Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Going the Distance

Hey, this is A.C. What’s happening?

The Cavaliers have been a little quiet this off-season. I wouldn’t say that I’m too worried because we did get to the NBA Finals last year. And we’re a year older now and I hope that year of experience will pay off.

A lot is going to be put on Boobie Gibson this year if we don’t make a move to bring in someone. A lot will depend on Boobie’s development into the point guard we’re looking for.

If I had any concerns, they came out during the FIBA Americas Championship this year. When you see how LeBron plays the game when he does not have to orchestrate the entire game – when he can just play the game – the other team is pretty much at his mercy. Whatever he wants to do, he can do it.

But you have to have someone else who can orchestrate the game. And I think it’ll help everyone involved if we can get that – whether it’s someone on our roster or someone we have to go out and get. That type of player frees up everybody and gives us another dimension that I think we’ll need to get over the hump. And it’ll relieve the physical pressure, the beating that LeBron will take.

There are players out there and management is aware of them. But you don’t want to make just any deal just to make a deal. So you have to be prudent about what you do. Especially the way the salary cap is set up right now. You don’t want to make a deal now that’s going to hurt you five years from now just so you can say you made one.

I have confidence in our management that they’ll do whatever’s possible to get us over the top.

But one thing our front office has fallen prey to – and a lot of front offices throughout the league have – is the talent level is just not what it used to be. I don’t know if it’s that there’s too many teams now or what. But it’s just not there. So you almost have to go after unproven people, and hope that that works. It’s tough to find proven guys because – let’s face it – teams don’t give up on proven guys.

At the same time, if you look at the other side of the ledger, people talk about how things fell into place for us last year – getting the second seed in the East – but we also had to execute. We had to take advantage of that situation and I think all the players now have the bit in their mouth – they understand now that they’re right there. All they need is enough to push them over the hump.

The one thing I know they’re going to find out – which I found out when we got to the Eastern Conference Finals, even though we didn’t make it to the Finals – was that the next year is tough. It’s harder because everyone is gunning for you now. The Cavs have got to be ready to accept the challenge from day one.

That’s why the year the Pistons had after they won the Championship was so amazing. To start the next year, they went through the league like a hot knife through butter, and that was so unbelievable. The Cavaliers need to find the type of toughness and mental preparation to get back to that level and I’m hoping we’re up to the task.

There were about 14 of 15 games against lesser opponents that I feel the Cavs kind of gave away last year. But I think that they’re going to be more focused and understand that if you want to win an NBA Championship, there’s a certain mental approach that you have to have regardless of what’s going on.

I think they understand that now because if San Antonio had to come to US first, it would have been a totally different situation in the Finals. After winning the Pistons series and then staying at home to play San Antonio – it was only a difference of only a few games in our records – would have changed everything. If we would have taken care of our business during the season and won half of those 14 or 15 games that we could have won, we would have had home court advantage during the Finals.

I had to learn that and I think they’ve learned that. You have to take care of your business during the regular season. Each game has its own merit. I learned that years ago from playing against the Boston Celtics. They’d come out and fight you tooth-and-nail from the opening game of the season – they’d play like it was the last game. Because they knew that game would help them at the end of the year, as far as positioning was concerned. And that’s something I hope our players understand.

In the Eastern Conference, there’s going to be five or six teams fighting for those top four spots. And I think our guys understand now, right from day one, as soon as Dallas comes in here, they’ll be ready to go for it. You have to. If you just want to get into the Playoffs, you can ease your way into the season. But if you’re going after the Championship, you start from day one and you take it all the way.

One player that I see stepping up his contribution to the team this year is Shannon Brown. I hope he’s worked on his ball-handling. He’s sat on the bench for a whole year and this year I think he sees his opportunity, where he can fit in.

I had to do it – come in as a two-guard and learn to play some point. I had to learn how to handle the ball, how to make decisions, how to get other the ball in a position where they can do something with it.

So if I were Shannon, I would have worked on my ball-handling all summer. Learn how to read plays and understand how to set up people, because that’s what we need. Shannon’s always going to be a good athlete and scorer and run the floor well. If he adds ball-handling and that part of the game to his repertoire, he could really be a plus for the Cavaliers this year.

As for me this upcoming season, along with Fred McCleod, I’ll be broadcasting all 70 games on FSN this year.

I’ve been doing some extra training and I’m ready for the rigors of the NBA. I’m going to be out of town quite a bit, but I’m looking forward to it. Because I love the game. I love the way our team is performing.

And it’ll nice to walk into the NBA arenas this year with my chest stuck out … you know: “We bad!”