New Cavs practice facility blends high-tech equipment, rustic lodge

Chris Beaven

A colorful surprise awaited Danny Ferry when he arrived at work Wednesday — hours before the official opening of the Cavaliers new high-tech practice facility.

The Cavaliers general manager stood stunned, looking at a freshly painted wall in his new office. It was Carolina Blue and decorated with large University of North Carolina logos, a prank courtesy of his boss. For a former Duke University basketball star, someone might as well have painted obscenities on his wall.

“I promise you. That’s not permanent,” Ferry said later in the day.

What is permanent, though, is the state-of-the-art Cleveland Clinic Courts where the Cavaliers will practice, watch film, lift weights, rehab injuries, relax — and they hope — become a championship team.

“This helps put us in the position to succeed ... and it’s going to pay dividends for a long, long time,” Ferry said.

Coming off a run to the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers are in the final days of a quiet offseason. Training camp begins Oct. 1. Their season opens Oct. 31 vs. Dallas.

Two key members of last year’s team — athletic shooter Sasha Pavlovic and energetic forward Anderson Varejao — remain free agents.

“I’d like to have them both back. I’d like to have them both back for more than one year,” Ferry said. “Other than that, commenting on it more than that is not healthy for the negotiation process.”

The Cavaliers have made no major moves. Ferry thought this year’s free-agent class was not the strongest, and the right deal did not present itself. He likes this group of guys and the continuity that’s developed. That said, Ferry added, “Obviously, we are going to do everything we can to find ways to improve our roster and get better.”

The Cavaliers believe their new practice facility will help them do that. The centerpiece is two regulation NBA courts located in the middle of the building. All of the offices surround the gym, which features six hoops in all.

But at a cost of $25 million, the 50,000-square-foot building is far more than a big gym. It is part rustic lodge, part traditional offices and part a techie’s dream come true with advanced training equipment.

Flat screen TVs are located throughout, it’s networked with the Cleveland Clinic’s computer system and it has a theatre-style team meeting room. The hydrotherapy room features a underwater treadmill, making the Cavs one of four NBA teams with such a tool. They are one of two pro teams in America with the Primus computer rehabilitation system used by the U.S. Olympic Committee and China’s version of the USOC.

“All that adds up, and I think it can make a difference,” said Dan Gilbert, the team’s owner.

Gilbert, an admitted perfectionist, found little wrong with the place when he took his final walk-through.

“It was just a fantastic job,” he said.

Seeing how much star LeBron James and other players enjoy the new digs re-affirms Gilbert’s opinion of the importance of this home base, in addition to Quicken Loans Arena.

“Those guys are pretty cool cats overall,” Gilbert said of the players. “They were definitely excited. They told the coaching staff and Danny, and all of them, they’re pretty excited to be here.”

Ferry will be more excited once another fresh coat of paint hits his one office wall to get “that mess off the wall.”

Assistant GM Chris Grant called the North Carolina tribute in Ferry’s office a “joke from one of the owners. I think you know who.”

Gilbert just smiled and said, “That one was not me.”

Reach Canton Repository sports writer Chris Beaven at (330) 580-8345 or e-mail: chris.beaven@cantonrep.com