NBA Saturday: Cavs Leaning Away From Noel?
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Cavaliers Leaning Away From Nerlens Noel?
All one need do is take a look at a mock draft—any mock draft, but ours in particular—to see that most people believe UK center Nerlens Noel is going to be the top overall selection in this month’s NBA Draft. The reasons for this are manifold, but it mostly has to do with the fact that teams are always looking for franchise centers, and Noel looks like he’s got more potential, especially defensively, than anybody else in this otherwise flat draft.
But according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Cleveland Cavaliers may be considering going in a different direction with their #1 overall draft selection. In a series of tweets posted on Friday afternoon, Amico stated, “Cavs front office seriously dissecting possibility of drafting Ben McLemore with No. 1 pick, source says.”
He then added, “Consensus for Cavs is McLemore has potential to be dynamic scorer. But yes, they wonder if it could work with Dion Waiters,” which brings up yet again the obvious debate over whether a team should draft the player they think will be the most prolific talent, or the player that actually plays a position at which they need a body.
We know, for example, that when the Portland Trail Blazers drafted Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan in 1984, they did so knowing full well that M.J. was the better player, but they already had Clyde Drexler on the roster at Jordan’s position. That made drafting the big body a much easier decision, even if it was the wrong one.
That’s not to say that McLemore is the same kind of can’t-miss college talent that Jordan was nearly thirty years ago, but if we look back on that now and think to ourselves, “You know, Portland probably could’ve found a way to play Drexler and Jordan together, or at least could’ve traded one of them away and gotten more value than Bowie would have ever generated,” then why can’t we say the same thing for Waiters and McLemore?
Especially if Noel is coming into the league with one major knee surgery under his belt. According to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, who interviewed Noel’s surgeon, the rehab on that bum knee is actually going great. The surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, said, “We’re really happy with his progress. He’s several weeks ahead of schedule on his rehab. He’s improving on a weekly basis. He has a completely stable knee. The bone plugs are completely healed into the bone. His muscle and weight is returning. He has had no setbacks at all.”
However, he also added, “Whoever gets him has to go slowly with him. It’s going to take him a while to get back to the level he was before he was injured.”
That means Cleveland is likely drafting a player they can’t even use for the first portion of the season. Granted, having Anderson Varejao on the roster makes it very possible to bring Noel along slowly, but McLemore would inject some instant offense into a lineup that really, really needs it. As good as Noel may be defensively, he’s very raw on the other end of the floor. McLemore, who many scouts believe has just as much potential star power as Noel, could help this team immediately and maybe even help them sneak back into the postseason for the first time since LeBron James “Decided” in 2010.
With that at stake, it’s no wonder they’re wavering on what to do with the top overall pick. Or, they’re set on Noel and are just throwing out a smokescreen to potentially make the top pick more enigmatic and therefore more valuable.
It’s impossible to know the truth, but the news isn’t surprising to anyone other than Dion Waiters, because McLemore is worth serious consideration as the top overall selection. Quite possibly more so than Nerlens Noel.
Monta Ellis’s Future in Milwaukee in Doubt?
It’s really hard to know to what will happen with Monta Ellis and the Milwaukee Bucks this summer, but one thing we know for sure as of today: an extension offer from Milwaukee was on the table, and Ellis turned it own.
According to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Ellis was offered a two-year extension worth about $25 million if he agreed to pick up his $11 million option for next year. The deal would’ve paid him approximately $12 million per season over the next three years, but the belief at this point is that Ellis would rather test free agency, so he rejected the offer.
A two-year extension is a good starting place for the Bucks, who have to be frugal because their small-market budget isn’t on par with what some other teams in the league are able to spend, but Ellis and his agent appear to be looking for long-term security rather than the ability to make decent bank now and then test the free agency waters again when he’s 30 years old.
Milwaukee has a lot of work to do this summer, with Ellis, J.J. Redick, and Brandon Jennings all likely to seriously dip their toes into free agency come July. That’s more or less their entire backcourt rotation and the only three truly gifted offensive players on the roster. It’s hard to know if Milwaukee will be able to keep any of them, but up until this point the word was that Ellis was the one guy that they definitely wanted to have back.
A two-year extension, however, doesn’t really show a player how confident you are in him as the most important building block of your franchise.
And there are plenty of arguments that would show Ellis is questionable at best as a franchise player, which is likely why the Bucks would start conservatively in their extension talks.
Gardner suggests that Ellis may be angling for an opportunity with the Sacramento Kings, who could bid adieu to similarly-talented player Tyreke Evans, because former Golden State assistant Mike Malone is the new skipper out there. Ellis obviously saw a lot of success under Malone and probably wouldn’t mind being reunited with him. Still, the Kings have a mess of a backcourt, and while Malone is one of the more promising new head coaching hires this summer, that roster would still need serious retooling even if Ellis were to be brought aboard.
The bottom line is that if the Bucks want to retain one of their two flashy scoring combo guards, they’re going to have to shell out some money. $12 million per season over three years isn’t going to make Ellis happy. He’ll need more per year to ink a deal that short, or at least a longer contract at similar annual numbers. Maybe the Bucks end up giving him that money, and maybe it’s Sacramento. Maybe it’s someone else, but Ellis has until June 20th to opt-in or opt-out of next year’s $11 million deal with Milwaukee. We’ll know then for sure just how serious he is about trying on free agency for size.