First, a quick note regarding the coaching search. While Mike Brown is a fine coach, I hope the climax of this endeavor is not him returning. I have crossed-my-fingers hoping for a top-name in assistant coaching; once upon a time, Greg Popovich and Phil Jackson received their big break, right? We recently witnessed a Byron Scott-coached team repeat a miniature cycle similar to his prior two stints: All-Star point guard; quick rise to prominence; equally rapid plummet accompanied by whispers of locker-room dissent. Well Mike Brown, while also a former coach-of-the-year and NBA Finalist, lists on his resume two experiences of being run-out-of-town to appease a superstar. If hiring Brown, do we witness history repeat itself five years from now, with the Cavs panic-hiring an ex-Laker B.S. (Brian Shaw) in order to placate a potentially evasive superstar? A lot of hypothetical there, but I don’t care to explore that parallel universe. I’ve seen the prequel. So, hire Mike Malone, Brian Shaw, etc; I have cast my vote.
(Edit: According to ESPN, the Sunday night dinner meeting between Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown and Chris Grant “went well…(Brown) is the only coach they are currently pursuing.” So, that’s interesting.
The other big storyline of the spring is the upcoming draft. Cleveland looks towards June 27th with the third-best lottery odds, as well as the 19th, 31st and 33rd picks. As an intro to the upcoming ten weeks, a perusal of their options is in order. Starting with the lottery pick…
Cleveland’s odds stack-up to a 96% chance of picking in the top-five, 47% likelihood of selecting top-three, with 16% of choosing at the top. There are basically only two options here, right?
- Pick a top prospect. My current “big board” goes: Noel, Porter, Oladipo, Bennett, McLemore. Hitting the fifty-fifty proposition of a first-three pick would be awesome.
- Trade for Al Horford. David Zavac discussed this last month at Fear the Sword. I thought his offer was steep, but if Atlanta wants to tear down and tank for a few years, Cleveland could package the fourth pick, Varejao and spare draft picks for the Hawks’ Center. Atlanta could parlay one top-five pick in 2013 and a high-lottery choice in the hugely-touted 2014 draft towards an exciting future. The Cavs pick up a 27-year old All-Star with a reasonable 3 years, $36 million on his contract.
For the other first-rounder, options appear to be:
- If the likely first scenario from above is taken, my preference is to not bring-on another rookie for next season. The team needs to keep bolstering the young talent pool, but a combined push towards adding experience is also in order. A Euro could be picked as a draft-and-stash.
- If the lottery-pick is traded, then selecting a 2013 – 2014 newcomer at #19 is a solid option. As a Euro looking to come to the NBA next season, I can envision talking myself into Sergey Karasev of Russia. A 19-year old small forward with sweet scoring and passing skills and an accomplished start to his teenaged Euro-career, he is vaguely reminiscent of Evan Fournier. Last year, I declared Fournier a late lottery pick, and based on early returns, that looks pretty solid.
- Trade the pick. In 2011, San Antonio looked to get younger, more athletic, and less expensive. Indiana possessed cap-space to burn and needed to get a tad more battle-tested. George Hill and Kawhi Leonard crossed paths and both teams met their goals. Last week, I mentioned OKC as potentially willing to roll-the-dice swapping a $4 million role player for a $1.5 million first-rounder, provided there is someone they really like. Over the course of this season, on a few occassions, I mentioned Portland as a team that should look to make a trade. They: are not a playoff team; have $45 million in annual salary commitments for the next two seasons; and dealt away a future first rounder. Of the ten Western Conference teams finishing ahead of them, six have definitely or arguably better young cores at their disposal. Is this incarnation of the Trail Blazers maxed-out as future first-round playoff fodder? Perhaps they should trade Wes Matthews & LaMarcus Aldridge, keep Damian Lillard and Nic Batum, tank for the 2014 draft and start building a contender for 2019. The Cavs are way under the cap and could take Matthews off their hands.
- Trade the lottery pick and nineteen to move up a slot or two.
Finally, the second rounders. Obviously combining picks and trading up, or Euro-stashing remain options, but my early preference with those picks is take two players, and let them hover between the D-League and end-of-the-bench (depending on injuries) for 2013 – 2014. Even while trading second rounders in 2011 and 2012, the team brought in a bevy of undrafted rookies. As of today, my preference is draft the lottery pick, trade #19, sign four reliable, veteran free-agents to fill roster spots one through twelve, and go into next season with the 13th, 14th, and 15th men as Kevin Jones, and the thirty-first and thirty-third picks. Of name’s currently slotted towards the early part of draftexpress’s mock second-round, I am interested in Erick Green, B.J. Young, Mike Muscala, Nate Wolters or Adreian Payne.
Well, there is some kick-off to the draft coverage. Last year, I was writing heavily about prospects throughout the season; right now, I am late to that game. Rectifying that serves as a high priority over the next two months, so check back often for in-depth coverage leading to draft day.