After the mass exodus from the Cleveland Cavaliers organization this summer, as the coach, the general manager, and the star player all left, many fans wondered about the future of the team.
What will happen around here without Mike Brown, Danny Ferry, and LeBron James? It has taken a little while, but there is hope based on what new GM Chris Grant did around the trading deadline.
Grant didn’t do much immediately after taking the job, but he did make one trade before the season started, picking up Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins from Minnesota for Delonte West, who was released shortly thereafter by the Timberwolves. The Cavs were not going to renew West’s deal anyway, so essentially Grant got the two players for nothing.
While Hollins has shown to be a journeyman backup center in the league who can’t rebound, Sessions has averaged 12.7 points and 5.5 assists per game while starting most of the season due to injuries. Sessions is viewed as one of the players the “new” Cavaliers can build around, as he is at least a very good backup point guard.
Sessions is aggressive, always looking to go to the basket, as evidenced by his five free throw attempts per game in an average of just 27 minutes per night.
Prior to getting Sessions, Grant signed restricted free agent point guard Kyle Lowry to an offer sheet, even though Lowry averaged just 9 points and 4.5 assists per night.
This year, Lowry has flourished, boosting his averages to 12.3 points and 6.5 assists per game in taking over the Rockets starting spot.
The point here is that Grant appears to be a pretty good judge of talent. This is also in evidence looking at two undrafted players the team picked as free agents over the summer.
No one is saying that Manny Harris or Samardo Samuels will ever be all-stars, but the fact is they can play in this league in some role.
Harris, a 6’5″ guard is averaging 6.7 points and 3 rebounds per game in 39 contests. He has four 20 point nights in his rookie year, and is another player who has shown enough to be part of the future here.
Samuels, a 6’9″ post player is scoring 6.5 points per night and grabbing 3.6 boards in 25 games. However, his performance in back-to-back starts the last two games has to get fans interested. He scored 38 points and notched 16 caroms against San Antonio and New York, and drew two charges from Carmelo Anthony in the last two minutes on March 4th to help Cleveland upset the Knicks.
Add in the two deals at the deadline which netted a probable top ten pick in this year’s NBA draft, two young big guys in Semih Erden and Luke Harangody, and a veteran point guard in Baron Davis, and it’s clear that Grant is a pretty good judge of talent.
This is not to suggest that all the players mentioned will go on to be to be starters or even contributors on a good NBA team. However, it is clear that all of the players have talent.
Now, Grant needs to take the three picks the team will have in the first 31 selections in June’s draft and find some more good players. Grant has said there are 12-15 good players every year. It’s his job to find them.
There is no question fans have to feel better about the future of this team than they did at the beginning of the season. The moves made by Grant since he took over as GM show he has an eye for who can play in the Association.
That’s a comfort for those worried about a guy in that spot for the first time.