Random dribbles on two of the NBA’s three worst teams, who meet Monday night in Cleveland.
1. The Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the New York Knicks. You’ve been waiting all season to see this game. You’ve finally made it.
2. It won’t always be this way for these franchises. At least, I’d sure hope not. The Cavs lost LeBron James, a victim of his second snotty-kid-like breakup for no good reason. Their misery was to be expected this season. The Knicks, though … man. This has been going on way too long.
3. But imagine this lineup for the Knicks next year: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Zion Williamson, with Dennis Smith Jr. and Kevin Knox.
4. Hey, don’t laugh. It could happen.
5. I don’t know that for a fact. I’m speculating. But I read and hear the same things you do. Durant to the Knicks could be a thing, it seems.
6. As for Kyrie, I never know what to think. He loves Cleveland … he doesn’t like playing in LeBron’s shadow … he wants a trade … the earth is flat … he has committed to re-sign with the Boston Celtics … he and LeBron are suddenly pals … and now he is wavering about the Celtics. Oh, and the guy still can’t stay healthy on a consistent basis.
7. We live in an age of chronic dissatisfaction and Kyrie is perhaps the NBA’s best example of that. He and New York may be made for each other.
8. And yes, I could see the Knicks winning the No. 1 pick and the right to draft Zion. They need him more than anyone else. They really do.
9. Do I think the lottery is rigged? Well, um, yeah. Sometimes. I think the first one was rigged, in 1985, when the Knicks got Patrick Ewing. I think LeBron-to-the-Cavs in 2003 was rigged, too. I’m betting this lottery somehow turns in the favor of the team the networks want to win.
10. Please don’t take that as gospel, by the way. I have no evidence the lottery is fixed. Nothing even close. It’s an opinion. But I am sticking to it.
11. Anyway, with a lineup similar to the one I listed, the Knicks would be major players in the East, and fast. So you may want to go ahead and get your laughs in now.
12. OK, on to the Cavs. I’ll let you know in the very next dribble who I think absolutely, positively has to be on this team moving forward. Ready? Good. Here goes.
14. Yeah, that’s right. The Cavs could trade every last player on this roster and they would be fine. “But I really like Cedi Osman!” at least one fan is sure to say. “It’s too soon to give up on Collin Sexton!” another fan will surely yell. And they will both be correct. They’re nice young players.
15. But they’re replaceable. Never forget that as the second big trading season creeps up around the time of the draft in June.
16. Still, let’s say for the sake of argument the Cavs keep both players. I actually think they will. Let’s say the Cavs somehow stun the Knicks and win the first pick. How does a lineup of Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, Zion Williamson, Cedi Osman and Collin Sexton sound?
17. OK, not as good as the hypothetical Knicks’ lineup. But not bad, and with three young starters.
18. Frankly, I might like the hypothetical Cavs’ lineup better if a healthy and productive Brandon Knight is the point guard. I haven’t given up on Sexton. But I don’t know if he’s a long-term starting point guard in this league. He looks like a Monta Ellis-type, a scorer off the bench with no real position. But it’s awful early. Let’s see where Sexton is in a year. He’s a lot better than a lot of rookies who turned out to be really good. (Steve Nash, for one, was terrible his first year. I think he did OK later, though.)
19. Basically, this is the type of lottery that could fix the Knicks and quickly rescue the Cavs. Both teams are terrible today, but could be relevant, and even flourishing, as soon as next season.
20. The first step for the Cavs will be finishing first or second in the lottery. Odds are, the top two picks will be Williamson and Duke teammate R.J. Barrett, unless something drastic happens in the NCAA tournament. The Cavs MUST get one of those two picks. If they get the third, I’d trade it. And I think Murray State’s Ja Morant has wonderful potential. I’d trade it anyway.
21. Meanwhile, the first step for the Knicks will be signing a big-time free agent — Durant, Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, etc. The Knicks need AT LEAST one to justify the Kristaps Porzingis trade with Dallas.
21. Well, that’s it for me — 700 words on a whole lot of nothing. Unless you’re a fan of the Cavs or Knicks. If you’re a fan of those teams, then hope is not nothing. And while it may not be easy to see today, hope is there for both teams. It will be interesting to see which can turn it into reality the fastest.