After suffering through a long, cold and unsatisfying winter during the NBA campaign of 2010-2011, fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers have started to see some light at the end of the tunnel that will lead their team back to respectability in the Association. Last June’s number one pick in the NBA Draft point guard Kyrie Irving should be a lock to be named NBA Rookie Of The Year and has the potential to become an All-Star in the next few years.
The club’s other first round pick big man Tristan Thompson has not shown the consistency of Irving, however he has had some great moments including racking up a double-double with a career high 27 points against the New Jersey Nets last month. That game convinced the team to put him in the starting lineup and to release center Ryan Hollins.
Cleveland General Manager Chris Grant will look to improve the team via the draft once again this June as the franchise has two selections in both the first and second round. He will also be able to take a dip in the Free Agent waters, as the team will reportedly be $20 million under the salary-cap this summer. Grant believes in building the club through the draft, the blueprint that has made the Oklahoma City Thunder one of the most formidable teams in the NBA this season; so he is not about to start throwing money around like a drunken sailor this summer. However Bob Finan who is the Cavaliers beat writer for the “News-Herald” believes the Cavaliers could target two restricted Free Agents that could help elevate the club to the next level.
Finan wrote that the Cavaliers may have their sights set on Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert as well as New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon, both of whom could become restricted Free Agents at the conclusion of the campaign. Hibbert has started to display the talent that he showed at Georgetown, as he has benefitted from the positive reinforcement he has gotten from Pacers head coach Frank Vogel. The big man made his first NBA All-Star team last month and has averaged 13.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per contest this season.
Gordon came to the Hornets in the trade that sent Chris Paul to the Clippers last December. He has been hampered by injuries the entire season and has played only five games as of Monday afternoon, however he did score 31 points against the San Antonio Spurs last Friday as the Hornets fell to San Antonio 128-103. He could give Irving a strong partner in the Cavaliers back-court as well as give the squad a solid outside shooter.
Both players could solve obvious needs for the franchise; however as restricted Free Agents their current teams have the right to match any offer sheet. With the dearth of talented players in the pivot position in today’s Association, as well as his relationship with Vogel; Hibbert might me be extremely tough for the club to acquire. It is up to Grant, if he so chooses to try to build a deal for the players that may keep their current clubs from matching the offer sheets. If he can sign both players it would be a huge jump in the growth curve for the rebuilding Cavaliers.