LeBron James continually redefines what one player is capable of in this predominantly team sport. His abuse of Orlando, New Jersey and Detroit last spring was truly an effort worthy of the ‘Witness’ signs that dominate the landscape at the Quicken Loans Arena.Â Â
All kidding aside, though, the Cavs as a team caught a lot of people off guard last year and it is somewhat troubling how little they’ve done this off-season to try and build on that momentum. Their on-again-off-again pursuit of the Kings’ Mike Bibby makes a lot of sense from the perspective of Bibby being the perfect compliment to the way the Cavs use James, giving him the primary ball-handling responsibilities and letting the point guard act as more of a finisher. However, if the cost for Bibby is Drew Gooden, then it is a price the Cavs cannot pay. As trendy as Anderson Varejao is these days, he is no where near as well-rounded a player as Gooden, and the Cavs are far better off with the depth they have now up front than importing a potentially over-the-hill point guard that makes such an insane amount of money.
What this team could still use, though, is some depth. Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones have hardly panned out for this team since they signed on and Shannon Brown didn’t show a ton last season to make anyone think of him as a primary backup on a Finals team. While money is tight for this team right now, they have to learn to exploit their status as a title contender in the way that San Antonio, Phoenix and even Boston do and get some title-hungry vets on the cheap. The trick here isn’t trying to maintain their position in the East so much as it is trying to make sure up-and-comers don’t leapfrog them before they’ve had their day in the sun.
The fact is that this team still needs LeBron James to be superhuman each and every game in the postseason to have a shot at winning just about every series. With his summer commitments to Team USA and – ideally – many more long playoff runs in the future, the physical toll this could exact on James could knock him out before his time. A gift like LeBron is not one to be feasted on ravenously, it is one to be savored and accented and drawn-out for as long as possible.
Make no mistake, James is this team’s meal ticket, and if he ever catches wise to the fact that they are just wearing him out instead of complimenting him then all of those never-ending rumors detailing his exit strategy from Ohio may prove to be not so far off the mark after all.