Beal, Barnes are Cavaliers’ draft focus
Heading into the NBA draft combine in Chicago, teams had questions about Barnes’ overall athleticism. Those questions were answered in Chicago, according to SI.com. The 6-foot-8, 228-pounder had a maximum vertical leap of 39 1/2 inches (Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom had the highest mark, 41 1/2) and ran the fastest three-quarter court sprint, 3.16 seconds.
Barnes is one of the top long-range shooters in the draft.
Beal, a 6-4 3/4, 202-pounder, agreed to work out for just the top four teams in the draft. Agent Mark Bartelstein reportedly denied requests by Sacramento (No. 5), Portland (No. 6) and Golden State (No. 7).
The two players are among a handful of players the Cavs are considering at 4, along with Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Connecticut center Andre Drummond, Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson and possibly Connecticut shooting guard Jeremy Lamb.
SEASON HIGHLIGHT: The Cavs knew they had something special in G Kyrie Irving before he played a game. The favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award developed into quasi-superstar early on, and is already among the top 10 point guards in the NBA. He averaged 18.5 points and 5.4 assists in 51 games this season. His 26-point effort against future Hall of Fame G Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns in only his 11th NBA game proved he was the real deal.
TURNING POINT: When C Anderson Varejao fractured his right wrist, the Cavs were 10-15. They were 1 1/2 games out of the No. 8 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference at the time. From the time of the injury, they won just 11 of the last 41 games. Once again, injuries have torn the heart out of a season.
–You can’t fault them for trying. The Cavs have picks Nos. 4, 24, 33 and 34 in the June 28 NBA draft. ESPN.com reported that the Cavs offered all four picks to New Orleans for its first overall selection, which they would have used on Kentucky F-C Anthony Davis. The Hornets reportedly rejected the offer.
–The Cavs are scheduled to play five summer league games in Las Vegas in July. A record 24 teams are entered. They open play on July 15 against Charlotte at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas. They conclude their summer schedule on July 20 against New York at Cox Pavilion. The Cavs should have one of the top summer league teams, with Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving and shot blocker Tristan Thompson expected to play. The Cavs’ two first-round picks are also expected to compete. The Cavs have yet to announce who will coach the summer league team. Assistant coach Paul Pressey coached the team in 2010.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “He’s one of my best friends. He’s a leader. We talk a lot. I’d love to play with Kyrie.” — Kentucky F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on possibly playing with Kyrie Irving on the Cavs.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: G Kyrie Irving is more of a shoot-first point guard, and can he ever shoot. He shot 46.9 percent from the field, 39.9 percent from the 3-point line and 87.2 percent from the foul line. When he’s in the lineup, it adds confidence to the rest of the team. They feel they can beat almost anyone with him in the game.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER: F Omri Casspi came over from the Sacramento Kings last June for F-C J.J. Hickson. It’s hard to say who was more disappointing: Casspi or Hickson. The Kings waived Hickson, who finished the year with Portland. Casspi averaged 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds, but couldn’t get the job done in the starting lineup. He played a bit better coming off the bench.
BIGGEST NEEDS: The Cavs need to add a high-scoring wing, a player who can shoot from the perimeter. Irving can penetrate at will. He found open teammates all season, but they couldn’t convert open shots. A consistent jump shooter — one who actually made shots — would be a major addition. Two names that come to mind in the draft are Florida’s Bradley Beal and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes.
FREE AGENT FOCUS: NBA teams have until June 30 to tender qualifying offers to potential restricted free agents. The Cavs have three potential restricted free agents in C Semih Erden and F Alonzo Gee and F Luke Harangody. They’ll definitely give Gee a qualifying offer — he said he wants to return to the Cavs. His qualifying offer is $2.7 million. Erden didn’t sparkle last season, and at times he sat on the bench for long periods. He’s still a 7-footer with skills. When asked about Erden recently, Cavs general manager Chris Grant said no decision has been made. They’ll likely qualify him. It’s worth $1.1 million. This is purely a guess, but the Cavs probably won’t give Harangody a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent.
–The Cavs will work out Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School and Ohio State University graduate David Lighty “later this month,” his mother confirmed June 12. Lighty, 24, played for Cremona, Italy, last season and averaged 10.7 points and shot 33 percent from the 3-point line. He’s now a free agent. The Cavs are looking for help at shooting guard with the expected retirement of Anthony Parker. Lighty earlier worked out for San Antonio and had another workout planned with Indiana.
–The Cavs have shown some interest in Connecticut C Andre Drummond with their fourth overall draft pick even though he’s viewed as being risky. They might not want to take on such a project like Drummond — despite the potential windfall — with F-C Tristan Thompson already on board. The Cavs have already taken on the task of rebuilding Thompson’s shot from the ground up. Drummond is also going to need some grooming in order to get minutes in the NBA next season. He can shoot the mid-range jumper but has no back-to-the-basket game to speak of.
–It was not known how much impact Cavs assistant coach Nate Tibbetts had on G Kyrie Irving. “I was always such a shy guy,” Irving said. “I came to practice three hours early getting my shots up because I was so nervous to come in, and I wanted to make everything perfect. Everybody knows I am the hardest critic on myself. The expectations I have on myself exceed everyone else’s and for me coming in, Coach Tibbetts told me what to do and what not to do every single day. (He’d tell me) after practice, before practice (and during) the shooting games. (Tibbetts) told me to work hard at my profession and be the best every day.”
–C Anderson Varejao (broken right wrist) was injured against Milwaukee on Feb. 10. He should be ready to play for Brazil in the Summer Olympics.
–G Daniel Gibson (foot surgery) had surgery on April 2 to repair the torn tendon in left foot. He was injured against New Jersey on March 19. The Cavs expect him to be ready for training camp.
–C Semih Erden (sprained right ankle) was injured on April 11 and should be fine for training camp.