What started out as a season with high expectations has quickly turned around on the Cleveland this past season. It was not supposed to be this way, the Cavs were supposed to be the team to beat in the East and right back to the Finals to face off against the Warriors for the third time in three years. But where we stand now, both the Celtics and Raptors look to be better equipped to take down the Warriors in the Eastern Conference. But the question still remains, how did it end up like this? This is how it happened.
It all started when Kyrie Irving requested to be traded from the Cavs following their defeat at the hands of the Warriors in the Finals. There were rumors that Kyrie may have wanted out of Cleveland, but nobody thought that it was actually going to happen. Kyrie was very important to the Cavs, not only on the court. Kyrie served as the face of the Cavs since he was drafted first overall by them in the 2011 NBA draft. He was instrumental in getting LeBron James to come back to Cleveland, matched up against the best point guards in the NBA, and got the most out of mid-tier players. The Cavs are very much missing his ability to put the ball in the basket and get players to play above their skill levels. Furthermore, Kyrie’s desire to leave shed a new light on LeBron, maybe he is not the best player to play alongside. Nonetheless, Kyrie was traded and the Cavs were able to bring in a big haul of assets. The Cavs received Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, and the Nets 1st round pick in the upcoming year’s draft. There were many issues with what the Cavs obtained from Boston. Jae Crowder is a very good player. Ever since he took over the starting SF spot in Boston he has shown an ability to play gritty basketball and hit the open shot when needed. But the problem is he plays the exact type of game that LeBron plays, limiting his play time drastically and forcing him into a position his skills are fit for. Isaiah Thomas was hurt up until Christmas, not giving him any time to really gel and get in rhythm with his Cavs teammates. Plus, Thomas is not the same type of player Kyrie is. He relies on driving and taking the ball himself. He needs the ball to be effective and does not provide the same playmaking ability that Kyrie possessed. He does not make slightly lesser tier players perform better. And they don’t know if they should trade the pick they got for an impact player right now or hold on to the pick for an impact player down the road.
Rumors about LeBron leaving most likely have an effect on the team’s morale. The roster has aging players that can’t hold up and are just plain non-effective. Kevin Love has lost any connection to this team he might have had and has been injured too much. Cleveland still has the chance to get back to the way they are used to playing. But the longer and longer they continue to show zero heart or care for the game, the less it seems they’ll get a shot at another championship