The Cleveland Cavaliers have dealt with injury problems to two star players and battled through a slump earlier this season, but the expected acquisitions of Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut should satisfy LeBron James' demand for a playmaker and another big man and give the Cavaliers a good chance to repeat as NBA champions.
On Monday's episode of Undisputed, Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe evaluated the Cavs' chances once the roster is fully healthy, and Bayless said that LeBron James can't make any more excuses this season.
Shannon: The Cavaliers now have an equal shot to win the NBA Finals
This is what I didn’t understand. Cleveland won the championship on a Sunday. And when the line opened up on Monday in Vegas, the Warriors were favored to win the 2017 NBA title. That was without Durant, so now they signed their second-best player.
I believe now, Skip, we’re 50/50. It’s a coin flip. Because I don’t believe Cleveland will catch Golden State for home court, so that meansthey’re going to have to win one game [in Oakland].
LeBron said five weeks, six weeks, two months ago, ‘I need a backup point guard. Somebody who can initiate the offensewhen Kyrie and myself are on the bench. We need a big. Birdman went down, if Tristan Thompson gets in trouble we need somebody that can come in, get some rebounds, protect the rim, set screens.’
Shannon: When Kevin Love and J.R. Smith return, the Cavs will be incredibly deep
The Cavaliers were attempting to trade Iman Shumpert for Patrick Beverley, because they needed a backup point guard that much.
So now, with Deron Williams… and people want to say ‘well Deron Williams, he’s [past his prime].’ They don’t need him to be the 20 and 10, two-time second-team All-NBA player that he was in Utah. That’s not what they need.
Can you come in, give us 15 to 20 minutes a night, and initiate the offense when Kyrie and ‘Bron are on the bench? I believe he can.
Now what that does… Kevin Love and J.R. [Smith], they’re coming back. So now you’ve got a starting lineup. Now when you go to your bench, you can bring in Deron Williams, you can bring in… Derrick Williams has been playing great. The No. 2 pick out of Arizona. He’s played really well. Richard Jefferson. Shump. Bogut. I didn’t mention Channing Frye.
Skip: If the new signings stay healthy, the Cavs are now loaded
So let me get this completely straight. It is now official, LeBron James has no more excuses for the rest of the season? No excuses.
…. Now it’s clear that Bogut plus Tristan over, what, Zaza and JaVale in Golden State? That’s over, that’s a done deal. Big advantage LeBron in the post.
Now you got to keep Shumpert, and you got to keep Kevin Love. You kept all that, and now LeBron will re-light the fuse in Deron Williams, and LeBron will faith-heal Deron from all of his nagging injuries - because LeBron is capable of doing that, right?
Bogut will be on a revenge mission to get even with the team that dumped him, basically. Just sent him packing because they wanted Kevin Durant. He was expendable, right? And Bogut will somehow be faith-healed from all of his nagging injuries, because he’s had one after another. Both knees are balky, hamstring’s a little balky.
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Skip: Kyle Korver has become a lethal weapon
Finally, Kyle Korver’s found his bliss in Cleveland. He’s found his comfort zone, because over the last 10 games - think about this. He’s made 40 of 64 three-pointers. Think about that. That’s impossible!
40 of 64. That’s 63 percent… I told you, and I think you agreed with me, on the day they landed Kyle Korver, that he’s as good as… I know it’s between him and Klay, but sometimes I think that Kyle’s an even better catch and shoot three-point shooter.
Skip: The Cavs may be the new favorite to win the title
So now they have eight top-5 picks on this roster. That’s the most in 47 years in the NBA. This team is loaded! This team is starting to feel like a prohibitive favorite, and by the way, this team now has three No. 1 overall picks on its roster, and that’s the most since the Showtime Lakers had four.
Should we say prohibitive now, over Golden State or San Antonio?
Shannon: LeBron James is a magnet for talent
I want you to watch and see how everybody that comes up that gets released or gets a buyout, how LeBron James can [lure them] from Cleveland! He’s not in L.A.! He can’t promise them Hollywood. He can’t promise them palm trees and 80-degree weather. [He’s] not in New York. He can’t promise them Madison Avenue or playing in the NBA’s greatest arena.