Monday, November 5, 2007

Varejao Still on Vacation; Shannon Out in '08

What exactly is going on with the Cavs right now? First, they make no significant free agent signings and no trades. To be honest, I was busy watching the Tribe’s playoff run to monitor the NBA free agent market too closely, but I don’t think the Cavs necessarily failed in the acquisition department. Granted, I have no idea how close they came to getting Garnett (rumor alert), but who did people expect Ferry to go out and get? Mike Bibby? Wow, another aging, over the hill, guard. No, thanks. My beef is how the team’s two restricted free agents were handled.

Again, it’s tough to tell who’s been more unreasonable: Ferry or the players (or the agents). Fortunately Pavlovic is coming back, but not before missing two games. Pavlovic is said to have received a 3 year deal around $4 million per year.

Varejao still seems to think he’s worth a heck of a lot more than he really is. I’m not sure who’s done the bulk of the negotiating on behalf of Varejao to this point, but they should be fired. Varejao is pretty good at what he does, but there are very few teams where he would be starting. Whether Varejao is asking for too much or the Cavs are offering too little is difficult to decipher. Cleveland certainly wants to bring Varejao back, so it’s probably safe to say they’re offering him fair market value. The issue seems to be Varejao’s unrealistic expectation of what his market value really is.

Pavlovic played twice as many minutes per game than Varejao last season and seems to have a higher developmental ceiling. Varejao is valuable to the team from a depth perspective, given his versatility and rebounding ability, but he is not a critical piece of the puzzle for the long-term. Since Gooden and Ilgauskas are still with the team, it doesn’t seem like Varejao will see a significant increase in minutes either. So why is a role player rumored to be demanding a king’s ransom? Hopefully, details of these negotiations will be released soon after a deal is reached. The Plain Dealer reports that little progress has been made in negotiations.

The Cavs are looking pretty ragged already and the season’s just started. The roster has not been at full strength because of injuries and holdouts. Eric Snow has a left knee tear dating back to early October; he won’t be back for at least another week. Donyell Marshall will miss several games with a wrist injury. Forward Cedric Simmons has been battling an ankle injury, but may be called on to play now that Marshall is out. Varejao has apparently lost his mind. I suppose the good news is, the team can only get better from here on out.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Cavs locker room is a little tense right now. My concern is a combination of discontent and injuries will put the Cavs in a funk, followed by a drop in the standings. Cleveland lost to Phoenix on Sunday and faces Golden State, Utah, the Clippers, Sacramento, and Denver on their six game road trip. You would hope the Cavs could handle the likes of Sacramento and LA, but there’s something about those West Coast swings that always seem give Cleveland trouble.

On Shannon Brown

I wasn’t too thrilled about this move. Cleveland has never had a real chance to evaluate Brown in the NBA, since a serious leg injury derailed his rookie season for 2006-2007. Now, with a grand total of 6 minutes playing time in his sophomore season, Cleveland has announced they won’t be exercising his third year option. The Cavs must have seen something good in Brown to draft him, so why the sudden turn around?

Brian Windhorst provided a scouting report of Brown on his blog:

Brown did not play well in summer league in my opinion, even though his scoring stats looked good. He scored a bunch of points in the preseason but did not handle the ball well, shoot the ball well or make good decisions.

Isn’t that like judging a baseball player on his Spring Training performance?

In addition to his poor showing in the preseason, Cleveland had until midnight, October 31 to make a decision on Brown’s third year option. I understand the timing of it, but I’m curious if the decision was discussed with Brown beforehand. I doubt carrying that kind of uncertainty into the season is going to do Brown’s game any favors. Cleveland may look to use Brown as trade bait, but wouldn’t he have been more attractive if he didn’t become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end?

This move would make some sense if Cleveland had a replacement lined up, but I haven’t heard any rumors on player movement. I suppose Cedric Simmons would qualify, but he hasn’t proven anything either and could easily be a non-factor. Not only did Cleveland waste a valuable draft pick, but they never gave him the proper time to mature. Brown may not be a perfect fit on the roster right now, but what makes Ferry so positive he won’t improve? Drafting a player is a long term investment, not a movie rental; you don’t get your money back if you make a poor choice. Plus, it’s not like the Cavs are in a position to be releasing players this season; not after failing to acquire any outside talent.

Even if Brown makes positive strides this season, he’ll likely feel snubbed by Ferry and walk. If Brown does leave, the Cavaliers will have made two draft picks in two years and retained only one in Daniel Gibson.

Don’t Look Now…

…but here come the Browns. No really, stop laughing. Your Cleveland Browns are 5-3 after beating Seattle 33-30 in overtime on Sunday. How about that? If Baltimore beats Pittsburgh on Monday, all three teams will sit with 5 wins going into Week 10. Even I’m a little excited about that, and I’m not even a big football fan. Actually, I’m more of a cautious (i.e. fair-weather) Browns’ fan, as it took a long time for me to come back to the team even after the despised Butch Davis skipped town.

The way the team has been drafting and acquiring players the last couple years piqued my interest though and I’m very pleased to see the team doing well again. The Browns are 2-1 in their division and 2-2 against teams with a winning record. Are the Browns truly contenders this season? I think so, but their next game against Pitt will go a long way in measuring their progress. Cleveland has built a three game win streak and a fourth may propel them into the playoff hunt. You never know…

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