Welcome to the fifty-fourth 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 Anthony Bennett’s contract, a three-guard lineup, the most likely starting small forward candidate on opening night, the Biogenesis scandal and best remaining free agent.
First Question: Does it mean anything that the Cavaliers haven’t officially signed Bennett to a contract yet?
Trevor Magnotti: Unless this ends up like Jamarcus Russell, where Bennett misses a portion of the season because he isn’t signed, I don’t think it’s an issue. We have almost three months until the season starts. Bennett will sign eventually and will still get plenty of time to get reps and learn the system. I’m not concerned at all.
Dan Pilar: This shouldn’t be an issue. The NBA is different from the NFL. The NFL recently adjusted in the new CBA how much teams can guarantee money to rookie players. The NBA has always done a great job at capping how much a team can give a rookie. I expect he’ll get around $5 million when it is all said and done.
Second Question: What kind of lineups would you like to see with the guard rotation of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack?
TM: I’m a big supporter of sending those three out with something like Bennett and Tristan Thompson in the frontcourt for flashes or ultra small ball. That would give the Cavs five of their top six offensive weapons on the floor, even though that squad would play absolutely no defense. For a high-minute lineup, I’d like to see Varejao and Thompson as the bigs with Kyrie, Dion and Jack. Those two would be a quality defensive pairing behind the three guards, and on offense they would provide rebounding and pick-and-roll options for the guards. I like the two-way help these two bring, so that would be what I want to see if the three guards play together for extended minutes.
DP: I would like to see a lineup consisting of these three, but with Mike Brown, I don’t see it happening too often. He likes those big, long, lanky guards — i.e. Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker — and with Jack or Waiters out there guarding the small forward spot, I can already see Brown throwing a fit on the bench. I like the idea of Trevor’s lineup having those three and Bennett at the four and Thompson at the five. It certainly won’t be a lineup he would use often, but if the team is down 10-15 points in the third, he could turn to these five as a “pick me up.”
Third Question: Going into the preseason, which starting small forward candidate has the best shot at stepping on the floor first against the Brooklyn Nets?
TM: Earl Clark’s the safest small forward on roster. Alonzo Gee isn’t good enough to be a starter, and while I’m not sure Clark is either, he can at least fake it because of his shooting and rebounding. Gee isn’t long enough to handle any larger forward, and he can’t shoot at all. While Bennett incubates, I think Clark’s the better option to play with the starters.
DP: While I agree when Trevor says Gee isn’t a starting small forward, I disagree that Clark is the safest small forward. Clark is still learning the position. He was a power forward his whole career up until last year, and I still want to know if he can defend the position and if he’s a consistent threat on the perimeter. Ideally, you would like to have Bennett out there, but he has yet to see a minute at small forward.
Fourth Question: What kind of effect will the Biogenesis scandal that hit the MLB have on the NBA?
TM: I feel like if there was a PED issue in basketball, we would know by now. I’m not worried about Biogenesis in basketball. Even if it did get its hand on NBA players, I highly doubt the major players are involved. I can’t believe that any of the stars are on any kind of PEDs; LeBron’s been a genetic freak forever, Durant is a toothpick and even the bigs appear natural and the NBA isn’t full of spikes in production like baseball and football seem to be. I’m not worried at all about PEDs in basketball.
DP: Exactly. If it were an issue, we would have heard about it by now. PEDs help players hit home runs or make harder tackles, but it doesn’t help them with their jump shot or blocking a shot. Basketball, so far, has been a natural sport; I expect it to stay that way.
Fifth Question: Who is the best free agent left on the market, and which team is the best fit for that specific FA?
TM: I feel like it’s Ivan Johnson. The former Hawk is a stud rebounder and defensive player and has a mean streak that leads me to believe that he would win any bar fight he was ever involved in. He’s a complete head case, but he could be useful on a team with a lot of structure and a talented coach as a backup big. Honestly, if Dallas had any cap space, they would be a great fit for the enigmatic big. With Rick Carlisle on the bench and Dirk leading the way, he could be really helpful. He could also help in Utah, where he would be a capable backup to Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter on a team who has a bit of cap space left. I want Ivan Johnson back in the league, even if it’s in Utah or Philadelphia.
DP: DeSagana Diop. No? He doesn’t qualify? Ok, well I’ll go with Rip Hamilton. I know it seems like he’s 60 years old, but I believe you can still get quality minutes from him off the bench. If he signs with a contender midway through the year, he can be a valuable asset to a team. My best fit for him would be with the Indiana Pacers. Hamilton has always played on a defense-first basketball team, and that is something Frank Vogel preaches. He would also be a great veteran influence on that team who has come close to winning but needs to get over the hump.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Trevor Magnotti and Zak Kolesar have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”