NBA PM: Cavs Positioning for LeBron James Return?
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Cavaliers Positioning for LeBron James Return?
The Miami HEAT are the NBA’s team to beat, and there is little room to argue that LeBron James made the right choice when he spurned his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach. At the time, LeBron had not yet figured out how to win a championship as his team’s primary star, and by spending time playing second fiddle to Wade he eventually learned to rise to the occasion. Now LeBron is a two-time champion, and he no longer needs to lean on anyone else to compete at the game’s highest level. It stands to reason, then, that when he once again enters free agency he will at least consider leaving the ever-older HEAT to make his mark elsewhere.
Even as the summer’s free agency hype has centered largely on the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers and the Brooklyn Nets, another team has quietly gone about the business of vastly improving their roster. The Cleveland Cavaliers already have an outstanding floor leader in Kyrie Irving, but they now have impressive depth in the front court, as well. They have been as aggressive in free agency as any team, and even after adding Andrew Bynum they are still chasing veterans with playoff experience to round out their squad. Speculation is rampant that the Cavaliers and LeBron could reunite despite their nasty break-up, and by all indications the Cavs are now looking to field a team that might make it irresistible for their favorite son to come home. They’re even giving serious consideration to claiming Mike Miller off of amnesty waivers, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Miller, of course, now has two big, diamond-covered things in common with James.
The Eastern Conference is wide open, especially once you get below Miami, Chicago and Indiana as the likely top three seeds. If healthy, the Cavaliers could easily be one of the NBA’s most-improved teams in 2013-14, and they could also turn out to be a very deep playoff team. It’s difficult to bank on them being healthy, of course, as Bynum always seems to be on the verge of his next major injury and Irving has yet to break the 60-game mark in either of his first two seasons. Still, if they can play 70+ games each and are healthy come playoff time, the Cavaliers look like a team that could do some damage.
The best part is that even if Bynum is healthy and costs the Cavaliers $12.5 million for two years, they only have $10.3 million in guaranteed money on the books for the 2014-15 season, so they could offer LeBron a max deal and still have plenty of cap space to keep Bynum and Irving happy long-term as well as add key supporting pieces around them.
There’s a lot of basketball to be played between now and next summer’s free agency frenzy, and there’s a very real chance that injuries could put the Cavaliers right back in the draft lottery. That said, there’s also a very real chance that the Cavaliers could turn out to be one of the East’s rising forces, and if they are it’s not a huge stretch to say LeBron could seriously consider returning home to right what most Cavaliers fans believe was a huge wrong.
A core of LeBron James, Andrew Bynum and Kyrie Irving could certainly do a lot of damage, provided they can all stay healthy.
Houston Rockets Stocking Up
The Houston Rockets landed their big fish, introducing All-Star center Dwight Howard to an elated Houston crowd last week, and now they’re going about the business of making sure he has the best supporting cast possible. Today the Rockets reached terms with free agents Aaron Brooks and Reggie Williams, and reportedly have designs on helping Marcus Camby realize his dream of retiring back home in Houston.
Brooks began his career in Houston, and rejoined the team last season after playing in Phoenix, China and Sacramento. A far cry from the cocky youngster who once led Houston’s attack, Brooks returned as a humble veteran looking to fill any role the coaching staff asked of him. That didn’t include much playing time, as he appeared in just seven games and averaged 5.4 minutes per contest, but at 28 years of age Brooks can still ball, and he could play a bigger role if needed.
Williams will be a new face to most Rockets fans, having spent his first four years in the NBA in Golden State and Charlotte after also spending time in the NBA Development League. Williams, too, is a solid locker room guy who will bring some stability to the backcourt rotation. Unlike Brooks, who signed a one-year deal, Houston inked Williams to a two-year deal with the second year being a team option. Clearly they like his upside as much as they like his work ethic and attitude.
The Rockets are still well under the luxury tax threshold and are pursuing a couple of other free agents, according to multiple reports. Today the Rockets have been linked to Camby, who is completing a buyout with the Toronto Raptors today, and Mike Miller, who has been amnestied by the Miami HEAT. Both players have plenty of options, but the presence of Howard and a starting lineup that has a legitimate shot at contention could sway either one or both to choose Clutch City as their next, and perhaps final, NBA destinations.
In targeting older veterans to fill out their roster, the Rockets have made it clear that rebuilding is over. Now it’s time to win, and hopefully win big.