Has any other U.S. city in recent memory undergone as dramatic a
transformation as Cleveland? Once the butt of jokes nationwide,
Cleveland has enjoyed a renaissance the last few years with the
opening of Jacobs Field, Gund Arena and, most recently, the Rock
& Roll Hall of Fame. The successes of the Indians and the Browns
have only added to the perception that good things are happening
on the shores of Lake Erie.

Now the Cavaliers have decided to join in the rebuilding. In
bold moves this off-season the club dealt four-time All-Star
guard Mark Price to Washington in exchange for a 1996
first-round draft pick, then sent veteran forward-center John
(Hot Rod) Williams to Phoenix for shooting guard Dan Majerle,
second-year forward Antonio Lang and a future first-round draft
pick. The deals were no doubt gut-wrenching ones for Cleveland
president Wayne Embry--Price and Williams were integral parts of
the franchise's title contenders of the late '80s and early
'90s--but the moves were necessary if the team is to contend in
the future.

"We felt it was time to make the hard decision to retool and
restock," Cavalier coach Mike Fratello says. "The old group of
guys gave it one heck of a shot at winning the whole thing, but
it was time to move on. We have a good core of young players,
and we're anxious to see how they work out."

Optimism aside, Cleveland will be hard-pressed to make a fifth
straight trip to the playoffs. Five-time All-Star center Brad
Daugherty won't be back until midseason at the earliest as he
continues his recovery from back surgery, and with Williams
gone, the Cavs now have a gaping hole in the pivot. True, they
finished 43-39 in '94-95 despite being ravaged by injuries. It's
also true that in Fratello, now in his third year in Cleveland,
the Cavs have a proven leader to try to guide them away from the
abyss. But the Cavaliers simply have too many question marks to
think they can keep teams such as the Pistons and the Bucks from
climbing over them this time around.

The good news for Cleveland fans in 1995-96 is that the younger,
fresher Cavs won't need to play the boring slow-down game of
last season, when the team bled the shot clock on every
possession and kept the ball out of the other team's hands as
long as possible. The strategy worked--Cleveland allowed just
89.8 points per game, the second-lowest average in NBA
history--but it put more people to sleep than Conan O'Brien. This
year, expect the Cavs to run more, especially now that point
guard Terrell Brandon has finally taken the reins of the offense.

Brandon, 25, was enjoying a breakthrough year until he suffered
a season-ending stress fracture in his right tibia in April. In
the 36 games that he started while Price was disabled by a
broken right wrist, Brandon averaged 16.9 points, 6.6 assists
and 1.83 steals, proving that after three years as a backup he
was at last ready to handle the job. "When Mark went down, a lot
of people thought we couldn't win without him," says Brandon. "I
wanted to show that I could do a good job, and I think I showed
I was a capable player."

Brandon will share the backcourt with shooting guards Majerle, a
strong outside scorer coming off a vexing second-half slump, and
Bobby Phills, a hard-nosed defender who came to the Cavs on a
10-day contract in 1992 and never left. Veteran Harold Miner,
acquired in an off-season trade with the Miami Heat, and
first-round draft pick Bob Sura of Florida State will provide
additional backcourt support.

With Daugherty sidelined, the Cavs' frontcourt will be led by
power forward Tyrone Hill, a tenacious rebounder who accumulated
career highs in scoring (13.8 points) and rebounding (10.9),
and by small forward Chris Mills, a solid but unspectacular
player on the wing. Veteran Michael Cage will attempt to hold
down the pivot, while Lang, Danny Ferry and rookie Donny
Marshall of Connecticut try to provide help off the bench.

The Cavs are a long way from joining the Indians and the
Browns--or even the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame--as major attractions
on the Cleveland landscape. But with Fratello, two talented
young players in Brandon and Hill, and at least two No. 1 draft
picks next year, the Cavs could be back among the Central
Division leaders in no time. Still, the architects of the city's
newest reclamation project had better use those picks
wisely--after all, Cleveland's entertainment standards are a lot
higher than they used to be.

--M.B.

COLOR PHOTO: NOREN TROTMAN/NBA PHOTOS Lacking frontcourt support, leaper Hill (32) may often be the only Cav aloft. [Tyrone Hill]

BY THE NUMBERS

1994-95 TEAM STATISTICS

PPG (Rank) FG% (Rank)

OFFENSE 90.5 (27) .441 (25)
DEFENSE 89.8 (1) .461 (14)

SLAMMING THE DOOR

Last season the Cavaliers became the first NBA team in 40 years
to hold three opponents below the 70-point mark in one season.
The last team to do that was the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Pistons of
1954-55, the first season of the 24-second clock. In fact, there
were more scores below 70 in the NBA last season (eight) than in
any other season since that first year with the shot clock, when
there were nine. During one 14-year period, including all of the
1960s, there wasn't a single game in which a team scored fewer
than 70 points.

Cleveland's Sub-70 Defensive Games Last Season

December 19 Cavaliers 77 Bulls 63
January 23 Cavaliers 90 Clippers 68
January 26 Cavaliers 77 Hawks 68

PLAYER TO WATCH

Cavalier guard Harold Miner is hoping a change of scenery can
change his NBA fortunes. Miner, 24, entered the league as the
12th overall pick in 1992 by the Heat after earning the nickname
Baby Jordan at USC for his number 23 jersey, bald pate and
acrobatic, offensive-minded game. Except for winning the '93 and
'95 NBA slam-dunk contests, however, Miner has done little to
remind anybody of the guy in Chicago. Twice he was handed the
Heat's starting off-guard spot, only to be benched early in the
season each time. In '94-95 he averaged 7.3 points and 19.4
minutes in 45 games, numbers that didn't justify his $1.7
million-plus salary. Still, Cav president Wayne Embry thought
enough of Miner's potential to give up a 1995 second-round draft
pick and future considerations to get him. "He's a talented kid,
with a lot of room for growth," Embry said. He is hoping that
Miner's ability to run the floor and break down defenders will
spice up an offense that ranked dead last in scoring a year ago.
Miner thinks the move might be just the ticket. "I had a tough
three years in Miami," he said. "I can't wait to get started in
Cleveland."

PROJECTED LINEUP

STARTERS 1994-95 Key Statistics

SF Chris Mills 12.3 ppg 4.6 rpg 1.9 apg
PF Tyrone Hill 13.8 ppg 10.9 rpg 50.4 FG%
C Michael Cage 5.0 ppg 6.9 rpg 52.1 FG%
PG Terrell Brandon 13.3 ppg 5.4 apg 1.60 spg
SG Bobby Phills 11.0 ppg 3.3 rpg 2.3 apg

TOP RESERVES

G Dan Majerle 15.6 ppg 4.6 rpg 42.5 FG%
G Harold Miner 7.3 ppg 2.6 rpg 1.5 apg
F Danny Ferry 7.5 ppg 1.7 rpg 40.3 3FG%

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)