Meet the new Cleveland Cavaliers: Shaquille O'Neal, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, Danny Green, Leon Powe and Rob Kurz or Darryl Watkins.
Gone are Sasha Pavlovic, Joe Smith, Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Tarence Kinsey and Lorenzen Wright.
That, fans, is a 40 percent turnover of a 15-man roster that set a franchise record by winning 66 of 82 regular-season games last year. You might argue that such a big turnover was entirely unnecessary -- if you hadn't watched the Orlando Magic expose every weakness in the playoffs.
The Cavs needed interior defense and got it in O'Neal. There is still some concern that, at his age, he doesn't possess the quickness to slow down the Dwight Howards of the world. But in his defense, he'll at least have Howard and Boston's Kevin Garnett looking over their shoulders.
If Shaq-Daddy stays relatively healthy, he is a game-changer. But beyond that, general manager Danny Ferry has really worked some off-season wizardry in the area of depth. One analyst gave the Cavs' off-season moves a grade of "A," citing the talent they received and the weaknesses they strengthened without giving up any core talent.
This coming season, the team will have a pair of 6-foot-6 guards (Parker and Green) and a 6-8 forward (Moon) coming off the bench with much-needed perimeter length and athleticism. The second unit's scoring and stability also is vastly improved with 7-3 center Zydrunas Ilgauskas now a back-up to O'Neal.
Since we're still months away from the start of the regular season, let's take this early opportunity to meet the newest Cavaliers, starting with the obvious.
Shaquille O'Neal - Let's not waste space. If you don't know everything you need to know about the 17-year veteran, you probably shouldn't be visiting TheClevelandFan.com.
Anthony Parker - The 6-6 swingman is a 6-year veteran. Last year, he averaged 33 minutes, 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game for Toronto. He is said to be smooth, solid and fundamentally sound. According to one analyst, Parker is "a sweet-shooting perimeter scorer who is also a team-first player. Does the little things to win, executes on offense, and also shows a lot of clutch ability." On the downside, he hesitates to take the ball to the hoop -- but the Cavs already have plenty of players who do that. "Very good in most areas, but doesn't stand out in one," one scout says.
Jamario Moon - Moon is a 6-8 forward and a two-year pro. Last year, he averaged 25.9 minutes, 7.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for Toronto and Miami. "A fantastic natural athlete with nice length who can jump over opponents for thrilling dunks, blocks, and rebounds," says a scouting report. "Fast and fluid, and able to run the floor like a guard. A strong defender." If Moon has drawbacks, they are streakiness and outside shooting. For his career, he shoots 46 percent from the field, almost 80 percent from the free-throw line, but just 34.4 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
Danny Green - The 6-6 rookie guard from North Carolina was the Cavs' second-round draft choice. As a senior, he averaged 13.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists for the Tar Heels, shooting 47 percent from the floor and almost 42 percent from the college three-point line. "An unheralded athlete, Green never received the attention accorded UNC stars Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington," says one recent report. "Still, he quietly went about his business, producing very impressive numbers." The Plain Dealer's Brian Windhorst said this about Green's early performances in the NBA Summer League: "[He] is showing some polish and playing with some confidence. [He] impressed the coaching staff not only with how he's stuck to the defensive concepts that are an important part of getting playing time, but with a quick adjustment to the NBA's three-point line."
Leon Powe - Powe, coming off a third serious knee injury, is not expected to contribute until at least February or March. When he's healthy, he's very good. The problem is that the 6-8 power forward hasn't been healthy for much of his three years in the league. Last year, he averaged 17.5 minutes, 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He shot 52.4 percent from the field but only 69 percent from the free throw line. "Powe has a complete floor game on both ends of the court," scouts said when he came into the league after two years at the University of California. "Powe's hands are his greatest asset as he can finish his shot with deft touch even under heavy duress. He has solid athleticism. He isn't super explosive, but has great secondary jumping quickness as well as above average fluidity and coordination."
Rob Kurz - A 6-9 forward, Kurz averaged 11 minutes, 3.9 points and 2 rebounds per game last year for Golden State, shooting just 38.9 overall but 39.5 from three-point range. He's been signed to possibly add back-up long-range firepower. "A tough and versatile forward," says scouts. "Agile, with good hands. A hard worker who does a solid job rebounding and defending and hits his free-throws. A bit of a ‘tweener, in that he doesn't have the bulk of a classic power forward or the speed and athleticism of a classic small forward."
Darryl Watkins - The 6-11 center has been waived by San Antonio and Sacramento, where he averaged 8 minutes, 1.3 points and 1.2 rebounds in 2007-8 before spending last season playing abroad. Scouts commend Watkins' length and athleticism, saying that he has the potential to be a good shot-blocker (sort of a latter-day DeSagana Diop). "Watkins is a bit of an enigma due to his apparent lack of effort and focus," scouts contend. "Too often, he will appear disinterested in the game and play with little intensity." He reportedly is a long shot to make the team -- but if he does, he'll at least provide some depth at center.