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Random dribbles on the Cleveland Cavaliers entering Sunday’s home game against the Detroit Pistons.
1. It’s admittedly very early, but I’m not liking the returns of the Kyrie Irving trade. Isaiah Thomas has not been a fit so far and Jae Crowder rarely makes any sort of impact.
2.Thomas does deserve at least a little bit of a pass for missing some shots and trying to find his rhythm. He is coming off a major hip injury. During his time in Boston, he had the green light to shoot. Now he is adjusting to new teammates, a new coaching staff and a new system.
3. Thomas was always the top option with the Celtics. With the Cavs, he is always second fiddle to LeBron James. There are times Thomas should be third option behind James and Kevin Love. That part seems to be tough for Thomas to accept.
4. Thomas insisted he and Love have no issues. I have my doubts. It’s pretty clear Thomas’ desire to get his game back has come at the expense of the team. His shot selection has been questionable. His defense makes you wonder if he should even start. Mostly, Thomas isn’t a true point guard. He’s more like a 5-foot-9 shooting guard.
5. Meanwhile, Irving is playing easy and free and has been at his absolute best. He has led the fairly young Celtics to first place in the East. He too is adjusting to some new surroundings — as only four Celtics returned from last season. Yet Irving has made a seamless transition. The Celtics are playing the right way and Irving is leading the charge.
6. Before the season, one opposing GM said Thomas isn’t Irving, “but he’s not far off.” So far, I’ve found that to be nothing close to accurate. Thomas is in a contract year and true or not, it sure looks like he’s trying to “get his.” By that, I mean Thomas has been forcing the issue and taking some wild, unexplainable shots.
7. Some Cavs fans have emailed and said the team should consider trading Thomas. I think the Cavs would be OK with that. I know I would. That said, I haven’t heard anything about the Cavs trying to make such a move. They seem to think Thomas needs and deserves more time. It’s hard to argue with that approach. But given his play as a starter, you can’t help but wonder …
8. At the very least, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue should put pressure on Thomas to start playing the right way. If not, Lue should start bringing him off the bench. It’s one thing to struggle after an injury. It’s quite another to chuck up shots instead of deferring to a teammate with a better look at the basket.
9. Derrick Rose has actually been a more mature point guard than Thomas since returning from his own injury. Rose has been more efficient, rarely forces anything and is clearly not playing with any sort of agenda. You can tell winning is all that matters to Rose. I’m not so sure about Thomas.
10. This isn’t to pile on Thomas. Maybe he’ll get it together and fit in. But since his debut with the Cavs, his best games were his first two. He came off the bench in both. Would it be such a crime for Lue to put him back in that role?
11. I’ve written it time and again — the Cavs’ window is still open. With James, all things are possible. But if the Cavs are serious about playing for a championship, they need to stop messing around. Lue has to put his best lineup forward and stop worrying about egos and who he thinks SHOULD be playing. If a guy is hurting the team, get him out of there.
12. Do I think Thomas is hurting the team? I go back and forth. While I think he deserves more time (like another week or two), I sure don’t know that he’s helped much. If I’m the Cavs, I’m at least making some calls and throwing out his name.
13. The appeal, of course, being that Thomas is in a contract year and has a great upside. So if he flops, you can always cut him loose. And he did average 29 points a game last season. He can light it up. All of that could be the pitch of Cavs general manager Koby Altman.
14. That’s not a demand to trade Thomas. But he’s leaving a lot to be desired. That’s just a fact based on a simple eye test.
15. Basically, Thomas’ positives don’t mean anything if he can’t figure out how to play unselfish basketball and fit next to other All-Stars. James, Love, J.R. Smith and other key members of the rotation have made three straight trips to The Finals (or at least two for some). Thomas needs to respect that and play accordingly. He should be watching, listening and learning, and quit forcing things. That’s not working out for anybody.