At one point in the not-so-distant past, the Celtics and Cavaliers were on top of the Eastern Conference. Needless to say, that has changed. Both teams are struggling for survival, with the Celtics barely hanging onto a playoff spot and very close to approaching the dreaded rebuilding stage. Which team has the brighter future in rebuilding, at least over the next five to seven years?
Fear The Sword: Not to sound like a homer, but it's the Cavaliers and I don't think it's particularly close. The Celtics are approaching that dreaded area of being just okay enough to not get a good draft pick but not good enough to do anything in the playoffs. Next season, with Garnett and Allen coming off of the books, they'll be left with Pierce and Rondo on their roster. Those two guys are probably good enough that they'll keep Boston out of the lottery, especially in the East. In my opinion, Rondo isn't the type of guy that you can build a franchise around, and unless Boston hits it big in free agency, he and Pierce are preventing the C's from drafting that kind of franchise guy. That's a pretty sticky situation.
The Cavaliers already went through their awful season last year, and were appropriately compensated in the draft. Kyrie Irving seems to be the ultimately prize, a true franchise cornerstone. In that sense, the Cavaliers already have the hardest part done - getting their franchise player. After that, you need to draft well and make some smart trades and FA signings to assemble a complete team. There is a very limited supply of franchise players in the NBA and having one is essential to being a true contender. What separates the two rebuilding efforts in my mind is that the Cavs seem to have their guy, while the Celtics are likely still looking.
Kyrie Irving has proven himself to be, well, awesome. It's pretty clear that the Cavs made the right choice in taking him No. 1 overall over Derrick Williams (could you imagine?). Alas, just like LeBron couldn't (sorry for the LeBron mention), Kyrie can't win it all by himself. What players in the league now would be nice (and realistic) compliments for the future of Cleveland basketball?
Fear The Sword: Now, these things probably won't happen, but the Cavs will have a bunch of cap room at the end of the season. THe two guys that I'd really like to see in wine and gold are Eric Gordon and/or Wilson Chandler. I'm assuming that the Cavs will get either a SG or SF in the upcoming draft, so if they were able to fill the remaining spot with one of those guys, they'd be in pretty great shape. Allow me to fantasize for a minute, but if the 2012-13 Cavs came out with an opening day roster of Kyrie Irving-Bradley Beal-Wilson Chandler-Tristan Thompson-Anderson Varejao -- that's probably a playoff team that has its core in place for the next 3 or 4 years.
On to the draft, where all indications are that the Cavs should have a lottery pick, potentially a high one. Which players in particular would you like to see Cleveland go after come the draft this summer?
Fear The Sword: Obviously there are some players at the very top of the draft that seem to be out of the Cavs range at this point. I didn't expect Cleveland to be this close to the playoffs and would truthfully prefer if they'd have more losses to get a surefire top-5 pick. Regardless, this draft is so deep that they should still be able to come away with a really solid player. At their current range, the guy that I want the most is Bradley Beal out of Florida. He's a shooting guard that draws favorable comparisons to a young Ray Allen. As a Celtics fan, tell me that that type of player wouldn't be phenomenal next to one of the best young point guards in the NBA. If we don't get Beal, I will cry, and then turn my attention to another possible SG such as Jeremy Lamb from UCONN or any number of big men, like Cody Zeller, Perry Jones, and Meyers Leonard.
Back to LeBron (again, sorry). Being the biggest star in the game, anything he says gets blown up. Like his comments of possibly going back to Cleveland one day. Any validity in that, you think? And if so, would you even want him back?
Fear The Sword: I think there is some validity. I legitimately think he hates being hated. He does not want to come back to his hometown and get booed like there's no tomorrow. If he truly isn't happy in Miami, I can absolutely see him wanting to come back. Now, just because he's potentially unhappy in Miami right now, doesn't mean he'll be unhappy when he can actually opt out of his contract. I think most Cavs fans (myself included) want to sound like the big tough guy and essentially tell him to buzz off, but that's probably not the truth. Cleveland fans are so incredibly starved for a championship, in any sport, that if we had the chance to add the best player on the entire planet to our roster, we'd do it in a heartbeat. Anybody who tells you otherwise is either lying or crazy.
Ok, it's prediction time. Who do you have winning this game Tuesday - C's or Cavs - and why?
Fear The Sword: Celtics will win this game. The past two we played, Anderson Varejao absolutely dismantled Boston's frontline. One game (the one in Boston), he kept grabbing enormous offensive boards, including a crucial one down the stretch which set up Kyrie's game-winner. In the other game, he had a 20-20. A washed-up Garnett and the corpse of Jermaine O'Neal cannot come close to keeping up with The Wild Thing. Fortunately for you, Andy is still out with a broken wrist. That means that Semih Erden will start at center and Ryan Hollins will probably play some minutes. I feel like it should be against the rules to predict a win for any team that lets Ryan Hollins play significant minutes. Celtics win 94-87.