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December 31st, 2012 by Tom Pestak

Happy New Year!!  Five Cavs questions for the writers – all in one place.

Question 1: Of Pargo, Casspi, and Leuer – to whom should CG extend a qualifying offer?  Should CG pick up the Cavs’ team option for C.J. Miles?

[http://hoopshype.com/salaries/cleveland.htm]

Kevin: Other than those players, the Cavs have six players under contract for next season.  Miles’s player option for $2.2 million is a no-brainer.  The team probably has to offer Casspi his $3.3 million qualifying offer; he is 6′ – 9″, plays some defense, and makes 36% of his career threes. I don’t think any other team exceeds the offer; if he accepts, the team is only up to eight players; if he declines and goes to Europe, then I think making the offer keeps him as a restricted free agent if he ever returns.  Leuer fell into the doghouse, but in six games with the Charge, he averaged 20 points, 12 boards and 59% true shooting.  If Luke Harangody warranted the third year $1.06 million qualifying offer; Leuer certainly does.  I would let Pargo test unrestricted free agency rather than offer the $3.3 million.

Dani: C.J. Miles certainly deserves to be picked up. He’s streaky, but he’s also occasionally explosive, and has proven that he can be a real threat off the bench. In a league where shooting threes is only getting more important, a guy like Miles can be a real asset- assuming, of course, that his play (his three-point shooting, specifically) recently hasn’t been a mirage.  On another note: Byron Scott has been unfair with Casspi, and hasn’t really given him a shot to earn a contract. Unleash the Hummus!

Mallory: This is definitely a tough one, but it’s absolutely between Casspi and Miles.  I think Casspi hasn’t been given a fair chance this season – he’s a long SF who is decent defender and rebounds.  He’s had some trouble finding his shot, and lapses, but you figure at some point he’ll put it together.  If we end up actually becoming a contender, some winning might do him well.  Miles is streaky as heck (duh) but when he catches fire, he’s virtually unstoppable.  It’s OK to have a guy like that on your bench as a playoff bound team.

Nate: Miles will probably have his option picked up if he continues to be able to score in bunches.  I like Casspi a lot, but it seems as if Scott does not.  There’s no point in picking up a player who doesn’t get to play.

Tom: It’d be nice to actually understand why Omri Casspi never plays and J.J. Hickson continues his domination in Portlandia.  Casspi just needs more burn.  I think 3.3 million isn’t too rich for a young athletic 3 and D small forward.  Of course, that’s 3.3 million wasted dollars if he never gets off the pine.  So I would “consult” Byron Scott first if I was Chris Grant.  I’ll say the same for Leuer.  I don’t think Kevin Hetrick knows this but after reading all his glorious Leuer posts I actually purchased myself a Jonny FatHead.  My wife told me I can’t leave it up while he’s in the D-League.  The Cavs need a full roster, so Leuer seems fine to me at barely above 1 mil, although I still can’t believe the Cavs didn’t look at Derrick Brown.  Maybe next year.  Pargo’s 3.3 mil qualifying offer seems steep.  I’d keep him for around 1.5 mil, but my guess is if they let him enter unrestricted FA he will bolt.  C.J. Miles?  Who’s that?  I sorta remember some chucker posting a NEGATIVE 5 PER for about a month.  Not sure what happened to him.  This new guy that they got in December that averages 15 points in 24 minutes on 47/48/90 shooting?  How much is the team option?  2.25 million?!  PAY HEEEM.

Question 2: If you are pro “cavs aggressively target DMC” give a recent player example to support your argument.  If against – do the same.

Kevin: No example, but Cleveland already has one potentially petulant 21-year-old in Dion Waiters.  Their focus for now needs to be building an offense using Kyrie and Dion together, but also individually, teamed with TT and / or Zeller.  Adding Cousins to a new, young, struggling team sounds like trouble for him and the development of the remaining youngsters.  Maybe Philadelphia should role the dice on Cousins; a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned them as a team that may desire to shake things up.

Dani: I am by all means in favor of the Cavs aggressively pursuing Demarcus Cousins. He’s an immensely talented two-way center in the prime of his youth, potentially available on the cheap due to behavioral concerns. Are you kidding me? These are the risks that win teams championships. As for player examples, I’ll do you one better and give you a full team. The 2004 Pistons. Championship winners and chock-full of jerks.

Mallory: I’m definitely pro Boogie.  Trying as hard as possible, on the spot, to think of a guy who fits his profile (and talent level) going to another team and putting it all together, but I can’t think of someone as troubled, but also amazing, doing it.  But plenty of players have needed a change of scenery to find their groove.  Cousins is absurdly young; I have complete faith that, with the right guidance, he can mature into a great NBA center.  And lets be honest, it’s not like the Kings are a model franchise.

Nate: My DMC comparison?  Allen Iverson: Career knucklehead who was at times capable of brilliant play, but burned through coaches like they were kindling.  If Grant values his job, there’s no way he’s touching DMC.  AI made a finals appearance, but his character, combined with his inability to adapt his game made him very difficult to play with and coach.  Runner up comparison: Michael Beasley, who is currently educating Phoenix in buyer’s remorse.

Tom: I’m on the fence.  But here’s two examples from the same team.  The Pistons took a flyer on Rasheed Wallace and he won them a championship.  Darius Miles – a younger, more talented player(scored 47 once) that had major character issues and had a run-in with his coach – he never amounted to anything.  DMC is crazy good, but I get the feeling he is always a few seconds away from detonating.  A key component is the rest of the locker room and the coaching staff.  Say what you want about Flip Saunders, he somehow channeled all the negative energy of those Pistons teams and they won games.  One thing that pushes me off the Cousins bandwagon is that the Cavs are so young and trying to find themselves.  They aren’t “falling in line” right now behind a player or a coach.  I certainly wouldn’t want Cousins coming in and creating a bunch of locker room dysfunction.  I’m gonna go with NO to pursuing DMC – final answer. (Fun Fact – that JailBlazers team I referenced also sported: Zach Randolph)

Question 3: Who is your favorite NBA player?

Kevin: (I thought this had to be a non-Cav) I’m probably not a ‘favorite player’ type of guy, so let’s say, David West.  I live in Indianapolis, and the toughness and veteran-ness that he brings to the Pacers has been a ‘culture-changer’.   When Danny Granger returns and Roy Hibbert starts shooting better than 40%, I think Indiana is still the third-best team in the East.  When I look at this year’s crop of free-agents, I do not see a player that makes an equivalent impact on the Cavaliers, but hope that such an acquisition emerges.

Dani: I’d say Kyrie Irving…but I’ll try and pick a non-Cavs player. It’s gotta be Carmelo Anthony for me. He’s one of the smoothest scorers in the game, and he does it with such effortless grace. He’ll never match Durant or Lebron efficiency-wise, but aesthetically he’s leap years ahead of anyone else. Now that he can shoot the three as well, Knicks games have become must-watch TV for me, even if just to delight in Melo dropping the quietest 35 in the league.

Mallory: Other than Kyrie?  And not counting vintage Brandon Roy?  The player I’m most consistently mesmerized by is Rajon Rondo.  Sometimes he’s a train wreck, and sometimes he’s awe-inspiring, but either way he’s unbelievable to watch.  We pretend like there are things he seriously cannot do, but when the man puts his mind to it, he’s virtually unstoppable.  I’ve seen him have games where he shoots nothing but bricks, and others where he can drain it from anywhere on the floor.  Beyond fun to watch.

Nate: Anderson Varejao is my favorite NBA player, but as for a non-Cav?  Oy.  That’s hard.  I’m a bigtime Cavs fan.  Since Shane Battier (my favorite college player) is excepted because he’s currently allied with the Axis of Ego, I’ll take Kosta Kufos because I got to play a pickup game or two with him when he was younger.  It was all pullup threes, working on his handle, and having the snot fouled out of him by sub six footers every time he went inside.  He grew up in my neck of the woods, and Kufos had a lot of talent then as well as now.  He seemed like a nice, focused, no nonsense guy.  I’d love to see him wend his way back to the Cavs some day.  Steph Curry (my 2nd favorite college player) is up there too.

Tom: I have three favorite players: Manu Ginobili, Anderson Varejao, and Paul Millsap.  Ginobili at his best is the most entertaining player I’ve ever watched.  He is, in my opinion, the biggest reason the 7 -seconds or less Suns never got over the hump.  He just OWNED those teams on both ends.  Anytime Suns/Spurs battles started to hang in the balance – Ginobili would just take over.  Anderson Varejao is the player that I would most want to play with regardless of the sport.  I’d want him in my golf scramble – on my Canasta team – doesn’t matter.  Paul Millsap is a very high character guy that is so incredibly skilled for his position.  I believe I just named the 3 most underrated players in the NBA.  Honorable mention is Rajon Rondo – I can’t stand him but he is an incredible basketball specimen and always captures my attention.

Question 4: Name a rule change you would implement as commissioner.

Kevin: Towards the end of last year, I discussed dissatisfaction with the lottery system.  I could still stand to see that changed.  What irritates me this year is the “pump fake and then lean in” move to pick up a foul.  Faking a shot, drawing the defender in the air, then making a completely unnatural basketball move, to force what would not have been a foul if the player had made a natural basketball move, should be as ill-regarded as flopping.

Dani: I would put a shorter time limit on free throws. If there is a time limit now, either referees are ignoring it or it isn’t short enough. Regardless, we shouldn’t have to watch Reggie Evans mime shooting a free throw five times before actually sending the ball towards the hoop. It slows down the game and saps excitement. A shorter time limit could also increase missed free throws at the end of games, which would provide more drama. Take notes, Mr. Stern.

Mallory: The flopping rule is a step in the right direction, though it needs some time to work out the kinks.  I’m actually in the camp that thinks too much is considered a foul now adays – I’d probably try to slowly move the league away from the superstar-gets-to-the-line-because-driving-is-hard-to-stop mindset and let things get a little more physical.  After all, more fouls = a slower paced game = longer/more exhausting to watch.

Nate: It’s more of a way the rule is interpreted.  I REALLY hate the current way a lot of refs don’t let players leave their feet on defense, even if they go straight up.  This happened to TT the other night.  His man pump faked, Canadian Dynamite jump straight up, and then the offensive player jumped into him, and TT was whistled for a foul. When the defender breaks the plane of the offensive player and commits a foul, that’s fine.  I’m even mostly ok when the defender is flying by and the shooter jumps sideways into him, but defenders should always be allowed to go straight up.  This should never be a foul in the NBA, but it seems as if stars get this call all the time.  It’s ugly, it slows down the game, and it’s a cheap.

Tom: First, the low-hanging fruit –  the NBA has got to change the way it calls charges.  The incentives are such that the defensive player has only 1 goal – to jump in front of player about to be captured on a poster and stand like a statue cupping their man-parts – only to blow over in the wind.  It’s the most unnatural thing ever.  Try it sometime.  Try jumping in front of something aggressive and then standing upright so that you are top heavy and have no balance.  At the apex of excitement in the NBA – a possession goes the other way because a player was crafty enough to stand upright faster than another player could jump 8 feet through the air.  Instead, allow defensive players to contest any and all rim-rocking attempts.  If they contest the shot and absorb the contact in the air – SWALLOW THE WHISTLE!  The only time being anchored in the ground motionless should draw a charge is when the offensive player is not jumping – but just streaking unabashedly and uncontrollably forward.  But all this restricted area, take away that man’s highlight finish, crap has to end.  OK, for the more complicated rule change.  The NBA’s biggest in-game problem is how slowly and anti-climatically close games often end.  With teams literally doing unnatural clock stopping endeavors for the entire final minute.  I have some ideas.  Imagine if, in the final minute of games, every inbounds was from half-court.  This would eliminate the NEED to call timeout simply to advance the ball.  Now imagine that all fouls in the final minute (since they are almost always intentional) grant the fouled team the following options.  A.) 1 and 1, B.) 1 shot and the ball, with 5 seconds on the shot clock.  If there are less than 5 seconds in the game, only a 1 and 1.  Something needs to be done to speed up play at the end of games and end the drudgery of 20 minute foul shooting sessions and 6 timeouts in 24 NBA seconds.

Question 5: Predict the NBA’s final four this season?

Kevin: I will go ‘chalk’ here.  The East looks like a two-team race with Miami and New York, but I could envision Indiana giving the Knicks trouble in the second-round.  The West is stacked, but I think the Thunder represent in the Finals again this season.  And how can anyone pick against the Clippers in the midst of a sixteen game win streak?

Dani: Clippers-Lakers, Knicks-Heat. A pair of conference finals for the ages.

Mallory: MIA, OKC, SA, NYK.  But I still think Boston, Chicago, Both LAs, and Memphis get sneaky close too.  Really, beyond Miami and Oklahoma City are there any 100% certainties this season?  This might be the most exciting playoffs in quite some time.

Nate: New York Knicks/Miami Heat, Tacoma City Plunder/Memphis Grizzlies.  This assumes Clips get upset by the Grizz in the second round.  The Lakers also lose in the first round, and Kobe Bryant actually rips Devin Ebanks head off and eats it.

Tom: In the West this is going to be about match-ups.  But I think the teams left standing will be the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder and in the East no one will beat Miami in a 7-game series.  They will face whoever was able to avoid them up to that point.  I’ll go with the 2-seed which I anticipate to be either Indiana or New York.  NY has a 4 game lead right now so I’ll go with them.

Commentariat, how would you answer these?