Welcome to the first installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” Every Friday Chris Manning and I will sit down and discuss the latest trending topics concerning your Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA. Usually we will answer three questions concerning the hometown Wine and Gold and two questions surrounding the league.
Today we will be discussing the weakest position on the Cavaliers roster, the best free agent available for Cleveland, expectations for Dion Waiters, our three favorite free-agent acquisitions and where WE think Dwight Howard will go.
First Question: What is the weakest position for the Cavaliers heading into this season?
Zachary Kolesar: Although Kelenna Azubuike brings some potential at the shooting forward position, I still believe that it is the weakest area on the Cavaliers roster, even weaker than our two-guard or center problem. Those issues were fixed in the draft with the selections of Dion Waiters (shooting guard) and Tyler Zeller (true center). Azubuike is a huge question mark, as he suffered a torn patella tendon which sidelined him for the rest, and most, of the 2009-10 season. If the Cavaliers don’t come to terms with Alonzo Gee, who said he was “underwhelmed” by the offer Cleveland made him, then our first option is Omri Casspi. If Gee doesn’t sign with Cleveland then I’m going to start regretting their choice of passing on Harrison Barnes.
Chris Manning: I’m with Zachary on this one. The small forward positon for the Cavaliers is atrocious. Neither Gee or Casspi are truly starting material in the NBA, but it’s likely that one of them will be the starting three when the season starts. Maybe the Cavs should have taken Harrison Barnes, but then again, if they had taken Barnes, I’d probably be calling shooting guard the weakest positon on the roster. If that says anything, it says that the Cavs still have a lot of holes to fill. Hopefully, that starts at small forward.
Second Question: Who is the most important free agent for the Cavaliers to be going after right now?
ZK: Nicolas Batum may be a little far out there for the Cavaliers to get, but I think a player like Gerald Green could thrive in the system that Cleveland is running. A system where high-profile free agents aren’t pursued and instead players with high potential and low risk are singled out. Gee doesn’t like the offer that was made to him from Cleveland, and I also think signing Green would be an upgrade from the disgruntled Gee. Green averaged 12.9 points and shot 48.1 percent from the field in 31 games with the New Jersey Nets last season after struggling to find a home a couple seasons ago. Gee, in 63 games, averaged 10.6 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting a poor 41.2 percent from the field.
CM: This is a pretty lean free agent market. I’m not too sure there’s more than five or six difference makers out there, but if I was the Cavs, I’d go after Jonny Flynn hard. There are no starting caliber small forwards available, and the Cavs need a legitimate back up point guard for Kyrie Irving. He’s not elite in any way, but in 15-20 minutes a game, he’d give the Cavs a solid floor general for their second unit. Plus, if Irving goes down again, I’d be more comfortable with Flynn playing the point rather than Daniel “Boobie” Gibson. He’s said he doesn’t want to come here, but I’d still make a hard push for his services.
Third Question: What are your expectations for No. 4 pick Dion Waiters?
ZK: Although I wasn’t so high on Waiters being picked at No. 4 by the Cavaliers, I do see why Cleveland chose the hard-working Waiters, who they had rated above players such as Thomas Robinson on their draft board. The 215-pound shooting guard can create a shot from almost anywhere on the court, making him the perfect lethal weapon for Kyrie Irving to dish to. I believe that the Cavaliers will wait to start Waiters, who never started a game at Syracuse in two seasons, and hopefully bring in a free agent groomer. He will be able to step in when Kyrie needs help and be that Dwyane Wade-type player that so many have made him out to be.
CM: The Waiters pick is growing on me. He’s athletic, but a little raw. Bringing in someone like Michael Redd to ease the transition would be a good move, and at least for this season, he could play the James Harden role on the Cavs. Long term, assuming he starts and blossoms, he can become the perfect compliment to Irving with his ability to score from anywhere. Three to four years from now, the Cavs could have the best young back court in the Eastern Conference with Irving and Waiters.
Fourth Question: What are the top three best moves in free agency around the NBA so far?
ZK: 1. I love what the Boston Celtics have done so far/are doing in free agency. Starting off with resigning Kevin Garnett for three years and $34 million was one of the smartest moves Boston could make, as Garnett will still play with the same passion that he has displayed for 17 seasons. He averaged 19.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 20 playoff games this past season. The Celtics are also very close to signing Jeff Green, who missed last season due to a heart condition. Jason Terry (three-year, $15 million deal) will be a great compliment to Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen may still come back to be in Green. 2. Retaining two of their stars in Gerald Wallace and Deron Williams, the Nets impressed me with their move to also add Joe Johnson. I don’t have them above the Celtics because I believe the Celtics are also going to resign Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus, keeping a team that plays well together intact. With a starting lineup with Williams, Johnson, Wallace and (hopefully) Brook Lopez in it, the Nets are a top-five team in the East. 3. Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers makes Kobe Bryant happy. When Kobe’s happy, it’s a good thing. Nash will fit in with the pick-and-roll style of Mike Brown. Great look on the Lakers part, especially by having Kobe pursue Nash.
CM: The Lakers acquiring Steve Nash is the best move of the off season so far. At 38, he”s still an elite talent, and he gives the Lakers a better chance than ever to win a title next season. Their starting five should look like this – Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. That’s an elite starting five, and on paper, may be better than any in the league. They’ll still struggle against young, athletic teams like the Thunder, but if everything clicks, the Lakers could easily get Kobe his sixth ring next season. Besides Nash, I love the Jason Kidd signing by the Knicks. He’ll be a great mentor to Jeremy Lin assuming he stays put, and he fits in well with Carmelo and company, even at 39 years of age.
Fifth Question: Where is the best fit for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard?
ZK: I think trading Andrew Bynum with a package of players/picks (if the Lakers even have any left) for Howard would put the Lakers atop of the Western Conference throne once again. If Nash thought passing to Kobe would be fun, think about how many assists he will have giving the ball to Howard down low. His assists may just double.
CM: I too like Howard in LA, but just to be different, I’ll say that the Brooklyn Nets are the best fit for Howard. He’ll be able to play next to Deron Williams for years, and also have Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson as teammates.That’s the beginning of a potential dynasty. Short term and long term, Brooklyn is a perfect fit for Howard, assuming they can afford him and his upcoming monster contract.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Chris Manning and Zachary Kolesar have to discuss at the “Weekly Roundtable.”