Amico: Cavs will need trade to overtake Warriors

LeBron James and the Cavaliers have lost four straight and were swept by the Warriors.

CLEVELAND — If the Cleveland Cavaliers are serious about winning a title, this can’t be the finished product.

That’s the main takeaway from Monday’s 118-108  loss to the visiting Golden State Warriors.

It’s true the Cavs (26-17) played well for most of the night. It could be argued that the first half was their best half of the season. But Kevin Durant and the Warriors were just … well, better.

The Warriors are better than a lot of teams, or all of them to be precise. The only opponent they truly worry about is the Cavs.

But right now, as the Cavs are currently constructed, the Warriors don’t need to worry.

The Cavs lost at Golden State, they lost at Cleveland, they’ve lost four in a row overall. Including The Finals, they have lost six of the last seven to Golden State. In the fourth quarter Monday, they fell apart, unable to knock down a shot, unable to get a key stop.

Why?

The answer is easy. Again, it’s because the Warriors (36-9) are just better.

LeBron James (32 points, eight rebound) was fantastic — and as Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before the game, James gives the Cavs a chance against anyone, anywhere, anytime. He’s right about that one, the lone exception perhaps being Kerr’s own team.

Also, Isaiah Thomas very clearly must find his legs after missing the early part of the season with a hip injury. When Thomas is all the way back, the Cavs should be able to compete with the Warriors a little more. But that doesn’t mean the Cavs will beat them in the seven-game series.

Today, that feels like it will never happen.

The Cavs have not been good defensively. They haven’t been tough enough, they haven’t played smart enough. They have not consistently done the things needed to win a title.

Maybe some of it is effort. But more of it feels like a lack of personnel.

Prior to the game, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue talked confidently about his team. He admitted the Cavs may not be the best team in the East right now, but quickly added, “we will be.”

That’s hard to argue, given the fact James is still in Cleveland and the Cavs have played badly before, and then went on to win the conference title.

But this team’s main goal isn’t just to reach The Finals. While this LeBron-led window is open, the Cavs want to win it all.

ISSUES ABOUND

The Cavs are getting next-to-nothing from starting shooting guard J.R. Smith, who has suddenly stopped shooting 3-pointers, once the entire reason he was on the floor.

Now, it’s hard to figure why he’s out there, though Lue clearly has his reasons. Smith played 38 minutes Monday and attempted (and missed) one 3.

So, why is Smith out there? Only Lue seems to have a clue.

Obviously, Smith alone isn’t to blame. He’s just an example that the Cavs are lacking in certain crucial areas. At least, they sure are when compared to the Warriors.

Along with Durant (32 points), the Warriors have Steph Curry (23), Klay Thompson (17), and Draymond Green (11 points and 16 rebounds). They also have a coach in Kerr who manages games and who gets it right, night after winning night.

There is no talk indicating “it’s only January” coming from the Warriors’ locker room. Regardless of the opponent, regardless of the time of year, they aim to rip out your basketball heart.

And Kerr doesn’t pamper, he doesn’t sugarcoat anything. You perform, or you don’t play. End of discussion.

As for the Cavs, well, it’s hard to understand some of the thinking behind the starting lineup and rotations. They had won 13 straight and 18 of 19. Then the rotation changed, with Tristan Thompson replacing Channing Frye right after the streak.

It wasn’t broken, so why the need to try to fix it? Or more accurately, why mix things up when things are going well?

Part of the struggles have to do with Thomas’ return to action — as several analysts accurately predicted the Cavs would struggle after Thomas debuted. It is a undoubtedly an adjustment, especially with Thomas struggling to make shots.

But it’s more than that.

The Cavs were counting heavily on the likes Smith, Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver and more. None have been able to get it going against the Warriors.

Right now, it’s pretty much LeBron and and maybe Thomas (19 points, but 8-of-21 shooting) and Kevin Love (17 points) trying to do it all against the defending and highly favored champs.

Cavs general manager Koby Altman and owner Dan Gilbert have to see that the Cavs need more than that. The Cavs still need help. They still need a trade to bring in someone new, someone to give them a jolt of life against the defending champs.

The clock is ticking, as the Cavs have between now and the Feb. 8 trade deadline to make something happen. Otherwise, let’s be honest, they can forget about beating the Warriors when it matters most.

12 Comments on "Amico: Cavs will need trade to overtake Warriors"

  1. not w/o a Lebron commitment, and he helped construct the roster…time to start thinking about the future…be honest with themselves

  2. We won’t be back anytime soon if LeBron leaves. So why not try and compete for a championship?

  3. Who the hell cares what draft picks we have left if LeBron leaves? If LeBron leaves, there’s no amount of draft picks that can save this franchise. We will be done, and no rookie is going to save us. So to all the morons who keep saying we need to keep that pick in case LeBron leaves… stop whining about keeping hold of that damn Nets pick and use the m%$&erf7#%er to trade Thompson, Smith and get a real starting center and a real starting SG on this roster. We need both. Thompson and Smith have both outstayed their welcome, and at this point, I think anyone other than LeBron can be dealt if the right blockbuster deal comes along. Our defense is atrocious and that needs to change dramatically if we expect to compete for another title. Trade the f##king Nets pick!

  4. Love ($22 mil / 3 yr), + Shumpert ($10.3 mil / 2 yr) , Cedi ($ 2.6 mil / 3 yr) and Brooklyn pick to Utah:

    For Gobert ($ 22 mil/ 4 yr), Rodney Hood ($ 2 mil-expiring) and Joe Johnson ($ 10.5 mil / expiring).

    I think Utah strongly considers this. They cannot contend anytime soon and Mitchell and Brooklyn pick are the future. KEVIN would be a icon in SLC. Cavs are a whole different animal with best defense center in the league who is under long term deal.

  5. key part of article, Kerr doesn’t pamper players. perform or sit. this should include no WALKING up &down court. play as a team and set picks or screens for players who need them. pass the ball and penetrate instead of just jacking up threes. if Lue can’t see this,find another coach!

  6. Here are my realistic trade targets:
    D’Andre Jordan (no brainer). However, he is not the difference maker by himself. I would NOT give them Nets pick in deal. They would have to take our 1st pick plus parts (TT & Crowder) to make salary work.

    I would think we could get a big lift with one of the following with Jordan:

    *Tyreke Evans – Perfect back court mate for IT at 6’6″. breaks people down off dribble, plays PG also and improved 3pt.shooting to 40% this season. 1 year deal and makes only $3.5 mil. currently. (Cedi and pick maybe?)
    *Kent Bazmore – Athletic, plays D and shots better than JR currently.
    *Longshot – CJ McCollum. Only 6’3″ but plays the two, young and experienced some big games against GS and other western foes. Portland may be willing to shake up that back court but it would probably cost Nets pick. We would be able to dump some dead salary in return (Shump or JR and Channing)to make salaries work.

    • These would be the dream scenarios, there are two problems with this though, one, DJ isn’t going to just be given to us, there are multiple other teams that would want him if he truly becomes available, the bucks and wizards would both easily outbid a package centered around TT and our pick. TT is seen as a net negative and a late first doesn’t hold a ton of value. A rebuilding team would have to give up an asset to get a team to take on TT’s contract, so we can’t expect someone to actually value him just because we need them too.

      Secondly, we can’t trade both our 2018 pick and the nets pick, only one because of the Stepian rule, so we would have to convince a team to take a 2021 protected first round pick which seems unlikely.

      So, because of the Cavs lack of assets, we can only really make one trade (because no one wants TT, JR, or shump without a pick attached) so if we trade the BKN pick we’d need to get both a wing and a center or just one, unless we can make it a three team deal.

  7. What about a different approach. Everyone keeps talking about either keeping the pick or trading for a superstar ex – Cousins/George. Thinking about the future and the present. Just throwing a couple of names out there. How about trading the pick for a couple of very good/all star players. Ex. Take Charlotte – there is talk about trading Kemba Walker – what if we offered BKN pick along with a combination of two TT/JR/Shumpert along with IT for Kemba Walker – Lamb – Kidd-Gilchrist. We get much younger and much better defensively. Charlotte would have 2 lottery picks to help expedite their rebuild. We in turn have also dumped a couple of bad contracts. Then we could try to pick up a solid/cheap center. (Dedmon/JaMychal Green/Robin Lopez/Richaun Holmes)

  8. I feel like if it weren’t for how bad JR and Jae have been this year, not just being bad, but shells of their former selves, then this cavs team would be one piece away from being equals to the warriors.
    As it currently stands, they are multiple and it seems insurmountable with only one real asset, especially when we have no big expiring contracts to attach to it, only large multi-year contracts such as TT, JR, and Shump.
    I have hope shumpert can give us more value than JR if he ever fully recovers, but trading our pick for the likes of a Kent Bazemore isn’t going to do enough to solve our problems. Unless we are able to coax a team into taking on multiple bad contracts + the BKN pick for a shooting guard and center, I just don’t see what move we can make.
    We can’t keep strutting JR our there, but we also can’t have K.Love playing heavy defensive minutes at center in bad match-ups. I trust that Dan Gilbert isn’t going to give up and settle for a small move, but we have two significant holes to fill, and a team isn’t going to simply take tt and jr off our plate for upgrades.
    Honestly I look forward to the week of the trade deadline, I still have hope, but I’m not holding my breath. Here’s to hoping some other teams covets that BKN pick.

  9. Let me get this straight. Cavs players, starting with their “leader”, take the the first half of the season off, defensively at least. Now that their proverbial “switch” doesnt turn on the way it once did (welcome to old age LeBron), its time to panic and trade away any semblence of a future that we have an draft picks?

    The way we’re playing is not on our leader? I get that he can do a stat grab and make a pretty boxscore. But can he make the appropriate sacrifices so that the team can just win games? Can he pull a Lonzo ball and just make the TEAM go and just score 5 points some night and do the winning in other areas? The number of unforced turnovers last night, and the circumstances of how they were made, no trade is going to fix that approach to the game.

    Its tough when your best player isnt coachable and points the finger at everybody else. I’m all for sending every player that doesnt want to stay woth the Cavs, out of town and rebuilding for the future. We could collect a lot of draft picks and assets before the deadline with a good old fashioned firesale. These players, starting with the leader, are not committed to Cleveland. The blame game and firing game have gone on long enough. The player GMing has gone on long enough.

    Time to acknowledge that one Championship came with a little bit of luck, and start giving Kyrie Irving and others their due credit. Now LeBron is chasing Kyrie’s 4th quarter stats (successfully passed but thats not his game, he is not clutch) and trying to prove he’s a better scorer and all the things that dont matter. He still thinks no coach can teach him, same as always. There is no potential for improvement under this mentality and these conditions.

    This one’s on the players. If guys are unhappy with the results they’ve provided to this team, they can look in the mirror. Time to end this hostage situation and collect assets for a future for Cavs fans. LeBron can’t run for 48 minutes anymore, lets be honest with what our eyes are telling us.

    • Well said. But where is the coach? No practice, too many mins for an old team. Dont go deep in the bench. No youth development. Players playing new positions with no practice. A shooting guard that takes 8 shots per game And there is Zizic who rebounds but can get in a game on a team that needs rebounding. smh. Which player out there is going to solve these problems.

  10. A beneficial trade is required and lue should revert back to the second team unit of wade,korver,green,frye and osman as they were mostly responsible for the consistently winning performances. Acquire a center and wing player, to get love reassigned to power forward and crowder,as short as he is, replacing smith in the backcourt with his pal from Boston Thomas who gets the maximum output from Crowder. Without a trade Thompson should be moved in to the starting lineup as basketball unlike horse racing has disadvantages with small players a lesson lue must learn. Lue is ready to play thomas,rose, and shumpert in a pony lineup which will force me to become angry and turn off the television if this nonsense occurs. Reinstate the successful second string unit that never should have been changed in the first place. Center options, dredman, favors, jordan, wing players rodney hood, kent basemore, kenneth farried or wilson chandler, trevor booker,tyreke evans and others should be objects of the cavaliers to pursue in trades. If the cavaliers could attain dredman and bazemore from the hawks or favors and hood from the jazz these players would get placed in to the starting lineup and would have a dramatic positive impact.

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