With the Cavs making the right move at #1 last night (drafting Irving) and perhaps reaching at #4 (selecting Thompson), it’s hard to argue they came away the most improved team from draft night. Whether they managed to trade back a few spots & get Thompson or just draft him a little high like they did, the Cavs still ended up with a 6′ 9″ poor man’s LaMarcus Aldridge and a poor man’s Chris Paul in Irving.
And both guys could turn out to be much better than those projections!
While you think about what the Cavs were able to do last night to kick off the 2011 summer, take a look back at an article I wrote last summer following “The Decision” (located below).
If you’re a Cavs fan, feel free to revel in the fact that while Cleveland didn’t win a ring this year, neither did Miami!
A silver lining for Cavs after LeBron’s exit?
Note: This article originally debuted on CinciSportsBlog.com on 7-16-2010; that site has been closed for promotional reasons by its site administrators.
As an eternal optimist, I always try to see what positives I can glean from just about any situation. As a lifelong Cavs fan, my sunny point of view was put to the test last Thursday, when NBA superstar LeBron James announced – on my birthday no less! – his “decision” to head to the “Sunshine State.”
Why it’s good for the Cavs: Cleveland can finally move forward as a franchise rather than operate in frantic 3-year blocks at James’ mercy, and were compensated well to leave the James era behind. Thanks to LeBron’s desire to be eligible for a 10.5% raise each year with the Heat, Miami was forced to do a sign-and-trade with Cleveland rather than ink LeBron as a free agent outright.
As a result, the Cavs received Miami’s 2013 and 2015 1st round picks, and have the option to swap 1st round picks with Miami in 2012. The Heat also gave Cleveland two 2nd round picks. If the new “Big Three” in Miami (James, Dwayne Wade & Chris Bosh) don’t perform as expected, can’t coexist, or suffer significant injuries, those draft picks could end up much better than advertised.
What’s more, Cleveland gets a massive $14.5 million trade exception out of the deal. Trade exceptions are a hot commodity in the NBA these days, as they allow teams over the salary cap to pull off complicated trades even when the salaries don’t exactly match up. The trade exception even allows separate, “non-simultaneous” trades that are up to one year apart to occur so that a team can stockpile talent or make a late push for the playoffs even when the salaries in each trade don’t closely match.
Cleveland no longer has to worry about appeasing one player it was so heavily dependent upon that the concept of a “team” was increasingly disturbed. While James may have angered Cavs fans by glaring at the coaches during that infamous Game 5 against the Celtics in last season’s playoffs, refusing to be aggressive offensively, and then telling everyone he had “spoiled” them with his play, it was his act off the court that sunk any chance of franchise progress. If you want LeBron the basketball player, then you must also deal with LeBron the GM.
LeBron was rumored to have wanted the Cavs to sign free agent Larry Hughes & hire head coach Mike Brown in 2005. The Cavs did both, and later traded for Mo Williams, Shaq, and Antawn Jamison – all moves rumored to have been approved or even asked for by “King James.” No longer will LeBron hold the front office hostage, where it seemed GM Danny Ferry felt compelled to pull off at least one risky deal at the trade deadline practically every season.
LeBron was a local hero, but he quickly became a worldwide basketball icon bigger than the city of Cleveland. Orlando seemingly had a similar experience with Shaq in the early ‘90s; some said the Magic franchise felt it had to have Shaq’s blessing before it went after a free agent, pulled off a trade, or refrained from firing a coach. Shaq left the Magic after a 1995 Finals run, which ended about like LeBron’s Finals trip in ’07 – being swept 4-0.