Not what anyone thought the start of the season would look like.
LeBron has looked good or better than he ever has to start a season, but the Cavs as a whole haven’t looked prepared. They ran out of gas quickly against the Celts and Toronto looked like a better, more talented and better prepared team then us (which they CAN’T be… right?).
Brown is still figuring out the rotation and learning to play with (and use effectively) the “Big Witness Protection Program” is going to take some serious thinking.
One thing all Cavs fans in the webisphere have agreed on: No one knew how much we would miss Delonte.
But the season is early – don’t freak out.
Hey Cavs Fans. Just an FYI. Will add the new players as they play. Some guys I’ve added (i.e. Shaq, Jamario, Parker) because I know they WILL be on the court (and therefore will end up as “official” Cavs).
If/when Powe gets healthy and if Danny and Coby play they will be added.
J.J. Hickson, Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry announced today.CLEVELAND, OH – October 26, 2009 – The Cleveland Cavaliers have exercised the third-year contract option on forward
Hickson’s extension keeps him under contract with the Cavaliers through the 2010-11 season. In 62 games played as a rookie during the 2008-09 season, he averaged 4.0 points on .515 shooting and 2.7 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game. In six games (one start) during the 2009 preseason, Hickson posted averages of 9.8 points on .522 shooting and 3.5 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game.
“J.J. is a young, talented player who continues to work hard and still has a great deal of upside,” Ferry said. “We are excited to keep him in our program and help him fulfill his potential.”
The 6-foot-9 forward was selected with the 19th overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft by Cleveland. The 21-year old played one season at North Carolina State, earning ACC All-Freshmen Team honors after averaging 14.8 points on a conference-best .591 shooting and 8.5 rebounds in 28.7 minutes per game in 31 games.
NBA Commissioner David Stern will be on The $ports Take with Rick Horrow (on Versus) on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Stern was asked about LeBron James, and this is some of what he had to say:
He may be the best player ever to have played. Michael might dispute that, but he has a lot of canvas yet on which to paint. I have no doubt the picture is going to be beautiful.
You know, he hasn’t won anything yet but he may be the best player ever to descend to this planet. It’s a delight to watch him; it’s a delight to watch him grow, to see his width and breadth, in terms of his interest and capacities. He’s a great kid and a great player.
From the Cavs teamshop, it looks like LBJ/Shaq/Z/Mo and the boys will be rocking the 80’s version of the classic Cavs uni (mind you, not the 2nd one with CLEVELAND for road games, but the original road blue). I have the blurb below. Pay specific attention to the part I highlighted in RED (below the pic).
“Support the Cleveland Cavaliers on and off the court by wearing this Hardwood Classic Swingman jersey from adidas®. Retroactive to the 1988-1989 era of Cleveland Cavaliers basketball, this jersey is an authentic looking styling of the one worn by players such as Mark Price during this period in Cavalier’s history. This durable jersey is made of breathable, quick-drying polyester mesh and has a 10 oz flat knit rib collar and armholes. The team-colored jersey is officially licensed and proudly displays the screen-printed tackle twill Cavs team name and #23 at the chest, along with LeBron James’ name and number screen-printed and tackle twilled on the back. An official Hardwood Classic jock tag with the years 1988-1989 is featured on the bottom right side of the garment. The 2009-2010 Cavs will take to the court wearing these throwback uniforms on special Hardwood Classic nights throughout the season.“
We’ve already seen pics of the hybrid jersey for CavFanatic, which is this jersey conjoined with the 70’s colors, but we haven’t got confirmation on this throwback getting rocked this year. They usually do this every other year, and since last year was a tribute to the original jersey, we weren’t due for nostalgia until 2010-2011 (which, technically, is the 40th anniversary… not this year).
I’ve already got mine ordered!
I’m working on adding it now.
via NBA.com reporter Steve Aschburner
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — LeBron James kept the chatter in perspective when he was asked, at the start of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ high-expectations training camp, how much advice he sought from fellow NBAers on life with Shaquille O’Neal.
“He’s a teammate,” James said. “I mean, I’m not adopting a kid.”
No, the Cavaliers player doing that would be Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
This offseason, in fact, Ilgauskas and his wife Jennifer adopted a pair of brothers from an orphanage in the 7-foot-3 center’s hometown of Kaunas, Lithuania. Upon arrival, Deividas, 5, and Povilas, 4, instantly transformed the Ilgauskas’ household into a burgeoning family, something the couple had planned for prior to the miscarriage of twins two years ago. The brothers are way shorter than their dad’s newest, biggest teammate and, combined,
probably weigh about as much as one Shaq thigh, yet they’re requiring some adjustments at home as profound as Ilgauskas is facing these days at work.
“I’m not sleeping as much obviously. I’m a lot more tired,” the 11-year veteran told reporters after a practice last week. “It’s been a blast. It’s been challenging at times. But all in all, it’s been a great experience. It’s an adjustment for everybody — obviously, a big family now. … All of a sudden, overnight, you become a father. I’m learning as I go and I try to do the best job I can, and sometimes it’s not easy. Everybody can relate to that.”
Not everybody can relate, however, to a future Hall of Famer and massive marquee name showing up at the office, ready to crowd you out of your cubicle. With that challenge — O’Neal taking over as Cleveland’s starting center, Ilgauskas adapting to a backup role — the affable guy known simply as “Z” is on his own. The key is, he’s still affable and figures to stay that way.
“Z’s a team guy,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “He will do whatever we ask him to do. That’s his makeup. I don’t think he knows any other way. Obviously, when we acquired Shaq, the first call I made was to Z. We talked about his role … and before I even got started, he was like, ‘Coach, whatever I need to do to help us win, that’s what I’m going to do.’ That goes back to the trust thing; he trusts us as coaches. That’s been built over the years.”
Said Ilgauskas: “It’s still basketball. Obviously, it’s a little bit of an adjustment. I’ll have to find what’s the right mindset for me, how do I prepare for the games? It’s just something I guess I have to learn, because I haven’t done it a lot, with starting for so long.”
Specifically, Ilgauskas has started for Cleveland in his past 534 games dating to the 2002-03 season. He’s been an All-Star twice in that time and ranks as the franchise’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots. He hasn’t come off the bench since 2001-02, when coach John Lucas was being especially careful in the wake of Ilgauskas’ notorious foot surgeries and subbed him in 39 times in 62 appearances.
Now the Cavaliers crave more inside presence to cope with the likes of Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and maybe Andrew Bynum. Ilgauskas is best as a pick-and-pop center, and he clearly was lacking foot speed in the postseason last spring. Also, the team sought O’Neal’s star power to court James, the resident superstar. All of which means that Ilgauskas will gain the benefits of facing some second-string centers and logging fewer minutes, while coping with the costs of new game-night routines.
“It won’t be as much wear and tear on my body,” he said. “It’s going to be a little harder because obviously you’re going to come off cold — you aren’t warmed right up from warmups. But a couple minutes up and down the floor, I should be OK. I’ve thought about it, but I don’t really see much of a difference besides getting loose and getting into the flow of the game.”
Brown, asked if Ilgauskas easily accepted the new role because he could thrive against the league’s backup centers, said: “More important, what he expressed, it could help the team.”
It is refreshing, let’s be honest, to see such a smooth and rancor-free baton handoff in a league where so many players — out of self-preservation or ego — resent the arrival of a proven teammate who shares their position. No Big Prima Donna here, at least not from Ilgauskas’ side of the aisle.
“Once everything settled down, I knew it obviously made the team better. And it’s hard to make yourself better after you win 66 games,” he said. “At this point in my career, I really want to win. I’m 34 years old and I really want to win a championship. Whatever helps with that, I’m all for it. I’ve always been high on Shaq — he’s the best center I’ve ever played against — so if anyone’s going to replace me in the starting lineup, I don’t mind that at all.”
Remember, these days, it’s all about team for Z. At work and at home. Jennifer is the one who handles Deividas and Povilas while he’s practicing or attending to other Cavs obligations. He’s the one who navigates the Lithuanian, since the brothers’ English is, well, just coming off the bench these days too. But they’re making it work — and making it feel like play.
“I’m in a happy place in my life right now,” Ilgauskas said. “I’m really satisfied, and kind of content where I am as a player and a person. The kids obviously completed our family — we had great lives but now it’s even better. It’s more challenging and a little harder, but you get rewarded in different areas.”
There is, basically, just one area that is non-negotiable for the big guy: banging every day with the even bigger guy. Just so we know the parameters for the renewed daddy and Cavs elder statesman: He will do bedtime stories and board games. He won’t do Shaq in practice.
“I won’t,” Ilgauskas said. “Somebody else is going to have to guard him in practice. Otherwise, I won’t last till Christmas.”
And Christmas, after all, is going to be big this year. Both in Los Angeles — Cavaliers vs. Lakers — and in the Ilgauskas household.
Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA for 25 years