Eastern Conference Pecking Order With LeBron In Cleveland

With the news of LeBron rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers, the East was shaken to its core. No more was the Heat’s reign over the rest of the conference, a reign that included four straight Eastern Conference titles. No more was the Cavs’ reign of lottery king, getting the top overall pick in three of the last four years. But, are the Cavs going to instantly turn into Title contenders, like Vegas thinks? That seems pretty unlikely, even if the Cavs do manage to get Kevin Love. After all, the Cavs only won 33 games in the depleted East last season. With the addition of LeBron, they should easily flirt with 50+ wins, but expecting them to beat any of the top teams in the West is premature.

But what about the rest of the East? Are the Pacers still going to try and shop Roy Hibbert? Will they make sure to re-sign Lance Stephenson, no matter what, realizing the East is wide open now? What about the Wizards–will they be able to keep Trevor ‘Plan B’ Ariza, and build on last year’s success? And the Bulls: will Derrick Rose be able to stay healthy and be an All-Star caliber player again? What if the Bulls get Carmelo–would they be the favorites in the East then? (Probably, yes.) And will the Raptors take another step forward and win 50+ games next season? Crazy to imagine them seriously contending for a Conference title, but wouldn’t they?

Let’s do a way-too-early power ranking of the top eight spots in the East and sort this mess out:

1. Indiana Pacers
Hard not to laugh at this, given how they finished last season. This team will win a lot of games in the regular season, but right now they just don’t have the mental makeup of a championship team. They have to decide whether they’re going to pay Lance Stephenson, but given the LeBron news, it’s hard to see them letting him walk. And it’s hard to see them trading Roy Hibbert now too. Keep the core together, hope to rejuvenate the bench, and pray that Lance Stephenson can stay motivated after getting paid. The Big 3 is no longer in your way, Pacers. Continue reading

Twitter’s Reaction to LeBron Going Back To Cleveland

Here we go…

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LeBron’s Chance At Immortality

LeBron is coming home. He’s returning to Cleveland to bring his hometown its first ever basketball championship. This was probably the most fun, most exciting way that the Decision 2.0 could end. Everyone who hated LeBron for the decision to go to Miami has to rethink to his stance on LeBron now. LeBron left four years ago and learned how to win, how a disciplined franchise is run, and how to lead. Now he can come back to Cleveland and be the veteran leader. He’ll accelerate the development of the entire roster.

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Cleveland offered something that no other team could offer LeBron: redemption. Of course, it really wasn’t that simple. Chris Broussard relayed to us that Dan Gilbert’s letter still complicated issues much more than necessary. How could LeBron play for an owner like that? Continue reading

Cleveland Looking like LeBron’s Destination

The round-the-clock Tmz-style stalking of LeBron James’ life has hit an all-time high in the past few days. The entire NBA free agency pool had basically stalled waiting for LeBron to make his decision, but things seem to be picking up steam now. The Cavs completed a massive three team deal earlier today to clear the requisite space so that they can offer LeBron a max deal. It’s a gamble considering the Cavs gave up several valuable assets just for the chance at LeBron. Don’t get me wrong. If the Cavs get LeBron, it’s obviously worth it. But that’s a big if.

A few hours after the news of the Cavs deal, a flurry of signs pointed toward LeBron returning to Cleveland. There were rumors that the Cavs were targeting Mike Miller and Ray Allen, two free agents that LeBron has a history with. Then there were the moving trucks outside LeBron’s house in Miami. And then there was the next-level stalking, spotting LeBron’s kids at the airport en route to Cleveland. Continue reading

The Heat’s Saviors Are… Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger?

Here’s your task if you’re Pat Riley: assemble a roster that will appeal to LeBron and give him the chance to win multiple titles. And do so with the understanding LeBron will only settle for a max deal, and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will have to be part of the plan. In other words, understand that those three players will tie up the majority of the team’s cap space, and you will have limited resources to upgrade the roster. It’s no easy task.

But Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger? That’s who’s supposed to convince LeBron to stay in Miami? I hope Riley has something else up his sleeve. Granger hasn’t been relevant on the court in years. He was mostly only brought up last season, when people were trying to explain the Pacers’ locker room mess. He was hardly even mediocre in the half-regular season that he played for the Clippers, and then he was a complete non-entity in the playoffs, shooting under 30%. Granger is just another aging wing that would show up occasionally, but not consistently anymore. Continue reading

The Trade for the #1 Pick The Cavs Need to Make

Yesterday, the rumor was Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, and the 5th overall pick for the #1 pick and Jarrett Jack. That is enticing, but pales in comparison to what the Magic supposedly offered. The Magic are offering Arron Afflalo, the 4th pick, and the 12th pick just for the #1 pick. If the Cavs are as desperate as we think–doing anything and everything they can to get LeBron’s attention–then this is the trade for them. This trade helps immediately and is also a move for the future. Pair Afflalo with Kyrie in the backcourt, and they have one of the best set of guards in the NBA. Then the #4 and #12 pick provide flexibility. The Cavs could do a couple things here. They could use the picks and a combination that could yield Julius Randle and Doug McDermott, for example. Or, they could trade both picks to move up, and try to get Joel Embiid, the prospect most experts think has the highest ceiling.Or they could use the two picks to make a trade for a veteran. Could they make a package around Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, the 4th, and 12 pick for Kevin Love. Continue reading

Trade rumor: Derrick Favors for the #1 pick

When Joel Embiid went down with a navicular stress fracture in his foot, it looked like having the top overall pick had lost its luster. The Cavs were left with the decision to draft Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, or trade the pick. But things just a bit more interesting with the news that the Jazz have offered a monster deal for the top pick. They are reportedly offering Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, and the fifth overall pick for Jarrett Jack and the first overall pick. The Jazz have struggled ever since they broke up their playoff team led by Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer. The Jazz got a war chest of assets for Deron Williams from the Nets, but have failed to capitalize on the picks they acquired. They turned the assets they received into Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, two young and slightly-promising-but-not-amazing big men. For years now, they’ve been searching for a legitimate scoring wing. Gordon Hayward is a good player, but not transcendent. Apparently, the Jazz think there is a transcendent player in this draft though: Jabari Parker. Continue reading

Joel Embiid’s Mysterious Foot Injury

This year’s NBA draft class took a big with the news that Joel Embiid suffered an injury yet to be identified to his foot. There’s a chance he may have a broken foot, after recovering from a spinal stress fracture that forced Embiid to miss the NCAA tournament. During Embiid’s lone season at Kansas, he struggled with injuries to his knee and back, the two most serious parts of the body an athlete can injure. Embiid was the likely top overall pick, but that could change once the severity of his injury is revealed.

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Lottery Breakdown

Ahh, it’s that time of the year again. The time of the year when the most incompetent franchises in the NBA pray that they’ll be gifted the absolutely unearned right to draft a great player. The draft is supposed to be a plac

e to get promising players who are very cheap. Unfortunately, many of the same teams find themselves in the lottery year after year, and are either hindered by bad luck or by delusional incompetence. (See: 2008-2009 Washington Wizards) This a useful example, if only because it is so absurdly idiotic and illustrates why every Wizards fan feels like this whenever Ernie Grunfeld is about to make a decision. It would not surprise me if some fans have in fact “lost their eyes,” being forced to watch the likes of Oleksiy Pecherov and Jan Vesely in the past few years. Anyway, the 2008-2009 Wiz give us a textbook example of a GM and team that are impatient and ridiculously delusional. We’re talking about a team coming off a 19-63 campaign. What does a 19 win team look like you ask? Well, we’re talking about a team 1) whose best player was bringing guns into the locker-room, 2) had a soon-to-be convicted murderer, and perhaps the worst indictment of all, 3) started Darius Songaila.  We’re looking at a historically dysfunctional team that needed to be dismantled ASAP. So what did manageme

nt do when it had the 5th pick in the draft and the chance to draft Stephen Curry? They did what any competent team would do: they traded the pick for two mediocre role players, Randy Foye and Mike Miller! The Wizards may have been 19-63 and the punchline of the NBA, but they were going all-in next season! What’s the point of this example? The point is that patience is key and trading away top picks is rarely worth it, unless it’s possible to acquire a franchise player in return. Sort of like how the Wizards had a chance last year to trade the #3 pick used on Brad Beal for JAMES HARDEN, one of the ten best players on earth. This year’s draft has been called one of the weakest of all time, and while that may be true, there will inevitably be very good NBA players somewhere in this draft. Let’s look at the best and worst case scenarios for each of the lottery teams in this draft whose top prospect is a 206 pound center with a torn ACL!

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1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Best-Case Scenario: Victor Oladipo
Worst-Case Scenario: Nerlens Noel

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