With the season now over, I thought I'd take a look at ESPN.com's list of free agents and see who caught my eye.
1.) Mike Bibby
We need a point. Badly. Bibby isn't great on defense, but we've played good defense this year even with some poor defenders on the floor (Damon Jones). Bibby's a smart, savvy point guard who got back in shape this year and played some good minutes. He's got a solid midrange game (something we sorely need) and would allow LeBron to play more from the elbow and low block. We'd have to do some sort of sign and trade (maybe a package of Sasha and Drew Gooden for Bibby? Or maybe Varejao, though I hate giving up his energy) but it really might be worth it.
2.) Jason Kapono
Yeah, I know we drafted this guy and he was largely a bust in Cleveland. But he's finally blossomed into the player we thought we were drafting--a lights-out three point shooter (51 percent for the season). Last night's game exposed how sorely we need a perimeter shooter. LeBron kept kicking the ball out after the defense collapsed and Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones collectively missed about five wide-open threes that would have kept the Cavs and the crowd in the game. Kapono can't do much besides shoot the three, but he wouldn't have to with LeBron around. And maybe Mike Brown could get him to play D--he got Sasha to, after all.
3.) Theo Papaloukas
See this post for more on this guy, but I think he could be a great Manu Ginobli-type vitalizer off the bench. He's not a great shooter, but we wouldn't have to give any players up to get him. Can't say that about any other good PG on the market. The combo of him and Kapono could be a very attractive one for the Cavs--solves their need for a playmaker and their need for a solid shooter--and might be a better use of their money than making a big run at Bibby.
4.) A Shooting Coach
While this wouldn't affect the cap, it is in some ways our most important offseason acquisition. Given that we can't move Marshall or Jones, we need to find a way to get them back on track. At one point they were good shooters--they've become really poor ones this year. Pavlovic could also use some refinement in his shot--not to mention LeBron. Honestly, one or two weeks with a good shooting coach would work wonders. Tony Parker put in some good time with one after his first NBA Finals appearance and became the Finals MVP this year. You'd hope that LeBron and Pavlovic, at the very least, would follow in his footsteps.
There's also the question about whether or not we re-sign Sasha and Varejao, given that we will have the opportunity to match whatever teams offer. It's a tough call. I still think Pavlovic can be a great offensive weapon, but he's too inconsistent right now. He faded big-time last night when we needed someone out there to make shots, and he's really struggled to finish the ball at the rim this postseason. If he can commit in the offseason to becoming a better three-point shooter and learning to finish the ball, I definitely think we should re-sign him. I'm pretty sure he'll do what it takes to improve--he became a much better defender this year when he realized that doing so would get him playing time, so maybe he can make similar improvements on offense.
Varejao is also tricky. He's a great energy guy and fan favorite. He's a solid defender and bothered Tim Duncan for some parts of the game last night. But his offensive game is not that great, and he doesn't yet have a very high basketball IQ. Still, he's young and talented, and I think worth matching offers for if the price is right. I'd like to see him spend the offseason working on some sort of a post game (he's got decent foot speed and wants to be an offensive option, but he'll need to work to get there.) That said, the guy just completed his third season in the NBA and has a long career in front of him.
My only worry about re-signing Pavlovic and Varejao is that it essentially keeps the same team together. That is great for the younger guys (Pavlovic, Varejao, Gibson, LeBron, even Shannon Brown maybe) who need to learn to play together. But we're still stuck with several overpriced veterans (Marshall, Jones, Ilgauskas, Hughes) with no real hope of moving them. In an ideal world, you could unload one or all of them and really build around that young core. But since they've got such bad contracts (and aren't really that good), the Cavs have to make some tough decisions about younger players with much more upside.
It's also worth throwing out a name familiar to Cavs fans: Andre Miller. Used to be my favorite player pre-LeBron. He was available at the all-star break and is an excellent point guard. Not sure what it would take to get him, but it's worth considering.