Latest posts by Sam Amico (see all)
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Even in defeat, it’s pretty obvious the Cavaliers are not the same team they were at the beginning of the season.
Since about the All-Star break in the middle of February, the Cavs have fought, scratched and clawed, whether at home or on the road hasn’t really mattered. Oh, they get blown out sometimes — but the Golden State Warriors do, too. This is the NBA. This is an 82-game season.
Everyone gets hammered from time to time.
That’s why the front office and coach Larry Drew don’t get too concerned when the Cavs occasionally stink up the joint. Not anymore.
Since the break, the Cavs are just a game under .500 at a respectable 7-9. Considering they’re 19-55 overall, their recent stretch is the closest thing they’ve had all year to tons of fun.
Not coincidentally, all of this has been going on since Kevin Love returned from toe surgery. Also, rookie point guard Collin Sexton has been better than ever. Those two things are often the result of the other, as Love has opened up the floor for Sexton, and Sexton’s ability to take guys one-on-one has made life easier for Love.
It’s likely why the Cavs will hang on to Love this offseason despite the trade calls that are sure to come. Love is fine with staying (it doesn’t hurt that his four-year extension kicks in next season) and Love is perhaps the biggest reason for Sexton’s continued development.
Second-year wing Cedi Osman has also benefited from Love’s presence, and Osman and Sexton look up to Love. He really is their only All-Star link to LeBron James and the Finals runs of the recent past.
Anyway, all of that is meaningless at this point. The Cavs aren’t going to the playoffs and the only thing the front office really cares about is the offseason … and next season.
Since November, this year truly has been all about next year. But since February, Drew has found a way to make at least some of it about the here and now, helping the young players grow and convincing the veterans it’s about more than just trying to rack up individual stats.
Mostly, Drew has done an excellent job of teaching the players good habits for next season.
But when it comes to who will actually be here next year, well, that’s an entirely different matter altogether. You can most definitely count in Osman and Sexton.
The Cavs also really like Jordan Clarkson off the bench and he is under contract.
Larry Nance Jr. just received an extension and he too seems to play his best when Love is in the lineup.
And unless the Cavs have their doors blown off with an offer, Love will return. They like how both Love and Tristan Thompson have embraced their leadership roles when healthy.
The Cavs will make and take offers for Thompson, but there’s no telling if he’ll be moved. They are far from desperate to deal the always-energetic center, who has been with the team since the 2011 draft. So the Cavs are the only team Thompson has known. He’s in no hurry to leave.
But beyond the aforementioned players and young center Ante Zizic, the Cavs aren’t real likely to bring anyone back whose contract is expiring. And it’s still too early to gauge what Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman are thinking about Drew’s future with the team.
For now, all the Cavs can do is keep playing hard, keep developing and keep counting the days until the regular season finally ends April 9, or exactly two weeks from today.
For a team like this, that’s when the real fun begins. But at least the Cavs are having some fun along the way.