Story of the Week
@KingJames: “Stop trying to find a way to FIT-OUT and just FIT-IN. Be apart of something special! Just my thoughts.”
On Feb. 7, 2015, notable modern philosopher Lebron James unleashed this now-famous subtweet. At the time, James was in the midst of his first season back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and his rage was directed at one Kevin Love. Love, also a first-year Cavalier, was struggling to “FIT-IN” with his new team. After multiple stellar seasons with the Timberwolves, Love was supposed to complete the Cavs’ big three with fellow all-stars James and Kyrie Irving. People around the league thought Love was going to be traded. His days in Cleveland seemed numbered…
Nearly three years later, LeBron’s tweet still hangs over the franchise, and has represented the essence of the team’s mindset during his second stint in Cleveland. Amazingly, Love has remained, but the faces around him have been a revolving door of role players. Irving’s trade request this past summer threw the team into scramble mode, and the once-mighty Cavaliers have not lived up to sky-high expectations in 2018. What could they do?
A lot, apparently.
General manager Koby Altman (and shadow GM LeBron James) executed the biggest mid-season team reset in recent NBA history. They realized something was not working, and infused new blood into a team in dire need of it. Here is what happened.
The Cavaliers traded away:
- Jae Crowder: Crowder, one of the players received in the Irving trade, who has the reputation of being a good three point shooter and a tough defender. However, he is not that great of a three point shooter or defender
- Iman Shumpert: Shumpert is also a good defender, but it is hard to be a good defender when you are never healthy enough to get on the floor to play said defense.
- Channing Frye: A big man who can shoot threes is always valuable in the NBA. He was solid for Cleveland and will likely be missed.
- Derrick Rose. More thoughts on Rose in a bit.
- Dwyane Wade: One of James’s best friends, trading Wade back to Miami was mostly a gesture of goodwill. With the new additions, Wade was set to be marginalized and have his playing time reduced. Also, Wade being back in Miami is great for the NBA.
- Isaiah Thomas. The biggest asset gained in the Irving trade, Thomas was supposed to replace Irving’s production in scoring and ball-handling. However, upon return from injury, it became obvious he was no Irving, or even the Thomas of 2016-17. A shell of himself, Thomas became the scapegoat for Cleveland’s troubles and did not do himself any favors with his comments to the media. Whether or not he returns to his old form, Thomas’s short time with the Cavs had run its course, and it became necessary to trade him.
The Cavaliers received:
- Larry Nance Jr.: Arguably the most athletic player LeBron has ever played with, Nance will be very much a wild card in these deals. His bounce from either the center or power forward position are exciting. Bonus points for him, as his father, Larry Nance Sr., played for Cleveland in the early 1990s.
- Jordan Clarkson: Received with Nance from the Lakers, Clarkson is a very boom-or-bust player. He is very much like J.R. Smith, with a lesser impact on defense. This will also be his first NBA experience on a team that really matters, so it will be interesting to see how he does
- Rodney Hood: A swingman from the Jazz, Hood has length and will likely slide in as the Cavs’ starting small forward or 6th man. Of the players added, Hood has the highest upside, and could blossom into the second or third best player on a good team.
- George Hill: A veteran point guard who does not need the ball, and is a good spot up three point shooter. Although his contract is high for this and next year, he is a great fit next to LeBron.
For the Cavaliers, the rest of the season is about fit. Can the new guys fit in with LeBron? If LeBron leaves, does this team form a core for the future? Regardless of what happens after this season, the new look Cavs are deeper, more athletic, and overall more exciting.
Team of the Week: The Utah Jazz
On January 22, the NBA left the Utah Jazz for dead. After losing star forward Gordon Hayward, the Jazz had stumbled to a 19-28 record, and a loss to the Atlanta Hawks left the team thinking of the future. Every player on the team was seemingly on the trade block, and the team roster could have been blown up in hopes of a high draft pick. But then the amazing happened. The Jazz started winning. And winning. And winning. The Utah Jazz have not lost since then, and have looked like one of the best teams in the league. Over their ten game winning streak, they have beaten the Spurs (twice), the Raptors, and even a thirty point shellacking of the league leading Warriors. Probable rookie of the year Donovan Mitchell has been outstanding this year, and has been Ryan Gosling-esque in his revival of the Jazz.
Dear Mr. Thibodeau,
Hey Thibs, how are you doing? Can I call you Thibs? It’s been an honor to have you coach the Timberwolves over the last couple of years. It’s been great to watch the best Wolve’s team of the last ten plus years. However, I just have one small, little request for you. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T SIGN DERRICK ROSE! Now, I realize that you coached him over his best seasons, including his 2010-11 MVP season. But times have changed. Rose is no longer that guy. He is an inefficient, non-three point shooting ball-dominant, guard who has no place on this team. If you think Rose would come in and improve this team at all, you need to catch up. Not only would he be bad for team chemistry, but if Rose comes in and eats into Tyus Jones’s backup point guard minutes, it affects not only the teams present, but it also affects the future. Tyus will be a high end backup point guard for the next 5-7 years, and it is just downright stupid to interrupt his stellar season.
But hey, the team looks great right now. Let’s try not to mess this up, OK?
Point After – Quick Bet
After the Cavaliers made their moves this weekend, their odds to win the Eastern Conference are even, followed closely by the Boston Celtics, who are at +225. The odd thing about this, is the fact that the current number one seed in the East is neither of those teams. The Toronto Raptors have the best record in the East, and are returning the majority of their core from last year. The Raptors are at +400, and have a very good chance of representing the East in the finals. With the odds where they are, it’s a solid flier for a solid team.
The Pick: The Raptors to win the East (+400).