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Besides Keeping LeBron James, Cavs Still Have Other Concerns

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Keeping James is vital, but retaining team chemistry is a must, no matter what happens this off season.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert must have a ton on his mind right about now. After what has happened with the team for the past month or so, he has become a very busy man. Former head coach Mike Brown was fired, general manager Danny Ferry resigned, and then there is the whole fiasco with LeBron James. It does not take a rocket scientist to tell which task on Gilbert's offseason to do list should have highest precedence. Everyone and his dog is well aware of this. Other organizations in the Cleveland area are trying to keep him in a wine and gold jersey. I appreciate the thoughtfulness, but come on. It's getting ridiculous if you ask me. I don't care how good you are.

The little things that make a team go matter as well. They will all add up to what hopefully will get the Cavs back to where they were in the '06-07 season, if not better.

Examine the Cavs roster carefully, and you'll realize there are several different routes that the Cavs can go. In fact, it could be said that, other then keeping LeBron that if the roster went untouched, they would still contend for a high playoff seed next season. But other more skeptical routes would point to a major reconstruction in selected areas.

The main concern would be the big men down low. Shaquille O'Neal will be turning 39 in March, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, earlier this month, turned 35. Both of them could probably get away with their size and still be some what effective, but in today's world, big men who bring a flare to the floor have an edge, because wear and tear adds up, making the complete package less functionable. Guys like Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson do just that, and in doing so, they bring something to the table that both these older, more established veterans can no longer do. Shaq's range is decreasing with every step, and Zydrunas is becoming less effective at spreading the floor. His shooting percentile has diminished every season since 2006; going from 50.6 percent in '05-06, to 44.3 percent in '09-10. Also, Shaq really has not committed himself to one particular basketball program ever since leaving the Lakers. Stints with the Heat, Suns and Cavs didn't last nearly as long, and other teams might try to pry him away from Cleveland. O'Neal wasn't able to win a ring for the king last season; hopefully he will use that as motivation to return for next year.

In one scenario, both guys could return. For the other, it could be neither.

I doubt Ilgauskas would want to retire with any other team than the place he calls home. But if he wants to continue to play ball, and the Cavs don't give him that chance and decide to move on, alternative offers may be enticing.

If the Cavalier's do decide to go another route for big men, it would have to be through the draft. Since the team does not have a first round pick, they may want to stick around later in the second round due to the depth of forwards and centers in this year's draft class.  It sounds like a pretty good plan, but it may or may not help the Cavaliers get better immediately, and that is what the Cavs need. Free agents such as Chris Bosh, of the Raptors, and Amar'e Stoudemire, of the Suns could be pricey. Former Cavalier Carlos Boozer would also be in that category. Jermaine O'Neal from the Heat has not been consistently decent in recent years and is not an ideal championship-caliber player. Unrestricted free agents Josh Smith, of the Hawks, or Dirk Nowitzki are also out there. The possibility of the Cavaliers getting either or would be slim, but it still exists.

One could also analyze the backcourt of the Cavaliers and decide to go in two completely different directions with it. Mo Williams and Anthony Parker were good enough to get the job done, but down the stretch, they did not perform the same way in the post season. Williams had turnover issues, and Parker could not hit a big shot when the team needed him to. Delonte West, although not a starter, was the most crafty of the guards but is rumored to be the first to be dealt if any of them. Bobby Gibson might not be what the Cavaliers have in mind either, seeing that his time on the court was nearly nothing in the throughout the playoffs. Again, it could work for the regular season, but as far as an NBA title contending team goes, I am a bit dubious.

After Kentucky's John Wall in the draft, there is little coming in behind him at the guard position. This is where Free Agency may benefit the Cavaliers. There are plenty of big names out there: Joe Johnson, Dwayne Wade, and Michael Redd are the big guns. Wade has won a ring already, but would be a difficult task for the Cavs not only to lure him in, but to pay him as well. And let's be honest, if LeBron James isn't there, why would any of these players want to come to Cleveland?

This summer has been said to be one of the most interesting and eventful off seasons for the NBA in recent memory. The teams and players of the league find themselves at an intersection on the cross roads that could take them down several different paths. Once one team takes the first step, everything else will fall into place sort of like the domino theory.

One thing that does not help Gilbert's case right now is that he does not have a head coach. New GM Chris Grant also has a lot on his plate, seeing that he is a rookie. But his past experiences with the Hawks, and getting a contract done for Varejao should make him a good candidate to get whatever he thinks the Cavs need. He must take care of these duties in a hurry, because July 1 is just around the corner.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.