What's next for the Cavaliers?
INDEPENDENCE — Maybe it wasn't the worst season in Cavaliers history, but it probably was the strangest.
You already know how the Cavs lost by 55 points to the Lakers in Los Angeles ... then beat them at home.
Or how the Cavs were thumped by Miami in a game that caused their season to spiral out of control ... then won the teams' final meeting.
Or how the Cavs were a respectable 7-9 to start the season ... and 6-9 in games in which Baron Davis played at the end.
You also already know they lost 26 straight games and still didn't finish with the league's worst record. That's just bizarre, but hey, what else would you expect in a year like this?
All the while, they lost Anderson Varejao and Antawn Jamison to season-ending injuries, traded Mo Williams and Jamario Moon and suffered an array of other hurts and harms.
But here is the best news of all: The Cavs' 2010-11 season is over. Watching the playoffs may be tough, but as Cavs guard Anthony Parker said, "I think it hurt more last year than this year."
Last year, the Cavs had expectations. Today, they are just hoping to become an organization that possesses them once again.
Not to say the offseason will be any less odd. But that's no fault of the Cavs. Instead, it has to do with a league-wide lockout, bringing everything to a halt in early July. That would put things like free agency and trades on hold, handcuffing not just the Cavs, but everybody.
Anyway, the Cavs still have two lottery picks in the June 23 draft, and they still have a huge trade exception. They also have to decide what to do with members of the current roster.
There is no saying for sure who will stay or who will go, because you never know what offers the Cavs will receive from other teams, and for whom. Also, a lot of who the Cavs keep will be determined by who they draft or trade for or sign in free agency.
And yes, free agents will indeed come to Cleveland. As one Eastern Conference executive said, pay them and offer them minutes, and they will come. Anyone who says otherwise has no understanding of this business.
The Cavs also have the 27th highest payroll in the league — meaning they have plenty of flexibility, regardless of what's decided upon in the new collective-bargaining agreement.
As for the current roster, here's a quick rundown of all 15 players:
* Antawn Jamison, F: Led team in scoring despite injuring his finger in late February and missing the rest of the year. The team loves his attitude and leadership (and ability), but at 34, he's probably not part of the future. His contract expires at the end of next season, making Jamison a valuable asset whether he stays or goes.
* Baron Davis, G: Has a history of starting strong and then fading almost everywhere he's been. Says things are different now. If they are, he's one of top 10 point guards in the league. Either way, he'll be back.
* Anderson Varejao, F/C: Fan favorite (and coach favorite) plays with tons of energy and passion, especially on defense. Still mostly a liability on offense, but could be better with a true point guard like Davis. Unless someone knocks off Cavs' socks with outlandish trade offer, Varejao will return.
* Daniel Gibson, G: Better this year, but still inconsistent. But when he plays well, Cavs almost always win. Has a lot of pride in the organization and the city and wants to be here. That said, there are no guarantees. In all honesty, return is iffy.
* Ramon Sessions, G: Unlike Gibson, when Sessions plays well, it really seems to have no bearing on the outcome. Still, Sessions is a guy who can light it up off the bench, playing at one speed (fast) with his eyes almost always focused on the basket. He should return, but very well could be dealt if the Cavs draft a point guard.
* Anthony Parker, G: Class act who plays hard and defends. Said following the final regular season game that he can "still help somebody," especially off the bench. If he's back with the Cavs, it will indeed be in a reserve role (they hope). But with an expiring contract, he is likely headed to a contender (Boston, San Antonio, Lakers, etc.) in the offseason.
* J.J. Hickson, F: Matured significantly on and off the floor, and started to resemble a young Shawn Kemp (the Kemp in Seattle, not Cleveland). As Cavs coach Byron Scott said after the final day of the season, Hickson still has a long way to go. But he is athletic and determined, and it would be hard to find a power forward who equals Hickson's post-All-Star break productivity in the draft. Very likely to return.
* Ryan Hollins, C: Has Danny Ferry disease in that he can't move laterally. Cavs would love to use Hollins in a deal to upgrade the center position, but wouldn't be overly disappointed if he's back. Is very athletic and has a little bit of an attitude. Return is 50-50.
* Christian Eyenga, F/G: Another guy with a long way to go. Remarkable athlete with so-so skills. Ranges anywhere from awful to OK on defense, depending on the night. Could use a full season in the D-League. He'll be back, but who knows for how long? All depends on his improvement.
* Joey Graham, F: General manager Chris Grant's lone mistake so far was signing Graham to a two-year deal before the season. On the bright side, Graham's deal is only for $1.1 million and expiring. Wonderful person, but hasn't improved a lick since college — a truth uttered by former Cavs basketball man Wayne Embry last summer. Read: Graham is a goner.
* Samardo Samuels, F: Quite a find by Grant, who signed the undrafted Samuels after he fared well on Chicago's summer team. Not gonna pass out of the low post or block anyone's shot. But Samuels plays with heart and seems to enjoy mixing it up. Could be a Chuck Hayes- or DeJuan Blair-type down the road, meaning he's probably worth another look. Return is good, probably 70-30 in favor of him being back.
* Luke Harangody, F: Rugged with a decent shot, but Cavs are hoping to upgrade. Return unlikely.
* Manny Harris, G: Good kid with solid perimeter shot. Hopefully someone else will see those things in him next season, because odds are, Harris won't be displaying them in Cleveland.
* Alonzo Gee, F: Athletic and not terrible. But if he's anything more than your 11th or 12th guy, you're in trouble. Could be back, but if so, Cavs are hoping his primary duty consists of guarding the water cooler at the end of the bench.
* Semih Erden, C: Tall and can handle the ball. Strong footwork near the basket, but is an awful defender who is usually out of position and foul-prone. No matter, potential on offense makes him worthy of a longer look.