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Friday, February 09, 2018

Initial Impressions of the New Look Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers just traded away half of their active roster and the final verdict on such a massive makeover cannot be rendered until after the 2018 playoffs--and, perhaps not until LeBron James decides to stay or go.

After the dust cleared, the Cavaliers acquired George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, and their own 2018 first-round pick.

Here are some bullet point, quick-hitting impressions regarding the Cavaliers' moves:

1) Turning the clock back just a bit, essentially the Cavaliers gave up Kyrie Irving--an All-NBA First Team level player who is a dark horse MVP candidate this season--for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Brooklyn's 2018 unprotected first round draft pick. To recap, last summer the Cavaliers sent Irving to Boston and the primary assets they received back were Isaiah Thomas and the Brooklyn pick. This week, the Cavaliers dealt Thomas (and other considerations) to the L.A. Lakers for Clarkson and Nance, so the Cavaliers' net gain from all of this is the pick, Clarkson and Nance.

Looked at purely from that perspective, the Cavaliers seriously decreased their chances to win a championship in the near future compared to their chances when Irving was on the roster--and the near future is all that matters if James leaves, because a Cleveland team without James will have to rebuild (as all teams that lose James would have to do, because James designs the roster to be completely dependent on him). Perhaps the Cavaliers sans James can build something with that draft pick plus Clarkson, Nance and a few other pieces--but whatever that something is, it most assuredly is not a championship team.

2) Clearly, the Thomas gamble backfired. He appears to be laboring physically and it is obvious that he decided he did not want to stay in Cleveland; publicly questioning the coach's ability to make adjustments is about the surest way possible to obtain a one way ticket out of town.

3) Cleveland's chemistry was terrible so far this season. By implication if not by explicit statement, some or all of the departed players are being blamed for that bad chemistry. Will the newly arrived players be excited to play alongside James or will they be focused primarily on what their fates will be if James decides to leave? In other words, is this group committed as a whole to doing everything necessary to win a championship or is everyone trying to find a way off of a potentially sinking ship that has the shadow of a fleeing James hanging over it?

4) The player who can contribute the most toward making these moves successful is none other than LeBron James. If James is happy with the new roster and thus decides to play hard on a consistent basis then the Cavaliers have enough talent, depth and versatility to win the Eastern Conference and have a puncher's chance in the NBA Finals against the Western Conference champion. If James is not happy with the new roster, then his track record demonstrates that he will quit, his teammates will follow suit and then he will leave for what he perceives to be greener pastures. Just to be clear, this team is not better than last year's team that had Kyrie Irving but this team does have the potential to win a championship if James plays hard and other factors fall into place.

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posted by David Friedman @ 6:08 PM



At Saturday, February 10, 2018 9:27:00 AM, Anonymous AW said...

My thoughts on the trade are that the Cave did decrease their chances of winning the title when they traded Kyrie Irving. But he wanted out so they had to do it.
Thomas was acquired injured from the Celtics. Came back only played a month And was traded. Like you said he didnt seem happy. But it would have been interesting to see if he could have gotten into better rhythm and return to his previous year's form as time went on.

Yes the Cavs became younger, but it seems they decrease their chances of winning the title even more with the Thomas trade. They have nothing to show for the Kyrie trade now.

But maybe the front office didn't really care. They probably assume that James was going to leave this offseason anyway.

At Sunday, February 11, 2018 11:21:00 PM, Blogger Awet M said...

And like that! Every bit of hope is gone for the other 14 eastern conference teams.


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