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A Winner In Cleveland!

September 29, 2009

Yep, it's true. As of yesterday, a winner is back playing in Cleveland. The Cavs have begun training camp. The King is back home in his court. The Big Sidekick is wearing wine and gold. Big Z is back as the city's longest tenured athlete. Mo and Delonte are here. Andy and his floppy hair too. Who isn't excited???

I'm going to be writing preview series. I'm going to look at the guards, the swingmen, the bigs, and the team as a whole. First, in this post I'm going to give you some of my rambling thoughts about the Cavs and the 2009-10 NBA season.

Let the LBJ Free Agency talk begin! Because it doesn't matter. LeBron isn't leaving. I don't care who says what or when or why or whatever. He's staying. Talk all you want. Doesn't matter.

Shaq was a phenomenal acquisition. Make a cost/benefit analysis here and it's impossible to not see the Shaq trade as a hugely positive addition. The Cavs gave up Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. They were going to give the Cavs nothing this season. If something happens tomorrow and Shaq's career ends, the trade was a wash. Some detractors point out the Cavs' struggle against the high pick and roll against Orlando, and that Shaq does nothing to help there. True. So what. Most all of those Orlando games were close and there were times the offense bogged down. That doesn't happen with Shaq. He's a force of nature. He scores whenever. Doesn't matter if the offense is bogging down. Just give him the ball. Does anyone thing Shaq over Wallace/Pavlovic last year wouldn't have been worth +4 or +5 points per game? That's enough to win the series.

Also, I think the detractors of the Shaq trade keep comparing Shaq to Shaq in 2001, not Shaq compared to the rest of today's NBA. He was 3rd team all NBA last season. He is still a top player. He isn't Shaq in his prime. Shaq is one of the 5 or 10 best players of all time. He isn't at that level today. He is still at an all start level. He is still a monster. I don't remember who said it on ESPN.com (I think it was John Hollinger) but in the NBA size is a skill. Shaq is still huge. He still has soft hands around the basket. He can still physically dominate any one player near the basket, including Dwight Howard. Speaking of Dwight Howard

How does Vince Carter make the Magic better? He doesn't. He's subtraction by addition. He's a phenomenal talent, but basketball is a team game. He's never got that. Not to mention, the goofy Dwight, Rashard, Hedo front court was the only reason the Magic beat the Cavs last year. It was fluky and letting Hedo go hurts the Magic. Sure, they get Jameer Nelson back, but I find it hard to see them as anything better than the East's third best team.

Boston on the other hand is good. And old. The question is which of those two facts will dominate? Is Boston more good than old, or more old than good? I think Boston is destined to get the East's number two see, get revenge on Orlando, and lose to Cleveland in 5. I sports hate Boston. ("Sports Hate" comes from ESPN.com's Bill Simmons who used the phrase to describe players and teams that you really turly hate, but you don't wish harm on them, you wouldn't punch them in the head if you met them, but in the sports context, you really truly hate them.)

I really didn't want the Cavs to sign Anthony Parker when I thought we would give him the full mid-level exception over three years or more. However, when we split it between Parker and Jamario Moon and only gave Parker two years, I was thrilled. I guess I thought Parker was being overvalued by NBA execs. At the contract he has, Parker is a great addition. I don't know if he will start and I don't want him to, but he is going to play 22-26 minutes a game, defend bigger guards, and be a very productive role player. Champions need productive role players.

I love the Leon Powe signing. Powe's salary is $855,189 this season, or approximately what Shaq makes for half of a free throw. For that money, Powe will be out for over half the season. He probably won't be in game shape until near playoff time. He also is a steal at that money even for a few months of playing. The guy is a productive, tough big with a ring. Cavs have him next year for cheap too. Awesome signing.

J.J. Hickson is going to be productive. The Powe injury is going to give J.J. or Darnell Jackson a chance to emerge as the 4th big. I hope it's J.J. and I think it will be. He has a lot of potential with his athleticism and knack for putting the ball in the hoop. He could become a 13-8 type of guy someday. Maybe he will never be that good, but maybe he will be even better. Who knows? I'm excited to find out.

Those are just a few thoughts. Check back for more of my Cavs preview columns. Also, read me on brownsmix.com. Go Cavs...

Jack Bacevice

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