Welcome to the forty-fifth installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Trevor Magnotti 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.
Today the discussion revolves around Kyrie Irving’s max contract rumors, not picking Nerlens Noel with the No. 1 pick, Anthony Bennett’s upcoming visit, LeBron’s shooting funk and Game 5 reactions.
First Question: What do you have to say about the rumors that if Kyrie can’t sign a max contract next season, then he will seek a trade?
Trevor Magnotti: I believe this is simply just a rumor. With an entirely new coaching staff, as well as a very different roster from last season’s, I think it would be foolish for Kyrie to demand a trade before he even knows what the team will look like. Irving will be eligible for an extension, and the way that the Cavs cap situation is looking, it shouldn’t be too difficult to offer up a max contract to him. While it wouldn’t surprise me if Kyrie didn’t want to stay in Cleveland, I don’t think he’s going to be demanding a trade, and if the Cavs offer the max, I think he’ll take it.
Dan Pilar: I completely agree. This is just a made-up rumor. No players sign extensions until their contract is up because they can make more money. Same reason why Dwight Howard didn’t sign an extension when he went to the Lakers. If Kyrie waits out until his contract expires, he’ll be able to sign for more time and more importantly, more money. If they trade him it will have nothing to do with him not signing a contract extension a year early.
Second Question: Are the Cavs blowing smoke signals with how they are dodging directly answering questions regarding Nerlens Noel?
TM: I think they are to an extent. I don’t think Cleveland is set on drafting Noel, which is fine. They want to consider all options, and that’s just smart decision making. However, I also think that not giving out information gives them a bit of leverage heading into draft night. Without giving out info as to what exactly they are thinking, Cleveland has the upper hand in potential trade talks, as a team that might want to trade up for one of the top prospects (as Minnesota has been rumored to want in order to grab Victor Oladipo) could be more likely to present a better offer if they think the Cavs might go for Oladipo. In a draft like this with no clear top prospect, being a little coy with your intentions isn’t a bad plan, even if it frustrates the media and fans a little bit.
DP: The Cavs front office keeps a pretty tight lip. They don’t normally talk about what goes on in their closed-door meetings. Trevor is exactly right, it gives them the upper hand in trade discussions or anything else. I believe Chris Grant already knows who he is going to select, and with the Cavs still bringing in players, it serves a smokescreen.
Third Question: Anthony Bennett will be visiting with the Cavaliers next Monday. What are your thoughts on his future in the NBA?
TM: thI think Bennett has a good future. As I discussed in my profile of him a few weeks ago, Bennett has excellent strength and length, which should overcome his height issue at the next level. Bennett is definitely a power forward, but his shooting range will benefit him if a team decides to bring him down to the three or play him as a stretch 4. Defensive effort will be a huge issue for him, but that is something that can improve as he progresses through his career, and when he’s engaged, he can be a very solid defensive player. I think he’s going to be a top 5 pick, whether Washington takes him third or Charlotte at four. He’s a good fit for either team, as he would give the Wizards the stretch 4 they are looking for and would give Charlotte a solid offensive power forward, something they’ve really been lacking. Also, both teams bring defense-focused coaching staffs, which is an environment Bennett would benefit from. Ultimately, I think Bennett is one of the better prospects available in this draft, and while he’s not a great fit in Cleveland, I think he’ll find a good spot on one of the other teams in the top 5.
DP: Bennett is a really gifted basketball player and might be the best scorer in this draft. I like Bennett personally as a player, but I don’t know if I would draft him. As previously pointed out, his defense will be a concern, and with Mike Brown coming in preaching defense, it wouldn’t be the right timing to determine if he can or cannot play defense. I am also skeptical about combo forwards. Historically the SF/PF tag is not a good thing because scouts always say they don’t have a position; Bennett is not tall enough to play power forward and might not be quick enough to play small forward. But based on his ability to score anywhere on the court, I believe he’ll have a nice NBA career.
Fourth Question: What does LeBron need to do to get out of his funk?
TM: LeBron has to attack more and attempt to get to the line. San Antonio has been collapsing in the paint on LeBron a lot this series and are giving him space on the perimeter, which he is not accustomed to. The problem with this is that LeBron isn’t drawing contact when he gets into the paint and isn’t getting to the line to compensate for his lowered shooting percentage. To be effective for the rest of the series, LeBron needs to find a way to affect the game in ways outside of his scoring, whether it be through getting to the line, rebounding or playing lights-out D on Kawhi Leonard, which he hasn’t done much of throughout this series.
DP: Tag Delonte’s mom.
Fifth Question: What are your thoughts on the Heat’s Game 4 win?
TM: I thought the Heat did exactly what they needed to respond to the Spurs after the Game 3 setback. LeBron attacked more, Bosh played superb defense and they got a vintage Dwyane Wade performance, as Wade put up 32 points, six rebounds, four assists and six steals in one of his best performances as a pro. They also closed down the paint on the Spurs, holding Tiago Splitter to just four points in one of his worst games I’ve ever seen and holding the Spurs to just 38 points in the paint. Miami made the correct adjustments offensively to frustrate the Spurs, and now on Sunday for Game 5, San Antonio needs to figure out how to beat Bosh in the paint, as well as how to defend that Chalmers/Wade/Miller/James/Bosh lineup that they struggled mightily with throughout the game.
DP: The Spurs really had trouble defending the starting five Miami came out with Thursday night. The addition of Mike Miller in the starting lineup, moving LeBron to power forward, really created matchup problems for the Spurs. After the two teams split the first two games in Miami I said that the Spurs HAVE to win two out of three at home, because there is no chance they win Games 6 and 7 in Miami. They are still in position to go up a game before heading back to Miami. If the Spurs lose Game 5, Miami will raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the second consecutive season at home.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Trevor Magnotti and Zak Kolesar have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”