Excuse me, Mr. Ferry. I have to ask you a question- Is this it? Is this the team that we are going to battle with?
Get ready to see this frequently. This is LeBron having to tell one of his teammates what to do. Remember how every year LeBron has come out and called Larry Hughes ‘Robin’ to his ‘Batman’? I’m not hearing that this year. Maybe after spending the summer playing with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and the rest of Team USA, LeBron realizes what he has in Cleveland. Not enough.
Let’s be realistic for a moment. The Cavs were very fortunate to get to the finals last season. That series against the Pistons was hard enough to win, and they were playing terribly. We didn’t have to face the Wizards at full strength, nor did we have to play the Bulls or Heat. Once we reached the Finals we were exposed for what the roster really is- a decent Eastern Conference team. We were unbelievably out-manned in the Finals.
So, you regroup right? You try to add pieces, or at least change pieces up to make the team stronger. The weaknesses exposed in last year’s finals? How about the point guard position. We need someone who can stop dribble penetration, plus hit an outside shot, while running the offense. The solution- Daniel Gibson starting over Damon Jones and Eric Snow? This isn’t much of a solution. Yes, with more playing time Gibson will certainly get better, but how much? And what about the guys behind him? Damon Jones has been running his mouth about playing time, but not producing when he is in there. That’s a wonderful combination. And Eric Snow has proved he doesn’t have what this team needs from its point man.
How about that outside shooting? Well, it appears the answer is (gulp) more Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall and last year’s rook Shannon Brown. Oh wait, there was a major free agent signing- Devin Brown. Yep. Brown and his career .351 3 point percentage. (For a little perspective, that’s exactly what Marshall shot for the season last year from behind the arc. Yeah, now you understand why I’m less than thrilled.)
Obviously the real issue now for the Cavs, is whether Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao return. Let’s face it, we aren’t going to improve significantly over last year unless Gibson becomes a force at PG, or Larry Hughes suddenly remembers how to be a star player (shaking head no). But right now we aren’t even the same team as last year. We are much worse. The Cavs were the best offensive rebounding team in the league last year. Varejao was a huge part of that. Andy didn’t just give us rebounds, he played crucial minutes at the Center position as well. His hustle wore out opposing big men. And Pavlovic was one of the few non-LeBron players that could create any shot at all. How many times have you seen this- the Cavs bring the ball up the court and stand around waiting for LeBron to do something? It will only get worse without Sasha.
Ferry tried to land Mike Bibby in the off season. Certainly that would have been a marked improvement. And perhaps we shouldn’t close the book on trades just yet. I can’t imagine Ferry would be comfortable with what he sees in the preseason. This team has looked awful so far. Is Varejao worth the type of money he’s seeking? No. Not unless he suddenly found an offensive game. Is Pavlovic worth what he’s seeking? Probably not, but if he would concentrate on improving his defense I think he has a much better chance at being worth the money than Andy does.
Truth is, I don’t know how we can play Gibson, Hughes and Pavlovic at the same time. Maybe more to the point, I don’t know how long we can endure the Larry Hughes experiment. It just isn’t working here. Batman needs a new Robin. You have to imagine playing with all those all-stars this summer LeBron realizes it too.