Five questions about the Cavs

Kyrie Irving stands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, New Jersey June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

In dire need of NBA-related content, ESPN is running a series where they ask their blogger network to answer five questions about a specific team. I’m still waiting for my invite, so in the meantime, I’ll answer the five questions about the Cavs. Why the Cavs? Because that’s the favorite team of TSR’s owner, silly.

1. Who should start at PG for the Cavs?

Cleveland has three option with Kyrie Irving: 1) give him the keys immediately, and either bench Baron Davis or trade him, 2) let Davis tutor Irving, or 3) try to play the two together. I fully support option #1. Irving is going to go through some growing pains, but the more he plays the faster he’ll get up to speed. There’s no sense in stunting his growth or asking Davis to be a tutor, which is not something he’s suited for. If this were an affable elder statesman like Steve Nash or Jason Kidd, I could see doing the mentoring thing, but this is Baron Freaking Davis we’re talking about. Trade him.

2. Who should start at SF and PF for the Cavs?

The folks over at ESPN seem torn about whether or not to start Anderson Varejao at power forward, but to me he’s the best center on the team — why are you bringing him off the bench at PF? So then you have to decide between Antawn Jamison, Omri Casspi and Tristan Thompson. I’d give Jamison the veteran nod and let Casspi/Thompson battle it out for the other forward position or play the better matchup.

3. J.J. Hickson for Omri Casspi and a draft pick: Good trade or bad?

Let’s keep in mind that the draft pick that was included is lottery protected in 2012, top 13 protected in 2013, top 12 protected in 2014 and top 10 protected in 2015-2017. If, by 2017, the Cavs have not acquired the pick, they get the Kings’ second round pick. In other words, if the Kings continue to stink, this may end up being a Hickson-for-Casspi swap. But chances are Sacramento will have one good season in the next six and either make the playoffs or nearly make the playoffs. In that case, this pick could end up being in the #11-#16 range.

So is it a good trade? It depends on Casspi. Hickson showed some potential while in Cleveland but was deemed expendable once the Cavs went after Thompson, who is a rather raw (yet athletic) power forward. Casspi is a grinder who showed some flashes in his rookie season but didn’t get much run last year even though the Kings desperately needed good play at SF. If he thrives in Cleveland, this trade will work out, but as it stands, it doesn’t look good.

4. Are the Cavs on the right track or the wrong track?

It mostly depends on Irving. If he turns out to be the franchise point guard that most of us think he is, then they’re on the right track.

5. Can we talk about the Cavs without talking about LeBron James?

I did just that for four questions, but the short answer is “nope.” LeBron and the Cavs will forever be linked, and until the Cavs are once again a playoff team, we won’t be able to discuss them without thinking about LeBron and The Decision.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

David West to enter free agency — impact on Chris Paul?

New Orleans Hornets forward David West (30) celebrates as his team defeated the Toronto Raptors 85-81 during their NBA basketball in New Orleans, Louisiana January 17, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Once David West went down with a season-ending ACL tear, I thought he would surely play out the final year of his contract (for $7.5 million) to prove to everyone that he was healthy and cash in next summer. But the 30-year-old forward must feel good about his rehab, because he has decided to opt-out of his deal and enter free agency a year early.

West told the Times-Picayune that he has not ruled out staying with the Hornets, who might benefit from new rules in the next collective bargaining agreement that are expected to make it even more beneficial than it has been for free agents to stay with their current teams.

“Definitely not, definitely not,” West said. “When I signed the original (contract), my intention was always to opt out. With my knee, I had to examine things a little more closely. But after going through the rehab and feeling good about where my knee will be, we decided to stay on course with what I originally intended to do.

The Hornets were something of a surprise this season, taking the defending champion Lakers to six games in the first round of the Playoffs. That would have been encouraging had Kobe and Co. gone on to win another title, but with the way they were swept by the Mavs has to leave the Hornets wondering if they are on the right track.

As always, the key is Chris Paul. Can the Hornets convince him to stay? After some grumbling last summer, CP3 put his big boy pants on and brilliantly filled the role of franchise point guard. But now he’s just one year away from free agency and his sidekick could be playing elsewhere next season.

Unfortunately for the Hornets, West’s possible departure doesn’t leave the team with a whole lot of wiggle room to sign anyone else, so their best bet is to overpay West to stay. That puts the franchise in the same position they were in this season — good enough to make the Playoffs, but not good enough to do anything once they get there.

The writing is on the wall: Provided Paul stays healthy, the Hornets will win 40+ games again this season, but he’ll enter free agency next summer and be playing elsewhere in 2012.

Where do the Lakers go from here?

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant pauses in the final seconds of their loss to the Dallas Mavericks during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference semi-final basketball playoff in Dallas, Texas May 6, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Even before the final buzzer sounded in the Mavs’ Game 4 sweep, fans and pundits alike were talking about what the Lakers do now that their quest for a three-peat is over.

We (think we) know this: Phil Jackson won’t be coaching the Lakers next season.

The first step is to find a coach that meets Kobe Bryant’s approval, because he’s still the centerpiece of the franchise. Brian Shaw’s name has been mentioned, but I’m sure there will be other candidates.

Magic Johnson suggested recently that the team would need to be “blown up,” and said that Kobe is the only untouchable player on the roster. So the Lakers could trade Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol or Lamar Odom, or some combination of the three. Someone might also be interested in Steve Blake and/or Shannon Brown, but that’s about it in terms of trade chips.

Below is the payroll situation for the Lakers, which I downloaded from ShamSports, a great site that is always on top of the financials for every NBA franchise.

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Kings staying in Sacramento…for now

Sacramento Kings forward Jason Thompson (L) and guard Tyreke Evans celebrate their NBA basketball game win over the Houston Rockets in Sacramento, California November 13, 2009. REUTERS/Max Whittaker (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)

The Sacramento Kings won’t be moving to Anaheim, at least not for the 2011-12 season, per ESPN.

Team co-owner Joe Maloof told The Associated Press the team would remain in Sacramento for one more season to give mayor Kevin Johnson a chance to follow through on his promise for a new arena. If the city doesn’t follow through, the Kings will be relocated to another city, he added.

The move to Anaheim seemed like a done deal, but Mayor Kevin Johnson convinced local businesses to commit to $10 million in sponsorships to keep the Kings in town. The deal buys time for the city to figure out a way to build a new facility to replace the aging Arco Arena. (It’s now called something else, but I’m not going to make the effort to look it up.)

This is good news for the team’s fans in Sacramento, who have been organizing in an attempt to keep the franchise in town. Things were looking pretty grim lately until this last push from the mayor’s office.

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