Somewhere, possibly in Eastern Europe, Danny Ferry is sitting in his laboratory, rubbing his hands together. The Cavaliers have just conquered the visiting Chicago Bulls, with his newly acquired players contributing significantly to the victory. Ferry is laughing maniacally. The master plan is working! It's working!
Ok, that was stupid, but I've been looking for a way to work in a mad scientist for a long time, and well...never mind.
The point is: the Cavs showed a lot of inconsistency against the Bulls, but also some chemistry, more than we've seen since the 11 player swap over a week ago between the Cavs, Bulls, and Sonics. The game was nicely contested, as predicted, since six of the players in question would be taking sides against their former team. As per usual, the difference was LeBron James, who ended the hopes of the Chicago faithful when he drove the lane and powered home a dunk over Luol Deng. The Cavs had been eight points down. The dunk gave the home team a four point lead that might as well have been forty.
At some juncture, all or at least most of the Cavaliers roster will be healthy. Maybe even this season. Surround LeBron with his full rotation and look out: this is a team that can win a ring. I'm staying true to my prediction that the Cavaliers will prevail as the eastern conference champions. The Celtics may have acquired two wily 38 year olds, but they still don't have LBJ.
Larry Hughes yesterday stated that he would much rather have fun playing the game his way than playing in the finals out of position. While I appreciate the heights that the Cavaliers reached during Hughes' tenure, I cannot say I will miss that attitude. Good luck, Larry, and enjoy watching the playoffs this year, and probably for the rest of your career since I don't know what kind of contender would use you as a piece after that statement.
The Browns, true to form, have been very aggressive this offseason. Already we have inked Donte' Stallworth, improving a receiving corps that already featured Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and Joe Jurevicius. The Browns now possess what may be the most fearsome quartet of receivers in the league. Couple that with a fine offensive line and our QBs must simply be salivating.
I also love the trade of a second round pick for Packers d-lineman Corey Williams. The defensive line was the Browns' most glaring flaw, as evidenced by the league's 29th rated run defense in 2007. Williams is a a nice presence on the line, a pass rusher who was good for 14 sacks in the past two seasons, and who demanded double teams much of the time.
Furthermore, at the price of mediocre defensive back Leigh Bodden, the Browns acquired d-lineman Shaun Rogers, who was also good for seven sacks last season. Best of all, he and Williams should take some attention away from linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, who is the Browns most gifted pass rusher and was constantly double teamed in a frustrating 2007.
Many folks out there are screaming for an improved secondary, but defense begins at the line. Seems like the Browns rarely made opposing quarterbacks hurry. The result was that receivers had eons to get open. More pressure on the QB will make that secondary look a lot better next season, believe me.
Really, if GM Phil Savage and coach Crennel can upgrade the defense from abysmal to mediocre, we should be talking about a playoff berth in 2008-09, even with a much more challenging schedule.
Now, concerning Derek Anderson: I'm glad the Browns got him at a reasonable price. While he is certainly keeping it warm for Brady Quinn, there is nothing, but nothing wrong with having two capable quarterbacks. Just ask any team that would settle for one.
I must say, it is refreshing to have one team in town that makes a big splash year after year in the offseason. While I am no fan of free spending, the notoriously parsimonious Indians make the Browns thrice as exciting to keep track of when free agency hits. Of course, it is generally during the regular season (when it counts) that the Browns fall flat on their collective arses, and that's been no fun at all for about as long as I care to remember.
Much has been made of Detroit's offseason acquisitions, namely Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and Edgar Renteria. Let us not forget, however, who was the AL Central champion last year? The Tribe. And how did they get there? Pitching, an area in which Detroit is noticeably lacking.
Still, that lineup...we can only hope that Travis Hafner rebounds to be one of the scariest designated hitters I've ever seen. Last year, even with his 25 home runs and 100 RBI, he was merely pedestrian.