Team USA Roster

LeBron James spot was reserved since September when USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo offered him a major role. “He’s always been a lock to make the final roster of 12 that heads to Japan for the World Championships next month” according to Brian Windhorst of the ABJ.

“I wasn’t sweating, but it makes it a lot more fun when you’re with a great team,” James told the Associated Press before leaving Las Vegas for a break until Monday.

“Guys were great coming here and not having a personal agenda.”

So who will make the roster. According to Brian, “Some have speculated Krzyzewski could start Wade, James and Anthony together, along with Arenas or Paul at point guard and Brand at center.

Others have speculated James might be valuable off the bench with defenders Bowen or Battier as a starter, though that would be surprising.” Don’t think so!!!

who ever make the starting lineup, it will be very interesting to watch how the LeBron will fit into all this. Mike Brown should be watching and taking notes.

The Cavaliers going after Australian guard

According to, CJ Bruton accepted an offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for Cleveland at next month’s Las Vegas Summer League, which is attended by top NBA scouts, executives and coaches.

“Van Groningen began talks with Bruton when the Brisbane boss was a guest of the Cavaliers program in May. He said Bruton — who enjoyed an initial NBL stint in Brisbane in 1998 — was keen to return to Queensland and follow in the footsteps of his father, legendary championship-winning Bullet Cal Bruton.”

Bruton was picked up in the NBA draft by Portland in 1997 but is yet to break into the NBA.

James hopeful Hughes will be back Friday

LeBron James said after practice today that he woule love to have Larry back for game six tomorrow at the Q.

“I would love to have Larry back, and I know he would love to be back,” James said. “I think there’s going to be a good chance he will be back (Friday).”

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown didn’t know if Hughes, who hasn’t played since Game 2, would be back Friday night.

“Since the tragic death of Justin, this whole thing has been dedicated to Larry and his family and Justin,” James said. “It added more energy, added more will to want to win for him.”

Cleveland LeBrons given education by devastation

From the, Bob Wojnowski writes:

Near as we could tell, there was one LeBron James on the floor Sunday. Unless something radically changes, that leaves Cleveland approximately three or four LeBrons short.

This was education disguised as devastation. This was the Pistons doing what they do better than any team in basketball. They make you look silly. They make you look weary. They make opposing superstars long for help.

Thanks to LeBron, the Pistons got to play the NBA’s big room Sunday, landing the prime mid-afternoon ABC slot. We’re not sure they’ll be invited back any time soon. Really, ABC should know better.

It almost was unfair how brutally efficient the Pistons played in their 113-86 blasting of the Cleveland LeBrons in their second-round playoff opener. It was nearly perfect in nearly every way, from the 15-for-22 three-point shooting to the unrelenting defense. And it was a reminder of how easily the Pistons can stoke their fury.

This was the day Chauncey Billups didn’t come close in the MVP voting, finishing fifth, ridiculously way behind Steve Nash. This was the day the nation was supposed to see what Playoff LeBron was all about, and instead saw what the Pistons are still about.

James, second in the MVP tally, does deserve acclaim, and did get all 22 of his points in the first half. But this became another day when the Pistons flexed their surliness. If LeBron wants to evolve into something greater, he better do it on his own time. If this 21-year-old wunderkind needs growing pains, the Pistons are quite happy to administer them.

Tayshaun Prince did a lot of it, getting 24 points while defending LeBron. Ben Wallace, again the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, took a turn on him too, when he wasn’t busy blocking Drew Gooden’s shots.

“The LeBron Rules? I don’t know,” Wallace said, smiling. “He still got to the basket and made some tough shots. That’s what we want to do — not let anyone get anything easy.”

Pistons’ five to Cavs’ one

Nothing easy, even for the superstar who makes it look easy. It’s funny, but to truly appreciate the Pistons, it’s sometimes best to view them in contrast, as backdrop in the glow of the Newest Great One. The Cleveland LeBrons looked bewildered from the start, almost offended they actually were being defended.

Defense. Hmm. Cute concept, one the LeBrons might want to dust off if they plan to do anything in this series.

Prince was spectacular, and has been for a while. Note to LeBrons: That guy hitting the big shots and playing smothering defense is the only Piston starter who didn’tmake the All-Star team.

At times, it truly looked like five-on-one. Perhaps for the next game, LeBron should bring along his relatives from the Sprite commercial, including Grandpa LeBron.

“It’s simple odds,” Rasheed Wallace said, in his standard blunt simplicity. “It’s simple mathematics, simple logic.”

Logic would suggest a one-superstar team is set up for phenomenal failure against a multiple-star team. And with the LeBrons surviving a six-game series Friday night against Washington, logic would suggest they’d be way too tired for the showcase ABC event two days later.

The Pistons made sure logic ruled, even if they knew they were sullying the main attraction.

“We know (national TV) wasn’t because of us!” Rasheed Wallace said. “We aren’t no crowd favorites outside the state of Michigan. That’s all right. It doesn’t affect us.”

Translation: It does affect them.

No lightweights here

The LeBrons learned quickly this wasn’t going to be a powder-puff affair like their little dance with Washington. In the first quarter, Gooden went up for a layup and Ben Wallace redirected the ball toward Cleveland’s bench. A few minutes later, Gooden tried to power in a rebound, ran into both Wallaces and was called for an offensive foul.

Later in the first half, Prince came swooping in for one of his classic catch-up blocks, just as LeBron was preparing to lay it in. Afterward, LeBrons coach Mike Brown admitted, “We got our (butts) kicked.” James sounded more frustrated by the Pistons’ amazing shooting than their amazing defense. If it really bothers him, he could play a little defense himself.

Education by devastation. Defense by committee.

“Ben is what we are defensively,” coach Flip Saunders said. “He’s what we stand for, how we play, how hard we play. He lets the other team know there’s always going to be a presence around the rim.”

When the LeBrons rest up, get their bearings and realize where they are, they might be able to keep it a little closer. If not, someone advise the TV networks to get their parental warnings ready.

State of the Cap: Cleveland Cavaliers

NBADRAFT.NET breaks it downs for us:
2006/07 Cleveland Cavaliers Payroll: $49.8 million
2006/07 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $52 million
Roughly: $2.2 million under cap

The Good: Now that LeBron James has established himself as the most complete and explosive player in the league, its time for the Cavs to talk extension. James has one year left on his rookie deal and he will obviously get max money from Cleveland. Will he test the free agent market? Possibly. The good news for the Cavs is that they won 50 games this year and spent a lot of money last summer to prove to LeBron that they’ll do whatever it takes to build a winner around him. Still, the entire city would breath a lot easier if the Cavs and their star could hammer out an extension this summer instead of next.

It was a risk signing Zydrunas Ilgauskas to a fat 5-year contract considering he is one more foot injury away from retiring. So far, it has worked out well. Z was second on the team in scoring at 15.6 and shot 50% from the field. He was also the team’s leading free throw shooter. For a player who is 7-3, he doesn’t rebound much, averaging just 7.6 per game, but Z is an important part of the Cav’s half-court offense. He can pass, shoot 18 footers, and provide a consistent presence in the post. If he can stay healthy, Z should be able to earn the 4 years and $44 million left on his deal. A few more rebounds wouldn’t hurt.

The Bad: Everyone knew that Larry Hughes was a very talented player with constant injury problems. He had played more than 67 games just twice in his seven-year career prior to joining Cleveland. So what happened this year, after Hughes signed a five-year, $60 million dollar deal? He gets injured and plays in just 36 games. When he did play, it wasn’t all rosey. Hughes barely shot 40% from the field and his rebounds, assists, and steals were well off of last year’s pace. Needless to say, Larry did not earn the $12 million dollars he was paid this season.

Eric Snow’s contract continues to be dead weight. His 4.8 points, 4.2 assists, and 40% shooting isn’t even close to the $6.7 million he will receive, on average, each of the next three seasons. What’s sad is that those numbers are all up from last year. If he continues to improve at that rate, Snow’s contract might be worth it in about ten years.

Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones were brought in at relatively cheap prices to be role players on this team. Marshall has three years and $16.5 million left on his deal and Jones has three years and $12 million remaining. However, neither player has done a good job of filling their roles. Both players shot under 40% this year, despite the fact that they were signed to be scoring threats from the outside to open up the lane for LeBron and Big Z. At least Marshall could contribute 6.1 rebounds a game. Damon Jones gave this team nothing. For being such a big talker about his shooting, you’d think Jones would want to hit more than a very average 37% of his three-point attempts.

The Future: With Hughes and Ilgauskas getting big bucks and LeBron about to be a max man, most of Cleveland’s cap space will be gone for the near future. Where does that leave Drew Gooden? The young forward’s stats were down a bit this year because of the all the new players, but he was still the team’s leading rebounder at 8.4 per game. He also makes 51% of his shots and is the kind of athletic big man that LeBron needs to run the floor with him. The draft class is weak this summer, which inflates the value of a player like Gooden. If the Cavs don’t care about flying over the salary cap then they can probably keep him, but it remains to be seen if Cleveland is that high on him.

As long as they can keep LeBron in town and their players healthy, the Cavs will be an elite team in the East. They will probably need to tinker with their role players through small trades and exceptions, but they are willing to go as far as their young superstar will take them. Every year, James looks more and more like a player who could win a championship nearly by himself, a la Michael Jordan. Larry Hughes could become LeBron’s Scottie Pippen, but we’ll need to see him play a full season before we can make any determination. Considering all the abuse the Cavs took over the years from His Airness, I would consider it good Karma that they might get a chance to return the favor.

Bonus Points… for snatching Flip Murray away from the Sonics for almost nothing. Flip is turning into a much better role player than Damon Jones. He shoots better from the field and simply plays with more energy. Murray is a free-agent after this season, but the Cavs might want to convince him to stick around.

Poor Luke

Cavaliers forward Luke Jackson will undergo surgery on his back Thursday — his second operation in less than two years.
It’s another setback for the former Oregon star and first-round draft choice. The Cavaliers selected Jackson with the 10th overall pick in 2004.

Jackson has played in just 46 games in two seasons for the Cavaliers.

He missed the final 52 games of his rookie season after having an operation to repair a herniated disc in January of 2005. Jackson broke his left wrist this season and played in only 36 games.

The Cavaliers said that Jackson has been complaining of worsening pain in his right leg and back over the past week. Surgery was recommended.

Jackson will need at least four months of rehab, but is expected to recover in time for the start of training camp.

Brian Windhorst on chat!

Brian Windhorst: (4:06 PM ET ) Hello Everyone, glad to be here to take your questions.

Ryan–Detroit: Hey Brian! With all of the voting complete, has there been any leaks on LeBron’s MVP chances? Also, how do you think the Cavs will fare in a matchup next round with the Pistons? Being a fan of both teams, that’d be an ideal matchup for me.

Brian Windhorst: (4:10 PM ET ) Several of my fellow voters have been conducting some unofficial polls. I think LeBron has a good chance of finishing second. But I believe Steve Nash will win it again because he’s going to be in the top 3 of everyone’s ballot. With so many candidates, getting all those points will matter.

Jake (Santa Barbara, CA): After Saturdays performance, could Lebron in your own opinion everaverage a triple double in a season? cause thats about the only thing he hasn’t done that Oscar Robertson did.

Brian Windhorst: (4:12 PM ET ) If LeBron played 48 minutes every night, which he’s close to anyway, he might make it interesting. Acutally his assists dipped a little this season and his scoring went up by four points a game so if he continues like he’s playing now I’d say probably not.

Travis (MI): Do you think all of the MJ comparisons are fair to Lebron? Can he ever be his own player without all the comparisons?

Brian Windhorst: (4:13 PM ET ) Well, he’s got a massive Nike contract and he wears No. 23, so I think he’s brought a lot of that on himself. In the end, I think he’ll want to not be compared to anyone, he’ll want to be LeBron. That sounds weird and cliche, but if not if you think about it. He wants to be his own man.

Nick (Granville, OH): Brian, is there any chance that LeBron will not resign with the Cavs? National media keep throwing that out there and it scares the heck out of me.

Brian Windhorst: (4:16 PM ET ) It makes business and personal sense for LeBron to sign a $75 million extension this summer and I believe he will. If/when he does sign it I think when times are bad you’ll then hear a lot about him wanting a trade and whatnot like you have with Kevin Garnett now. The media always swarms over potential star transactions especially with players in smaller markets. It is part of the game.

Dustin(ashland, ky): Where is Kobe on the ballot? 10 years from now, who is everyone going to remember? Kobe put up monster numbers and carried an average team into the playoffs. Nash is surrounded by good talent in an excellent system.

Brian Windhorst: (4:17 PM ET ) Dustin, you are right. Actually that is a compelling argument. When I read Bill Simmons Page 2 story about how Kobe should win the MVP it made me think about my vote and I moved Kobe up. Here’s how I voted: 1. LeBron, 2. Nash, 3. Kobe, 4. Dirk, 5. Chauncey Billups.

BJ Carmel NY: Going along with Nicks question, Wouldnt Lebron see his contracts skyrocket in a big market like NY or LA. Not that he needs the money of course.

Brian Windhorst: (4:20 PM ET ) BJ, LeBron is already the highest-earning endorser in the NBA while in Cleveland. The NBA has max salary limits, which is why Tim Duncan is still in San Antonio. LeBron does have some kickers in his contracts that would pay him more to be in NY, LA or Chicago, but they are small and his Nike contract is fully guaranteed.

James (Provo,UT): Who do you think will have the better career, Lebron James or Dwayne Wade.

Brian Windhorst: (4:21 PM ET ) Whenever comparing LeBron and Wade you must first realize that Dwyane is three years older even though they are from the same draft class. I think Wade is great and fearless but I think LeBron has more years in him and more time to grow.

Travis (Indiana State): What does LeBron do in the off-season as far as workouts go?

Brian Windhorst: (4:23 PM ET ) He actually bikes around Akron a lot. There are some hills in the area where he lives and he and his friends ride around early in the morning. He also holds these super-secret pickup games at various gyms in the middle of the night. Several NBA players fly in and take part like Nene and J.R. Smith. I’ve heard the call goes out to players and just gives 12 hours notice.

Matt (Gainesville, FL): What went through your mind the first time you saw Lebron play?

Brian Windhorst: (4:26 PM ET ) I couldn’t believe how fluid he was for a growing 14 year old. But he really blew me away during the state tournament run as a freshman. One game early in the tournament his team was behind to an inferior team and has coach challenged him at halftime. He scored the first 15 points of the second half. He got all upset at me when I couldn’t explain to him why he was left off the All-State team just before the Final Four and I told him freshman usually have to wait their turn. He scored 29 and 25 points in the state games and was named MVP

J.R. (Akron, OH): What do you think the Cavs will do with Drew Gooden this offseason? Should they focus more on trying to find an enforcer to play alongside Z, or give Varejao a chance to start, (with the hope that his offense and free throw shooting improve)?

Brian Windhorst: (4:28 PM ET ) The general school of thought when dealing with a restricted free agent is to profess to the world that you are in love with him and then tell him to go get an offer. I think the Cavs will see what Drew gets and then either keep him or try to work out a sign-and-trade. They have depth there but they want to keep him. Just not at $8 million per year.

Craig (SLC): With the constant comparison of LJ to MJ, what role will his endorsers have on him staying in Clevland?? You KNOW that Nike and his other endorsers are going want him in a bigger market (ie NYC, LA, Chicago).

Brian Windhorst: (4:30 PM ET ) LeBron is the boss, he’ll do what he wants. I always say, would it have mattered if Michael Jordan was 90 miles north and won six titles in Milwaukee. Would he be any less of a star? I’ve followed LeBron to 29 different NBA cities, well 30 if you count Oklahoma City, and I see LeBron jerseys in every one. It isn’t like he isn’t getting exposure.

Shane (Akron): Is it hard to objectively cover someone like LeBron when you’ve known him since he was 14?

Brian Windhorst: (4:33 PM ET ) At times, yes. Even though I believe I do a good job covering the Cavs I wouldn’t be here chatting if not for LeBron. However, I’ve tried to be fair in covering him. He and I have a professional relationship and he knows my family members and I know his. But he gets mad at me from time to time and currently I think members of his inner circle are mad at me for writing a story back in Feb. on this website about how the Cavs are catering to them. So it isn’t all peaches and cream.

Roberto Rodriguez (Akron, OH): You have the chance to build your own NBA team and you have a choice between LeBron and Nash, who do you take?

Brian Windhorst: (4:33 PM ET ) Today? No-brainer, you take the guy who is 21.

brian (nj): brian i was at that game in nj that snapped the 14 game win streak and i have to say… boy are you cleveland fans in for a treat!! But my question is after watching him wrstle through three nets defenders for an and one is..why does everyone say lebron is not clutch???

Brian Windhorst: (4:36 PM ET ) He wasn’t that clutch early this season and three times in a week the Cavs lost games when he didn’t deliver. Two of them were on national TV, which made it an easy target. He did have some growing pains and will have more but he’s gotten so much better. Forget about the last-second shots, the Cavs were 13-2 in their last 15 games decided by four poinrs or less and LeBron decided almost all of them.

adam, NH: Why don’t you think we see or read more behind the scene’s type stuff on LeBron?

Brian Windhorst: (4:38 PM ET ) First off, he guards his privacy very well. He doesn’t let many media members close to him. Also, he has a New York-based PR firm that also works with Jay-Z that handles all personal media requests, which is probably smart. He rarely gives 1-on-1 interviews and in those he’s guarded. He isn’t ready to open everything up.

Tony (Blacksburg, VA): Hey Brian, what do you know about beards? Did LeBron one day just decide to grow one, and then the team followed? The Cavs have been playing great since the start of ‘The LeBron Beards’. I even grew one!!!

Brian Windhorst: (4:40 PM ET ) I’m not 100 percent sure LeBron was the first. I think it might’ve been Zydrunas Ilgauskas…who looks more like Vlade Divac everyday. LeBron grew one about the time the Cavs clinched a playoff berth and the team was looking for something to rally around as they approached and it sort of, ahem, grew from there.

Scott (Columbus): Any idea of what D. Wagner is up to these days?

Brian Windhorst: (4:41 PM ET ) He had surgery to remove his colon last year. He’s hoping to try a comeback attempt.

vince, Cleveland: Does LeBron get upset with the media easily? I ask because of your comments above and his recent ban on the media because of the Plain Dealer beat writter picking Washington in the series?

Brian Windhorst: (4:43 PM ET ) I don’t think LeBron wanted to speak to the media that day and he just used that as an excuse. One thing about LeBron is that he’s very moody. Ask him for anything, an interview, an autograph, the time of day, and if you catch him at the wrong moment he will be unpleasant.

Jon (Indianapolis, IN): Do you think Lebron’s friendship with Jay-Z might lead to him playing for the Nets?

Brian Windhorst: (4:45 PM ET ) You never say never. Currently the Nets have three so-called franchise players on max contracts including two wing players (Jefferson and Carter). So right now I’d say it is unrealistic.

Roger (Norfolk,VA): Is it true that Lebron won’t sign autographs because of his contract with Upper Deck?

Brian Windhorst: (4:47 PM ET ) He signs lots of autographs for Upper Deck and I’ve heard him refer to that on more than one occassion. But I’ve also seen him sign lots of things. There isn’t a game that doesn’t by when he doesn’t get asked for something special. Opposing players come into the locker room all the time looking for his autograph for their friends or families. Believe it or not, I know that referees have sent stuff to him to be signed. It can get overwhelming.

Woody (detroit): What chance do you think that Cleveland has in beating the Pistons in the next round? And what would it take from LBJ to keep the series winnable for the Cavs?

Brian Windhorst: (4:48 PM ET ) Not likely, I’m not 100 percent sure they’re even going to get there. The Pistons are head and shoulders above the Cavs right now. I think it would be a great learning experience just for LeBron to go through the series.

Mike (Akron, OH): If the NBA would have had the rule of no high school kids in the draft 3 years ago, where do you think LeBron would have went to college?

Brian Windhorst: (4:50 PM ET ) He’s given about 10 different answers to this question. The real answer is probably nowhere. His family took $100K from an agent when he was a junior and probably many more loans we don’t know about. The NCAA would’ve looked very closely. I’m sure they have an OJ Mayo task force already lined up.

Nate (Mpls, MN): Jordan had Pippen…who would be LeBron’s ideal #2?

Brian Windhorst: (4:52 PM ET ) If he had his choice of anyone in the league right now it would probably be Tim Duncan because you need a great big man to win titles. If you are taking about a wing player I’d say Michael Redd because he’s such a great spot-up shooter.

mikey (denver): what is the king’s relationship with “rival” carmelo anthony??

Brian Windhorst: (4:53 PM ET ) Well, I think they talk every now and then. I would not say they are friends despite all the stories we’ve written. I think Carmelo looks at him the same way DWade does…a nice guy but a serious rival on the court and for endorsement dollars.

Efrain, El Salvador: Does he hate Kobe?

Brian Windhorst: (4:54 PM ET ) No, LeBron tries to be everyone’s friend. Which is a problem, I don’t think he has Kobe’s “killer instinct.” However, he was on Shaq’s side no doubt.

Ron (Washington DC): Just a reminder, the Bulls where up 2-0 to the wizards, last year. It just so happened that the big 3 all had a bad game.

Brian Windhorst: (4:56 PM ET ) You are right. Actually, I think the Wizards did a good job on LeBron in the first game. He was just 12-of-27 shooting. I think the series is very much up for grabs.

Chris Cleveland, OH: Did you ever see Lebron play football in high school? Ive heard that if he wasnt dunking on everybody in the NBA he could be a pro bowl caliber football player.

Brian Windhorst: (4:58 PM ET ) Yes, he was great but he was also lining up against kids who were 5-10, 165 pounds. I don’t blame him for one second, but I never saw him go across the middle or dive for a ball. But he’s a great athlete with speed, size, great hands and jumping ability, he’d be a top 10 pick in the NFL draft if he wanted to.

Joe (Tampa): Would Dwight Howard be an ideal sidekick for Lebron?

Brian Windhorst: (4:59 PM ET ) Joe, that’s a good one. He would be. I think Dwight will be the NBA’s best rebounder for the next decade.

sanjay (mountain view) : how do you think the players from that draft class are going to rank against each other? i think 1) lebron 2) wade 3) carmello 4) darko 5) bosh…any others?

Brian Windhorst: (5:01 PM ET ) Right now I’d say it’s LeBron, Wade, Carmelo and Bosh. All those guys are getting max deals this summer. But obviously Darko has upside and I think T.J. Ford and Kirk Hinrich are two of the best young point guards in the game.

Noah (Tallahassee): What was Lebron’s reaction to the game when the fans were booing his missing 2 free throws? Or, in your mind, were they booing the entire team?

Brian Windhorst: (5:02 PM ET ) He heard them and I think it miffed him a little. But I also think it was overblown.

nate (cleveland): Whats the deal with Flip. Are we going to try and sign him this off-season and keep him? I really think we need him!

Brian Windhorst: (5:04 PM ET ) All the Cavs have to offer is their mid-level exception of $5 million, which I think will be the market for him. I know they want him back but I also know Flip wants to be a starter and the Cavs have Hughes and LeBron. It will be interesting, both Flip and the Cavs aren’t saying much.

Omari (washinton, dc): in your opinion how many years will it take for Lebron to win a title?

Brian Windhorst: (5:05 PM ET ) Well it is all a process. The Cavs aren’t yet a championship contender, they need need perhaps one more piece. With the Pistons it was Rasheed Wallace. How Danny Ferry manages his assets will determine that.

Brian Windhorst: (5:06 PM ET ) Thanks for sending me all these questions. I’ve got to go now. I’m breaking down game film of the Cavs-Wizards game. I hope to do this again sometime.

James Mum

James chose not to talk to the media the day before his first playoff game. He skipped a media huddle after practice and said his reason was that a Cleveland beat writer picked the Wizards to win the playoff series in six games.

Cavs officials said James, who answered questions for an extended period Thursday, was feeling a little under the weather.