Absolute Zero: The Destiny of the LeBronaires
So much for that showdown in Orlando, boys! *wink, wink* FAIL.
By now, most of us know the ‘09-10 Cleveland Cavaliers mounted a golden horse for the regular season and later dismounted from what transformed into a pathetic donkey (read as “jackass”) in the spring. In light all of our expectations and opinions about what the Cavs were for the season, we sit and we wait. We sit and we wait, because the impending decisions that have to be made could turn the League on its side and remake the NBA as we know it, in some degree.
It’s been written that a lot of jobs could be lost on Cleveland’s side if LeBron James goes (or even if he stays), so I want to give some attention to the roster, as the players were exposed for the second-straight year in a row, when they collectively were thought to be champions-to-be. Let’s go.
These days, “Boobie” is better known for his mother’s childhood nickname for him and his relationship and child with singer Keyshia Cole than his actual game, and there’s a good reason for that. Honestly, Gibson hasn’t developed his game any further than his rookie season, which happens to be his most important season of his career to date. Four seasons in, he’s still a fairly one-dimensional player, being that he’s an undersized shooting guard who lacks the ability to efficiently initiate offense when needed at point guard, and to boot, he’s streaky with his jumpshot. He’s sure to go.
He didn’t get much time, but he was able to make an impression as a defender and he’s cheap on the payroll. He’s likely to be Anthony Parker 2.0, something no team can afford to pass on, so I think he’ll be a Cavalier for the foreseeable future.
He’s the most intriguing player of the LeBronaires, because he’s improved steadily when he’s been given the minutes to play. Though head coach Mike Brown has his limitations, when he’s decided to play Hickson, JJ seemed to live up and barring a necessary sign-and-trade for the team, he’s a keeper.
The big Lithuanian ended up playing a good role prior to his trade to the Washington Wizards in the middle of the season. Before the trade, he was basically a three-point shooting big man who played off of Shaquille O’Neal, but after his return, he was a shell of himself and rarely got the minutes to do what he was doing before. He’s mentioned retirement, and after the disappointment of losing the opportunity to compete for a championship, I suspect he will do exactly that and give those old, tired, rebuilt feet a rest for a while.
No. 4 was very much a good acquisition for the Cavaliers, but as has been pointed out by TNT’s Kenny Smith, he was probably best suited for the bench, as JJ Hickson and Anderson Varejao developed a good chemistry off of LeBron. Considering his high salary as a double-digit millionaire, it’s likely that he stays, unless a championship-caliber team sees fit to utilize his ability to stretch the floor and defend solidly. Who knows what his future holds on the hardwood, but he’ll be playing regardless.
He didn’t get as many minutes as was expected, but his defense and energy was a joy when he was called upon (as was his occasional outside shooting). He’s another glue guy on the Cavs squad who is best used around bigger characters, and his Shawn Marion-like abilities make him a valuable asset in the starting five off of the bench. He could stay as easily as he could go, though.
Shaq Daddy was an overall success, but his purpose on the team as a Dwight-stopper was voided by Cleveland’s early exit from the Playoffs. He’s become somewhat of a vagabond while playing for his fifth NBA team (and his third in three years). He says he has about three years left in him, but who knows if any teams will want to keep him around that long…but there will be somebody who will sign him for 2011. He’d be great as a mentor and solid reserve player with the Los Angeles Lakers or Orlando Magic, but he’s burned some serious bridges in both places, so it’s hard to place The Big Aristotle; I know one thing–he’s probably not coming back to Cleveland, not if LeNike James is kicking rocks elsewhere.
“The Other Tony” played admirably and did just want he was brought in to do–play defense and shoot from the outside; he did those things and didn’t disappoint. He’s a winner and a glue guy, and therefore an asset, so he may be around if LBJ is around or he may dip out via trade.
His option just got picked up for 2011, so that’s good for him. He didn’t really play much in ‘09-10, but he’s a good contributor when healthy. With that said, he’s cheap labor on the court and he fits in well because of his high character and appreciated skill set as a power forward, so he’ll likely be around.
Bassy never really got much of a chance to run the show, and though he’s an extremely limited player on the court (his forgoing college was a huge mistake, even back when I was following him as a 2004 prospect), he is good in transition and in faster-pace play–something Cleveland didn’t choose to favor. He’s no Delonte West or Mo Williams, but he’s an upgrade over Daniel Gibson, which could keep him in wine and gold. Then again, he’s good enough to acquire, but never good enough to keep for too long.
Simply put, he’s Cleveland’s second most player and on top of that, he’s LeBron’s boy on the court, and I imagine that LBJ may request that Anderson come with him to another destination via sign-and-trade, should LeBron request such a transaction to another franchise. Anderson is probably the extremely mild on-court version of Charles Oakley to LeFranchise’s Mike Jordan.
Redman recovered nicely from his arrest prior to the season on concealed weapons charges and maintained a level of balance that made everyone pretty happy. Of course, as all players on the roster are in limbo, so is he and Mr. West is looking at a tough summer. With an upcoming trial date based on said legal situation, the potential implosion of his current team, and allegations of a sexual relationship with Gloria James (LeBron’s mom), he’s in poor position to remain in the Northwest Ohio area for the next season. It’s possible; I think it’s unlikely.
The former Mr. Basketball of Ohio in high school as a 2001 prep star, he had a great role for the team in the middle of the season, before the Antawn Jamison trade. Of course, because Jamison is basically an upgraded duplicate of Jawad, Williams’ minutes were cut down. He’s cheap on the payroll and might’ve found a home in Cleveland, so he could be on the outs as much as he could stay in Cuyahoga County.
Maurice is a good player, he really is. He can shoot, he can dribble and he’s pretty smart about knowing how to run a decent offense and picking his spots to score. All of those things make him valuable, but being a lame Playoff performer hurts his stock and he’s a mediocre defender, so I imagine he’s a goner. He’s been really good for the Cavaliers, but it’s obvious that his shortcomings in the post-season have made him somewhat of a marked man, but he’s still good enough to be a really good starting or sixth man contributor for 29 other teams. For instance, the Lakers could use him in the triple post offense as an upper-middle-class man’s Derek Fisher…except for the defense part.
To be continued in late October 2011…
(An extra special thanks goes to Michael Cho for his featured work on LeBron James for this column. You can find his sketchbook of doodles & finished illustrations here and see him and his frequent thoughts on Twitter @Michael_Cho.)
Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist and fitness enthusiast, as well as an unyielding Prince fan (for real). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at Facebook, Associated Content and Twitter.