The Cavs: A Season of Ups and Downs


With COVID-19 suspending all the major leagues for at least 30 days, the season is, for now, suspended. With that already happening and the possibility of this suspension going on for longer, I want to look at the Cavs’s season so far and analyze how the rebuild went this year and where it could be going.

The standout player this year, without question, has to be Colin Sexton. After a rough first half of the year, and an especially rough rookie season, he really shined the last couple of months and most nights was one of the best, if not the best player on the team, leading the team in points per game. After the Jordan Clarkson trade, a lot more seemed to open up for him; his assists per game averages went up (along with his passing vision slowly improving) and he had the best stretch of his early career scoring wise. Obviously, he still has plenty of issues. He still loves to put his head down and run at the rim, often throwing up some questionable shots in the process. His passing is still very sub-par for his position, even if you say he is a natural shooting guard. His defense is terrible but the team’s defense is also terrible so some leniency should be given, at least for this year. His biggest asset is his hard work and there is little reason to believe he will not improve in these areas at least somewhat in the next couple of years. His ceiling may be low compared to the other young players on this team but he is definitely the best out of all of them right now.

Kevin Porter Jr., especially in the last month or so, has been a revelation. While he had a slow start to the season, he ended it on a high note. His best game came against Miami, which I wrote about here, where he had a career high of 30 points while looking like a quality starter throughout. Koby Altman gambled on him by trading up to the end of the first round to get him, and as long as he continues to work, that gamble should pay off. He was a very nice surprise this year, and he could be the x-factor that turns this rebuild around in the coming years.

There is not much to say about Darius Garland this year. He barely played any college games and was coming off of a major injury, he should never have been given any expectations at all. Even then, he often was a bit disappointing, especially later in the season. That being said, his passing is fairly far along for his age and he can shoot well from 3 point range, so I have confidence that with a full NBA offseason with the team, and with a (mostly) full year under his belt already, he can make a similar jump to Sexton in his 2nd season.


The biggest questions after this year involve Dylan Windler, Andre Drummond, and Kevin Love.

For Dylan, it will be all about his development. If he develops well he could be a great bench shooter for the Cavs down the line, but he is already a year behind on his development. We will have to wait and see how he looks next year to get a real feel for whether this becomes the case.

For Drummond, it is all about his player option. He only played 8 games for the Cavs, so it is hard to know whether he could become a better fit with the team with more time. The best scenario for the Cavs would be if he picked up his option and played his contract out next year, because they could get a much better look at how he would fit with this team in the long term while not having to commit to him for the foreseeable future. If he does decline it, there would not be much pressure to re-sign him, due to the team not giving up much of anything for him in the trade for him. But the question is: should the Cavs resign him? It is a difficult question. He is an all-star caliber center, and one of the best rebounders in the league, but he will be commanding a lot of money in free agency if he opts out this year. If he opts out, he will be one of the best unrestricted free agents available, and may get offers close to the maximum salary. Should the Cavs put a sizable chunk of their cap space into a center that is talented, but somewhat outdated due to how the game is changing and moving smaller? I personally do not think so, but there are not many alternatives that end up with the Cavs having better players than Andre Drummond.

With Kevin Love, the question has been lingering for months: will he be traded? It would be the best move for both parties, as Love wants out and the Cavs will get less and less production out of him as he ages more. But Koby and the team seem to value him higher than the rest of the league, which has become an issue in previous trade negotiations. He has been a good locker room guy for the young guys (he has his bad moments, though) while being a somewhat stable presence on the floor for the team, which would be great if his contract was not so massive. The biggest issue is that he wants to leave, and at any point if the Cavs stop trying to move him, he may become unhappy and take it public. With his contract, hardly anyone wants him unless they’re giving back a similarly terrible deal. Altman seems to want to get off of the money in some way (a contract that is similar but has less years on it overall) plus a pick of some capacity, which I do not think is possible. Maybe with a weak free agent class teams will get desperate, but the front office will probably have to lower their expectations to get a deal done.

If the season does resume and everyone plays the rest of their regular season games, the rest of the team’s schedule is manageable. The Bucks and the Lakers are tough matchups, but besides that, there are some very winnable games (notably against the Suns twice, Hawks, and Kings) in there to make the end of the season exciting and watchable.

In the more likely event that this goes on for longer and the NBA jumps to the playoffs or even cancels the season, I am optimistic about the team’s future after this year. The Cavs have a nice core that we will hopefully add to in this draft (Obi Toppin would be ideal). JB Bickerstaff signed a long term extension, so it seems that the Cavs have a coach committed to being here for the duration of the rebuild, which will really help with finding a direction and building towards it. The team has a lot of cap space, which is not useful in this free agent class but they could turn that into expiring contracts to trade next season, or they can wait until 2021’s class and try to get solid guys around Garland, KPJ, and Colin. While this season was a rough one to watch for fans,  the future seems fairly bright for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

NBA Trade Deadline Roundup

This year we had a really fun NBA trade deadline day! There was some talk before the deadline about how it could fizzle out and ultimately be another boring one, but we had a couple of huge trades and even one involving the Cavs, so let’s get into it. (Note: These are in no particular order, and I will only be covering the notable trades for the sake of brevity.)

Marcus Morris goes to the Clippers:

LA Clippers get:

F Marcus Morris Sr.

G Isaiah Thomas

New York Knicks get:

F Maurice Harkless

2020 first-round pick

Second-round pick (via Detroit)

Washington Wizards get:

G Jerome Robinson

This was a very good trade for all of the teams involved. The Wizards got a point guard replacement in Shabazz Napier in another trade with Denver, so they do not lose out on depth by being included in this deal. The Knicks, without anyone to lead the front office because they just fired Steve Mills two days before the deadline, actually got great value for Morris. With a lottery protected pick this year that will surely be theirs unless the Clippers lose every game for the rest of the season, they have another nice piece that they can use to rebuild. The Clippers are the biggest winners here, getting a veteran who can shoot and stretch the floor, and also adds to their depth. It may not be important now, but come playoff time, especially if guys get hurt, having more guys like Morris could be crucial, and with a rumored Reggie Jackson buyout also coming their way, they could be the title favorites if they were not already.

This is something I never thought I would say: the Golden State Warriors have traded for Andrew Wiggins

Minnesota Timberwolves get:

G D’Angelo Russell

G Jacob Evans

F Omari Spellman

Golden State Warriors get:

F Andrew Wiggins

2021 top-3 protected first-round pick

2021 second-round pick

There were some people who thought this was a steal from the Timberwolves and some that thought this was a good move for the Warriors, I am somewhere in the middle. Andrew Wiggins has been bad, but if the Warriors could somehow salvage his career, maybe he can show some of that talent he was projected to have when he was picked first overall. The main part of the deal is that 2021 top-3 protected pick. The 2021 and 2022 drafts are projected to be very good, and that 2021 pick becomes unprotected in 2022 if the Wolves get a top 3 pick in 2021. Unless you are really high on the Wolves making the playoffs for the next two years, they will probably be a lottery team and this pick should be valuable for the Warriors, whether they keep it or trade it later on.

The Wolves get D’Lo for what they hope to be a mid to late first, if this works out. It is no secret that Russell and Karl Anthony Towns are close friends, so this trade was one that was made to make their star player happy, which also happens to get them off of a terrible player on a bad contract for a better player that’s on a similar contract. I am not sure this was a steal as there are still questions about KAT as a star and D’Lo is a complimentary guy on a good team (not to mention this team may give up 200 points a game) but I like this deal for them.

Next: Iggy finally gets out of Memphis

Miami Heat get:

F Andre Iguodala

F Jae Crowder

F Solomon Hill

Memphis Grizzlies get:

F Justise Winslow

G Dion Waiters

C Gorgui Dieng

Minnesota Timberwolves get:

F James Johnson

I do not really have a lot to say about this one. I think there is a solid chance that Iguodala will show his age in Miami, and I am not a fan of Crowder (if you remember the 2018 season you will know why) and Solomon Hill is serviceable at best. I will say that what they gave up to get Iggy is not a lot, and if I am wrong about Iggy being washed up then that would change my take on this trade a lot.

The Grizzlies came out fairly well in my opinion. I am not a fan of them taking on Dion and Dieng, but I really like Justise Winslow, even if his fit on this team is hard to see right now. The Wolves getting James Johnson is fine, he is definitely better than Dieng.

This is a big one:

Houston Rockets get:

F Robert Covington

C Jordan Bell

2024 second-round pick (via Golden State Warriors)

Atlanta Hawks get:

C Clint Capela

C Nene

Minnesota Timberwolves get:

G Malik Beasley

F Juan Hernangomez

G Evan Turner

F Jarred Vanderbilt

2020 first-rounder (via Brooklyn Nets, lottery protected)

Denver Nuggets get:

G Gerald Green

F Keita Bates-Diop

G Shabazz Napier

F Noah Vonleh

2020 first-round pick (via Houston Rockets)

This one is a lot to take in. This is the first 12 player trade since the Patrick Ewing trade in 2000, and the largest trade since the 13 player, 5 team trade that occurred in 2005. This trade was a shock to me purely because of the scale. This was the first big trade of the day, and what a great way to start the day it was.

That being said, the trade itself is not a great one. The Rockets got someone who was, in my opinion, overvalued in Robert Covington. He is a good player, but they gave up their only big man to get him, and even later traded the big man they got back in this trade for Brun Caboclo, a man who was once dubbed the Brazilian KD (spoilers: he was no the Brazilian KD). They seem to be taking their small ball experiment to the limit, so we will see how that works out.

The Hawks get a couple of nice big men without giving much of anything up. They already got Dedmon in a deal but they continue to get players and assets for value. They made a lot of solid moves this year and I like where they are going.

The Wolves got a couple of solid players in Malik Beasley and Hernangomez, I really liked what they got back. The Nuggets were even able to get a first rounder out of this, which was a solid catch.

Now onto the main event:

Cleveland Cavaliers get:

C Andre Drummond

Detroit Pistons get:

F John Henson

G Brandon Knight

2023 second-round pick (lesser of Cleveland’s or Golden State’s)

I have zero idea what Detroit were doing here. I know Drummond was possibly leaving in free agency this year, and if he did not he could have opted into his player option. Maybe they just wanted to rip the band-aid off and end the relationship. But they basically gave us a free trial of Drummond with an option to keep him. I was never a huge Drummond guy, but after watching the Cavs be the Cavs at various points this year, it will be nice to have another guy who is good at basketball on the team. No shade to Henson or Knight, but Drummond is an all star. He’s just better. Best case scenario is Drummond opts in to his player option and we can free up the cap next year instead of this year, as this year’s free agent class is absolutely horrid. I am incredibly unsure of giving him any sort of long term deal, but I am not even worrying about that right now. We just got an all star center for a couple of expiring contracts and a 2nd round pick. How can you beat that? Nice job Koby Altman, great job to the front office, thank you to the Pistons for continuing to be the Pistons we have known and loved ever since you traded Chauncey Billups for a past his prime Allen Iverson.

And that is it for the 2020 NBA trade deadline! A lot of fun moves throughout the day that had me glued to my phone, I wish it was like this every year.

Heat Snuff Out Cavalier Comeback as Dwyane Wade’s Retirement Tour Rolls Through The Land

The Cavaliers’ struggles continued tonight as they lost their sixth straight game. This time, facing the Miami Heat in what will be Dwyane Wade’s last visit in Cleveland. Coming off their loss on Wednesday against Boston,  the Cavs looked to spark some momentum off Cedi Osman’s best game yet as a pro, putting up a stat line of 25-8-2, and shooting 6-7 from 3 point land. For a while it looked like they had.

The game was back and forth, and neither team could gain consistent momentum heading into halftime. The Cavs pulled out a little lead at the end of the second quarter, but it was not to be maintained.

Even with forward Larry Nance JR. back in the rotation, Cleveland had no answer to stop the Heat’s bigs. Miami started to pull away, growing their lead to as much as 18 points, led by Hassan Whiteside and Justice Winslow. Sloppy ball movement and stagnant offense has plagued the Wine and Gold this season, and it seems to what cost them this game early, until two threes made by Colin Sexton and Alec Burks sparked a 13-1 run for the Cavaliers.

The Cavs made it close, but the just could not finish them off. Which seems to be a running theme for this team. The Heat took the win 100-94.

Cedi Osman completed another career high going 29-4-4, Sexton and Burks both contributed 13, and the big man Ante Zizic almost had a double-double dropping 11 points and 9 rebounds. For Miami, they were led by Justice Winslow going 27-7-2. Followed by Hassan Whiteside contributing a double-double having 14 points and 13 rebounds. As for Dwyane Wade’s last ride in the Q, he made it a good one, going 13-6-3, capped off by trading jerseys post-game with Colin Sexton.

Following the loss, head coach Larry Drew was asked about Cedi Osman’s  progress, and what is the team’ next step to finishing out these close games. This is what he had to say:

Video courtesy of Cavs.com

 

The Cavaliers will be back on the court Sunday against the Bulls at 3:30 as they look to earn their 10th win on the year.

Cavs vs Raptors Game 3 Preview

Three down, one to go. The Cleveland Cavaliers will attempt to wrap up their series against the Toronto Raptors at 8:30 p.m. in the Q. A win tonight would send the Cavs into their fourth consecutive Eastern Conference Finals against the winner of the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers series.

The Cavs are walking into this game with a home court advantage and a tremendous amount of momentum after coming out of game three with a LeBron James buzzer beater to win the game.

Toronto doesn’t have much to feel confident about. They have lost the past nine playoff games to Cleveland. They’re facing a potential sweep on the road. The Cavs held one of their leading scorers, DeMar DeRozan, to just eight points in game three.

LeBron, when asked about DeRozan’s poor performance said, “He missed a lot of easy opportunities…we’re just trying to make it a little bit more challenging that’s all.”

Looking ahead to the Eastern Conference Finals of the Cavs and the Celtics if each come out on top of their semifinal series, LeBron said he has been watching the other teams in their series. He said he has a lot of knowledge and insight on the Boston team who is missing their two star players Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving and still flourishing but doesn’t want to talk about it just yet, he still has a lot of work to do in the series against Toronto tonight.