isn’t much difference between the third and 10th picks this year, as all prospects besides Irving and Williams come with considerable risk.
Burks would certainly fit a need for the Cavs if he can improve his shooting stroke. His excellent free-throw shooting is a good indicator that he’ll be able to do so. Trading down, possibly for an additional second-round pick that could be used on a frontcourt body, is an option the Cavs could consider. Then, they could draft Burks at a spot more in line with his perceived value.
An article from Emma Carmichael reveals a few interesting facts about the nature of LeBron’s much-maligned Decision last July. These insights are gleaned from the new ESPN oral history Those Guys Have All the Fun, in which Jim Gray briefly discusses The Decision:
I worked for this. I created this. I came up with the concept. Maverick Carter and Ari Emanuel are two of the most stand-up, honorable, loyal people I’ve been engaged with in television, in all my thirty-five years. When ESPN wanted to replace me and throw me under the bus, they stood firm and said, ‘No, Jim Gray is with us, he gave us the idea, he is tied to this, and we’re not going to change.’
As Carmichael notes later in the article, the section on The Decision hardly mentions LeBron; it seems that he was something a pawn in the whole production with Maverick Carter, Ari Emanuel, and Jim Gray at the helm. For what it’s worth, LeBron didn’t imagineer The Decision; rather, he stupidly allowed himself to be a participant.
Irving is not that quick, but he is considered the lone can’t-miss player in the draft — provided the toe injury that sidelined him for most of Duke’s games does not recur. Evidence in the NCAA Tournament was that Irving was just fine. So the Cavs’ rebuilding moves at a pace that, if not quite up to that of the very quickest point guards, is still rapidly accelerated.
I will concede that I was not excited about winning the lottery. I was pleased, but the 48 points Dirk dropped on OKC filled me with more excitement than the prospect of landing Kyrie Irving does. (Those contested jumpers!) This Livingston column reminds me that I’m being sorta silly; Cleveland fans should be enjoying their newfound hope.
“Absolutely huge because I think contrary to most public opinion here this draft particularly the high end, according to our guys, and our guys go deep, they do all kinds of intelligence on the player not just from a skill standpoint, but their life – they talk to their kindergarten teachers, their aunts and uncles, their friends and enemies, and everyone in between, and they just really love the character of some of these top guys. Who they are and what they represent and what they are as people and human beings. As we all know, because we have seen both ends of it in this town for many years, the good and the bad, I think character and integrity wins out in the end holding all the other stuff equal. To get a couple of picks like this in the top four, including number one, it’s going to be a seminal event that’s going to change the franchise for years to come. Combining that with the trade exception that we’ve got still, potential trade opportunities, free agency, and some guys coming back, this thing can turn around quicker than people think.”
For one, the Cavaliers certainly have to strongly consider taking Duke point guard Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick. Irving is widely regarded as the top player in what many scouts and team executives are calling an extremely shallow draft. The Cavs already have Davis, whom they traded for last season, and yet also have Ramon Sessions. If they take Irving, you’d have to expect Sessions would be available.
“The Cavaliers team shop isn’t going to start printing Kyrie Irving jerseys tonight. But maybe by next Wednesday or so, the order will be ready to be placed. The Cavaliers winning the lottery means the one-and-done point guard out of Duke is almost assuredly coming to Cleveland with the first pick on June 23… His process now will be to show, both in medical exams and in workouts, that’s the toe ligament injury is healed and that he can be an explosive playmaker. If he does, Cavs coach Byron Scott will be smiling.” [Zac Jackson]
“With a chance to try to establish the core of the franchise going forward thanks to the Cavs having the 1 and 4 picks, the circumstances may have changed. And I can’t help but wonder Arizona’s Derrick Williams and Kentucky’s Brandon Knight wouldn’t be a better fit together than Irving and anyone else the Cavs would pick at #4.” [Michael Curry]
“[Chad] Ford also has the Cavs taking Turkish center and former Kentucky basketball player Enes Kanter with the fourth overall pick. He believes Kanter, while raw, can bring some much needed toughness and an inside-out game to the Cavaliers’ offensive attack.” [Sayre Bedinger]
Nate Smith is an Associate Editor. He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and moved to NE Ohio in 2000. He adopted the Cavs in 2003 and graduated from Kent State in 2009 with a BA in English. He can be contacted at email@example.com or @oldseaminer on Twitter.
Tom Pestak is an Associate Editor. He's from the west side of Cleveland and lives and (mostly) dies by the success and (mostly) failures of his beloved teams. You can watch his fanaticism during Cavs games @tompestak.
Robert Attenweiler is a Staff Writer. Originally from OH, he's long made his home in NYC where he writes plays and screenplays (www.disgracedproductions.com) some of which end up being about Ohio, basketball or both. He has also written for The Classical and the blog Raising the Cadavalier. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @cadavalier.
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