I just finished reading Rock’s piece on watching our beloved Cleveland Cavaliers continue to get passed over by the top free agents this week, while simultaneously rolling out the red carpet for the Big Freeze, Shaquille O’Neal. As Rock points out GM Danny Ferry was busy at a press conference while Rockets GM Daryl Morey was on a jet to Las Vegas stealing Trevor Ariza for the mid-level exception. Meanwhile, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was snagging Ron Artest for the same money. This is not a knock of Ferry, but the facts are the facts. I just get the same sinking feeling; doesn’t this seem like we are replaying the Michael Redd/Ray Allen/Larry Hughes situation all over again?
First off, I never bought into the Ariza rumors. I’m sure the Cavs had interest in the lanky small forward who burst onto the national scene during the Lakers championship run. But before May, had I told you that the Cavs big free agent acquisition was going to be Trevor Ariza, half of you would have said “who?” and the other half would have looked at his averages of 8.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 31% from three point land and said “to give this guy five years and $33 million is ludicrous.”
On the Artest front, when in the ESPN Los Angeles studios last night, the “Tru Warrior” himself stated that he has been in LA since the season ended and has always loved the city. Reports have his deal being an option for either three years and $18.6 million or five years and $33 million. That is clearly where he wanted to be all along. Take your loyalties out of it – All things equal, where would you rather play for the same money – LA or Cleveland?
While the Cavaliers could have given the same deal offers to Ariza or Artest, it comes down to one simple fact – nobody knows what Lebron James is going to do after this upcoming season.
Think about it. If you are Charlie Villanueva, Trevor Ariza, or Ron Artest, do you really want to sign a three or five-year contract to go to Cleveland when you have no idea what the team is going to be like after the first year of your deal? As much as we don’t want to hear it, it’s a distinct possibility that The King will leave, Shaq will follow him out the door, and then you are left in cold weather Cleveland in the post-Lebron era essentially with Mo Williams and a collection of role players.
Is that something top NBA free agents are williung to risk for less than their market value (Artest and Villanueva) in the mid-level exception?
The is the harsh truth folks. And that is why we are now on to guys like Shawn Marion – a known diva who according to one well respected NBA insider is his ” least favorite player in the league,” Anthony Parker, and Linus Kleiza.
Side story time.
If you have read Jack McCallum’s book Seven Seconds or Less chronicling the 2005-06 Phoenix Suns, you will find Marion as one of the more fascinating aspects of the story. McCallum essentially portrays the 6’9 forward as an extremely insecure guy who needs constant affirmation from his coaches, teammates, and fans. Not to mention his tendency to lose focus on what is most important.
For example, McCallum describes at one time out during a Suns game, Marion actually took notice that the cheerleaders during a dance routine all were sporting Steve Nash or Amare Stoudamire jerseys. He then went to the front office to complain because Stoudamire was out for the season at the time and he was the one who was busting his butt 40 minutes a night. Marion actually wanted to know why the cheerleaders weren’t wearing his jersey.
For all of his talent, there is a reason he has been on three teams in the last two years.