Daniel Gilbert didn't bring a championship to Cleveland before LeBron James brought one to Miami, but after several nice offseason transactions, the Cavs are positioned as one of a handful of teams likely to be fighting for the last few Playoff spots in the East. It's not often that a team can lose a once-in-a-generation player like James and expect to find itself in the Playoff hunt just a few years later, but through some luck in the lottery, successful drafting, and savvy trades and signings, the Cavs are positioned to be a team with all the potential to shake things up in this year's Playoff race.
2012-2013 Cleveland Cavaliers Offseason Recap
Draft Picks: Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller
Free Agents: C.J. Miles, Michael Eric, Jon Leuer, Luke Harangody (re-signed and retained)
Trade Acquired: Kelenna Azubuike, Jeremy Pargo, Omri Casspi
Subtractions: Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker, Semih Erden, Alonzo Gee
2012-2013 Cavaliers Prospective Depth Chart
PG: Kyrie Irving | Jeremy Pargo | Donald Sloan
SG: Dion Waiters | C.J. Miles |Daniel Gibson
SF: Omri Casspi | Kelenna Azubuike | Luke Walton
PF: Tristan Thompson | Jon Leuer | Samardo Samuels | Luke Harangody
C: Anderson Varejao | Tyler Zeller | Michael Eric
Parting ways with Antawn Jamison and Anthony Parker makes good sense. Jamison is aging like milk and can hope to find his own renaissance elsewhere, and while Parker has been a solid role player for them, he no longer fills a need.
The strategy for additions here seems to be pretty simple: assume that Kyrie Irving is going to build on a very nice rookie campaign and emerge as the new franchise player - a pretty good assumption, I think - and add several useful role players at every position other than Point Guard.
Omri Casspi, Kelenna Azubuike, and Jon Leuer are all excellent pick ups. Casspi and Leuer will do the dirty work, and contribute plenty of garbage points and hustle players. Azubuike has been a very productive, but under appreciated, swingman for several seasons, and he should provide solid perimeter defense, while providing a perimeter threat for Irving.
The Cavs also did well in the draft. Zeller is one of those blue collar guys that I'd welcome on my team anyway, even if his proverbial ceiling isn't all that high. Dion Waiters has plenty of question marks, but he certainly has potential and should prove to be a dynamic backcourt pairing with Irving.
I'm not ready to call this team a lock for the Playoffs. There have been lots of moving parts, and there's the inevitable uncertainty that always accompanies a team that will be relying on young players to carry so much of the weight. But on paper, I like what I see. And if you're a Cavs fan, there's a whole lot to be excited about.
If you're a Pistons fan, look out for the Cavs this year and for years to come. There's a very strong nucleus here for an in-division rival that should be staying together, there is a lot of room for internal development, and there's enough financial flexibility to keep things interesting.
As if he weren't already, Joe Dumars is on notice. Standing pat and relying on internal improvement isn't going to get it done in the 2012-2013 Eastern Conference. Make some moves, or get left in the dust.
P.S. Yes, the depth chart is more than 15 players. Hard to know which of the back-of-the-rotation guys doesn't make it from our vantage point
P.S.S. Thanks to the comment section, we can expect Cleveland to retain Gee.