This is a Cavaliers team that is trying to win now. If you trade for Shaquille O’Neal, you’re trying to win now. They’re the rules. So why then would you take the biggest prospect in the draft with your sole first-round pick? I’m not saying that any of them are brilliant players or substantial difference-makers, but players like Sam Young, Dejuan Blair, Jermaine Taylor….these are potentially useful pieces immediately, and as things stand, the Cavaliers bench is pretty bare. Would it not have been worth taking one of their ilk instead? What is the percentage possibility of Eyenga becoming a better NBA player than these others? I don’t know. But it’d have to be quite a way above 50% to make this make sense.
– Jamont Gordon: Jamont Gordon fills up the stat sheet in all categories, but he has his flaws. He’s an inefficient scorer at times, he turns it over too much at others, his own hairline hates him, and he’s short for his scoring skillset. But one of the biggest flaws has always been his jump shot. And, based on last year’s play, it still is. Gordon averaged 11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals in 24 minutes per game for Upim Bologna last season, but shot only a below-par 32% from three-point range. He drew a lot of foul shots as per usual, but also missed a lot as per usual, shooting 68% from the stripe. Gordon’s an unconventional kind of smallish guard, and he’s quite a good one, bullish and athletic with some moves in his bag. He’s just going to have to improve his decision making and/or shooting before he cracks the big league..
– David Harrison: Harrison’s rookie contract expired last summer, and after a brief training camp tryout with the Timberwolves, he left the NBA altogether. He went off to China, where he did the usual Chinese thing and put up a crapload of stats all across the board. Harrison totalled 21.0 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.3 blocks and 4.2 fouls a game, shooting better from the field (62.1%) than the foul line (56.9%). Them’s is good looking numbers, for sure, but good-looking numbers are easy enough to achieve in China when you’re over 6’8 tall and even slightly mobile. May I remind you once again that Olumide Oyedeji averaged almost 20/20 in China last season. Even Priest Lauderdale put up big numbers, bigger than Harrison’s, to the tune of 21/13/4. And he’s not even mobile. (By the way, add Priest Lauderdale to the list of American players who have obtained Bulgarian passports. But at least Priest had the decency to play there for four years.)
Harrison turns 27 next month and has never hugely developed. He will have to show out big here to have a chance. But more importantly, here’s a Priest Lauderdale fact: Priest Lauderdale was once banned from playing in the Philippines Basketball Association because the league ruled he was too big. The PBA at the time had a rule which stated that teams could field two imports with only a combined of 13 feet six inches, and the 7’4 Lauderdale had a 6’4 team mate (Jermaine Walker). That rule has since been dropped due to its inherent stupidity. Good times.
– Darnell Jackson: Jackson has an unguaranteed salary for next year, and if the Cavaliers get serious about winning now and decide to stock up with veterans, then his roster spot might be in jeopardy. But, since there’s no real threat of that right now, he should be fine.
– Tarence Kinsey: Kinsey last season played about 13 important seconds all year, and all the rest of the time he saw was garbage time. Since you will no doubt know that Tarence Kinsey is the Kingsey Of Garbage Time, it might not surprise you to know that Kinsey managed to record a true shooting percentage last season of .595% in that role. And this from your 13th man. Not too bad, is it? Kinsey’s contract is unguaranteed until July 28th, but I’m pulling for him to make it. And if he doesn’t, I want my Bulls to get in on that.
– Maureece Rice: Rice was one of about 46 people to get a training camp contract with the Sixers last year, but he never really stood a chance of making the team. After that went south, he went north, and was acquired by the Erie BayHawks of the D-League. He didn’t start out too well, but things got better, and he ended up averaging 19.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists on the year. Rice is still a bigger guard, let’s say, but he slimmed down a bit, and returned to his more-suited position of shooting guard. He’s managed to rebuild his resume after a bad previous 18 months,; another year like the second half of last year, and who knows; he might get in.
– Jawad Williams: Williams signed with the Cavs in training camp, and beat the long odds to make the team seemingly pretty much on the basis of his performance in one preseason game. He then sat on the inactive list until the contract guarantee date came around, at which point Danny Ferry waived him. As soon as he cleared waivers, though, Jawad was brought back for two ten-day contracts, where he once again sat around not playing. Clearly, Dan Gilbert was paying for a winner.
Then, disaster; the Thunder bought out Joe Smith, who signed with the Cavaliers, and Williams lost his roster spot. (By this time, he had played all of ten minutes in nine games.) That looked to be the end of that, and Williams slunk off to the D-League to average 25.7 points in 19 games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
And then he bounced back. The overdue medical retirement of Eric Snow finally went through, and the Cavaliers had a roster spot open again. They wasted next to no time in using it on Williams again, signing him through 2010 and giving him the opportunity to once again sit on the bench. They even let him play once; in the Cavs’ final game of the season, when they rested as many rotation players as they could, Williams came off the bench to score eight points and pull down two rebounds in 10 minutes. In the 81 games before that, he had managed only 2 points and 0 rebounds in the same amount of time. It truly was a breakout of Ndudi Ebi-like proportions. And boy, did he deserve it.
Will Williams make the roster again? I doubt it. There’s no reason why he should (no offence; it just wasn’t exactly much of a role). However, considering Jawad’s amazing powers of survival in the Ohio area, I’m not putting it past him. And if he does, I’ll be sure to tell you.