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Cavaliers big on Valanciunas who may not even be around for two years

Jun 19, 2011, 1:00 PM EDT

Lietuvos Rytas's Jonas Valanciunas (C) j

The Cavs have a great shot at getting not just one building block for their rebuilding franchise in this year’s draft, but two. Even in a weak class like this one, having two top-five picks is sure to land you some significant talent if you use the picks correctly. And while they continue to debate which of the two best prospects should go first in the draft (for some reason), their second choice at the fourth pick may be just as important in shaping the future of the franchise and trying to get it out of the rubble of you-know-who’s departure. And at this point, the Cavs may be leaning towards a player who may or may not be around the next two years. From the Akron Beacon Journal, in a lengthy and thorough roundup of where the Cavs stand with both picks:

The Cavs are high on Valanciunas, who is 7 feet tall and has a 7-foot-4 wingspan. One league executive who attended the Eurocamp told NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper that Valanciunas is ”a future franchise center.” The question is how long a franchise would have to wait to get him. The Cavs are leery of Valanciunas’ European contract, which lasts for two more years and does not include an NBA buyout. Valanciunas is represented by Leon Rose, who is still negotiating the buyout. Working in Valanciunas’ favor is the fact his Lithuanian team, Lietuvos Rytas, is reportedly hurting financially and open to a deal. The team that drafts Valanciunas would probably have to pay Lietuvos Rytas $500,000. Valanciunas would then pay his former team a portion of his first contract based on his draft position. The exact percentage is part of what is being negotiated.

via Ohio.com – Irving or Williams? Cavaliers haven’t decided. Valanciunas is likely to get the buyout taken care of and be free to be you and me for the Cavs. But this pick doesn’t make much sense. Yes, Valanciunas could, if he continues to add weight and isn’t bowled over by the extra aggressiveness of NBA bigs, be a defensive stalwart. And yes, Valanciunas rolls off the pick and roll as well as any big drafted in the past three years. But setting aside the Zydrunas Ilgauskas comparisons and the fact that he allowed a 1.02 points per possession according to Synergy Sports last year for Lietuvos Rytas (which is high), look at what the Cavs have and don’t have. Their best player right now, at any position, is center Anderson Varejao. You can conceivably play Varejao at power forward with Choonus, but is the big rook going to be able to produce enough offense on his own, even with Irving dishing to him? It does make Varejao expendable on the trade block, but he’s there already and is still recovering from injury. Meanwhile, the Cavs’ biggest positional need is small forward, which they would simply not address in this draft. If they take Derrick Williams No.1, they have to target a guard to get him the ball (“But what about Baron Davis?” you cry. “What about Baron Davis?” we respond.).

It’s certainly true that the Cavs should be shopping for overall talent and not positional need given the absence of any discernible talent on their roster. But wouldn’t a better combination be Irving and forward Jan Vesely, who comes with a bit of nasty aggression, even if he’s older and not as much of a pick and roll threat? But then, so far this Cavaliers’ organization that took over from Danny Ferry’s regime following the anarchy created by you-know-who hasn’t been much in the way of well-conceived planning. If the worse they get is a huge defensive presence with touch out of that fourth pick, they’re still doing fine. That’s the luxury of those two top-five selections, even in a draft as questionable as this one.

  1. LPad - Jun 19, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    haven’t seen any tape or anything on this guy, but if the Cavs are considering Varejao to be a building block they got major problems. It actually makes sense to take this guy considering that it would give them a young center to pair with Hickson and Irving/Williams.

  2. zblott - Jun 19, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Valanciunas is going to be a good NBA center, but can the Cavs wait two years for him? Here’s a breakdown of JV and all the other Internationals who might be drafted in the First Round:

    http://www.behindthebasket.com/btb/2011/6/13/2011-nba-draft-international-players.html

  3. Justin - Jun 19, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Maybe they are thinking hey if we stash this kid in Europe for a while we will probably get better lottery picks in the next draft which is suppose to have far more talent. May seem silly but would you blame them for thinking of every possible circumstance.

  4. bigtrav425 - Jun 19, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Justin…your right.i really do want Enes Katner at 4 but i would love to trade it or draft a euro guy like him who isnt coming over right away because next yrs draft is going to be LOADED

    • Justin - Jun 19, 2011 at 6:23 PM

      I am a Wolves fan so since we owe our next years pick to the Clippers of course the next draft is loaded. That is just how it goes if you are a Wolves fan. I thought to myself I wouldn’t mind if the MN swung a deal with Cleveland so we traded down some but still got Kanter. But I am slightly worried that he hasn’t played ball in over a year.

      • tashkalucy - Jun 19, 2011 at 8:30 PM

        First off Valanciunas can get out of his contract — his agents are speaking with his team.

        Next is that the NBA may well not play at all next year, so i they get this guy to play a year in Europe in 2011-12 they won’t be missing anything.

  5. Colin Zvosec - Jun 19, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Matt, why are you so high on Vesely? The guy screams “Joe Alexander” to me. He’s shooting under 50% from the line for crying out loud,

  6. kjoh242 - Jun 19, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Matt, if you’re gonna be so critical of the Cavs at least get your facts right. Varejao is a PF, not a center. He played a lot of center for the Cavs last year because the team lacked size. Considering that Andy has played most of his career at PF until the last season or two I don’t see him having an issue if he had to move there again.

    And why would you be so critical of the Cavs post-Ferry front office when their only move of note so far was to trade Mo Williams for the #1 overall pick?

    • aldashex86 - Jun 20, 2011 at 8:55 AM

      Mr. Moore has posted nothing but negative Cavs articles from what I have seen. The article after we traded for Baron Davis was ridiculous. I’m still waiting for him to eat crow since Baron Daivs did not RUIN our team like he claim and, we don’t just have 2 top 10 picks, we have #1 and #4. Sounds like someone just doesn’t like the Cavs.

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