Anyone can have a blog about an NBA team, but some set themselves apart from the rest with the dedication and valuable insight they bring to their craft. We’ll be sharing some knowledge from these dialed-in writers on Hoops Rumors in a new feature called Top Bloggers. As with The Beat, our ongoing series of interviews with NBA beat writers, it’s part of an effort to bring Hoops Rumors readers ever closer to the pulse of the teams they follow. Last time, we spoke with Jason Patt, Managing Editor of TodaysFastbreak.com and a contributor at SB Nation’s Blog a Bull. Click here to see the entire Top Bloggers series.
Hoops Rumors: How surprised are you that the qualifying offer deadline came and went and Tristan Thompson still hasn’t signed?
David Zavac: Very surprised. The Cavs and Thompson’s agent Rich Paul have a great relationship. Many credit Paul for keeping lines of communication open between owner Dan Gilbert and LeBron James after the latter took his talents to South Beach. There’s relatively obvious middle ground for a five year deal around $82-85MM. With the threat of a qualifying offer gone, I understand why the Cavs might not feel the need to budge anymore. It doesn’t look like they will, unless …
Hoops Rumors: Do the Cavs have the kind of depth necessary to withstand the absence of Thompson and all the injuries they’re dealing with, or do they need to add someone?
David Zavac: … Unless the Cavs’ frontcourt really struggles early on. Kevin Love is working back from shoulder surgery, and Timo Mozgov is working back from knee surgery. Anderson Varejao is working back from a torn Achilles, and Sasha Kaun has never played in the NBA. That’s the frontcourt. Varejao wasn’t effective next to Love last season before his injury, so it’s hard to expect much. If the Cavs are hovering around .500, maybe they cave on Thompson. I wouldn’t count on it, though.
Hoops Rumors: Jared Cunningham has been a pleasant surprise so far in the preseason. Can you envision him sticking for the regular season and seeing meaningful minutes this year?
David Zavac: I could see him making the team, but I doubt he becomes a big part of the rotation long term. Iman Shumpert and Kyrie Irving will be out early on, so maybe he would get an opportunity. Hard to see him cracking a nine-man rotation when the team is healthy, though.
Hoops Rumors: Love signed a five-year, maximum-salary deal this summer despite his off year last season. What has to happen on the floor for him to bounce back and justify that contract?
David Zavac: I’ll go against the grain and say that he can do exactly what he did last season and be worth the money. He’s a perfect floor spacer for Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. Those guys can run the pick-and-roll with either Mozgov or Thompson and there’s nothing but space and dunks. Love knocking down the shots on kick outs and being the multifaceted threat that he is allows for hyper-efficiency from James and Irving, and the Cavs score at a historic rate when the Big 3 play together. Thompson and Mozgov both fit very, very well with Love and the rest of the Big 3. If Love gets more opportunities to facilitate or steps up his defense a bit, that’s great. If not, that’s great too. He’s still providing ridiculous value.
Hoops Rumors: The Cavs traded the draft rights to Tyus Jones and Rakeem Christmas and went the draft-and-stash route with Cedi Osman and Sir’Dominic Pointer. The Cavs are clearly in win-now mode, but are they sacrificing too much of the future for the sake of the present?
David Zavac: Probably not. Irving, Thompson, Shumpert, and Kevin Love are still pretty young and are either locked in long term or figure to be locked in long term pretty soon. That’s a nice young core with a couple of superstars. It’s not fun to see your team punt on draft picks and what not, but no one knows like Cavs fans just how little most rookies and young players can contribute early on.
Hoops Rumors: The Eastern Conference doesn’t pose much of a threat, but how do the Cavs stack up against the Western Conference heavies?
David Zavac: Assuming the Cavs are at full strength, they should have a great shot against nearly everyone. Without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving they were within two games of winning last season. The talk of Kevin Love being sat in fourth quarters and not fitting was overblown. The Cavs were 33-3 when they were healthy to close out the season. The Warriors, Rockets, and Spurs all figure to be very good. I’d be optimistic if I were writing about them as well. Hopefully whoever comes out of the conference finals will be healthy and we can get a good look.