Â George M. Thomas Akron Beacon Journal Sportswriter brings us up to speed:Â
With the Cleveland Cavaliers’ season finished, the behind-the-scenes work begins to build on what the team accomplished in the 2006-07 season.
On the court, there’s only one way to top this year: Win it all.
The Cavs face the prospect of losing two important ingredients from this year’s magical brew: forward Anderson Varejao and guard Sasha Pavlovic, who become restricted free agents this summer.
There’s little doubt what General Manager Danny Ferry and coach Mike Brown want to see happen with those players.
“We want both of them back,” Ferry said in an interview with area media. “We’ll go through the process (negotiations can begin July 1), whatever that is with their agents, to see that happen.”
It’s not difficult to see why Ferry would want them to return. Pavlovic doubled his scoring average to 9.0 and showed signs of consistency throughout the season. Varejao’s a scrappy player who willingly does the dirty work, can be a ferocious rebounder off the bench and often gives the team a much-needed spark with his play. More importantly, they’re both younger than 25, so there is a tremendous upside for the two.
On Friday, both players said they’d love to return to the Cavaliers.
“I love the city. I love the fans and everything. When I first got here, I didn’t speak any English,” Varejao said. “It was a different country for me, and they helped me. So I’m pretty comfortable in Cleveland. I love being here. I would love to come back.”
Pavlovic would like to return as well, but he looks at the situation with a touch of pragmatism.
“I would love to be here. You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s a business. It’s nothing on me. I hope I’m going to get back here as a free agent.”
Indeed, obstacles could arise. It’s distinctly possible the Cavaliers will be in a luxury tax situation with respect to payroll when the 2007-08 season tips off this fall. How far over the salary cap they wish to extend themselves — and thus pay the league’s luxury tax — could determine several moves.
“I don’t know anything about the cap or what they may be offering or anything like that,” Brown said, “but it would be really nice to have them both back.”
The Cavaliers have no picks in this month’s NBA Draft. Ferry didn’t rule out that changing.
“It’s not a guarantee. It will depend on what pick you could get and what will be available at the time,” he said.
One glaring hole for the Cavs: point guard. Ferry said that position will be looked at, along with the team’s entire roster.
James and Team USA
Team leader LeBron James faced two big decisions when the postseason began: whether to play if his girlfriend went into labor with their second child, and what to do regarding his slot on Team USA, which is coached by Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski and will compete in the FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas this summer.
Bryce Maximus James entered the world early Thursday.
No one has a clue as to what James — who wasn’t available for comment Friday — is doing about playing basketball this summer. That includes Brown and Ferry.
“We talk to LeBron about everything, but ultimately that’s something he has to decide with Coach K and Jerry Colangelo in their discussions,” Ferry said. “But if he decides to play with USA Basketball and he’s going to play with USA Basketball, we clearly support that.”
Brown said he’d have little problem with his superstar representing his country.
“LeBron is a big boy, and he understands what he can and cannot do, so he makes the decision,” Brown said. “If he asks my opinion, I’ll give it to him.”
When the 2007-08 season begins, the Cavaliers will practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts, their new facility in Independence. Brown eagerly awaits that day, primarily because the 50,000-square-foot building will be state-of-the-art with respect to training and the use of video technology.
What does Brown like most about it? It’s another tool to attract potential free agents, he said.