Future Power Rankings: Where do the Cavs land?

July 08, 2010 - Strongsville, OHIO, UNITED STATES - epa02241977 Cleveland Cavaliers fans Nicholas Bloom (C) and Jon Schentzov (R) react while watching an ESPN broadcast at a Buffalo WIld Wings sports bar in Strongsville, Ohio, USA, a suburb of Cleveland, as LeBron James announces his free agency decision to play for the Miami Heat on 08 July 2010.

Every so often, Chad Ford and John Hollinger release their Future Power Rankings, which examine how well a franchise is positioned for future success.

Before LeBacle, the Cavs were ranked #8, but fell twenty spots to #28. Here’s why:

In his open letter condemning LeBron, owner Dan Gilbert guaranteed the Cavs would win a championship without their former star, but that’s easier said than done. Cleveland traditionally has not been a top free-agent destination. Now, the team has another problem: Gilbert’s heat-of-the-moment diatribe against LeBron was read by players around the league, and a number of player agents have told us their clients don’t want to play there after seeing how Gilbert treated a guy who made him hundreds of millions during the past several years. In any case, as we’ve seen this summer, players just won’t flock to Cleveland without the lure of LeBron.

The roster itself is another weak point. Mo Williams, Ramon Sessions, Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson are good pieces but not the kind of young talent that could carry the franchise forward in future seasons. The Cavs lack trade assets as well.

Cleveland did get a bounty of draft picks from Miami in the LeBron sign-and-trade. But given how stacked the Heat are right now, those picks likely will be the worst in the first round — and the Cavs aren’t going to replace LeBron with a series of No. 30 draft picks.

With LeBron, the Cavs had a shot at signing free agents who wanted to play with him for a chance at a title. Without LeBron, the Cavs are just another small-market, cold weather city and will face the same challenges that Milwaukee, Minnesota, Utah, Indiana and Detroit face when they attempt to woo free agents.

In fact, the Cavs will have an even tougher time after Gilbert’s open letter to Cavs fans blasting LeBron. He may have emboldened the fan base, but like the piece says, generally-speaking, free agents won’t want to play for him.

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