September 2, 2014

Medina
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Cavs: It’s time to get to work after winning lottery

CLEVELAND — Now that the Cavaliers have won the NBA draft lottery for the second time in three years, the real work begins.

“We have another chance to add another good young player to the group of players we have,” general manager Chris Grant said late Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. “It’s an exciting time.

“I don’t think you ever expect to have two No. 1 picks in three years. We were all looking at each other like, ‘Did this really happen?’”

It did, as the Cavs’ 15.6 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick came through.

Cleveland currently owns the first, 19th, 31st and 33rd picks in the June 27 NBA Draft, but it would be shocking if Grant didn’t work some kind of deal.

The real question, it seems, is just how big of a deal that will turn out to be.

“This is a new experience for all of us,” Grant said. “We’ll see what transpires over the next few weeks.”

Grant is leaving all his options open, including possibly trading the No. 1 pick for a proven, quality veteran.

Already a very young team, the Cavs chose Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 pick in 2011 and added Tristan Thompson at No. 4. Last year, they took Dion Waiters at No. 4 and traded for No. 17 pick Tyler Zeller.

“You want to look at all your options and make the best decision for the team,” Grant said. “This is another valuable asset.

“It doesn’t guarantee success on the court, but it gives you an amazing amount of opportunity and flexibility, which we think in this business is pretty important.”

To this point, the Cavs have had way more success in the lottery under Grant than they’ve had on the court.

Cleveland was 19-63 in 2010-11, 21-45 in 2011-12 and 24-58 in 2012-13. The Cavs weren’t exactly trying to add veteran pieces to help them win in those seasons, but that’s expected to change considerably this offseason.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and his son, Nick, who has represented the organization onstage at the lottery the last three years, both said they don’t expect to be at the festivities in 2014.

In essence, the Gilberts were saying the Cavs will be in the playoffs next season. Grant, who is now squarely under the gun to start making significant progress, isn’t making any bold predictions.

“It’s important for us to win and move forward and grow collectively as a group,” he said. “We certainly feel that pressure. … These assets and these tools put us in a position to be able to do that.”

The 2013 draft class is widely considered one of the weakest in years, but Grant’s not overly concerned about that. The way he sees it, he doesn’t have to find a good player for every team in the first round. He’s just got to do the right thing with the first and 19th selections.

“We read about it and hear about it,” Grant said of negative opinions about the talent in the draft. “From our perspective, we still have a chance, with a very valuable asset in the No. 1 pick and No. 19 pick, to add good young players to our roster. It’s very hard to predict what they’re going to turn into in three years.

“We’re not worried about the draft as a whole. We’re just worried about the guys that we pick.”

Most mock drafts have Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel going No. 1. A great athlete who can block shots but is very raw offensively, the 6-foot-11½ Noel weighed in at just 206 pounds at the recent NBA Combine. He’s also coming off ACL surgery that is expected to keep him out of action until around Christmas.

Other top players include Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore, Georgetown small forward Otto Porter, Michigan point guard Trey Burke, Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo and Maryland center Alex Len.

“For us, it’s wide open,” Grant said.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.