Written By: Vinny @sailboatstudios
Second to only the President, LeBron James’ Twitter account is the most entertaining handle on the website. The delicious dysfunction within the Cavaliers organization hidden in subtweets, almost requiring you to crack a riddle devised by an eight-year old. We’re officially in “Stop trying to FIT-out and just Fit-In” season, LeBron’s camp is already sending messages to voice his displeasure, threatening to take a meeting with the Warriors of all teams just to send the inexperienced front office aflame. To be honest, James deserves Koby Altman and owner Dan Gilbert. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and the reasons for why LeBron will probably depart Cleveland for the second time in eight-years is the fault of the collective braintrust. Say what you want about Gilbert, he’s a petty, sometimes frustratingly cheap man that doesn’t want to give his well-regarded general manager a second contract – pulling the plug on his tenure right as he’s constructing a blockbuster trade for Paul George.
Left to sleep in the bed they made the Cavaliers have fallen off from a team you could pencil into the NBA Finals to in danger of not even making it to the East-Finals, with the rise of Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia and Indiana, the route to the Finals will not be a cakewalk. A aging, injured Isaiah Thomas is where Kyrie Irving used to be. Jae Crowder can’t make a three-pointer. The average age of the Cavaliers are 30.1, making them the oldest team in the NBA. The “LeBron Moves” of signing old friend Dywane Wade, and Derrick Rose haven’t made the job easier on defense; the team backing themselves into a corner paying three-point marksman Kyle Korver $22 million for three seasons is too expensive to be considered a trade chip for a contender looking for a spot-up threat.
The Cavaliers need more than just one player to magically cure them of their ailments. Their defense is terrible. Giving up the fourth most points this season (1,002), ranked 25th in net rating in January (-5.7), capping off the month by giving up 125 points to the Detroit Pistons who traded both of their wing players for the yet to have arrived Blake Griffin.
The aborted George Hill deal may’ve been a blessing, the thirty-one year old guard wasn’t going to magically inspire the distraught Cavaliers to get back on defense and rediscover his own ability to defend at a high level – quite possibly, Hill is the worse defensive guard in the NBA right now. He may be a improvement over Thomas, Wade and Rose, but the minor upgrade isn’t worth paying his $20 million a year contract for three-seasons.
A week prior, the overmatched third-year head coach Ty Lue reshuffled the starting lineup, the big change was merely shifting Jae Crowder to the bench and reinserting Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup. The twenty-seven year old center aged in dog years, like those his size have before him. Fans point to the Nets Pick as a potential asset to be flipped for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan; L.A recently dealing star Blake Griffin to Detroit, and kickstarting a potential makeshift rebuild. Problem being is there’s a rift in the front office whether or not it’s best to mortgage the future on one last year with LeBron. There’s also the fact Jordan gets run off the floor every time he faces the Warriors, his value would be maximized in earlier rounds. All-Star Kevin Love was rumored to be in many fictitious deals for the recently injured DeMarcus Cousins, the aforementioned DeAndre, and even Trail Blazers shooting guard C.J McCollum. A broken hand, expected to sideline him for two-months hampers his trade value and throws the situation in the floor into further catastrophe. Outside of LeBron, Love was the only other player able to create for himself. His presence will be missed to say the least.
If the Nets Pick is off the table, or if Brooklyn wins enough games by February 8th to make the asset distasteful, the Cavaliers should look to trade their expiring contracts and draft picks for good two-way players on bad contracts. Kent Bazemore of Atlanta; Courtney Lee of New York have shot the ball well this season and can contribute to a team in desperate need of what Jae Crowder was supposed to provide when traded from Boston. Jeff Green is their best two-way player on the wing, while Crowder cratered into oblivion. Still, Jae has a good reputation as a hard worker, doesn’t slag off on defense and is on a tremendous contract if he can regain his ability to play basketball. It’s been only five-months since he arrived and it already seems Crowder needs a change in scenery.
The reality is Cleveland can’t be in any conversation to trade for an All-Star without an occurrence of luck. David Griffin may not have been the best general manager, but he knew how to manage egos and perform salary cap gymnastics. The inexperienced Koby Altman just cannot do that. Not yet anyway. Thrusted in quite possibly the most toxic situation in basketball, Altman was doomed to fail once he traded Kyrie Irving and didn’t take the brief moment it looked like fate was giving him a second chance to undo the transaction. It’s Dan Gilbert’s fault Eric Bledsoe and Paul George aren’t in Ohio; it’s Altman’s fault for not backing out of the Irving deal; it’s LeBron’s fault for not stepping up for Kyrie when it looked like the Cavaliers were going to trade him to Phoenix.
The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t need a team-meeting, or a players only meeting. They need an intervention.