View Full Version : Cavs' Davis, Miles must go for James to grow

11-11-2003, 07:30 AM
Cavs' Davis, Miles must go for James to grow

Posted on Sun, Nov. 09, 2003

Cleveland forwards too selfish, flawed to help LeBron blossom

IT'S TIME FOR Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Jim Paxson to get to work. The easy part is over: winning the lottery and drafting LeBron James.

Now comes the hard part. Paxson has to put the kid in the best possible position to succeed. That means surrounding him with the right kind of teammates, veterans preferred.

One point of clarification. Bringing veterans into an organization doesn't mean you bring in eight guys who have been in the league a dozen years or more. Not at all. It does mean, however, bringing in two or three experienced players who have been around, know how to be professional and will look out for and nurture the young fella. Just a few guys who can change the dynamic of a locker room.

It means bringing in some players who won't be jealous of James but instead will show him the guidance to get through what is sure to be a tough couple of early years.

It's about trying to create a positive atmosphere even while the Cavaliers are making their way toward 50-some losses. It's not easy. But it's not impossible, either.

Ricky Davis and Darius Miles have to go. Davis is talented, an eye-opening slam dunker and legitimate scorer. Miles is athletic. But they're all wrong for James.

Take a look around the Cavaliers' locker room. There's Chris Mihm, over there in the corner, still trying in vain to shake off that bust label from being the No. 7 pick in 2000. By his side is DeSagana Diop, the one whose head is spinning because he still doesn't know what's going on after the Cavaliers made him the No. 8 pick in the 2001 draft.

Dajuan Wagner should be in here, but he's recovering from something or other, and when he comes back he's not really going to be in a position to help James out. Rookie Jason Kapono is around here somewhere, but he's trying to be as inconspicuous as possible as a first-year player.

By the looks of things, James gets it. He seems to understand the game and all the pitfalls away from it. He's a passer first -- into getting his teammates involved and making them look good. From a distance he looks close to being a grown man at the age of 18.

But how soon will it be before James loses just a tad of his edge watching Davis style after a breakaway dunk that just brought Cleveland within 14? How soon before James loses it while observing Miles make bonehead play after bonehead play? How soon before he starts giving in to the losing environment?

Paxson owes it to Cavaliers fans not to allow that to happen. Laugh all you want at the offseason signing of point guard Kevin Ollie, but that was a step in the right direction. Coach Paul Silas gives his team the best chance of winning by playing Ollie and James together in the backcourt.

Now, lose the forwards. Davis is a full-on piece of work, which would be OK if he showed the slightest tendency to do anything but put up numbers. Miles is about as fundamentally unsound a player as the NBA has to offer.

Funny thing is, they can probably be moved. Neither player has an exorbitant contract. Come February, you have to figure that a good team would look at either of those two as a nice weapon.

A trade involving Davis or Miles won't look good on paper. Cleveland isn't going to get a star in return. But it just might be able to get a player or two or three to help James, not hurt him.


The other day, Warriors coach Eric Musselman was praising Atlanta forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim. He said Abdur-Rahim is one of the league's classiest players and someone who is a genuinely good guy.

That's what makes this so difficult.

Abdur-Rahim is one of several NBA players burdened by the "star" label. But what do you expect when you pay "star" money to a non-star, which is what Vancouver did?

He's not a star. If he were, his teams -- in Vancouver and Atlanta -- would have had more success over the years than they have had.

In many ways, he's a lot like former Warrior Antawn Jamison, a player who is far too limited to be saddled with the responsibility of carrying a team. Let alone a player who can make his teammates better.

Like Jamison, Abdur-Rahim is suited to be a team's third or fourth option. If Abdur-Rahim is your go-to guy, you've got problems. If he's your No. 3 or No. 4 scorer, then you've got something.

What is unknown about Abdur-Rahim is whether he's capable of handling such a reduction in his role. We'll find that out about Jamison this season, by the way. Point is, sometimes you ask a guy who has been given free reign to tone it down a little and he just can't do it.

Late in games, you can't go through Abdur-Rahim. Well, you can, you're just not going to be consistently successful. Why? Because he can't always take advantage of an individual matchup, and when he gets double-teamed he's not a good enough passer to make you pay.

So, as of right now, he's like a lot of players. He's a guy who can get you numbers over the course of the game, but when it gets to money time, he's going to fail more often than not.

Too bad -- because apparently he's one of the true NBA good guys.


MONDAY: Phoenix at Warriors (Local angle). If the Warriors are serious about this playoff thing, why not prove it with a victory over Phoenix, a team they'd ostensibly be competing against for one of the remaining spots? Playoff teams win these kinds of games against these kinds of teams at home.

WEDNESDAY: San Antonio at New Jersey. The only reason it's on this list is because it's a matchup of last year's NBA Finals. However, with the Spurs likely missing Tim Duncan and the Nets possibly without Kenyon Martin, this game loses significant luster.

Running the court

Now for Yao

Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy has made it clear he wants guards Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley to get center Yao Ming more involved in the offense.

Apparently, it's not working. But it's not Francis or Mobley's fault. As of yet, Yao hasn't developed the mindset of a go-to guy.

"We'll have made great strides when he comes over and tells me, very emphatically, 'Give me the ball,' and not nicely," Van Gundy said. "When (Patrick) Ewing said it, it was never kind. I always knew where he was coming from. Then, the pressure is on him. If you're going to ask for it, they have the responsibility. I hope Yao, when he becomes more comfortable, will do that."

Yao began the season by making 22 of 38 shots, but he averaged only 9.5 shots per game. According to Van Gundy, Yao's personality is such that he is more comfortable blending in than being the center of attention.

"He has this demeanor of humility and team first," Van Gundy said. "And yet, you don't want him trying so hard to fit in that he can't stand out. You're always working with that. ... His nature, I would say would be, 'If I score three or four times, what is everyone else thinking?' As a coach, I'm thinking, 'Score again. Yeah.'"

Taking a pass

Here's one Warriors coach Eric Musselman can relate to. Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan pulled point guard Gilbert Arenas aside earlier this week and told him to shoot the basketball.

In his time as a professional, Arenas has proven to be a point guard of extremes -- one game being overly generous with the ball, the next being too monopolizing of it.

In the Wizards' first three games, Arenas averaged only 11 shots per game and had more turnovers (15) than assists (14). After hearing Jordan's words, Arenas went out and scored 25 points in a win over Dallas, shooting 25 times -- making 11 -- and handing out 10 assists.

"He wants me to take shots that I usually take in practice and shots that I practice every day," Arenas said. "Me taking nine shots ain't cutting it. It's hurting our team."

Last season while with the Warriors, Arenas refused to shoot in the first three quarters of a game against the New York Knicks. It wasn't until Musselman screamed at him from the sidelines to "shoot the ball," that Arenas finally did so.

Pointed issue

Last weekend, while doing analysis during the Sacramento Kings-Philadelphia 76ers game, George Karl said that the 76ers' Eric Snow was one of the top 10 point guards in the league. If that's the kind of talent evaluator Karl is, it's not hard to see why he no longer is making those kind of evaluations. Cheap shot admitted.

Look, Snow is a nice point guard, a player who has improved every year he's been in the league. But top 10? As Alec Trebek would say, "No, sorry."

Let's take a look. Right off the bat, here are a some easy ones: Gary Payton, Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Baron Davis and Nick Van Exel. That's seven, and they're obvious.

Now, a few more: Mike Bibby, Sam Cassell, Tony Parker, Jason Williams, Arenas and Andre Miller. What is that? Thirteen. And we haven't even gotten into some other point guards you could make a case for: Bobby Jackson and Jason Terry.

And let's not forget, as of right now, there's a guy in Cleveland playing the point named LeBron James.

If a writer had made that kind of statement, and anyone would have cared to pay attention, well, you could expect it coming from a writer. From someone like Karl...?

Not on pace

While we're on the subject of point guards, Jamaal Tinsley, once considered the point guard of the future in Indiana, is now playing behind Kenny Anderson and Anthony Johnson.

Tinsley's erratic game has not endeared him to new coach Rick Carlisle. Tinsley has gotten into just two games this season. But Carlisle said he is a long way from writing Tinsley off.

"I was in (Conseco Fieldhouse) and he was in here on his own and he had a full sweat going on the practice court," Carlisle said. "He's been very professional. I've told him he's got to be completely ready for anything. He's going to play an important part in this situation before long."

No Magic yet

Trouble seems to be brewing in Orlando. The Magic has lost all five of its home games this season, Tracy McGrady is frustrated about the way he is being defended and coach Doc Rivers seems to be on the clock.

This week, McGrady expressed disdain for zone defenses, which every team seems to be playing against the Magic.

"I think it's the zone causing all the problems, and it's really killing our league," he said. "Basically we're settling for more jumpers than ever. Back in the day, it was strictly one-on-one, me against you."

In the Magic's 100-71 loss to Minnesota on Friday, McGrady went just 2-for-10 from the field and was scoreless in the first half.

Rivers took a shot at his star afterward.

"He was aggressive in the first half, but he convinced himself that the zone was the big, bad evil guy," Rivers said. "I love the movement that we had. But I never thought (McGrady was) involved."

11-11-2003, 03:11 PM
I dont think cleveland should dump both of them. Get rid of one or the other. Preferably Miles

11-11-2003, 04:47 PM
I say Davis. That guy is an A-hole. I have seen him bit off LeBron's head for nothing on the court. I would trade Davis for a good outside shooter, that is what that team really needs more of right now.

Everyone knows Ricky Davis is a problem so I don't see who would take him. I have no idea of the salaries, but maybe to the Nicks for KVH, they are desperate.

Later, for kicks, for laughs, he tried something else. "Everyone says I can't shoot, and everyone says I can't play defense," James said. So with most of his 17-point, 7-for-12 shooting night already in the bank, he turned his attention to guarding Allan Houston. Houston had made 8 of his first 20 shots on the night. He made one of his final five. LeBron James saw to that.

"It seems he gets better almost at will," Cleveland forward Carlos Boozer said, as the Cavaliers celebrated their 94-80 throttling of the Knicks. "Just go ahead and tell him there's something he can't do. See what happens."

11-11-2003, 05:12 PM
Ricky Davis seems like a selfish player, but then again he started on a team that needed him to be because they had nothing else. Now, with Lebron there, Silas may be able to rehabilitate Davis and curb his selfish habits. As for Darius Miles, he still has a lot of upside if he just buys into the team concept too. The Cavs need more time together, but they may still have a chance as a team. After this year, they can evaluate how far Davis & Miles have come along.

11-11-2003, 05:21 PM
Ricky Davis may be a shallow sob but he's not near the negative factor reactionary fans and journalists paint him to be, and he's a much stronger, much less "selfish" player than some people would imagine him to be. Veterans will always be nice but Cleveland has a chance, just from being one of the last few teams in the league with some mom & pop style orientation, to let their guys form a nucleus. If there was ever a point forward, James is it. Let him do that and effectively guard the three. Davis can be Worthy to James' Magic Johnson, or he can be Jordan to James' Pippen. While Dajuan Wagner is growing into a competent NBA player, since James will be running the offense, they need an undersized 2 who's small enough and quick enough to guard other team's point guards. A David Wesley or Tony Delk. Some guy who can really knock down the outside shot. Then when Wagner develops, he can effectively start at the 1 for them or at least guard the one. Until then, his explosiveness will provide some nice sixth man scoring off the bench. Darius Miles shouldn't be starting but I wouldn't give up on him either, he can be an impact player off the bench. Boozer is developing into a player so keep him as well. You have such a young nucleus. The only thing slowing them down besdies their own inexperience and naivity is Big Z's lumbering slow ass. If you can get a guy like Lorenzen Wright for Big Z or maybe Ratliff or both, you would have a serious NBA powerhouse for years to come.

11-11-2003, 05:27 PM
or he can be Jordan to James' Pippen.

Are you nuts? lol

11-11-2003, 08:18 PM
I don't actually mean for him to be as effective a player as Michael freaking Jordan. I just mean play the role that Jordan played in regards to Pippen. Pippen ran the offense and was the playmaker, Jordan was the main perimeter scoring threat.

Shaq Attack2
11-11-2003, 11:09 PM
I'll have to disagree with you there. Davis needs to go, as does Miles. Cavs need solid young guys who are by nature unselfish but that can run the floor, are athletic and are good outside shooters. That way, James at point forward will be able to utilize his passing skills much more effectively.

11-12-2003, 06:27 PM
They both need to go, for seperated reasons though.

Miles needs to go because he is too dang inconsistent. One night he's 10-14 and 20 points, then the next 3 hes 3-14 for 9 points. Until he can AVERAGE 18 points i think he has little value.

Davis needs to go because of attitude and hes not a team player.

If anyone wants to disagree--remembre last year when he threw the ball off his own rim to gt that triple double..which didnt count anyhow.