2014 NBA Draft Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers

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Picks: 1 and 33

Needs: This is a critical draft for the Cavaliers, for a variety of reasons. After using the number one overall pick in last year’s draft to go with a risky selection in Anthony Bennett, the team can’t afford to take a chance on anyone who is not widely viewed to be as close to a sure thing as possible.

The only thing Cleveland doesn’t need from a player standpoint is help at either guard position, with there barely being enough basketballs to go around for Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters who are already in place. The Cavs need to select the best overall player here regardless of position, and the one most likely to be a franchise cornerstone for many seasons to come.

What the franchise needs more than anything, however, is simply stability. There will be a new head coach in place, after Mike Brown was fired with four years (!) remaining on his deal. Irving is likely to be offered a max contract extension this summer, but he’ll need to believe things are headed in the right direction before signing it. And what the Cavaliers end up with out of this draft may have a lot to do with Irving’s decision.

Trade possibilities: The Cavaliers reportedly had at least one team calling about getting that number one pick in the Sixers, but Philadelphia wasn’t willing to give up both the 3 and 10 picks to get it just yet. The third pick along with Thaddeus Young might be an option Cleveland would consider, depending on who they’re eyeing with the top pick. Joel Embiid seems to be their choice now, but remember, initially he wasn’t.

There’s also the option of trying to get a veteran superstar in exchange for a package involving that top pick (Kevin Love, anyone?), and while there’s a new GM in place in David Griffin, it’s worth noting how aggressive the organization was a season ago in trying to add pieces to make a run at the playoffs in a watered-down Eastern Conference.

Predictions: The Cavaliers have a lot at stake. If they’re not 100 percent sold on taking a player like Embiid with the top pick, then moving down to let Philadelphia draft someone like Andrew Wiggins might make a lot of sense. Dealing for a superstar like Love would only make sense if he were to commit to stay long-term before a deal was done, otherwise they’d just be getting a rental like they did with Luol Deng last season — and we saw how that turned out.

Expect a more conservative approach from Cleveland this time around. If there is a trade, it likely wouldn’t involve moving down more than a few spots, so that a widely-viewed impact player could still be selected, thereby giving the franchise hope while the fan base has something to get excited about.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.