Cavs PumpkinFriday Night Tidbits

So, I’m sitting here on a slow Friday night at home, watching the Cavaliers take on the Celtics in preseason basketball. You know it’s a slow Friday in all ways when you’re watching preseason anything let alone basketball. So I decided I’d take a few minutes and give my thoughts on a few Cavaliers articles I’ve had lying around that I’ve been meaning to comment on.

Look, I was so focused on the great Indians season and playoff run, and now I’m drawn into the heart of the Browns season. I’m not left with much to say about the Cavaliers yet. Normally the Browns are 1-5 or 2-4 at this point and so I’m usually just ready for some meaningful Cleveland sports and thus I’m anxious and excited for the NBA season to start. Well, this year’s Browns team is actually fun to watch….they actually look like a real NFL offense, and as a result, I’ve somewhat neglected the Cavs with the exception of a few LeBron posts because, well, it’s always fun to discuss LeBron. But anyway, I promise to do a full (somewhat) Cavaliers season preview sometime before the start of the season on Wednesday.

So, on to the articles I mentioned….

First up, lets talk about Donyell Marshall (who’d you expect me talk about first, LeBron James?). Ok, so in case you hadn’t heard, Donyell’s passport got lost when he was in China, creating travel issues for he and his wife. Well, you’ll have to excuse me if I must admit that I caught myself kind of wishing it had prevented Marshall from getting back into this country. And now, guess what? Donyell’s not happy with his role on the team. Please. Has anyone been happy with Donyell’s role on the team? Frankly, I’ve always felt that his role on the team was a little too BIG, not small. Anyway, here’s what Donyell has to say about this matter,

”I’m not going to say I’m going to retire after this contract, I plan on getting another deal. Hopefully, somebody will take me. I won’t play until I’m 40. I know my time is running down. I’m older now….I definitely have a key role on this team, whether Andy is here or not. There are going to be games where I’m needed to spread the floor. You look in Game 6 (in the Eastern Conference finals) against Detroit when LeBron (James) had 48 points, I didn’t score in that game. But I was effective because I helped spread the floor. You look at a couple of those plays, the reason he got to the rim was because I was spread out on the floor. They wouldn’t leave me.”

Oh, wow…I never realized how much credit Donyell Marshall deserves for LeBron’s performance in that game. I’m sure the Pistons were terrified of Masrshall beating them. They’d MUCH rather have LeBron run off 25 consecutive points on them. Sure. I’ve never really understood Donyell’s demeanor or attitude since day 1 when he and Damon and Larry were introduced at that press conference. There was something about his posture and his comments. He seemed almost slightly aloof. And to this day I still don’t think he gets how little of an impact player he really is. I also doubt there will be too many Cavaliers fans having to dry their eyes when his contract expires. If Donyell wants to improve his role on this team, he can start by proving me wrong and actually making an impact in the games this year. John Hollinger at ESPN projects Donyell’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) to drop under league average (15.00) to 12.99 this season. In a nutshell, what that means is that by plugging in an average NBA player to replace Marshall, the Cavs’ performance should actually increase. Interesting thought, huh, Mr. Ferry? When Donyell Marshall is happy (meaning, no longer in Cleveland) I’ll be happy too. Nothing personal against the guy, I just don’t think he was ever a great fit with this team.

Ok, enough about Donyell Marshall. I’ve said my two cents. Lets talk some more about LeBron James. Bob Cook wrote a great article for about LeBron’s off season and the way he’s handling the Varejao and Pavlovic situations with grace and general silence. He touches on some of the same points I made last week regarding the different scenarios and the way they might play out for LeBron. According to Cook,

“But if James were seething, you’d never know it. Unlike Kobe Bryant, he hasn’t gone on the radio to demand a trade, called his owner an “idiot,” or ripped his general manager or any teammates on a video leaked like a celebrity sex tape. James has acknowledged to reporters that the team would be better if Varejao and Pavlovic were on it, but he’s not inserting his considerable influence into the negotiations.”

More to the point, Cook goes further in explaining the possible motives for LeBron’s silence. He makes an excellent point that this is, really, a win-win situation in the long run for LeBron.

“James won’t say anything about Varejao and Pavlovic because, in a sense, he wins no matter what the Cavaliers do. If the Cavaliers sign Varejao to the six-year, $60 million deal he’s seeking, and if Pavlovic gets the long-term deal he wants, then James at least doesn’t have to worry about the roster turning over for a while. The Cavaliers at least would contend again in the Eastern Conference this year.

But if the Cavaliers don’t sign the two of them — by god, what insane person would give a six-year, $60 million deal to a player whose most marketable skill is flopping? — James might have an even more inferior cast, but he also would have a better shot at getting some serious help in a few years.

After next season, $25 million worth of contracts in the persons of Eric Snow, Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones come off the books. Another $10.8 million would disappear if Zydrunas Ilgauskas decided not to pick up his player option, though in his mid-30s, he may well find that’s his best option.

Those $25 million in contracts would be desirable assets entering 2008-09 for a team who might want to get rid of a pouty star with a long-term contract, such as Memphis (Pau Gasol) or Indiana (Jermaine O’Neal). Or they could open up cap space after that season to sign a free agent such as Elton Brand, Baron Davis, Mike Bibby or Gilbert Arenas.”

The point here, as I’ve been saying all summer, is that LeBron is a smart guy. He knows what’s at stake for this franchise and for his career. I’ve always gotten the impression that LeBron would like to stay in Cleveland, but he’s not going to do so out of any kind of altruistic sense of loyalty to the community he grew up in. He needs incentive to stay, and the only incentive that matters to LeBron is winning, and so Danny Ferry and Dan Gilbert’s currency to buy LeBron’s loyalty comes in the form of championship caliber players to bring in who can play with LeBron and help the team get where it needs to go. Again, Cook touches further on that point,

“James also has one more reason to stay quiet. He has meant so much to a previously irrelevant Cavaliers franchise, and means so much to Northeast Ohio as a whole, that he doesn’t have to tell owner Daniel Gilbert and general manager Danny Ferry to do right. They know, James knows, and everyone in the 216, 330 and 440 area codes knows that while James would love to stay, he also needs the Cavaliers to give him reasons to stay.

In fact, the biggest difference between James and the other, more petulant superstars is that James doesn’t have to say a word to get what he wants. If James is unhappy, when the time comes he can just put a “See Ya Later” sign on Gilbert’s door and walk out — with his reputation intact.”

And that’s the bottom line. I can sit here and type out scenarios and coulda, shoulda, woulda’s until my fingers are crippled with arthritic pain, but at the end of the day, this thing is going to play out organically in the way Danny Ferry sees fit. And after Ferry makes his chess move, LeBron knows he will get the last move, and he can wait to decide on his move until he sees the way Ferry plays his trump card. Until that time, LeBron’s going to sit back, keep quiet on these matters, and continue to play simply amazing basketball for this city and this community.

Oh, and in case you wondered, the Cavs fell to the Celtics in the final preseason game of 2007 for the Cavs. Just another Cleveland loss at the hands of a team from Boston. At least this one doesn’t hurt so much.