For frontcourt depth Cleveland turns to 6'9" shootaholic Henry James and its two highest-paid players. Williams, who at week's end was averaging 7.4 rebounds and two blocked shots, has cashed a couple of checks totaling $9 million in the past year. Ferry's 10-year deal pays him $34 million, but he has yet to deliver much bang for the bucks at power forward or center. "I'm still thinking more than playing, and a feel for the game has always been one of my strengths," says Ferry.
Embry stands by his investment in Ferry. "It's a matter of him developing the confidence and us helping him build it," says Embry. "But we're patient. We've got plenty of time."
Time indeed is on the Cavs' side. Because Wilkens has skillfully parceled out the minutes, he can ask his starters for that little extra if need be, as they gave him in digging out of a 17-point hole in a 99-92 road win over the Washington Bullets last Thursday. Nance delivered 20 points and 15 rebounds in 41 minutes, while Price added 25 points and eight assists in 36 minutes, his longest stint since returning to the lineup. "I'm playing as flat-out as I can," said Price. "It's been great that the first couple of months I haven't had to do this as much."
The Cavaliers need to be well rested. Without much of a transition game, they have to labor hard for baskets. They're also going to need their legs to correct their most glaring weakness: an inability to control the lane and seal off the boards. In addition, they have failed to control the tempo as well as they did in winning 57 games in 1988-89. "They dismantled that team, and we're still trying to fit the pieces together," says Daugherty. "It's a little bit more of a struggle, but if we stay together and stay mentally ready, we're going to be tough."
As of now, 'tis the season to consider Cleveland a contender.