Kansas shooter Ben McLemore is in play as the Cavaliers decide what to do with the No. 1 draft pick, sources say.
By SAM AMICOFS Ohio
CLEVELAND — As can be expected, the Cavaliers are still kicking around ideas on what to do with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Should they try to trade it?
Should they keep it and take Kentucky center Nerlens Noel and his rebuilt ACL?
Should they stick with their philosophy of selecting the best player available, regardless of position, and let the chips fall where they may?
The answers are perhaps, perhaps and perhaps again.
It’s true, as Cavs general manager Chris Grant and his staff are exploring all options and seem to have settled on none.
Their latest dose of due diligence is centered on Kansas shooting guard
Ben McLemore, a 6-foot-4 sharpshooter who’s been compared to NBA veteran Ray Allen, now of the Miami Heat.
According to FOX Sports Ohio sources, abundant discussions are taking place in the Cavs’ front office about the possibility of drafting McLemore, and how things might unfold if he indeed became the pick.
The Cavs appear to be intrigued not just by McLemore’s remarkable perimeter touch, but his explosiveness near the basket. Like most evaluators, they believe he can turn into a bona fide scoring whiz at the next level.
Of course, anyone who follows the Cavs knows they chose a shooting guard in last year’s draft with their first selection (No. 4 overall) — and they do indeed still believe in Dion Waiters.
He was named Rookie of the Month in February and proved to be a kid who can really fill it up, as well as create shots for others with an ability to drive and distribute.
That said, sources indicated the Cavs aren’t entirely sold on Waiters, at least not yet. And it’s not often you can feel completely confident about a guy who’s had just one season to prove himself.
At any rate, if the Cavs do go with McLemore, they know it could create a sticky situation involving Waiters. There’s certainly no indication Waiters would be receptive to such a move, particularly if it meant he was demoted to a sixth-man role.
But expectations are higher than they’ve ever been in the Grant era, with owner Dan Gilbert and fans all but publicly demanding a playoff appearance.
In order for that to happen, Grant has to hit the right buttons this summer, upgrading the talent in all areas and drastically improving the defense.
Clearly, that was a reason for the second coming of coach Mike Brown — who supposedly is especially big on the idea of landing another inside presence and additional length on the wing.
But if the Cavs eventually decide McLemore has the brightest future of anyone in the draft, McLemore is who they will take. The rest, they believe, can be sorted out later.
• Cavs big man Anderson Varejao is making good progress after a quadriceps procedure and blood clot issues limited to him to 25 games last season. He is expected to be ready for training camp.
• Varejao remains the top option for the Cavs at center, but don’t think team officials are just blowing off his recent injuries as a string of dumb luck. Instead, sources said the Cavs are greatly concerned about Varejao’s ability to stay on the floor, and are making it a priority to add depth in the frontcourt this summer because of it.
• That will be easier said than done, of course, as most teams prefer to hang on to talented big men. The Cavs found this out first hand in exploratory talks with the Portland Trail Blazers regarding center/forward LaMarcus Aldridge. As already reported, those talks failed miserably.
• Additionally, sources said the Atlanta Hawks are in a holding pattern when it comes to center and potential trade chip Al Horford. Hawks GM Danny Ferry is preparing to make an all-out pitch in free agency to Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers. Howard is an unrestricted free agent who has indicated he’ll test the market in July.
• Other than Howard and Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic, the list of available big men is considered relatively thin. Pekovic is an a restricted free agent, meaning the Timberwolves could match any offers (much as the Indiana Pacers did last summer when center Roy Hibbert received a deal from the Blazers).
• Regardless, the Cavs have gobs of available space under the salary cap, and very well could use some of it to attempt to lure Pekovic.
• Unrestricted free agent center Andrew Bynum, who missed all of this past season in Philadelphia with a knee injury, does not appear to be on the Cavs’ radar.
• The Cavs remain interested in Georgetown small forward Otto Porter, as well as Maryland center Alex Len. The Cavs would be even more interested if they were able to pilot a trade down out of the No. 1 spot. However, such a maneuver appears very unlikely as the June 27 draft nears.
• Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams, Georgia shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and North Carolina small forward Reggie Bullock also have the Cavs’ attention. The first two are likely to be gone before the Cavs’ No. 19 overall selection. Most mock drafts, however, project that Bullock will still be on the board.
• As for potential second-rounders, the Cavs are said to like Nigerian small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who played professionally in Greece this past season, and Virginia Tech combo guard Erick Green.
• The Dallas Mavericks are intensely shopping the No. 13 overall pick, with hopes of moving out of the lottery and obtaining assets of their own.
• One such proposal, according to sources, involved the Mavs offering the 13th pick and veteran forward Shawn Marion to the Cavs for the Cavs’ two second-round selections (Nos. 31 and 33) and a 2014 pick. The Cavs passed on the offer.
• Nonetheless, sources have said the Cavs are more-than-willing trade partners, and outside of star point guard Kyrie Irving, consider no one on the roster untouchable.
• Multiple sources believe the Pacers are looking for a taker for veteran small forward Danny Granger. The Cavs are interested, sources said, but have reservations about the knee injury that forced him to miss much of the season. If the injury robbed Granger of his explosiveness, such a move would hardly be worth the gamble.
• Finally, the Cavs continue to consider former No. 1 overall draft pick Greg Oden a possibility in free agency. Oden is a center and, again, the Cavs want to add bigs. But the organization is highly skeptical about whether Oden can return following multiple surgeries on his knees. He hasn’t played in the NBA since December 2009.