Thursday, March 5, 2009

Q: Hey Joe...where you gonna run to now?

A: To Cleveland!

It’s fun to be a Cavaliers’ fan these days. After witnessing the team reel off the best win of the season Monday night at Miami, fans got more good news Tuesday as the team signed Joe Smith to a one-year deal.

This was a move that had to be done: Even if Ben Wallace comes back from his broken leg in three weeks as speculated by the PD’s Brian Windhorst, there’s no telling how long it will take for the somewhat creaky big man to get back into game shape. It sounds like Ben will be ready for the playoffs, but Smith adds much-needed depth.

I would even argue that Smith made the most immediate impact of the four players acquired following last year’s mega-trade that changed half the roster. While Delonte, Wally and Ben were struggling to find their roles, Smith was hitting midrange jumpers and playing decent defense on the opposing team’s bigs. He’s that solid veteran that’s a needed piece on any championship-hopeful team.

The one guy that may not be too thrilled about the pickup is JJ Hickson. That’s OK—Hickson has some raw offensive skills and I like his hustle, but this is not a developmental year for a franchise looking to get young players needed experience. This is winning time, and Double J is not ready to bear that burden during the playoffs.

In the intense playoff-type atmosphere of Miami, for example, Hickson received the ball in the paint and probably could have gone up for a dunk. Instead he pump faked, allowing the defense to collapse, and flung up a Tuesday Night Basketball-quality shot-put off the glass. The Cavs just don’t need a 20-year-old with the rookie yips playing important minutes in May.

Have you had a chance to check out Maurice Clarett’s blog? “The Mind of Maurice Clarett” reads as an almost stream-of-consciousness advice column where the ex-Buckeye philosophizes about life and the mistakes that landed him in the Toledo Correctional Institution.

Clarett has no interest in sharing the lurid day-to-day details of the stony lonesome. Instead, he writes about inspiring others and keeping up his relationship with his young daughter. He also says he’s taking courses through Ohio University while incarcerated.

“I created this site for other reasons,” Clarett says. “There are too many young men and women that need hope and inspiration. To a large degree, prison doesn’t exist to me anymore. I’m mentally removed, on certain levels. My mental sentence expired when I decided to educate myself. I spend all of the hours of my days developing my life’s vision. I don’t have the time to think about prison. I’m just waiting for my physical sentence to expire.”

From what I’ve seen, Clarett’s blog is full of this kind of rhapsodizing, which makes “Mind of Maurice” an interesting if not terribly compelling read. However, while it’s easy to dismiss the words of a guy who screwed up a good thing because of greed and ignorance, it seems Clarett is sincerely trying to better himself while stuck in a bad situation. Check out his blog at