April 18, 2014

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Rick Noland: Cavs need more than a quick fix

Larry Hughes still can’t shoot, Donyell Marshall can’t play, period, and the bench is as bad as advertised.
Simply put, the Cavaliers are not a good basketball team right now.
The good news, if it can be called that, is that none of this is surprising. The Cavaliers were expected to lose their home opener to Dallas, then beat New York, then lose Sunday in Phoenix, and that’s exactly what happened.
Things may get worse before they get better, too, but a possible 2-6 start isn’t the most troubling matter surrounding this team.
There are a number of issues that simply can’t be ignored, beginning with the fact Hughes is finally healthy, but still playing horribly.
Team and player are starting to run out of excuses, especially since the guy is making $12 million this season. Of course, expectations for Hughes are now so low, his struggles barely register.
Just for the record, he’s averaging 7.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists. More troubling, Hughes is shooting a woeful .273 from the field (9-of-33).
An argument can be made that the Cavaliers would be a better team if Hughes came off the bench and Sasha Pavlovic joined Daniel Gibson in the starting lineup, but don’t hold your breath waiting for coach Mike Brown to make that bold move.
Besides, Brown’s got other issues to worry about, starting with how his talent-challenged team is going to get some wins early in the season.
Marshall is currently out with a bad wrist, but he’s not going to give the Cavaliers anything when he’s healthy. He’s a good guy, but his legs are shot. The moment he comes into a game, the opposing team goes right at him, almost always successfully.
Devin Brown just can’t shoot, and everyone knows it but him. The combo guard didn’t play at all against Phoenix, losing his minutes to the recently signed Pavlovic, but he’s likely to get another chance real soon.
That’s because Mike Brown simply doesn’t have many options.
If he doesn’t get big nights from at least two of his three mainstays — LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden — the Cavaliers won’t have much chance to win.
Heck, the Cavaliers got 27 points from James and 22 each from Gooden and Ilgauskas and still lost to a Suns team that took the entire first half off. Of course, Phoenix did wake up in time to score 65 points in the second half, proving Cleveland’s current woes extend well beyond its lack of firepower.
Signing Anderson Varejao would certainly help, but “The Wild Thing” isn’t going to show up and suddenly cure all this team’s woes.
That will happen only if the Cavaliers shake their current malaise and general manager Danny Ferry adds a couple better players.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rickn@ohio.net.