2008 NBA Preview: #14 Cleveland Cavaliers

Offseason Movement: The Cavs swung a good deal by trading Damon Jones and Joe Smith (to the Bucks and Thunder, respectively) for Mo Williams, a dynamic scoring point guard who can also pass the ball (17.2 ppg, 6.3 apg). It’s not clear just how much he’ll get to handle the ball, but the Cavs would be wise to let him take some of the offensive load off of LeBron. Williams was basically a salary dump by the Bucks, who just signed him to a long deal in the summer of 2007, so the Cavs are rolling the dice that he’s worth the dough.
Keep Your Eye On: LeBron’s mood
We’re still two years away, but the time is drawing near. LeBron can opt out of his contract in the summer of 2010, which gives the Cavs two years to make some serious progress. It’s possible that he’ll make his decision after this season, and barring a huge season for the Cavs in 2009-10, he may bolt for Brooklyn or some other destination. The Cavs would like the media to stop talking about this possibility, but the ticking clock is only going to get louder and louder.
The Big Question: Is this team good enough to make a run?
I like the Mo Williams trade, but there’s no guarantee that he and LeBron will jive. The Cavs have a nice yet unexciting roster. Delonte West and Daniel Gibson bring some backcourt punch off the bench, Wally Szczerbiak may or may not have anything left in the tank and Ben Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas make for an aging (and slow) frontcourt. Chemistry will be key.
Outlook: Barring an injury to LeBron, the Cavs will make the playoffs, but how deep will they go? With the Celtics still the cream of the crop in the East, with Philly adding Elton Brand, with Toronto adding Jermaine O’Neal, with the Heat adding Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley, it’s not going to be a cakewalk. I don’t know what it’s like in Cleveland, but from afar, I just get this overwhelming feeling of dread surrounding LeBron’s future. Another Finals appearance might be the only thing that can quiet the pessimists.

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