Just a more or less straightforward inventory of the team’s roster here, with the players least likely to be traded and/or be most crucial to the team’s present and future success occupying the highest levels. Within the levels, the players are in no particular order.
Tier 1: And they shall lead us into the abyss
Mo Williams: Generally recognized as the team’s “second option” when LeBron was around. Has expressed a strong desire to stay in Cleveland and lead the team in the coming seasons. Up-tempo style should suit his strengths, and lineups that feature Mo at the 2 and Ramon Sessions at the 1 could cause a lot of mismatches. The odds-on favorite to lead the team in scoring next season.
Could opt out after this season, which could happen if a contender without a true point comes up short, has a decent amount of cap space, and Mo is willing to take a pay cut of some kind.
Ramon Sessions: Not a big name, coming off a bad year, and his biggest accomplishment to date was being considered the sleeper free agent of the summer of 2009. Not shooting the ball well in preseason. Has never shot the ball very well, ever. Still, everyone knows Sessions was a terrible fit in the triangle.
More importantly, if this team wants to run, it’s going to need a pure point guard, and Sessions is the only guy who even remotely fits that bill. How well or how poorly Ramon Sessions plays next season could represent a 10-game win for the Cavaliers. I’m scared too. Still, best pure point guard since Andre Miller! That’s not nothing!
J.J. Hickson: The only intriguing prospect the Cavaliers have that has spent a significant amount of time playing organized basketball in America. Big, explosive, athletic, shows flashes of skill. Should flourish in an up-tempo system. Could crumble if asked to create too many shots and/or be relied upon to anchor the defense. This could go a number of ways. Hickson is The Future. We just don’t know what that future will hold.
Tier 2: It’s been a great ride, but there’s just so much road ahead
Anderson Varejao: Extremely talented player built to thrive on good teams. Up-tempo play should suit his style, but he’s not an ideal frontcourt partner for Hickson. More importantly, a rebuilding team probably shouldn’t be committed to a role player (albeit a player who performs that role extremely well) for 7-9 million dollars a year through the 2014/15 season. (In fairness, that last year is only partially guaranteed.)
If Varejao is ready to be a full-time center and Hickson’s jumper has improved enough for him to play alongside a guy who can’t shoot from the outside, Varejao and Hickson could work really well. If they don’t, there’s almost always a team willing to take a long-term financial risk for the short-term benefit a player like Varejao could have on a playoff run.
Tier 3: I have no idea what to do with you, Antawn
Antawn Jamison: Maybe the best all-around player currently on the roster. Also set to start the season as the team’s 6th man. All-around scorer who can create shots for himself or finish the opportunities given to him by others. Two years and 29 million left on his deal, and he’s not going to be single-handedly carrying the team to glory any time soon.
Jamison isn’t getting any younger, but there’s still a chance some team will want him at the deadline. If a team makes an offer for Jamison, the Cavs will almost certainly listen. If the Cavs don’t manage to move Jamison this season, there are worse things to have around than Jamison’s professional attitude and all-around prowess.
Tier 4: If not a true trade chip, then certainly some other sort of trade dry snack
Christian Eyenga: Extremely, extremely, extremely raw player who’s never really produced significantly in any sort of high-level basketball organization. But he’s young, he’s insanely athletic, he can shoot from outside if given time, he doesn’t need the ball in his hands, and he’s shown good flashes in both Las Vegas and the preseason. I don’t think teams will be high enough on Eyenga for him to be a significant piece of a potential Jamison/Varejao deal, but he’s so young and cheap that I can’t imagine the Cavs will let him off the payroll in the near future.
Tier 5: I originally thought these tiers would be larger
Daniel Gibson: Lights-out shooter who has been on the cusp of becoming an all-around scorer/potential bench dynamo for at least three years now. Young, surprisingly good defender, reasonably priced. Could flourish in an uptempo, guard-heavy system if he learns how to get himself to the line on a consistent basis. Signed through the 2012/13 season, with the last year being only partially guaranteed. Like Eyenga, I think this is a case where the Cavs won’t be low enough on Gibson to try and dump him and no other team will be high enough on Gibson to make a legitimate run at him.
Tier 6: The young, deeply flawed Turks
Jamario Moon: Hyper-athletic. Good rebounder. Can make threes if left open. Morally opposed to putting the ball on the floor and making plays. Decent if overeager defender. Loves to run in full-court situations and finish alley-oops. Is basically an older, slightly more expensive Christian Eyenga who knows his game can work at the NBA level. If the offense works like it should, Moon should flourish. If it doesn’t, he’ll be all but worthless on offense. Contract expires after this year.
Ryan Hollins: Extremely long and athletic center who has never been very good at playing basketball. Showed some serious potential in the pre-season, shooting efficiently and getting some nice shot blocks. Could turn out to be the under-the-radar grab of the offseason for the Cavs if he keeps doing what he did in the preseason. Will never be fully forgiven for being the player Sebastian Telfair was traded for.
Tier 7: Potentially serviceable young people
Leon Powe: Tough-as-nails banger with a gift for grabbing rebounds and drawing fouls. Has not looked great this pre-season, and not a natural fit for up-tempo play, but could carve out a niche in the rotation.
Danny Green: Solid young player, all-around skills, doesn’t need the ball, smart player who hustles. One of the few roster players to show up for Summer League. Has had a horrendous pre-season shooting the ball.
Tier 8: Potentially serviceable not-young people:
Anthony Parker: Can make corner threes if left open. Decent defender. Doesn’t do dumb things that often. Will occasionally shoot mid-range jumpers coming off screens. Not really a guy to get excited about.
Jawad Williams: All-around serviceable player. Will stop the ball on occasion.