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Do the Cavaliers have a little Yankees in them?

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Published: May 29, 2011

For several reasons, I must admit that I have had a little soft spot in my heart for the Cleveland Cavaliers. After “The Decision,” I could not help but root for them last season and since the Hornets didn’t have any ping pong balls, I also found myself pulling for them in the draft lottery. For those of you who don’t know, the rooting paid off. No, not doing the regular season, but on the night of the lottery the Cavaliers struck gold by landing the #1 and #4 picks in the upcoming draft.

Now comes word that the Cavaliers are willing to take on Richard Hamilton’s contract in order to get the Detroit Pistons pick in the upcoming draft (#8 overall).  The Cavs would then take that pick and package it with their fourth pick to acquire the #2 pick in the draft, presumably to select Derrick Williams out of Arizona. Now, as somebody who supports Cleveland and wants them to rebuild a city that was devastated by the loss of the False Prophet, I am excited about the prospects of them possibly turning it around so quickly. Even as I say that, however, I must admit that I feel like I am being a bit of a hypocrite because I absolutely despise teams that buy players (Yankees, cough, Yankees) and in some ways that is exactly what Cleveland is doing here.

Cleveland obtained the first pick because they took on Baron Davis’s ridiculous contract, and now they have the opportunity to grab an extra pick if they choose to eat another twenty-five million bucks. If this trade goes through, they will have essentially traded their own first round pick and $37 million dollars for the first two picks in the 2011 draft. In a market where teams pinch pennies to avoid the luxury tax and crybaby billionaires complain that they Hornets added a little over 1 million dollars in salary by trading for Carl Landry, there is a team willing to spend $37 million just to have the right to draft two unproven commodities.

But for some reason we are all okay with this, even though we curse big market teams who engage in this very same tactic. Why is that? Is it simply because we feel bad for the Cavaliers and that earns them a pass? Is it because that, theoretically, every team in the NBA had the opportunity to pull of similar deals, while small market teams in baseball dont really have a chance when a CC Sabathia hits the market? Are we okay with it because this is a historically bad draft and we all know that Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams will not make Cleveland a contender in a conference where Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, and Derrick Rose are all still relatively young? Because, surely, a team buying the top two picks in the 2003 draft would have been met with outrage by small market fans. Hell, even the big boys would have complained.

There are any number of reasons why this just feels different, and who knows, maybe this deal with Detroit and Minnesota never goes through. But if it does, it is likely that NBA fans outside of Cleveland will simply skim the story and think to themselves “good for them.” You just have to wonder how that news would have been received by a fan base such as ours if it would have been another city and another billionaire pulling the strings.

24 comments
JT
JT

Oops. I wrote "Go Cats" but I meant Hornets. Duh.

JT
JT

I understand why you might make the comparison between the Yanks and the Cavs, but under the slightest scrutiny it doesn't hold up. The reason? Baseball has no salary cap; basketball does. When the Cavs take on large salaries, they put themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Obviously, they feel the advantage gained from the resulting draft pick and/or player balances out (or exceeds) that competitive disadvantage. It's a fair transaction. The Yankees (or Red Sox or Angels or whomever) suffer almost no competitive disadvantage when absorbing large salaries. They operate in large cities and have so much more money to spend than teams in smaller cities, that taking on extra salary has very little downside. Even more unfairly, this disparity of resources also means they can almost control the marketplace in free agency. Now, before you Yanks/Sox/Angels fans post angry replies, understand this: I bear you/your teams no ill will. Your favorite teams have a competitive advantage and, until the rules change, they will continue to exploit that advantage, AS THEY SHOULD. (Personally, I don't blame the large market teams for baseball's problems. I primarily blame the owners in the smaller cities for not altering the rules to a fairer system.) I'm merely pointing out there are major differences between the two sports and I feel that a comparison between a cash-rich basketball team and a cash-rich baseball team is flimsy, at best. So, to the author, I say don't feel bad for rooting for the Cavs. It's not at all the same as rooting for a large market team in a league with no salary cap. Go Cavs/Go Cats

NO-CHI
NO-CHI

well, I kinda felt that if Cleveland acquired someone like Tyson Chandler, they would have won a championship. Take a look at what Chandler did in first season in Dallas, he was the vocal leader Dallas needed. Oh yeah, and Chandler wouldn't have had to stay healthy or out of foul trouble with Andersen Varejao to provide exactly what Chandler does as well. (kinda of like Brendan Haywood is doing in Dallas right now) Besides Chandler would have taken some offense pressure off of LeBron because all LeBron has to do is get the ball near the rim and 9/10 times Chandler will get for 2nd Chance Points or a crowd-energizing slam dunk. And why are people wasting their time discussing Rip Hamilton with Chandler becoming a free agent this off-season? Sign Chandler and we could have West and Ariza as our starting wings, Chandler at PF, and Okafor at Center. We wouldn't have to resign Landry because if West gets injured. We can insert Pondexter or Belinelli back into the starting lineup. In short sign Chandler and the Hornets have these needs covered for the bench. Backup PG (Jack/Ariza) Backup SG several times over (Pondexter/Jack/Belinelli) Backup SF with Belinelli/Ariza/Pondexter Backup PF with Ariza/Okafor/West Backup C with Gray/Chandler Every problem solved with just: Paul, Ariza, West, Chandler, Okafor, Jack, Marco, Pondexter, and Gray. Merely 9 players, meaning the last 6 can be used to sure up places like backup Center and PG. So that if we offer a contract to Tyson that starts off with 7.2 million and then slowly drops, first to 7, then to 6.6, and then to 6.2, with a player option of 9.8 for a fifth year, and a team option of 8.6 for a 6th year. We can then use the remaining money under the luxury tax to pay the remaining 6 players. A couple of the players have Steve Blake like Contracts (Blake is on a 4 year/16 million contract, and he makes 4 million each year), at an average of 2.3 million a year and then the contracts for another 2 are for guys like Sean Marks, we pay them the minimum per year. Then the final 2 have regular contracts albeit the money they make @ the beginning starts at around 2.5 million and end @ roughly 4.6 million. These are the Marcus Thornton guys, who get better as the years go by. One of the guys for the minimum or Steve Blake contracts can be our draft pick. OR the Hornets can sell/trade their draft pick for cash like they did with Darrell Arthur for the money to sign James Posey. So the money the Hornets have to work with is either somewhere around 5 million for 5 players or 6.5 million for 6 players. Unless Hamilton wants to go the minimum or a low Blake Contract, I don't see the point of signing him. (Why sign Hamilton, I prefer Ben Gordon. [Yes, I know he takes all sorts of crazy shots, we needed offense this past post-season and Kobe Bryant went off in every game @ some point, no matter who guarded him, so the Hornets should have used a guy who can create OFFENSE to guard Bryant, and use Ariza on Artest instead.]) So these 6 players should include: a 3rd center, preferably a F/C (like Mbenga or Marks) a shooter (like Peja) Jannero Pargo other guys that Chris Paul likes My list of guys for the remaining 5 Jannero Pargo Sean Marks Peja Marcus (makes more as the contract goes on, offer a hefty payday at end of contract to entice him) DJ Mbenga (knowledge of Lakers is never a bad thing) Candidates for 6th player: Hilton Armstrong (because he's a big man and built like Chandler) Jason Smith Carl Landry (if we sign Tyson, if we don't sign Tyson, then Landry gets the payday that Tyson would have gotten

chiefyoungblood
chiefyoungblood

who gives a shit about Cleveland and their cry baby owner.

bgalella
bgalella

Rip Hamilton would be a nice addition, but Wilson Chandler would be a perfect fit. He can play shooting guard and both forward positions, guard nearly anyone on the floor and be the player everyone thought they were getting with Trevor Ariza.

Brandon
Brandon

Wilson Chandler and kelenna azibuike

paul
paul

The information from Michael above only reinforces my opinion of the whole player/owners situation...A Curse On All Their Homes! Call me when they get done with their fighting and crying and finger pointing and whatever....and basketball can be enjoyed once again.

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

We don't care because the teams that "buy" their teams spend their money more wisely. Where Danny boy and the Cavs are throwing their money in the wishing well

42
42

In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche discusses the difference in perception between Good vs. Bad and Good vs. Evil. The short of it is that we classify something be don't like as bad uf we are in a position of power and evil if we are in a position of weakness. This line of thought suggests that since we don't see Cleveland as threat to our efforts in the season or in the draft, we don't feel the reactions that accompany fear. My feeling: More power to you. If you can do it, we can do it to. You are us, maybe. Show us what to do . . . Or not do . . .

paul
paul

Regardless of what Nietzsche or any other great thinker comes up with, there is a truth. There is a right or wrong a good or bad. Perhaps not enforceable due to lack of power, but none the less real. Power does not make right, only lawful. I recall a great line from a movie more than likely not seen by others on this sight called The Winslow Boy. In the movie, a lawyer that took on the Englisg governemnt explained to his client that "Doing justice was easy. Doing right was what is hard..." However, law is set by the powers that be, be they governments or societies.

saltandcarbon
saltandcarbon

Exactly. What I missed saying clearly in the above comment was that sense that we can share hope because we don't see this translating to winning. I suspect in most drafts this is true, but in this draft especially. The rhetoric around this draft is that it is so bad, and the rhetoric around the Cavs is that they are so lost, that we can share the hope because it doesn't seem threatening to our own team. Not bad OR evil. Of course, who knows what hindsight might do...

saltandcarbon
saltandcarbon

I think the difference is hope. As sports fans, we live for the excitement and the triumphs - the excitement and triumph of game 1 of the playoffs for example - but we live off hope. It is what sustains us between games, between seasons, and through dark days. It is what makes fans for life. As much as the satisfaction of achievement it is the exhilaration of possibility that defines sports fandom. The satisfaction of achievement (read: winning) does not translate between fanbases, but the exhilaration of possibility does translate - we really can empathise with the hope of another franchise. What difference does that make? Irving and Williams are not realised entities. Whatever they have done in college, they are nothing but potential in NBA terms. They don't represent willing - they represent hope. Significantly different to buying Dwight or LeBron or Johnson or Ben Wallace Shawn Marion or anyone else already in the league. They are all more or less a known quantity. There are a million stats backing up how buying those guys will translate to achievement. Of course there is hope, but it is more ruthlessly and statistically about winning. I think that's why we don't mind. I think that's why we can root for the Cavs in this (for now). Until they start winning, all they are buying is hope. And we all got hope.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

im both okay and not okay with it. Im okay with it because they are a small market team with an owner who is willing to spend to give his team the best product out there. Had Chouest done something similar, we would have praised him. But, i too hate it when teams "buy" players. I just hope that EVERY team gets the opportunity to be spenders or that a new CBA levels the playing field significantly. The latter is more likely to happen than the former.

daveh
daveh

Uhh ... what? $37 million for two picks? Mo Williams isn't working for free, so what are you talking about. And they had one of the lowest payrolls in the entire NBA, and that's even with Davis' contract. And Jamison's contract is coming off the books soon, they're working within that same low budget. They'll continue to have one of the lowest payrolls in the NBA, and any buyout money is taking that into account. Sorry, but there ain't a bit of validity in whatever it is you're trying to say.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Difference between what Davis is owed and what Mo is owed= 12 million Rip Hamilton's contract= 25 million 12+25= 37 Thank you for playing :)

daveh
daveh

What? That money is the money that Gilbert won't be paying Jamison during the lockout and the season thereafter. There's no true outlay, it's still based upon a payroll budget near the bottom of the NBA. And they're not going to pay him the full amount of Hamilton's contract, that's the entire purpose of a buyout, to buy the contract out at a deep discount. And to the clueless fool who said the seats were filled, over the second half of the season, not even close. I was there. Obviously, you weren't, or you wouldn't say something so wrong.

42
42

daveh: you are new here, I'll be lenient. You can educate and elevate without insulting. I know you can. I ask that you do so. You are making one set of assumptions and and other folks are making another, both reasonable. Splitting hair about salary (which are really maximums, as if NBA Basketball-Related-Income drops so that salaries exceed 57% of that figure, then salaries are pro-rated to meet that figure via an escrow mechanisn in place throughout the season) doesn't erase any point made here, yours included, as the figure will scale with BRI no matter which teams and players we are talking about. I think of it as more of a "salary index". Welcome and rest easy. Everyone is cool here.

Chuck
Chuck

We're ok with this because Cleveland isn't gaining any real advantage now by getting those picks. When the Yankees do it, they are adding CC Sabathia or Mark Teixeira by throwing money at them, and that transforms them into instant contenders. If by taking on Baron Davis's and Rip Hamilton's horrible contracts in order to also get Lebron and Dwight Howard, people would be furious not only at them, but also at the other teams who let this happen. For example, when Pau was traded to the Lakers, we were pissed because not only was it the rich getting richer, but Memphis was being super cheap and letting its best player go for nothing. If Dan Gilbert wants to pay Rip Hamilton $18 million to not play for the Cavs once he gets traded there, more power to him. Also, yes we don't mind as much because this is a weak draft and because Cleveland just got royally screwed by LeBron and by the demise of the auto industry and the economy before that. Now, if Irving and Williams turn into Stockton and Malone 2.0, we might look back on this and be a little irked

yankeesman77
yankeesman77

Lol. First Dan Gilbert has to have money and to my knowledge, outside of Lebron, the Cavs have really never been much of a successful franchise. They need to win an NBA Title and could have done that if Lebron got an adequate #2 which he never did and was the main reason why he bolted. Michael, as a Yankees fan, the Yankees have a farm system, the Cavs has an underdog feel to them but guys like JJ Hickson (Talented, but dumb), Anderson Varejao (Decent but was hurt last season), Ramon Sessions a very good backup PG among others on the Cavs are a rebuilding process that really will take 5 years or more if they want to develop into a serious eastern contender again. Cavs can rebuild but they need a guy that can be as good as sayyyyyyy Joe Johnson and a big before they can get there. I just don't think that our good friend, Byron Scott can get them there.

Jason T
Jason T

Perhaps you should know what you are saying BEFORE posting. If you think the Cavs level of success is ONLY based on banners, you are wrong. They sold out all but a handful of games last year, with the seats actually being used, despite posting a terrible record. They do a ton for the community and local charities. It's about more than rings... Oh and in regards to Dan Gilbert not having $...wow do you need to check your facts. He's worth just as much as George S. was in his richest days and now that his worth has been split between Hal/Hank, it's the Yankee ownership that may not have the deep pockets in the coming years. Oh and p.s., Danny boy's 2 casinos that he's the majority owner of haven't even opened yet. Again, Dan Gilbert hasn't even tapped into his personal ATM yet with the casino cash cow, but when he does, the Cavs will be contenders very, very soon. Oh and P.S., there is a rumor going around town that once his casinos(located across the street from the field) open up, he will pursue purchasing the Indians. Then we will let the games begin when it comes to buying players.

yankeesman77
yankeesman77

Outside of this Cavs bias of a post, I never said they didn't have the money to compete but the way the roster was shaped, clearly indicated otherwise. You're basing your points on a formality and a bunch of what if's. What you see in the East right now, before the CBA, is a tier system of teams led by athletic stars that can be very versatile and defensively are lethal outside of the Knicks. If you can be less than .500 % You may even make the playoffs, it's a joke. The draft this year has a few rotational players but nobody that really shines. The Yankees were able to build around a farm system of players like Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner,, Job, Phil Hughes (when healthy). You throw in names like Curtis Granderson (Acquired via trade), Mark Teixeria, Russell Martin (1 year deal), CC, that's just a small part of a well-built all around team. They didn't just throw money around. They strategically were able to contend in a tough division like the AL East. The Cavs are a rebuilding process and maybe they can win in a few years out of this draft but they aren't going to be a serious contender anytime soon. Similar to the Hornets, the Hornets need to reshape their roster and get CP3 another "star" (based on whatever definition/label) you put it at to really keep CP3 around (which I hope is the case). David West will be around when he opts in but the it takes time for a team to gel and really become a big time team.

Hordan
Hordan

Agreed. This has a good impact on the Hornets, though. ESPN said that the Cavs would likely buy out Rip Hamilton's contract, which gives the Hornets an opprotunity to snatch him up in free-agency.

James Grayson
James Grayson

I don't think the Hornets really have a chance. Chicago is pretty much a shoe in to get him seeing as they tried to get him before. We'd have to pay him serious $$ for him to actually notice us. I would love him on our team, but he seems like the type of guy to go to Chicago...