On Starting Parker and Jamison or Christian and Tristan

The announcement was made on Media Day that Anthony Micheal Parker will be paid $2.25 million to play shooting guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season.  Antawn Jamison will make a tad over $15 million to play power forward.  AP is 36 years old, Antawn is 35, and regardless of how things play out this is most likely their last hurrah in a Cavaliers uniform.

Cleveland Cavaliers Tristan Thompson, left, shoots baskets under the watchful eyes of coach Jamahl Mosley during practice at the NBA basketball team's training camp, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011, in Independence, Ohio.
The leadership role that each of these guys will play this season will have some value moving forward though.  Maybe not $17.25 million worth of value, but it’s not my money so who cares.  AP has known the Cavaliers newly acquired small forward Omri Casspi since Casspi was 16.  He also understands Byron Scott’s coaching style and philosophy as much as anybody on the current roster, and I imagine a few hundred thousand dollars of those contract dollars at least were targeted to those points by the Cavs in offering this deal.   

Antawn Jamison is apparently embracing a similar role of leadership with guys like Tristan Thompson and Samardo Samuels who play his position as well.  Tristan told me as much on media day pretty convincingly, and despite grumbling over minutes last season Antawn seems to understand his current place in the NBA Universe right now too. But one of the first questions that will have be answered as this season begins to unfold is how much do these two elder statesman actually play?

Behind both Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamsion are two first round draft picks who are both at least 13 years younger than each of them.  Christian Eyenga was the 30th pick of the NBA Draft before making his NBA debut during the second half of last season, and Tristan was obviously the 4th pick most recently.  In my opinion, the three guys who definitely start to open the 2011-12 season for the Cavs are Kyrie Irving at the 1, Omri Casspi at the 3, and Anderson Varejao at the 5.  I’m assuming that Baron Davis will either continue to be hurt, Amnesty Clause’d, or traded.  The first two being more likely than the third, but for sake of discussion at this point I don’t see him playing much.

What the Cavaliers eventually do with the SG and PF positions respectively will go a long way towards determining how they view this upcoming season.  If you want to open the year feeling most comfortable about your chances to win right now then I guess AP and Antawn fill out those starting spots; even though they’re in no way part of this rebuilding effort long-term.  If you want to roll the ball out, take your lumps, see what happens, and start four first round draft picks all 23-years old or younger, you have the option of starting Eyenga and Tristan alongside those other three guys.

Starting Tristan Thompson, despite the fact that this is not a given right now, is not the same thing as starting Christian Eyenga.  I understand that, but in the case of Eyenga it is also worth strongly considering.  He played less than one full season last year, and during that time the Cavaliers were a mess.  Regardless of what you think you saw from him last year, nobody really knows for sure what he can do going forward.  Why not find out now?  I also can’t help but wonder if it is a waste to have Thompson simply sitting while Jamison makes one start after another to open the year.  Maybe it isn’t, but maybe a baptism by fire for all four of these guys (Kyrie, Christian, Omri, Tristan) could be the best thing for multiple reasons moving forward.

There’s also the argument that bringing this group of young guys along slowly might be better, and I’m somewhat torn on that right now.  Maybe Kyrie and Omri play better with experienced options like AP and Antawn playing alongside them, but right now I’m 70-30 in favor of the aforementioned all out youth movement to tip things off.  This may change as December 26th approaches, and if it does, I’ll let you know.

Steve Kerr felt it necessary to blast Dan Gilbert:

Possibly still stinging from starting only 15% of the 188 games he played as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, or maybe from being duped into trading with Cleveland for Sasha Pavlovic and Ben Wallace, or maybe because he’s no longer the GM of the Suns after losing Amare’ Stoudemire, Steve Kerr is publicly blaming Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for all that ails the NBA.  

In an interview with KNBR radio in San Francisco this week, Steve Kerr offered the following about the Cavaliers owner in regards to the CP3 trade saga:

“The Lakers make more than any team in the league so he would have gotten all that tax money that he wanted or whatever. It’s such a crock that he would even mention that. That guy is a billionaire, they have been way over the cap while they had LeBron, way over the tax. He’s still upset that he lost LeBron and he needs to get over it. LeBron gave that franchise the best seven years they have ever had. He was a free agent and he decided to leave. Nobody likes the way LeBron left, even he apologized for it the other night on TV but the fact is there is a thing called free agency and if a superstar player wants to leave when they are agents, they can leave. That’s their right.”

And it’s also David Stern’s right to veto trades, seeing as how David Stern was the one who did that. Twice.

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.