If you are like I am, then you are probably finding the slow moving NBA dog days to be both confusing and frustrating. Here we are a good month from the start of fall training camps on September 28th. There have been few if any trades or signings in nearly a month. Nothing is happening, which is bad news for us basketball junkies out here. Sure there are plenty of articles, written by frustrated sports journalists, speculating about the impact that new draft picks and free agent signings are going to have on their new clubs. There are just as many articles questioning the validity of these decisions. So we are on the Summer dog days yo-yo, going up and down at the mercy of what mood the writers happen to be in at that moment.
As a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, I have been going nuts – especially considering that half the articles are questioning the viability of Andrew Bynum’s much discussed knee problems. Will he play? If he does play, how many games is he good for? Will he play back to backs? Or, will he pull the same trick he pulled on the Philadelphia 76er’s last season? The other half are all pumped up, hailing Bynum as a new star to compliment Kyrie Irving. How Bynum will put the Cavs on his back and lead them to the promised land in NBA playoff Nirvana? Anyone else confused yet?
Perhaps the most perplexing story I have read centered around the manufactured speculation that rving was unhappy with Cleveland and the Cavaliers and wanted out! Now really folks, we didn’t deserve that. Did we? Here we are in the middle of the “feel good Summer of 2013″, dreaming about the Cavs finally having a real chance to return to the playoffs, and some bored and cruel person decided to put a new spin on things by speculating that Irving wanted out. And of course, there are always those unnamed sources that must remain confidential because they weren’t authorized to speak out on the matter. I say HOG WASH. My feeling is that this was the act of a desperate writer, needing a story an hour before his deadline.
Another story that writers seem to be waffling over is the fate of first overall draft selection Anthony Bennett. Once again we hear that he is going to be a scoring demon, hitting jumpers and taking the ball to the hoop. We also hear that the Cavs made a serious mistake in the draft and we should have taken Elmer Fudd instead. That the Cavs front court is as crowded as I-90 at rush hour on Friday afternoon when there is an accident. That the Cavs simply have too many big men to get Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Andy Varejao, Tyler Zeller, Earl Clark, and Bynum the playing time that all of them deserve. Nothing like stating the obvious, ya know? However, it has been my experience that log jams such as this one usually work themselves out with an injury here and an injury there. Especially when you consider Bynum and Varejao’s health history. (Knock on wood, please!)
I think the biggest reason that we are antsy is the fear of the unknown. So many of the new Cavs players were not able to work out or played very little in the Las Vegas Summer League. Our prized first pick Bennett is a mystery to us. We are dying to see what he can do. Bynum couldn’t work out for the team before his signing, so we are all on pins and needles fearing the worst will happen. And finally, Sergey Karasev has played his hoops half way around the globe, so what video is available was shot from nose bleed seats and is not very satisfying.
I will leave you with my take on all of this. I believe the Cavs have the raw talent to finish in the eighth and final playoff slot, IF Bynum and Varejao stay reasonably healthy. If we don’t make the playoffs, it isn’t the end of the world. Hey, we are Cavs fans and have lived thru some of the worst final records in NBA history. The worst case scenario is that we look at another lottery pick from a pool of players much more talented than we picked from in the past two seasons. Either way, the team benefits. Either way, I am happy.
If Bynum’s knees don’t hold up, we cut him loose after the season and have $6 million more cap space in the 2014 free agency period that could feature a bumper crop of star studded names. With the Cavs fortunes on the rise, it only takes one really good one to change our fortunes. Andrew Bynum coming here helped a lot with our credibility.
The Irving fiasco is over. He addressed the situation saying he was happy here. I say, we believe him and move on. Dwelling on this issue is not in any way, shape or form going to be productive for the Cavs and their fans. We need to let this speculation die a horrible death where ever bad NBA stories go to be forever forgotten. He is ours for another five or six seasons. A lot can happen in that time.
I fully expect Victor Oladepo to win the Rookie of the Year playing for Orlando, but I also think that Bennett has the skills and physique to make an impact for the Cavs. I don’t think that he is going to embarrass Cavs GM, Chris Grant. Trust in the fact that the team did its home work and knew what they are getting.
We have some interesting prospects coming to camp. Karasev, Carrick Felix and invitee Matthew Dellavedova are my personal favorites. These three have a world of potential and hopefully Head Coach Mike Brown and his staff can bring that out to its fullest. If he can, the Cavs will be deep and potentially dangerous down the road as they gain valuable experience. Yes, folks, these are exciting times to be a Cavs fan, so don’t let the dog days get you down. Training camp will be here before you know it.