The absence of Daugherty hurts, but the Cavs went 18-11 at the end of last season without their five-time All-Star. John (Hot Rod) Williams is versatile enough to move into the middle. Michael Cage, an unrestricted free agent from Seattle, and fifth-year man Tyrone Hill give Cleveland some other big bodies. "We have a lot of flexibility," coach Mike Fratello says.
After bottoming out at 20 victories, the DETROIT PISTONS lost Isiah Thomas—he gave up his job as G.M. without portfolio to run the expansion Toronto Raptors, who won't debut until next season—and brought in seven new players. The cornerstone is rookie Grant Hill, who is talented and charismatic enough to start a new winning tradition. Any advice for the youngster? "Sure," says Oliver Miller (page 132), a free-agent center who came to the Pistons from Phoenix. "Don't hurt yourself when you land."
Hill joins straight-arrow Mark West, another ex-Sun center, and Dream Team Her Joe Dumars as first-team All-Nice Guys. "There are no jerks on this team," Dumars says. Miller and West should fill the defensive void at center created by Bill Laimbeer's sudden retirement 11 games into last season. With Lindsey Hunter learning at the point and swingman Allan Houston vowing to be more aggressive at both ends, these nice guys won't finish last.
Glenn Robinson, the No. 1 overall pick by the MILWAUKEE BUCKS in last June's draft, sniffed at the Bucks' offer of $60 million for nine years. He must be hearing high-pitched noises, detectable only by Big Dogs, telling him to hold out for $100 million for 13. Considering the franchise is worth only $75 million, Robinson seems a tad out of line. Then again, he might be able to beat the Bucks one-on-five.
Milwaukee hasn't made the playoffs since 1991 and won't this season—with or without Robinson. Forward Vin Baker and point guard Eric Murdock, who will miss as many as 15 games after being poked in the right eye in the preseason, can't carry the Bucks alone. Off-guard Todd Day has been a disappointment, and Baker might often have to play out of position at center because the other options are rookie Eric Mobley and 36-year-old Alton Lister. With Robinson, though, the Bucks would be intriguing. Without him they would be a dog's breakfast.