The Cleveland Cavs have already brought back a very familiar face this off-season. Nope, not LeBron James. Even better, Mike Brown has returned to become head coach! (Crickets)
Now in year three of the post-LeBron rebuilding effort, the Cleveland Cavs front office must stick to the script of the past few summers; build through the draft and avoid making dumb moves via free agency or trade that will ruin their cap space.
Cleveland Cavaliers (24-58 last year)
2012-13 Season Summary:
The development of the young Cleveland Cavs team experienced a hiccup as their top three players all missed significant time due to injury. Kyrie Irving took the next step as the face of the franchise making his first All-Star Game. However, he suffered a couple different injuries that forced him to sit out 23 games.
Anderson Varejao was having himself an All-Star caliber season, averaging 14/14 a night but surgery on his quads was the first injury before a major medical scare was found that he had a blood clot in his lung. It continues to be one thing after another for Varejao who has only played in 81 games combined in the past three seasons. First round pick Dion Waiters went through his own nagging injuries.
As a result, the Cavs had to plug the holes for the time being. Tristan Thompson saw a larger role and showed some improvement from his rookie campaign. Rookie Tyler Zeller was serviceable in the middle but proved what many believed entering the draft; that is best suited an NBA backup. Cleveland also made a great trade with the Grizzlies, pretty much stealing Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington for practically nothing.
2012-13 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Anderson Varejao/Tyler Zeller
PF: Tristan Thompson/*Marreese Speights/Kevin Jones
SF: *Alonzo Gee/^C.J. Miles/%Omri Casspi
SG: Dion Waiters/#Wayne Ellington
PG: Kyrie Irving
NBA Free Agents:
*PF-Marreese Speights (RFA)
#SG-Wayne Ellington (RFA)
%SF-Omri Casspi (RFA)
^SF-C.J. Miles (TO)
F-Luke Walton (UFA)
SG-Daniel Gibson (UFA)
PG-Shaun Livingston (UFA)
PG-Chris Quinn (UFA)
2012-13 Team Salary: Approximately $33.3 million
1. Small Forward: Irving, Waiters, Thompson, and Zeller. The Cleveland Cavs have added bright young pieces at every position but small forward. I think they should draft Georgetown small forward Otto Porter with the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft since his ability to be a glue guy would be an outstanding addition. If they decide to take Nerlens Noel instead, their best bet might be sticking with Gee and Miles for another year unless they can land a quality young small forward via free agency or trade.
2. Guard Depth: Cleveland found temporary solutions behind Irving and Waiters last season but Shaun Livingston is an unrestricted free agent and Wayne Ellington is a restricted free agent. I wouldn’t mind Ellington returning as a backup but if I’m Cleveland, I don’t sign him to an extension. The Cavs should also look for a better point guard option especially Irving has been unable to stay healthy during his first two years in Cleveland.
3. Patience: This has been the case for the past couple of off-seasons now. Cleveland’s front office has played it smart by building through the draft and not blowing their cap space on overpriced, mediocre free agents. The Cleveland Cavs still aren’t in a position to land a big name free agent so they need to stick to the script and let time take it’s course rather than trying to accelerate the rebuilding process and making a costly mistake in free agency.
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David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.