Latest posts by Sam Amico (see all)
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Something needs to be done about the Cleveland Cavaliers, and there is indeed one man who can fix the mess they’ve suddenly become.
Koby Altman, welcome to NBA trading season.
Altman is the Cavs’ first-year general manager and he has already pulled off one roster-altering blockbuster deal. But apparently, what the Cavs received from the Kyrie Irving trade with Boston in August wasn’t enough.
At least, it sure feels like it after another blowout loss. This one took place Thursday, when the Cavs dropped a 133-99 embarrassment of a defeat to the host Toronto Raptors on Thursday.
Oh, the Raptors were without injured star point guard Kyle Lowry and suspended starting forward Serge Ibaka.
Oh, that happened three nights after the 127-99 hammer job of a loss at the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Oh, this is just downright despicable.
The Cavs would like to believe it’s all about effort, and some of it is. But some of it has to do with the fact they just aren’t good enough. They are the league’s oldest team. They have no one to protect the basket. They can’t defend the perimeter. They don’t even really rebound all that well anymore.
Some of it is age. Some of it is determination. Some of it is lacking someone, anyone, who will play with some fire when all seems lost.
And for these Cavs, all has seemed lost a lot lately.
Yes, I know the Cavs still have LeBron James.
Yes, I know James and coach Tyronn Lue keep preaching that it’s “only the regular season.”
And yes, I know the Cavs (26-15) have looked awful for the better parts of January each of the past three years — and reached The Finals each time, anyway.
But this team is different.
Lue looks helpless when things spiral out of control. J.R. Smith looks lost and befuddled. Kevin Love looks sort of soft. And Isaiah Thomas suddenly stopped looking ready after missing the first part of the season while recovering from that hip injury.
This is where Altman must step in, pick up the phone, and start seeking some help. These Cavs are at the halfway point of the season. They look nothing like the championship contending team most everyone was expecting.
While the Cavs are weighed down with some large, suddenly unforgiving contracts (Smith, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert), Altman has a not-so-secret weapon.
It’s the one thing he and the Cavs have been clutching, the one thing they would only be willing to move if it meant vastly improving their odds at a title.
That, of course, is Brooklyn’s first-round draft pick, also received in the Celtics trade.
Now, the Nets are doing better than some expected. If the draft were held today, and everything held according to record, the Cavs would draft ninth. (And 25th with their own pick.)
Still, a lot of opposing executives would love to have a lottery pick. Or in the case of some teams, another lottery pick.
Some say the Cavs need to keep it, considering they don’t know what James will do in free agency. If LeBron leaves, some say, then the Cavs will need the pick to start stockpiling young talent.
That is true — to a degree.
On the other hand, you have LeBron today. With some help, you can start dreaming of a title again. That’s different than right now, as the Cavs seem to be just hoping things somehow get turned around in time for the postseason.
And yes, maybe they will.
It seems like 100 years ago, but this is a team that won 13 straight and 18 of 19 earlier this season. But that team apparently has turned to mush.
That team has suddenly lost its way, stopped playing with a purpose, started to look dazed, confused and way out of sync.
All of it can only lead us to one conclusion. The Cavs, it seems, aren’t the contender they used to be.
Altman has the goods, the asset that most everyone else wants. It’s time for him to shed the dead weight, breathe some life into the roster, and get this thing cooking again. And he should do it by any means necessary.