…… they been here for years. 3 to be exact. The 2015, 2016, and 2017 NBA Finals have all come and gone with the Cleveland Cavaliers being active participants. So to say they’re rebuilding wouldn’t exactly be an accurate statement.
That being said, their second best player is now in Boston, and 47% of the roster has been churned. The good news for Cleveland, is that top to bottom, the roster is deeper, better, and more able to defend the Golden State Warriors “death line up”. At least as far as having more 3/4 type forwards to defend Durant, Green, and Igoudala.
In the short term, the team likely got better. In the long term, well, it depends on if the Brooklyn pick turns into a player that is better than Kyrie Irving. Regardless though, they did well in their trade with Boston considering the circumstances.
Isaiah Thomas is a 1 year rental if Lebron James decides to bolt after the season. It’d be a no harm/no foul situation where the Cavs essentially traded 1 year of Irving for the Brooklyn pick and Jae Crowder.
If Lebron does decide to re-up in Cleveland, the Cavs would be over the salary cap, and thus could re-sign Thomas using their Bird rights. Assuming Lebron wants IT4 back. But that’s all a review for a different time. That’s the future. If you’re a Cleveland fan, you’re all about the present.
Lets take a look at the roster as it currently stands following the events of yesterday.
PROJECTED STARTING LINE UP:
Tristan Thompson: The premier role player in the NBA, he’s found his perfect niche’ in the Lebron James offense. That being said, I heard Cleveland police have put out on APD after he went missing during the finals.
Kevin Love: Love had quietly moved to the background as the 3rd member of the Cavs’ big 3. Kyrie was there first, and Lebron is the best player on the planet. Will he still defer to the new comer Isaiah Thomas? It’ll be one of the more intriguing questions as this team integrates amongst itself.
Lebron James: Simply put, Lebron James is the best basketball player in the game today. As long as he is on the floor, the Cavs are at worst, a threat to make it to the finals. At his age, and the minutes he’s put on his body including deep playoff runs over 14 NBA seasons, he SHOULD start to decline soon. Something the Celtics, 76ers, and Bucks are counting on.
J.R. Smith: The mercurial Smith can score in bunches. He is also the most likely starter to lose some minutes to the new comers.
Isaiah Thomas: Thomas’ best work last year came when using Horford in pick n pop situations. Allowing him open lanes to get to the rim. The Celtics rarely had a true post player in the game, like the Cavs will with Thompson who is useless on the perimeter. He also will not be the sole player on the floor for his team who can create his own shot. That being said, he could flourish with his catch and shoot open looks that will inevitably come with playing off Lebron James. If he can accept that, he’ll become a favorite in Cleveland like he was in Boston.
RETURNING BENCH PLAYERS:
Channing Frye: Frye was seemingly insurance in case Kevin Love went down. They certainly didn’t use him as a stretch 5 as often as it may have been thought last off season. The addition of Crowder and Green, both more than capable of playing the stretch 4 position likely pushes Frye further down the depth chart.
Richard Jefferson: Not as good as he once was, he’s as good once as he ever was. That’s the motto Jefferson is stealing from Toby Keith. Once an athletic marvel, he’s now a veteran presence who’s minutes and role as an undersized physical post guy SHOULD go to Jae Crowder.
Kyle Korver: Korver was supposed to be the perfect compliment to Lebron. A catch and shoot marksman looking for a ring. The Cavs were hoping to replicate the dynamic Lebron previously had with Ray Allen and Mike Miller. It didn’t really materialize last year though. Was it just not enough time after the trade deadline? Or did someone finally realize that Korver is 37 and its just tough to consistently play at a high level in the NBA at that age.
Iman Shumpert: I’m not afraid to say it. Iman Shumpert with the Kid n Play hightop fade is an above average defender with some catch n shoot skills. Shumpert sans hightop just isn’t as cool. Of the J.R. Smith/Jae Crowder/Iman Shumpert group looking for minutes, Shumpert easily should be the guy on the outside looking in.
Derrick Rose: I’ve seen numerous social media references to Derrick Rose being included as the 4th member of Cleveland’s Big 4 (with Lebron, Kyrie, and K Love). To those that believe that, I ask you to watch NBA games. Forget the stats he put up on a god awful Knicks team, he was BAD last year. More importantly, if you’re going to play off Lebron James you NEED to be able to catch and shoot. There has been zero evidence over Rose’s college and professional career that he is capable of doing that. Cavalier fans who are counting on anything from Rose than some 2nd unit inefficient scoring will be severely disappointed.
Jose Calderon: I would go as far to say that should Isaiah Thomas NOT be ready to start the season (which is a distinct possibility) that Calderon should emerge as the point guard to start the year. Rose is absolutely more suited to lead a 2nd team when Lebron is getting a breather, where as Calderon would mesh with the starting unit.
Jae Crowder: An underrated piece of the trade that sent Irving east to Boston. Crowder is actually perfect for playing with Lebron. Offensively he’s gotten into trouble when he tried to do too much. His best moments came on the defensive end, able to match up with positions 2-5. On offense he was best as a catch and shoot perimeter player, which is what everyone becomes playing with Lebron, whether they want too or not.
Jeff Green: Jeff Green is like a virgin on prom night, very teasing, very frustrating, and very little return on investment. He SHOULD be a stud. A strong 6’8” frame. He can dribble, he can defend, he can shoot, he can rebound, get to the rim… he just has NEVER put it together with any consistency. At this point the ship has sailed on it every happening. He is what he is, a decent vet who provides another body to try and defend Durant in the finals.
Cedi Osman: For the first time in a while, since Lebron returned really, the Cavs have a rookie that could, neigh, should become at least a NBA rotation player. And they actually have two! My primary issue with how the Cavs were built was there was no building for the future, no Pat McCaw that they were developing on the cheap to off set their large marquee expenditures. Osman will likely sit a lot and watch this year, but should make large contributions in 2018-2019
Ante Zizic: Seemingly Zizic’s floor is as an Anderson Varejeo type player. So it is serendipitous that he’ll make his NBA debut as a Cleveland Cavalier. He spent the last part of last season in Europe under the tutelage of former Cav coach, David Blatt. A more than solid rebounder, and post player his skill set falls in with Tristan Thompson, and is likely to make his contributions as TT’s back up.
ODDS ON FAVORITES TO BE CUT:
Kay Felder: He may make it to camp as insurance for Isaiah Thomas and his hip. But with 15 guaranteed contracts on the books, the diminutive guard without the full guarantee is not likely to make the squad
Edy Tavares: The Cavs were on a seemingly endless quest to add a center to back up Thompson last year, Andrew Bogut, Larry Sanders, Edy Tavares. Zizic is now in town to fill that role, and Tavares doesn’t have a guaranteed contract, he’ll likely be jettisoned in the coming days