Cleveland Cavaliers

It was no secret who Cleveland would take at No. 1 after winning the 2003 Draft Lottery.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
DeSagana Diop (restricted)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (unrestricted)
Jeff McInnis (unrestricted)
Robert Traylor (team option)
Dajuan Wagner (unrestricted)
Scott Williams (unrestricted)
2004: 10. Luke Jackson, Oregon
2003: 1. LeBron James, St. Vincent-St. Mary's HS
31. Jason Kapono, UCLA
2002: 6. Dajuan Wagner, Memphis
35. Carlos Boozer, Duke
2001: 8. DeSagana Diop, Oak Hill Acad.
20. Brendan Haywood, UNC
36. Jeff Trapagnier, USC
2000: 8. Jamal Crawford, Mich.
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: The Cavaliers were beginning year two of the LeBron James era without Carlos Boozer, but were optimistic nevertheless. Jim Paxson and Paul Silas had the team positioned for its first playoff berth since 1998.

What happened? Everything went according to plan initially, as the Cavaliers jumped out to first place in the Central with a 30-21 record at the All-Star break. Then, strange things started to happen.

A six-game losing streak spanned the end of February and the beginning of March. During that streak, the transfer of ownership from Gordon Gund to Dan Gilbert was approved by the NBA Board of Governors.

Two weeks later, the Cavs suffered a stinging 105-98 loss in Toronto that featured a 56-point career-high outburst from LeBron and the benching of Jeff McInnis, whose recent play had irked Silas. One day later, Silas is fired and interim coach Brendan Malone installs Eric Snow as the starter at point.

So, you take a heaping dose of turmoil, throw in an early April injury to All-Star Zydrunas Ilgauskas (who missed four games) and add a costly home loss to New York. It all added up to an 11-19 finish to a 42-40 season that left the Cavaliers one game shy of the playoffs for the second year in a row.

James almost single-handedly willed the Cavaliers into the postseason, averaging 32.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists over the final month. He was named to the All-NBA Second Team, finishing third in NBA in scoring (27.2 ppg), sixth in assists (7.2 apg) and third in steals (2.21 spg). He also logged the first four triple-doubles of his NBA career.

What now? The Cavaliers conveyed their draft pick to the Phoenix Suns, so any roster tweaking will have to come via the free agent market.

The big question in Cleveland is whether or not the team will re-sign Ilgauskas, or spend their money elsewhere. Though the 7-3 Lithuanian is one of the top centers in the East, the Cavaliers also have a pretty talented stable of big men in Robert Traylor, Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao.

Shooting guard is an obvious need for one of the NBA's poorer shooting teams, who may covet one of the many marksmen available (Michael Redd, Ray Allen, Joe Johnson, Larry Hughes, etc.). There could also be interest in a point guard. McInnis isn't likely to be back and Snow is 32 and coming off a woeful season offensively.