Welcome to the twenty-ninth installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Jerry Bulone and Dan Pilar sit down and discuss the latest trending topics concerning your Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA. The combination of rotating RDE duos answer three questions regarding the hometown Wine and Gold and two questions surrounding the league.
First Question: Was the week before a fluke, or can the Cavaliers play competitive basketball down the stretch with newly acquired players Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington?
Jerry Bulone: No, not at all. We all know the Cavaliers can play with the best of them when they are firing on all cylinders. All three of those games Kyrie Irving had over 30 points and shot 50 percent or better, while Tristan played great as well. The Cavaliers will be tough for anyone to beat when these two are on. Add in the addition of Speights and Ellington – and the continued development of Zeller and Waiters – and the Cavaliers may have quite a few weeks like that moving forward.
Dan Pilar: Our biggest weakness was our bench. Now with adding two pretty solid players to the bench, we can only improve. Speights is a good player who can play on a lot of rosters in the league. I think of him as a mix between Thompson and Zeller. He’s got a consistent 15-foot jumper that Zeller has and he has the toughness down low that Thompson has. Ellington right now is going to be splitting minutes with C.J. Miles coming off the bench. It seems like every other week Miles gets on Coach Scott’s bad side. I can’t give you an exact number of games we will improve by, but these two players fill a void for this team and can provide some good minutes in the fourth quarter.
Second Question: What does four Cavalier starters being elected to the Rising Stars Challenge really say about this team?
JB: I think the obvious answer would be that the Cavaliers are on the right track. With four rookies and sophomores (more than anyone else) deemed the top of the league, how else could that be viewed? The rest of the roster is getting younger, and the Cavaliers have a myriad of assets in the form of future picks, expiring contracts and cap space. In a nutshell, the massive rebuilding project is right on course.
DP: You really got to give Chris Grant a pat on the back. Our four rising stars are the most out of any team in the league, and that’s saying a lot. We all know we have young players with talent on the roster, but with these four selected means we have the top talent that has come out of the draft in the past two years. Grant has designed this team to all play on the court at the same time, so it’s only a matter of time until we see all of these pieces come together. Thus
far, Irving and Waiters haven’t gelled really well together. They’re both players who perform better with the ball in their hands – which you gotta love – but Waiters is going to have to learn to play a little better off the ball to help this team out.
Third Question: If the Cavaliers are going to make another move before February 21, who will it concern and which team will be their partner(s)?
JB: I would love another move, however the rumors I am hearing are involving Speights. I am not crazy about this idea at all. I think he should stay on the Cavaliers roster. The other names that keep coming up – Gibson, Casspi and Walton – I would literally help pack their bags if they got traded. If we were to get anything for any of those guys, that would be yet another feather in the cap of GM Chris Grant. Who knows, it could happen. After what Grant acquired for Jon Lauer, all bets are off.
DP: Chris Grant is really setting this team up for 2014. He has Luke Walton’s and Daniel Gibson’s contracts expiring this year, which could be used by teams who are trying to be players in this year’s free agency, which will have some pretty good names in it. One potential partner could be the Brooklyn Nets. They pursued Dwight Howard hard in the offseason, and with the way things have been going in LA, Dwight might bail at the end of the year. So they could look for expiring contracts to free up some cap space to be a player in the Dwight
Sweepstakes. Another partner the Cavs could deal with is our old buddy Danny Ferry in Atlanta. Grant and Ferry have worked in the Cavs’s staff together and have a pretty tight relationship. They were also players in the Dwight Sweepstakes this past offseason and want him to play in his hometown of Atlanta. Rumors say that they are looking to deal Josh Smith by the deadline, a player who becomes a free agent at the end of the year.
Fourth Question: Which team has a better chance of making the playoffs: the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers?
JB: One would think that since the Celtics are already in the eighth seed, they would be the likely choice. However, after the injury to Rondo, it’s got to be L.A. While I am not wild about the Lakers chances as they are currently 10th in the West, talent wise, if they ever gel, they could go on a run that would propel them right back into the playoff race and perhaps beyond. As a Cavaliers fan, since we will have the rights to that pick, I of course hope I am correct.
DP: I would say the Lakers would have a better chance. Boston has lost their best player for the year. I don’t think they’re going to have what it takes to stay at their No. 8 position in the East. The Lakers have been playing some better ball of late with Kobe passing a little more. Yea, you read that right: KOBE PASSING MORE. We all know the talent the Lakers have, it’s just up to the coach to get them all to gel together.
JB: That is a tough one because of all the moving parts. However, I will stick with the old adage, whoever got the best player in the trade won. Thus theRraptors won because Gay is by far the best player involved. It’s a shame what is happening to Memphis. It’s a lesson that a team like the Cavaliers can learn from. There will be a point when the Cavaliers are as talented and I have full confidence that Grant will have taken the necessary steps to avoid an epic purging of talent, like the one currently going on in Memphis.
DP: I’m not as smart as the men in the suits, so I can’t say what is a good deal and what is not. But Memphis made a deal with the Cavs to avoid the luxury tax. It was a successful trade, and doing so they had to give up Speights and Ellington, along with a conditional first-round pick. So what was the Rudy Gay trade all about then? You’re sitting at the No. 4 seed in the West and you deal your best player? This was the best team you have ever had in your existence, and you blow it all up?! I’m convinced that Memphis isn’t trying to win; they just want to make as much money as possible. And as far as Toronto is concerned, I don’t know what their plan is. They have Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross. One of them is going to be the odd man out there. DeRozan is their leading scorer and they just gave him a $38 million extension, so who knows what their plan is with the three of them. I agree with Jerry that Toronto is the winner because they got the best player, but it could end up costing them in the long run. I’m going with Detroit as the winner in this fiasco. They received Calderon who is carrying an expiring contract. This can sure off some cap space, making them a player in the offseason.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Jerry Bulone and Zak Kolesar have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”