Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cavs and contracts

The biggest problem with the Cavs isn't that LeBron James can't do it all, every minute, for 82 games. It's that, once again, he has to.
Kind of like the Indians' bullpen last season, the Cavs have magically gone from deep to threadbare as the stretch run is approaching.
Nearly three-quarters of the way through the season, and it looks like none of GM Danny Ferry's off-season additions is making the desired impact.
How very Cleveland of them.
Larry Hughes has a cast on his shooting hand. Donyell Marshall is aging before our very eyes, missing the wide-open jumpers he was brought in to make.
Damon Jones is the Ben Broussard of the Cavs. He heats up for a game or two, then disappears for a month.
In short, nobody Ferry brought in this off-season is really helping this team's postseason cause. Nobody is really taking any part of the load off LeBron and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Deadline acquisition Flip Murray has had 17-point and 19-point games since coming over from Seattle, but he is even shorter and skinnier than Hughes, and his ability to impact a game is limited.
This is a roster that could be capped out with bad contracts to underproductive players for the next four years. The 2005 off-season that was supposed to be a turning point toward contention might turn out to be a turning point in the direction of the Knicks, who have a roster suffocating under the weight of cumbersome deals.
To combat that, Ferry should be in full-sell mode this summer, regardless of what the Cavs do for the remainder of the season. Below are some things I think he should do (in addition to offering LeBron a max deal, of course).

1) Get rid of Jones and Eric Snow to whomever will take them. What you get in return doesn't matter as much. Just get rid of those contracts.

2) Draft a young, talented point guard who could start as a rookie.

3) Think about unloading Marshall -- but don't do it unless the price is right. I just have a bad feeling about his body breaking down over the next four years, but he can still do some shooting and rebounding, and could fetch something of value on the trade market.

4) Think long and hard about what he wants to do with Drew Gooden. Gooden is a nice player, but doesn't really bring the physicality and banger mentality the Cavs need in the low post. Ben Wallace and Danny Fortson could be available this summer.

5) If possible, re-sign Murray. He could provide a decent short-term insurance policy in case Hughes gets injured again.

6) Constantly re-assure LeBron that, no matter what has happened or what is going on, he is working to bring a winner to the floor and will take care of LeBron, no matter what.

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