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NO.8 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

No team in the NBA has changed more than Cleveland, which has an
entirely new starting lineup and a new up-tempo offense. Last
season the Cavs were so boring--they were the
second-lowest-scoring NBA team since the shot clock was adopted
for the 1954-55 season--that heading into '97-98, management
faced the prospect of a third straight season of declining
attendance. (Average crowds at Gund Arena had dropped from
20,338 in '94-95 to 16,895 last year.) It didn't help that three
of last season's starters (forward Chris Mills, guard Bobby
Phills and center Mark West) opted for free agency and that two
of the summer's major free-agent targets, Rick Fox and Brian
Grant, turned down lucrative offers from the Cavs to play
elsewhere for less money.

Yet the tide may have turned on Sept. 25, the day the Cavs
acquired All-Star power forward Shawn Kemp from the SuperSonics
as part of a three-way trade that also included the Bucks. The
price was high: Cleveland sent to Milwaukee All-Star point guard
Terrell Brandon and stalwart power forward Tyrone Hill.
Nevertheless, the deluge of phone calls to the Cavaliers'
sales-and-marketing department included one from a fan who
ordered six club seats at a total cost of $18,450. Although the
6'10", 256-pound Kemp insists, "I am not a savior," fans clearly
expect that his presence will guarantee that the team will be
entertaining for a change.

Coach Mike Fratello, one of the game's leading control freaks,
promised Kemp that the Cavs would opt for a faster pace in order
to take advantage of his abilities. "Shawn Kemp is a terrific
open-court player," says Fratello. Yet Fratello hasn't employed
that style since his days with the Hawks in the '80s, when
Atlanta featured the high-flying Dominique Wilkins. Last season
Fratello or one of his assistants called the offensive and
defensive set on virtually every play. So what will happen if
the Cavs get off to a slow start? Will Fratello revert to form?
If he does, how will that sit with Kemp? "I can play full-court
or half-court," Kemp says. "It doesn't make any difference. I
just hate losing."

During the preseason Fratello kept his word. The Cavs averaged
105.1 points in seven games, and everybody, including Kemp,
seemed happy with their brisker pace, especially the veterans
who were subs last season--small forward Danny Ferry, center
Vitaly Potapenko and guard Bob Sura (who played shooting guard
in '96-97 but started this season at the point). The Cavs also
acquired shooters Henry James and Wesley Person, and they like
what they got out of the draft: 6'5" swingman Derek Anderson,
6'7" small forward Cedric Henderson and 5'10" point guard Brevin
Knight.

Still, Kemp is Cleveland's first franchise player in years. "You
won't see me doing a lot of talking," Kemp says, "but you'll see
me doing a lot of playing. By coming here, I've put a lot of
pressure on myself."

Indeed, it will be interesting to see how Kemp plays without
Gary Payton to feed him, how well he adapts to a rebuilding
situation and, mainly, how long he's happy with Fratello and the
rest of Cleveland's management. During his eight tumultuous
years in Seattle, Kemp, known as the Reign Man, was at the
center of a lot of storms. He frequently was late for planes,
buses and practices. But those transgressions were minor
compared with the Kingdome-sized sulk he went into because the
Sonics gave journeyman center Jim McIlvaine a deal ($35 million
over seven years) that put him ahead of Kemp (who earned $3.3
million last season) on the salary scale.

The Cavs wasted little time in redoing Kemp's deal. Owner Gordon
Gund opened the checkbook and presented Kemp with a contract
extension that runs for seven years and is worth about $107
million. After signing, Kemp said, "I feel I'm blessed."

Everybody in the NBA will be watching to see how long the
honeymoon in Cleveland lasts, but Kemp seems intent on stuffing
his critics. "We can be a mix of young and old, a very
interesting team," he says. "It's going to be a learning
experience for all of us, and it may take some time, but I think
we'll get there."

--W.F.R.

COLOR PHOTO: NOREN TROTMAN/NBA PHOTOS IN MOVING TO CLEVELAND, THE MERCURIAL KEMP LIKELY HAS SWAPPED WINS FOR DOLLARS [Shawn Kemp in game]

COLOR PHOTO: NATHANIEL S. BUTLER/NBA PHOTOS [Brevin Knight]

BY THE NUMBERS

1996-97 TEAM STATISTICS
Record: 42-40 (fifth in Central)

SEASON AVERAGES
Points Rebounds Turnovers
per game FG pct. per game per game
(rank) (rank) (rank) (rank)

Cavaliers 87.5 (29) .453 (17) 37.4 (29) 14.5 (4)
Opponents 85.6 (1) .441 (9) 37.0 (1) 16.2 (8)

A PITTANCE OF POINTS

The average Cavaliers game last season featured only 173.1
points (87.5 by Cleveland, 85.6 by its opponents). That's the
lowest average for any team's games since the introduction of
the shot clock in the 1954-55 season. But it isn't the first
time Mike Fratello's Cavs have appeared on the leader board in
this category.

FEWEST COMBINED POINTS PER GAME (TEAM AND OPPONENTS) SINCE 1954-55

TOTAL PPG COACH W-L

1996-97 Cleveland Cavaliers 173.1 Mike Fratello 42-40
1954-55 Milwaukee Hawks 177.8 Red Holzman 26-46
1995-96 Cleveland Cavaliers 179.7 Mike Fratello 47-35
1994-95 Cleveland Cavaliers 180.3 Mike Fratello 43-39
1954-55 Syracuse Nationals 180.8 Al Cervi 43-29

NOTE FROM THE UNDERGROUND

With the trades of veteran point guards Terrell Brandon and
Sherman Douglas, rookie Brevin Knight (right) is expected to get
plenty of minutes at the helm of the Cleveland offense. However,
much as foes challenged the Raptors' undersized Damon Stoudamire
early in his rookie campaign with traps and defensive pressure,
opponents will try to crowd and manhandle the slight Knight
(listed at 5'10", 173 pounds). "When you hesitate, someone is
right on you," Knight noted after one preseason game. Welcome to
the NBA, kid.

PROJECTED LINEUP WITH 1996-97 STATS
Coach: Mike Fratello (fifth season with Cleveland)

STARTERS

G PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT% 3FG%

PG Bob Sura 82 9.2 3.8 4.8 1.10 0.40 .431 .614 .323
SG Derek
Anderson (R)[*] 19 17.7 4.1 3.5 1.95 0.11 .491 .811 .404
SF Wesley Person[*] 80 13.5 3.7 1.5 1.08 0.25 .453 .798 .413
PF Shawn Kemp[*] 81 18.7 10.0 1.9 1.54 1.00 .510 .742 .364
C Vitaly Potapenko 80 5.8 2.7 0.5 0.33 0.43 .440 .736 .500

RESERVES

F Danny Ferry 82 10.6 4.1 1.8 0.68 0.39 .429 .851 .401
F Henry James[*] 53 6.7 1.5 0.4 0.21 0.02 .408 .833 .420
C Zydrunas
Ilgauskas* (R)[*] 36 20.3 12.8 0.7 N.A. 2.81 .601 .683 N.A.
G Brevin Knight(R)[*] 30 16.3 3.7 7.8 2.77 0.13 .408 .834 .409
G Greg Graham[*] 28 3.3 0.5 0.4 0.43 0.04 .363 .650 .290

[*]New acquisition (R) Rookie (college stats)
[**]1994-95 stats with Atletas Basketball Club in Lithuania.