The lack of noteworthy NBA news and rumors would have new fans believe that the season is not actually approaching. Training camp begins later in September, which means that Media Day and intra-squad scrimmages will be upon us shortly. The idea was that the NBA landscape would be bustling with trades after Dwight Howard finally got traded from Orlando, but the opposite is what has become reality.
Things are not any different on the Cavaliers front. The only noteworthy news as of late has been that of Dion Waiters' weight loss and a report that the Cavs are open to trading veteran guard Daniel Gibson. The thought of trading Daniel Gibson is a difficult one to come to terms with, but every possibility should be explored with a rebuilding team. The Cavs currently have 17 players on the roster. That number needs to be brought down to 15 by the time they tip off against the Washington Wizards on October 30th.
At least two players will be cut from the team. Once the roster is at 15, Chris Grant's work is not done. In this post, I will give my opinion on every player and whether or not they are keepers or not. The term "keeper" is relative based on each player. There are guys like Jon Leuer who will be rated as such but that does not mean that the Cavs should never consider trading him. The Cavs are going to feature a lot of roster turnover in the next season or two and the point of this post is to explore which members of the team should be considered part of the future.
Kelenna Azubuike: Once a promising wing player, Azubuike's career has been derailed by injuries. He injured his knee in November of 2009 while playing with the Golden State Warriors and has appeared in only three games since. He had the misfortune of needing a second surgery to fix the first surgery that he had. Azubuike averaged 14.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in the 2008-2009 season. He was able to appear in three games with the Dallas Mavericks to close out the season and he only scored 7 points in the last game. Azubuike could potentially be a contributing member of a good team if he can overcome his injuries, but that seems unlikely at this point. The fact that his body of work in his post-injury career is so limited makes it a difficult decision to make. Go.
Omri Casspi: When Casspi was traded to the Cavs immediately prior to the lockout, there was some excitement from the fans. He has size, can play both forward position and was able to shoot as a member of the Kings. Considering how big he is, there is little in the way of excuses that he struggled so much as a shooter with Cleveland. Casspi's field goal percentage has been rapidly decreasing since he entered the league in 2009-2010. This is probably an unpopular opinion, but Casspi should remain with the team. He should be cheap to extend and can play at backup once the Cavs acquire a competent small forward. His declining field goal percentage is concerning, but he is also young and can turn his career around. Stay.
Micheal Eric: The Cavs are in desperate need of size and that is something that Eric can provide the team. The 6'11" and 240 pound 24 year old center averaged 9.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game as a senior at Temple. Eric struggled in the Las Vegas Summer League averaged 4.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in 5 games. Eric's tenure with the Cavs is likely to be short-lived unless he surprises a lot of people. Go.
Alonzo Gee: As a starter, Gee averaged 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The problem with Gee is that he appears to see himself as a full time starter. The fact that his contract has not been sorted out yet and it is already the first week of September should be concerning to Cavs fans. Gee is a player that fans can rally behind because of his humble roots and that he went from being a D-League call-up to a regular contributor on an NBA team. His situation is a little more complex because it is unknown what kind of contract he will require to retain his services long term and there's only so much a team should pay Alonzo Gee before it doesn't make sense to do so. Stay.
Daniel Gibson: Who will forget his 31 point performance in game 6 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals? The most fascinating aspect of that was that fans were calling for Mike Brown to start Gibson because they had enough of Eric Snow's non-existent offensive game. Gibson playing the game of his career shortly after finally getting playing time as an unheralded second round pick sent fans into a a bout of jubilation. Gibson earned himself a five year and $21 million contract in the summer of 2008. Since then, he's been injury-prone. After signing his contract extension, he has appeared in only 68.9% of possible regular season games. It is easy to get emotionally attached to a player like Gibson because of how long he has been with the team and some great memories that he has brought the franchise. The Cavs need to not think this way because it is not prudent to operate under the assumption that he will be back once his contract expires. Gibson will want to sign with a team that will offer him ample playing time and that isn't likely Cleveland with the acquisition of Dion Waiters. If the Cavs can flip Gibson and his expiring contract for a first round pick a-la Ramon Sessions, they should do it. Go.
Luke Harangody: One of the more baffling personnel moves that Chris Grant has made in his tenure as the GM of the Cavs was signing Harangody to a $1.1 million qualifying offer in early July. This is a pittance in today's NBA, but it is still a roster spot and cap space being used on an undersized power forward who scored 2.9 points per game on 35.4% shooting. What is more concerning is the fact that he has actually regressed from 2010-2011. Harangody managed to average 6.2 points per game in his first year with the Cavs. Granted, he only shot 37.8% with the team that year, but the point remains that he has managed to regress from those subpar numbers. The Cavs surely have scouts who monitor the D-League, so it comes as a surprise that they considered Harangody a valuable member of the team. Go.
Kyrie Irving: The 2012 Rookie of the Year is by far the easiest player to categorize in this manner. Irving had a historically great rookie season despite the lockout that wiped out 16 games of the year and condenced the remaining 66 games into a shorter period of time. Kyrie Irving led the league in rookie scoring (18.5) and rookie field goal percentage (46.8%) and had the second most assists of any rookie (5.4). The point guard was only the sixth rookie to average 18 points and 5 assists. In other words, Irving exceeded all expectations. After botching a fairly open layup in his third game as a pro, Irving became arguably the most clutch player in the league. Not bad for a 20 year old rookie. One item to look forward to is how much better he will be as a result of being a year older and presumably getting more playing time. Stay.
Part two of this series will feature Jon Leuer, C.J. Miles, Jeremy Pargo, Samardo Samuels, Donald Sloan, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters, Luke Walton and Tyler Zeller.