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When the Cavaliers wrapped up the 2013-14 season with a home win over Brooklyn, among the ten players who suited up and played, there was a combined 36 total games of playoff experience. In just the past 30 days, the Wine and Gold have added four players with seven Championship rings between them.
Of course, the most notable member of that group happens to be four-time MVP LeBron James as well as Brendan Haywood, whom the Cavs acquired via trade with Charlotte. The other two players of the title-winning foursome – Mike Miller and James Jones – were introduced by Cavs GM David Griffin on Wednesday morning at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
At this point last year, the Cavaliers were the second-youngest team in the NBA. This summer, the addition of Miller and Jones alone brings 25 years of NBA experience to Cleveland – not to mention each player’s prolific long-distance marksmanship accumulated over those years.
Miller, a 14-year-vet, ranks among the NBA’s all-time top 20 in career three-point percentage (.409) and made three-pointers (1,531). He’s canned at least 70 threes in 12 of his 14 seasons and at least 100 in eight of those campaigns. Miller – who was named Rookie of the Year in 2000-01 and the league’s top Sixth Man in 2005-06 – has shot at least 40 percent from long-distance in nine different NBA seasons, including last year when he finished second in the league at .459.
Miller and James both earned titles playing with LeBron in Miami, and Miller remains one of his closest friends in the NBA. Both factors made Miller’s decision much simpler.
“Obviously, LeBron James is the greatest player on the planet right now, so that makes things easy,” smiled the 6-8, 218-pound swingman. “But it's also a combination of what this organization is about, and I think that's why you see LeBron making the decision to come back here and what it would mean to this city.
”I was able to be a part, and James was able to be a part, of an unbelievable ride in Miami. And for us to have a second chance that year in Cleveland is a blessing, and we're excited about the opportunity.”
Jones is an 11-year veteran who’s appeared in 556 career games with four teams after being tabbed by Indiana 48 selections after LeBron in the 2003 NBA Draft. Jones is a career .403 shooter from beyond the arc and, in 2011, won the Three-Point Shootout at All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
”When you talk about winning championships, it's not that it's an inexact science, but the components that are required are consistent,” asserted Jones. “You need youth, you need athleticism, you need basketball IQ, you need chemistry.
”You need shooting skills, but more importantly, you need a culture of winning. The only way to establish a culture of winning is to have winners. Myself and Mike have been blessed to have the opportunity to have this experience in Miami where we developed a championship caliber team, and we hope to bring that here.”
For the man in the middle on Wednesday morning, David Griffin, the Cavs summer of love continues. Since officially assuming general manager duties, Griff has seen his squad win the NBA Draft Lottery, select the top pick and land LeBron James less than a month later – transforming the Wine and Gold from a non-playoff team to a championship contender before the beginning of August.
“This offseason has been tremendous for us,” said Griffin. “We executed on a lot of things we set out to do, which is obviously a blessing. Many of you were here when we talked the first time about what we needed to do to improve our team. The first thing we talked about was shooting. We talked about basketball IQ, we talked about toughness, we talked about fit. These gentlemen here represent all of those things.”
Griffin has guided Cleveland through the most seismic and successful offseason in franchise history – and he and the Cavs brass still aren’t done remaking the roster. With the recent moves – including the introduction of Miller and Jones on Wednesday – there’s an unmistakable air of optimism at Cleveland Clinic Courts these days. And it’s easy to see that trend continuing for quite a while.