As disappointing as yesterday’s loss was ... taking the Pistons to seven games clearly raised the bar for next season for this team. As we head into year four of the LeBron James era, the Cavaliers will be expected to compete for championships, and anything less will be deemed a failure. Here are some early thoughts of mine on what the Cavaliers need to do this off-season to continue to improve this team.
You have a solid core: LBJ, Larry Hughes, and Anderon Varejao. Hopefully Lebron signs his extension this off-season. Hughes is locked up till eternity, and is still a young guy. I give him a mulligan this year due to his brother and his finger. Varejao is signed through next year, and the Cavaliers will do whatever it takes to keep him long term. This is a solid core of young players who will be here for the long haul, and it includes the best player in basketball.
Donyell and ESnow are solid veterans for the bench, now with 13 additional games of playoff experience. Snow did an amazing job on Chauncey Billups for seven straight games, and should be even more effective if the Cavs can bring in a legitimate starting point guard, and reduce Snow’s minutes to about twenty a night. Unnoticed by the entire free world and the entire Cleveland media, Snow worked himself into the best shape of his career this past off-season and season. He can't shoot, he can't dribble penetrate. But he’s a coach on the floor, commits no turnovers, and is still a very good defensive player. Snow is the kind of guy everyone bitches about when you have him. Then when he’s gone, you'll bitch you need more guys like him.Gooden is gonzo; it’s a no-brainer. He will be signed and dealt. I expect there to be some interest in Drew based on the facts he is still 24 years old, is talented, and is capable of much more offensively than he produced here. Gooden may be the stupidest basketball player I've ever seen play for this franchise. If no one bites on Drew, I consider bringing him back for one more year before he becomes an unrestricted free agent, but there is no way in sam hell I am committing to this airhead for anything more than that. Gooden’s lack of a basketball IQ makes him a net negative on the floor, and any sane person that actually watched this team all season could not think differently.Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Done, finished, kaput. With LBJ in tow, this team will win 50 games every year, and the regular season is meaningless. We need to build the team around players that can help us come playoff time, and over the last 13 games, Z showed all of us that his days of producing in meaningful ball games where teams can expose his weaknesses ARE OVER. Z can take the 22 and 12 he averages against the Atlanta’s, Toronto’s, and Boston’s of the league and shove them up his ass. We saw what Z now is over the last month. A 12 and 6 guy, and only because he’s 7'3. Z is a liability on the defensive end, which is mind boggling at his size. He’s slow, doesn't hustle, is a terrible rebounder who just doesn't try half the time, and is a big pussy. Dude has been making 10 mill a year for a decade, and can't even hit the weight room for one month each off-season. Z has mailed it in, and will do nothing but continue to deteriorate. You could see it in his tired eyes this post-season. Z is one of those guys that gets WAY too much credit from the casual fan IMO. They see him block a couple shots, see him make a couple turnarounds, and conveniently ignore all the points he gives away due to not trying for rebounds, poor positioning, failure to get over from the weak side, and constantly losing his man. Plus, he’s an injury waiting to happen. I’ve been saying this for five fucking years, but I’m cutting my losses now. This is Ferry’s LAST CHANCE to deal him, as he will be untradable at this time next year.Flip is gone. He’s overrated, can't shoot, plays no D, and someone will overpay him. If you want to use the mid level exception on that, you seek an immediate mental health inspection.Damon Jones likely returns. He’s expensive, but fills a roll as a sniper. Roker likes him, LBJ likes him, and he'll be tough to unload.Newble is signed and expensive ... he's your 12th man. Andrieskevicius likely makes next years team as the 13th man.The Cavs have a 1st and 2nd rd pick, 8 million in talent coming their way via the Gooden sign and trade, the mid-level exemption (6 mill), the veteran exemption, and potentially what Z can yield. Trades of Sasha, Luke for spare parts are also possible, and I'm well past the point of counting on these two for anything next season.The Cavs need a point guard that can give us some of the dribble penetration we will lose when Flip leaves. We need more athletic, active big men like Andy. We need a sidekick to Larry that can shoot. This should be a very interesting off-season, full of tough decisions for Danny Ferry.