After a disappointing loss to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago, the Cavs worked hard in the off-season to put together a roster that could compete for a championship this year, the final year of LeBron James’ contract. After getting dominated inside by the Magic and getting overwhelmed by their size on the perimeter, the Cavs went out and addressed those issues the best they could in the off-season. After making a trade for Shaquille O’Neal on draft night, the Cavs brought in Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon to give the team more size on the perimeter. Those acquisitions along with LeBron James taking his game to another level this season have the Cavs with the best record in the NBA and as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference despite injuries to Mo Williams and Delonte West.
With Orlando looking like a completely different team from a year ago and the Celtics looking like they are too old and not athletic enough to compete with the elite teams in the NBA right now, the Cavs have ascended to the top of the Eastern Conference. With the trade deadline ten days away, Danny Ferry and the Cavs once again have a decision to make. The trade rumors have been swirling around Cleveland and the Cavs have some pieces that teams may want (J.J. Hickson and the expiring contract of Zydrunas Ilgauskas). Ferry has done a tremendous job putting together this roster and putting the Cavs in the class of the elite teams in the NBA. But now Danny Ferry must make a very difficult decision. The Cavs are the best team in the NBA, but they may be able to still get better with a trade. Ferry needs to figure out if he thinks the improvements made in the off-season will bring a title to Cleveland or if he wants to make a move at the trade deadline to bring in another player to compliment LeBron James like Antawn Jamison or Andre Iguodala to try and put the Cavs over the top.
Danny Ferry joined ESPN 850 WKNR in Cleveland to talk about the play of the Cavs this season, how LeBron James has elevated his game to the next level, and whether or not he thinks he needs to make a deal at the deadline for the Cavs to win a championship.
On whether or not this is the best team that Cleveland has had in the past five years:
“I think you could definitely have a good argument in saying that from a versatility standpoint and a talent standpoint that this is the best team that we have had here over the past five years. You add to that that LeBron’s probably in the past six weeks played easily the best basketball that he has played I guess in any time in his life. Shaq’s help the last couple of weeks in particular has been phenomenal and there is still a chance for us to get better. We don’t have a group of guys that are having career years. If some guys step up toward the end of the year and add a little more to what we’re doing, it can be very good.”
On the improvements made by the team in the off-season:
“We looked at what we needed to do after looking at the body of work from last year in the regular season and in the playoffs especially when we were playing against the better teams. We needed to add length on the perimeter. We were able to do that with Jamario (Moon) and Anthony (Parker). Then having a more physical presence inside somehow and obviously Shaq brings that to the table. We filled needs to get into a playoff series and to be able to play against the Lakers, the Magic, the Celtics and the premier teams. We felt like we made ourselves better if we got into a seven game series with some of those teams. In a sense, yes I think we got a lot of our work done in the off-season and we felt good about our off-season and those guys have come in and played very well. Those guys have come in and given us the pieces or the players and the things that we may need as the year goes on. At the same time Michael, even then we’ll see where we go with our roster because we have some flexibility with our contracts that if there is an opportunity out there that makes sense, we’re in a position to take advantage of it. And I think we are in a position that has flexibility to do that it’s just a question of if the right thing comes along one and two is it makes sense for where we are with our team right now based off what we’d have to give up.”
On LeBron’s free agency in the off-season and whether or not they have had talks:
“He has said that he wanted to wait till after the season. We have had a good level of communication with Lebron and (his agent) Leon Rose and I think were in a situation right now where we’re focused on this year and what’s going on with our team this year and ultimately bringing this city a championship. That’s what we’re playing for. We’ve gotten off to a great start and that’s really been our focus. I think earlier in the year LeBron did a great thing in hey let’s just put all that stuff aside right now and let me focus on my team. I think that was the right thing to do for him and I think it’s the right thing for us to do as well.”
On whether or not he asks for input from LeBron when he makes a decision on the roster:
“We’re talking to all of our guys. I’m talking to Shaq, I’m talking to ‘Bron, I’m talking about different things all the time. Level of communication is something for us that is good and important. As it comes down to the trade deadline in particular, we have to look at our team and make decisions for ourselves. LeBron, I know he doesn’t want to be the GM and I can’t be him. But we can communicate through the whole thing. There’s going to be some opportunities possibly. Right now I sit here today and say it’s unlikely that were gonna do a trade. Tomorrow I might say something different. The trade winds and the rumors and the conversations that you have with teams change daily. We’ve not gotten necessarily close to doing something over the last couple of weeks, but that could certainly change over the next two weeks. Make decisions, have lines of communication and all those things will have to happen when we get to that point.”
On whether they are making more calls or fielding more calls about trades:
“I would depict our organization in general as being more aggressive. Meaning the group that’s picking up the phone, making calls and seeing what’s out there. I think that’s kinda the mindset that we have to not sit back and hopefully we don’t miss anything by not being active and not knowing what’s going on out there. I would say that we would probably make more calls going out than come in.”
On whether or not he thinks the Cavs can win a championship without making a trade:
“No matter what were gonna have to be healthy and no matter what were gonna have to play with a good rhythm. But if we can do those two things we have I think as good of a chance as anyone. We have a good versatility to our roster that we haven’t had and LeBron is playing better basketball than he ever has. I think adding Shaq to the picture. There’s a lot of good things and a lot of things to like about our team, but the hardest part and the heaviest lifting is in front of us. We certainly respect that and we certainly understand that we gotta take it day by day to put ourselves in the best position to succeed. I like our team. As far as the trade things, today I sit here and say that I would be surprised if something happened, but that may change over the next two weeks. Maybe we do something and maybe we don’t. I do like our group of guys right now. I like the way we’re playing and I like the rhythm that we have as a team. If we don’t do anything, I do think we have a chance to win the whole thing.”