Just 34 days until the start of Cavaliers season, which opens at home on November 1st when the Washington Wizards come to town in a rematch of last years thrilling first round playoff series. We're going to be all over the Cavs all season here on Da Blurbs, and have a talented roster of Cavaliers contributors set to provide their take on the team and their transgressions through the 2006-2007 season.
After last years 50 win season, and near run to the Eastern Conference Finals, expectations are high for the Cavs this season. I just wanted to hit on a couple of different topics surrounding the team as we head into the start of training camp.
Because the Cavs got King James to ink a three year contract extension to keep him here in C-Town for at least four more seasons ... I find it impossible to be upset with the teams off-season.
There's no question the team improved the roster this summer. They lost just Flip Murray and Alan Henderson. They added intriguing rookies Shannon Brown and Daniel Gibson in the draft, and signed solid veterans Scott Pollard and David Wesley in free agency. And considering that Larry Hughes missed 50 games, and was ineffective upon his return ... you almost have to look at having a healthy Larry as an addition. In addition, the team resigned Drew Gooden for three more years at a very affordable price.
Many fans expected more than just the signings of Pollard and Wesley this off-season coming off the year they had, with the expectations they carry for this season. However, the Cavaliers are in a bit of a salary cap bind due to the spending spree of a season ago that netted them Donyell Marshall, Damon Jones, Larry Hughes, and a reup of Big Z's contract. Any expensive free agent signings this off-season would have caused the Cavs to pay luxury tax penalties, essentially doubling the contracts of any signees. For example, signing a Reggie Evans at 5 million a season would have actually cost the Cavs 10 million per.
As the team moves forwards, trades are going to be the easiest way for this team to significantly improve itself. Despite having some overpriced veterans on the back nines of their careers (Z, Snow, Jones, Newble) ... the team still does have some very movable assets.
The Roster Breakdown
One would have to assume that the team will go into the season with the same starting five as last year:
C - Zydrunas Ilgauskas
PF - Drew Gooden
SF - LeBron James
SG - Larry Hughes
PG - Eric Snow
Donyell Marshall, Scott Pollard, and Anderson Varejao will be the first three big men off the bench, and give the Cavs as much depth at the four and the five as any team in the league. David Wesley and Damon Jones will likely be the first two guards off the bench, with Sasha Pavlovic, Luke Jackson, and Shannon Brown fighting for time behind them, and the last spot in Mike Brown's regular playing rotation. That leaves two spots on the teams 15 man roster. Daniel Gibson is a lock to get one of them. Ira Newble, Eddie Basden, and Stephen Graham will battle for the final roster spot.
I would not be surprised at all to see the Cavs move either Luke Jackson, Damon Jones, Ira Newble, or Sasha Pavlovic somewhere in exchange for a future second round pick sometime between now and the beginning of the season.
It was a busy season for the Cavaliers Central Division competitors, and this is hands down the toughest division in basketball.
The Chicago Bulls had an incredible off-season, losing no one of note, and adding veterans Ben Wallace, P.J. Brown, and Adrian Griffin ... three of the better defensive players in the NBA. They also acquired guards Howard Eisley and J.R. Smith in deals as well. The Bulls also had two of the top thirteen picks in the NBA Draft, and added LSU's Tyrus Thomas and European Thabo Sefolasha.
The Pistons lost Big Ben, but added Nazr Mohammed (a poor mans Wallace) in free agency from the Spurs. And they signed old friend Flip Murray to help provide a scoring lift off the bench. They still have Chauncey, Rip, Sheed, and Tayshaun ... so there isn't going to be an enormous fall off in the Motor City.
The Pacers lost Peja Stojakovic to the Hornets, but welcomed Al Harrington back to the team, and also acquired guard Marquis Daniels from the Mavericks. They also drafted talented swingman Shawne Williams out of Memphis with the 17th overall pick in this years draft.
The Bucks made three trades, all of which I liked, in an attempt to reshuffle their roster and stay afloat in this brutally tough division. They moved point guard T.J. Ford to Toronto for young power forward Charlie Villanueva. They dealt Jamaal Magloire to Portland for point guard Steve Blake, and big men Brian Skinner and Ha-Seung Jin. And they traded Joe Smith to the Nuggets for Reuben Patterson.
~The team plays 33 games on national television, the maximum allowed by NBA rules. They play ten times on ESPN, nine times on TNT, nine times on NBA TV, and five times on ABC.
~The Cavs open their season at home, on national television, against the Washington Wizards on November 1st at 8:00 PM on ESPN. They travel to San Antonio to play the Spurs two days later for their second game of the season.
~After a tough start, the schedule softens considerably early on. Fifteen of the teams next twenty one games after their first two are against teams that did not make the NBA Playoffs last season.
~Per usual, the Cavs will play home and homes with each of the teams in the Western Conference. They play Boston, Orlando, New Jersey, and Washington three times apiece, and the remainder of their Eastern Conference foes four times apiece.
~Unlike previous seasons, the Cavs do not play on Christmas or New Years Day this season.
~They play eleven sets of back to back games for twenty two in total.
~Things get much tougher for the Cavs in January. The month starts with their second game against the Spurs, and then the team embarks on a twelve day, seven game West coast trip. The Cavs also play New Jersey and Phoenix in January, which is clearly the toughest month on the Cavs schedule.
~The Cavs longest home stand is a ten day, five game stretch from February 2nd through the 11th. Included in this stretch are home games versus the Pistons on February 4th, the defending champion Heat on February 9th, and Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on the 11th.
~The teams last three games of the season are at home versus Atlanta, at Philly, and at home versus Milwaukee. However, the four games before that are versus Miami, at Washington, at Detroit, and versus New Jersey.
The New Floor At The Q
LeBron On Letterman
LBJ was recently a guest on Late Night With David Letterman.
Here is a link to the video of his appearance.