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The Cavaliers are 2-12. They don’t have a lot of direction. There are 68 games remaining. It’s gonna be a long, long year.
There. Someone asked me to write about the Cavs. I just did.
But honestly, do you know what to make of Cleveland’s pro basketball team after 14 games? I sure don’t. All I know … well, at least suspect … is most of the men we see in uniform today won’t be here when the Cavs are winning again.
It may not take much for the Cavs to win again, either. It seems far away now, and it probably will be at least a couple of years before they start truly competing.
But what about a lineup next season that features Collin Sexton, Kevin Love and … Zion Williamson? Or how about that lineup and R.J. Barrett?
I think most Cavs fans would be thrilled with either dynamic Duke product.
Now, a lot can happen between now and the February trade deadline and a lot will. Some of the Cavs who are here today will be gone by then. Kyle Korver is about one phone call away from being traded. The Cavs are dreaming of a taker for J.R. Smith. They will listen to offers for Love and Tristan Thompson, and trust me, those calls are coming from the contenders.
CHANGE OF PLANS
At one time, and not long ago, the Cavs had hoped to compete. They wanted to see what former coach Tyronn Lue could get out of a possible starting five of Thompson, Love, Rodney Hood, George Hill and Smith or Cedi Osman.
Younger players such as Sexton, David Nwaba, Ante Zizic and the rest could be brought along slowly in reserve. Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson were the two players who fit into any plan.
But the plan to compete came to a crashing halt as soon as Love got injured — which actually was a surprise to no one.
One opposing executive told me right before the season, “The best place for the Cavs to go is down. I think they know that and they are counting on Kevin getting hurt.”
It sounds cruel, but it is a fact. Love suffers a major injury every season. Some of it is dumb luck. But those around the league will also tell you there is a lack of toughness involved.
Anyway, the Cavs’ plans have changed. Most people hate losing, but that’s where things stand. The coaches and players want to win. It’s the only shot Larry Drew and the assistants have at returning next season. They know odds strongly favor them being fired or not re-signed.
I would say team owner Dan Gilbert also prefers to win. It’s better for business. Anyone who doesn’t think so should take a quick trip to Quicken Loans Arena for a home game. The building is half-full. Or is it half-empty? And I can tell you writing about the Cavs barely moves the needle on this website anymore.
As one former general manager half-jokingly once told me, “Casual fans and celebrities with big money will pay to see a winner. Only losers come out to see a loser.”
But the Cavs have no choice but to continue losing as the younger players either develop or prove they aren’t worth keeping. I’d say the jury is still very much out on Osman. I’d give Sexton at least the rest of the season and next. I think he has promise as a scorer.
But the focus is on the older players. Love is hurt and everyone from Korver to Hill is banged up. Aside from Thompson, who has been outstanding in terms of effort and team pride, most of the veterans want to be somewhere else.
The Cavs’ mission now has to be moving those veterans, compiling assets and entertaining the willing losers for the next two or three years. It’s a tough basketball pill to swallow but that’s what is likely coming.