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Thread: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

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    Default Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4825853


    Cavs owner disputes Lucas' claimsComment Email Print Share ESPN.com news services

    Did the Cleveland Cavaliers tank the 2002-03 season to ensure a better shot at drafting LeBron James? Former Cavs coach John Lucas, who was fired during that season, said he believes that's the case, according to a published report.

    "They trade all our guys away and we go real young, and the goal was to get LeBron and also to sell the team,'' Lucas told AOL FanHouse. "I didn't have a chance. ... You can't fault the Cavaliers for wanting to get LeBron. It was hard to get free agents to come there.''

    The Cavaliers finished the 2002-03 season with a 17-65 record, tied with the Denver Nuggets for the worst record in the NBA. Cleveland won the NBA's draft lottery and selected James with the No. 1 pick. Lucas was fired midway through that season.

    Gordon Gund, who was then the team's principal owner but is now a minority owner of the Cavs, denied Lucas' claims. He also told the Web site that the Cavaliers weren't for sale during that season. The team didn't get sold until 2005.

    "You don't try to get the No. 1 pick,'' Gund told AOL Fanhouse. "That's why the lottery was designed. To not allow that. We had a young team that we were developing. ... We did not tank the season. ... To lose to get LeBron James, we would never do that. I wouldn't do that. I couldn't do that.

    "In the very last game of the season, we had nothing to gain and we were in sole possession of last place [in the NBA]. But we beat [the Toronto Raptors] and that left us tied with Denver [at 17-65]. ... The chances of getting the first pick were only [22.5 percent].''

    Lucas, now an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, will face his former team for the first time since being fired in 2003 when the Cavaliers host the Clippers on Saturday.

    Lucas said he was ordered to play young players.

    Guard Ricky Davis, who was a member of that Cavs team and is now a member of the Clippers said that Lucas was in a no-win situation.

    "It was tough on [Lucas],'' Davis told AOL Fanhouse. "They were forcing him to lose and I know it's nothing he wanted to do. It's just the position he was forced in. But it's tough. ... It worked, whatever they did [to get James] so it's hard to knock them. They got what they wanted. But it was hard on Luke.''

    Lucas also questioned the trades made by the Cavaliers during that season.

    "Andre [Miller] was really coming into his own and we trade him [to the Clippers] for Darius Miles, who had a bad knee, and Harold Jamison, who [was waived],'' Lucas told AOL Fanhouse. "We traded Lamond Murray, who averaged [a team-best 16.6] points, [to the Raptors] for Yogi Stewart, who was on the [injured] list. We traded Wesley Person for the 49th pick, which was Matt Barnes ... So I couldn't win.''

    Gund defended the trades, which were made by then-general manager Jim Paxson.

    "I agreed with the trades,'' Gund told AOL Fanhouse. "Andre was one that we really wanted but he wanted a max salary [when he would become a restricted free agent in 2002] and we didn't think he deserved a max at that time because he hadn't shown being an All-Star.

    "We all liked Andre. But Lamond Murray was not a key player. He and Wesley didn't have anywhere near the seasons they had [in 2001-02] after that.''

    Lucas was fired after the Cavaliers started 8-34. Gund pointed out to AOL Fanhouse that if the team was truly trying to lose games, then why would it fire Lucas?

    "I just didn't think the chemistry was good. The players weren't responding to John,'' Gund told the Web site. "This is not a criticism of John. I like John.''

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Kudos to them. It worked out well.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    [QUOTE=vnzla81;945050]http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4825853


    Cavs owner disputes Lucas' claimsComment Email Print Share ESPN.com news services

    Did the Cleveland Cavaliers tank the 2002-03 season to ensure a better shot at drafting LeBron James? Former Cavs coach John Lucas, who was fired during that season, said he believes that's the case, according to a published report.

    "They trade all our guys away and we go real young, and the goal was to get LeBron and also to sell the team,'' Lucas told AOL FanHouse. "I didn't have a chance. ... You can't fault the Cavaliers for wanting to get LeBron. It was hard to get free agents to come there.''


    Great find!

    Unfortunatley I think he is being truthful, but as Boston can attest too(When they didnt get the top pick to draft Duncan even though they had the worst record)
    Sittin on top of the world!

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by GrangeRusHibbert View Post
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    Kudos to them. It worked out well.
    I agree, at least they had the nuts to say screw it, lets tank and see if we can draft a good player and if that guy is Lebron is even better.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by vnzla81 View Post
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    I agree, at least they had the nuts to say screw it, lets tank and see if we can draft a good player and if that guy is Lebron is even better.
    It sounds almost like a given from the "or sell the team" comment that if they had not gotten LeBron there would be no Cleveland team. Is that really what fans in Cleveland wanted?
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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron


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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
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    It sounds almost like a given from the "or sell the team" comment that if they had not gotten LeBron there would be no Cleveland team. Is that really what fans in Cleveland wanted?
    Cleveland knew that they had a chance to either get Lebron, Melo, Wade, Bosh or even the draft bust Milicic and I could say that now many cleveland fans are saying that it was worth it.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    I'm sorry, but Lucas sounds like a crybaby here.

    -- Steve --

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    ok seriously who here wouldn't tank for the next Michael Jordan come on really?!!!!

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Seriously, how many "next Michael Jordan"s have there been that turned out not to be?
    BillS

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    I guess I can file this under "duh, really Captain Obvious? Thanks for the FYI"
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
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    Seriously, how many "next Michael Jordan"s have there been that turned out not to be?
    it's the lottery if you wanna win one day you have to play.

    just like John Wall he could be the next AI or the next DaJuan Wagner
    Last edited by sportfireman; 01-14-2010 at 03:11 PM.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Plausible tanking, coupled with plausible deniability FTW.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by sportfireman View Post
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    it's the lottery if you wanna win one day you have to play.
    It's the number of "days" you have to play without winning that's the problem.
    BillS

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
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    It's the number of "days" you have to play without winning that's the problem.
    but those are the lotto rules......

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Of course they tanked, LOL.

    And of course the owner would never admit it. They'd get in trouble with Stern, and even perhaps the US government.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by Pacersfan46 View Post
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    I'm sorry, but Lucas sounds like a crybaby here.

    -- Steve --
    Completely. Gund makes compelling points right down the line for every move, including winning the game to end up tied with Denver. They didn't need to be worst considering the depth of the draft anyway.


    Did you ever play organized sports as a kid? Was there a worst team, maybe even your team? Was there ever a team that didn't win a single game? That wasn't tanking to get the top pick and it looked 100% identical. Just as bad. What motivation did that 0-20 or 2-15 or whatever team in the YMCA bball league or Little League baseball league have for losing so much?

    It's sports, it's a game, and you 100% must have winners and losers. Sometimes teams lose because they aren't good enough to win, period.

    Lucas doesn't have the track record to say that he normally would be a big winner but was hamstrung that year. As Gund points out, why fire Lucas when you could pull the JOB angle and just ride out the losing instead.

    Seems like if that was ownerships goal there would at least be an implicit understanding, if not an outright explicit one.
    Last edited by Naptown_Seth; 01-14-2010 at 04:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by sportfireman View Post
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    it's the lottery if you wanna win one day you have to play.
    Said the Lakers....whoops. Guess that's not actually the only way to win.

    And the Lakers didn't even have to get superbad to get good again. In fact I'm still waiting on the Bulls rebuild to pan out, or the multi-decade plan of the Clippers to work.

    BTW, the Cavs haven't won. Miami won with a pick lower than Lebron was. Then they stunk again, now they have another top pick and they've been modestly okay. That's TWO top 5 picks, and in their 2nd year they still don't seem poised to win it.

    Of course the Blazers got their title...wait, nope.

    OKC though, clearly they can't fail. They are following the Baby Bulls and New Orleans Hornets path and are right on track to ramp up expectations and then not quite ever pan out.

    Speaking of the Bulls, they are on round 2 of the magic rebuild. With their #1 pick plus high draft guys Thomas and Noah they are favorites to win the East this year, right?


    So you win the lottery, draft a GOOD player, and you still don't win a title. Meanwhile a couple of other teams make smart trades and touch up with FA work, don't tank to accomplish this, and they win titles - see LA and Detroit.
    Last edited by Naptown_Seth; 01-14-2010 at 04:37 PM.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by Naptown_Seth View Post
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    So you win the lottery, draft a GOOD player, and you still don't win a title. Meanwhile a couple of other teams make smart trades and touch up with FA work, don't tank to accomplish this, and they win titles.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    They won 29, 30, and 32 games in the three preceeding seasons. Its not like they were a good team anyway.
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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by Naptown_Seth View Post
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    Said the Lakers....whoops. Guess that's not actually the only way to win.

    And the Lakers didn't even have to get superbad to get good again. In fact I'm still waiting on the Bulls rebuild to pan out, or the multi-decade plan of the Clippers to work.

    BTW, the Cavs haven't won. Miami won with a pick lower than Lebron was. Then they stunk again, now they have another top pick and they've been modestly okay. That's TWO top 5 picks, and in their 2nd year they still don't seem poised to win it.

    Of course the Blazers got their title...wait, nope.

    OKC though, clearly they can't fail. They are following the Baby Bulls and New Orleans Hornets path and are right on track to ramp up expectations and then not quite ever pan out.

    Speaking of the Bulls, they are on round 2 of the magic rebuild. With their #1 pick plus high draft guys Thomas and Noah they are favorites to win the East this year, right?


    So you win the lottery, draft a GOOD player, and you still don't win a title. Meanwhile a couple of other teams make smart trades and touch up with FA work, don't tank to accomplish this, and they win titles - see LA and Detroit.

    believe me i know all this........just look all the top lottery teams over the last 10 yrs........ not many are too good. my post was referring to some comments earlier. if you want a great #1 pick in the draft then you have to play lotto..... it's all about odds with the lotto.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by Naptown_Seth View Post
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    Said the Lakers....whoops. Guess that's not actually the only way to win.

    And the Lakers didn't even have to get superbad to get good again. In fact I'm still waiting on the Bulls rebuild to pan out, or the multi-decade plan of the Clippers to work.

    BTW, the Cavs haven't won. Miami won with a pick lower than Lebron was. Then they stunk again, now they have another top pick and they've been modestly okay. That's TWO top 5 picks, and in their 2nd year they still don't seem poised to win it.

    Of course the Blazers got their title...wait, nope.

    OKC though, clearly they can't fail. They are following the Baby Bulls and New Orleans Hornets path and are right on track to ramp up expectations and then not quite ever pan out.

    Speaking of the Bulls, they are on round 2 of the magic rebuild. With their #1 pick plus high draft guys Thomas and Noah they are favorites to win the East this year, right?


    So you win the lottery, draft a GOOD player, and you still don't win a title. Meanwhile a couple of other teams make smart trades and touch up with FA work, don't tank to accomplish this, and they win titles - see LA and Detroit.
    So I guess that a team like San Antonio does not count, they got Duncan(by tanking)Tony Parker and Manu trough the draft, the Celtics had pieces that they got from the draft and used them to get KG and Ray, yes I think the draft does not work at all.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by vnzla81 View Post
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    So I guess that a team like San Antonio does not count, they got Duncan(by tanking).
    Let me be as clear as possible here, the Spurs did not tank anything that year. That was a very much an injury riddled team. David Robinson played 6 games. They had 12 different guys start a game that year. They had 9 guys who started at least 20 games.

    They just lucked into the position by having an injury riddled year. They did not tank. Either way, Seth's point was that having a top draft pick isn't the ONLY way to build a winner, and he's right. However I do think it's more difficult without those top picks. Not many teams are going to get a Kobe for Divac trade very often.

    -- Steve --

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Quote Originally Posted by vnzla81 View Post
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    So I guess that a team like San Antonio does not count, they got Duncan(by tanking)Tony Parker and Manu trough the draft, the Celtics had pieces that they got from the draft and used them to get KG and Ray, yes I think the draft does not work at all.
    Really? Parker (28th) and Manu (57th) show the power of getting a high draft pick? The Spurs are the poster children of smart GMs, not tanking.

    Allen was had for a couple of journeymen and a 5th overall. No player exchanged for Garnett was drafted higher than 13th.

    The only thing those team prove is that you don't need to tank to build a team, you just have to be smart and not throw away assets.

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    Default Re: Ex-coach Lucas: Cavs tanked to draft LeBron

    Sure, if you want the best of the bad odds of winning the lotto then you must be worst.



    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoJ View Post
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    They won 29, 30, and 32 games in the three preceeding seasons. Its not like they were a good team anyway.
    No. You've got to think long term Jay, stop being so nearsighted on this.

    What you do is lose for 20 years, have your top pick get injured, hit the 25% odds on the lottery in just the right year because you've been scouting a kid since 7th grade and have subliminally told him to come out rather than going to college or staying a 2nd or 3rd year in college.

    Team with 2nd pick in draft after Duncan's JR year for the loss.*






    *It was Toronto. They took Camby instead of getting AI or Duncan if Tim had come out.

    PS - 1997 for worst draft ever if Duncan did come out the year before.

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