Cavaliers sign Danny Green to a contract

The Cleveland Cavaliers announced today the signing of guard/forward Danny Green to a contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Cavaliers selected Green with the 46th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Green played four seasons at North Carolina and averaged 9.4 points on .455 shooting and 4.1 rebounds.

Green played for the Cavaliers’ team during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. In five games (three starts) he averaged 8.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in 20.4 minutes per game.

First round draft pick Christian Eyenga re-sign with Spanish team

A Spanish website reported that Christian Eyenga sign a contract extension with the Spanish team DKV Joventut. Details of the contract were not available.

After watching Eyenga play in Vegas summer league, it was believed that the Cavaliers wanted to keep him and sign him to a contract so he could work on his game splitting time between Cleveland and Erie, Pa., in the NBA Development League. 

The Cavs will maintain his rights but it is still unclear whether the contract has opt-out clauses or a significant buyout to come to the NBA.

The Evolution of Cleveland’s Roster Since 2007

In 2007, the Cavaliers surprised many pundits—but not this writer—by making it to the NBA Finals, where a veteran San Antonio Spurs team promptly swept them. The Cavs had perhaps reached the championship round “a year early,” but rather than stand pat to see if that group could return to the Finals, General Manager Danny Ferry soon blew up the roster, adding more depth and versatility. Injuries and holdouts prevented the Cavs from completely jelling in 2008 but the new unit–buoyed by the addition of Mo Williams—posted the best record in the NBA in 2009 and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.

True to form, this summer Ferry has again made aggressive moves to strengthen the roster, acquiring Shaquille O’Neal and Anthony Parker while discarding Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. Joe Smith and Wally Szczerbiak are not certain to be back; youngsters J.J. Hickson, Tarence Kinsey and Darnell Jackson could work their way into the rotation and/or Ferry may yet make additional trades/free agent signings.

Now is a good time to take a detailed look at exactly how significantly Ferry has changed Cleveland’s roster since the team’s 2007 trip to the NBA Finals.

Here are the top 10 players in Cleveland’s playoff rotation from the past three years (based on mpg):

2007 Playoffs

LeBron James 44.7 mpg

Larry Hughes 35.5 mpg

Zydrunas Ilgauskas 32.5 mpg

Sasha Pavlovic 30.8 mpg

Drew Gooden 30.3 mpg

Anderson Varejao 22.4 mpg

Daniel Gibson 20.1 mpg

Eric Snow 12.8 mpg

Damon Jones 12.6 mpg

Donyell Marshall 10.7 mpg

2008 Playoffs

LeBron James 42.5 mpg

Delonte West 34.8 mpg

Zydrunas Ilgauskas 30.2 mpg

Wally Szczerbiak 28.8 mpg

Daniel Gibson 25.8 mpg

Ben Wallace 23.4 mpg

Joe Smith 20.2 mpg

Anderson Varejao 18.5 mpg

Sasha Pavlovic 13.9 mpg

Devin Brown 11.5 mpg

2009 Playoffs

Delonte West 42.2 mpg

LeBron James 41.4 mpg

Mo Williams 38.6 mpg

Anderson Varejao 30.0 mpg

Zydrunas Ilgauskas 29.1 mpg

Joe Smith 16.7 mpg

Wally Szczerbiak 12.8 mpg

Ben Wallace 12.6 mpg

Daniel Gibson 12.3 mpg

Sasha Pavlovic 8.3 mpg

Cleveland’s increased depth has enabled the coaching staff to give more rest to LeBron James, whose playoff mpg decreased from a team-high 44.7 mpg in the 2007 playoffs to 42.5 mpg in the 2008 playoffs to 41.4 mpg in last season’s playoffs, when James ranked second to Delonte West. Starting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas has also seen his minutes decline slightly as forward/center Anderson Varejao assumed a much more significant role. Daniel Gibson made a name for himself with his clutch shooting in 2007 and moved up to fifth in playoff mpg in 2008, but injuries—and the addition of Mo Williams–limited Gibson to just 12.3 mpg in the 2009 playoffs. James, Ilgauskas, Varejao and Gibson are the only players who ranked in the top ten in playoff mpg for the Cavs each of the past three seasons.

Larry Hughes was James’ “sidekick” in 2007, first playing shooting guard and then shifting to point guard so that Sasha Pavlovic could start at shooting guard. When injuries sidelined Hughes in the last two games of the Finals, Gibson started at point guard. Just two years later, both Hughes and Pavlovic are no longer on the roster and Delonte West is firmly entrenched as the starting shooting guard.

One obvious indicator of just how much depth Ferry has added to the roster is that Pavlovic and Gibson combined to average more than 50 mpg for the 2007 Finalists but barely played 20 mpg in last year’s playoffs. The 2007 and 2008 teams did not have a legitimate, top flight point guard, but the 2009 squad featured Mo Williams, who earned his first All-Star selection; Williams may not be a prototypical pass first point guard but—unlike Hughes—Williams is not playing out of position and he is a much better long range shooter than Hughes.

Three of the top six players from the 2007 playoff rotation—including Hughes plus two players who started in the Finals, Pavlovic and Gooden—are no longer on the team; in 2009, their roles were filled by Williams, West and Varejao. The signing of free agent Anthony Parker means that the Cavs are deeper than ever on the perimeter, as Williams, West and Parker are all proven shooters. West and Parker are also good defenders, while Williams—who was not previously known for his defense—earned raves from the coaching staff last year for his work at that end of the court.

The Cavs’ three man rotation of bigs changed from Ilgauskas-Gooden-Varejao in 2007 to Ilgauskas-Wallace-Smith in 2008 to Varejao-Ilgauskas-Smith in 2009. With the addition of Shaquille O’Neal this summer, Cleveland’s new three man rotation of bigs will be O’Neal-Ilgauskas-Varejao. The talent upgrade since 2007 is clearly evident:  O’Neal will have more of an impact than Gooden did and Varejao is a better player now than he was in 2007, while Ilgauskas has remained consistently productive for the past several years. The only cautionary note regarding the frontcourt is that under Ferry’s watch this group is getting older (Ilgauskas-Gooden-Varejao had an average age of just under 27 in 2007, while O’Neal-Ilgauskas-Varejao have an average age of more than 32); it remains to be seen if Ferry will be able to draft/acquire/develop adequate younger replacements for O’Neal and Ilgauskas.

During last year’s playoffs, TNT commentator Mike Fratello noted that the Cavs had at least 10 players on their roster who had been starters for playoff teams at one point in their careers. That statement is still true now but the current Cavs team matches up better—at least on paper—with the league’s other top contenders such as the Lakers, Magic and Celtics. If Ferry succeeds in prying restricted free agent Jamario Moon away from the Miami Heat, then the Cavs will add yet another player to the mix who has started for a playoff team and has the length and athletic ability to defend top notch wing players.

Cleveland Cavaliers Go Paperless

VeritixVeritix will become the exclusive ticket service provider for both primary and secondary market ticket sales for Quicken Loans Arena, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lake Erie Monsters beginning October 1, 2009.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is the majority owner of Veritix. Veritix’s patented Flash Seats® technology, which was launched by the Cavaliers as an exclusive benefit for season ticket holders in 2006

Ticketmaster had claimed in court that the use of Flash Seats as on online venue for season ticket holders to unload seats violated the club’s contract with Ticketmaster. U.S. District Judge Kate O’Malley agreed, although she left pending a countersuit by Flash Seats and the Cavs that claimed Ticketmaster was violating antitrust law.

All claims were resolved by the settlement. But details of the settlement between the Cavs and Ticketmaster have not been made public.

All fans can buy and re-sell tickets online, a feature was only available to season ticket holders when the services was first launched.

“Veritix is ahead of the industry curve and we’re very excited to offer the best ticket service in the business to our fans for both the primary and secondary ticket marketplaces,” said Len Komoroski, Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena president. “Soon, all of our fans, for the whole scope of events that happen at The Q, will be able to enjoy the Veritix Flash Seats technology and find out why our Cavs season ticket holders that have already used Flash Seats gave it an approval rating of over 98%.”

A fee will be charged for each ticket sold, but the amount has yet to be determined. Previously Flash Seats charged the ticket buyers around 20% fee of the buying price.

Fans can list their tickets up to the event start time. They can sell tickets at a set price and buyers have the option to counter offer or buy at the listed price.

Here are some of the benefits fans will receive with the new service:

  • Convenience of entering The Q with the swipe of a credit card or driver’s license
  • Eliminates worry of lost, stolen or counterfeit tickets
  • Tickets can be purchased digitally, so no need to print at home or stand in line for will call
  • Ability to transfer or sell single or season tickets instantly in the only authenticated, team–guaranteed online secondary marketplace
  • 24 hour support system

Veritix has contracts with a variety of venues and sports teams around the country, including the Pepsi Center in Denver – home to the Colorado Avalanche hockey team and the Denver Nuggets basketball team – and the Toyota Center in Houston – home to the Houston Rockets basketball team.

Cavaliers sign Moon to offer sheet

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed restricted free agent Jamario Moon to an offer sheet.

Moon spent last season with the Heat, who on Sunday confirmed the offer first reported by Terms were not disclosed.

Calls to Joel Bell, Moon’s agent, were not returned. Miami has seven days to match the offer. Moon averaged 7.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game last year.

The Heat already have a glut of wing players and team president Pat Riley has often said often over the past few weeks that salary cap and luxury tax restrictions could force Miami to keep as few as 13 players on the roster as opposed to the maximum 15.

Moon has spent four seasons in the NBA, the first three with Toronto, averaging 7.8 points and 5.4 rebounds.

Cavs Upgrade With Parker for Pavlovic “Swap”

This summer, the Cavs essentially traded Ben Wallace for Shaquille O’Neal and swapped Sasha Pavlovic for Anthony Parker; technically, the Cavs shipped Wallace and Pavlovic to Phoenix in exchange for O’Neal and then signed Parker as a free agent. I already offered my take on the O’Neal acquisition, but the Parker deal could end up being very significant; Parker has played more minutes than O’Neal in each of the past three seasons and logged a total of 7708 minutes from 2007-2009, compared to the 5135 minutes that O’Neal played during those years.

Pavlovic is bigger, stronger and possibly even more athletic than Parker but despite Pavlovic’s physical gifts he has proven to be a very injury-prone player; after his rookie season in 2004 he has not played in more than 67 games in a season. In 2006-07, Pavlovic was relatively healthy and he played a career-high 1534 minutes for a Cavs team that made it to the NBA Finals, taking over the starting shooting guard spot down the stretch when Larry Hughes got hurt, but in the past two seasons Pavlovic has been unable to stay healthy or be consistently productive. Pavlovic is just 25 but because of his recurring ankle problems he seems to be an “old” 25.

Parker provides the Cavs a lot of lineup flexibility. He could start at shooting guard, enabling Delonte West to come off of the bench as a point guard or shooting guard depending on matchups; Parker could also back up West at shooting guard and/or he could back up LeBron James at small forward. When the Cavs go “small” with LeBron James at power forward, they could utilize a potent three guard attack with West, Parker and 2009 All-Star Mo Williams. At 6-6, 215, Parker provides the size and athleticism that the Cavs had hoped to get from Larry Hughes. Parker posted career-highs in assists (269) and steals (100) last season.

There are two possible downsides with Parker:

(1)   Although he only played three years with the Raptors (and parts of three other seasons with the Magic and Sixers), Parker is 34 years old; he spent most of his pro career playing overseas and even though he did not play as many games as he would have if he had been in the NBA during that time he still accumulated some mileage and he is at an age when most pro guards begin to break down physically. As indicated above, Parker has been much more durable than Pavlovic (or O’Neal, for that matter) in the past three years but Father Time catches up to everyone eventually.

(2)   Despite his athleticism, Parker does not draw a lot of fouls; he has attempted just 460 free throws in 291 career NBA games. Neither West nor Williams are good at drawing fouls, either, so LeBron James remains the only player on the roster who can consistently put the opposing team in foul trouble and help the Cavs get into the bonus. The Cavs have several good free throw shooters—including Williams, West, Parker and Zydrunas Ilgauskas—but if the Cavs are not able to get into the bonus then they will not be able to take advantage of that marksmanship.

Overall, the Cavs have added two starting quality players while only giving up two players who did not play huge minutes during the 2009 season; the Cavs have clearly upgraded themselves from a talent standpoint and it only remains to be seen what player rotation Coach Mike Brown will use and if this team will look as good on the court as it does on paper. It will not be easy to match the league-best 66 wins that the Cavs racked up in 2009; the 2009 Cavs consistently played hard at both ends of the court and it will be vital for the new guys—particularly O’Neal, who has been known to coast at times—to fully embrace that mindset. Of course, the most important thing will be for the Cavs to be healthy come playoff time; that is when O’Neal and Parker must prove that they can add something to the mix that was missing during the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.

Anderson Varejao agrees to a six year deal with the Cavaliers

The Cavaliers have come to terms with Anderson Varejao, agent Dan Fegan said Wednesday.

Varejao is set to get six-years contract and worth as much as $50 million. According to Fegan, the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder were also interested in him and other potential sign-and-trade offers from other teams, but Varejao wanted to remain in Cleveland because “He feels there is unfinished business — to win an NBA championship.” Fegan said.

The Cavaliers are also close to signing Toronto’s guard Anthony Paker and the deal is expected to be completed in the next several days.