June 19th, 2016. Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Kyrie Irving drilled one of the clutches shots in NBA History, as the Cavs go on to win their first Championship ever. Lebron James was the Finals MVP, there is a feeling of euphoria, and a little uncertainty if it’s really real. That season the Golden State Warriors had a historic 73-9 season and were a layup away from becoming the greatest team of all time. The Cavs made history as the first team ever to come back from being down 3-1 in the Finals, but there were many questionable things that went down during that series. Andrew Bogut goes down, Curry fouling out while getting ejected at the same time, and Draymond Green’s suspension. After the final buzzer, the only question that remained was, can they keep this team together to win more titles.
Fast Forward to June 12th the Warriors beat out the Cavs in 5 games as new member Kevin Durant was crowned Finals MVP. Most people around the NBA were pulling for the Cavs to show that the Super-Warriors were human. However, that didn’t happen, as soon as Durant re-signed with Golden State the League shook. The boys at the Bay gets to keep their core together while signing more shooters (Omir Casspi, Nick Young) and a potential defensive juggernaut in Jordan Bell. What did the Cavs do? Just potentially internally destroying the entire franchise in one summer without even making letting anyone go. So what went wrong?
A year later from the Cavs winning their first title, the person who put together this championship team stepped down as GM. Mainly because of Owner, Dan Gilbert. Even if the Cavs are one of the best teams in the league, Dan Gilbert has also made this one of the most dysfunctional.
You are not going to be credited for the moves you make being the GM of a franchise under Lebron James. He drafted Andrew Wiggins in 2014 then traded him for Kevin Love to add another All-Star in for LeBron’s return. He took advantage of the Knicks and acquired J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. When LeBron demanded more firepower this year, Griffin signed Deron Williams and traded for Kyle Korver. He was beloved by all including Lebron James, So Gilbert let one of the best GMs in the association walk, in return Cleveland had no one in the office to make any meaningful move during most of this hectic off-season.
Now Koby Altman, who was previously the assistant GM is now the permanent General Manager for Cleveland. His first move was signing former MVP, Derrick Rose last night. His last season with New York, Rose averaged 18.0 PPG and 4.4 APG which is his highest since 2011. Although he is not the same player he was, it was still a bargain to pick up a guy like him for the veteran minimum (2.5M). Cleveland will be needing another ball handler because there may be a void coming next season.
In Sports Illustrated’s Fashion 50 event, Maggie Gray interviewed Kyrie and asked. “Are you sharing that same sense of urgency and feeling that (James) is?” Irving answered: [quote]“I mean, I understand that we’re in a very peculiar place. We just have to make sure that all our pieces are aligned first, and then we go from there…I’m pretty sure there are some things our organization wants to do. And then we’ll go from there.”[/quote]
What’s peculiar is that a week after that interview, “Kyrie Irving requests trade” has been all over the sports world this past weekend. ESPN reported that Irving wants out of Cleveland. After 3 straight appearances to the finals, how could this happen?
Is it about Kyrie hearing about the organization trading him? Is it him wanting to leave before Lebron leaves in 2018? Or is Kyrie tired being in Lebron’s shadow?
The answer as for now is, who knows. With all of the rumors and reports going on this summer, this may not be the time to believe everything. The fact is that this is the worst time for this to come out. At this point, Cleveland is vulnerable and a trade seems inevitable, after all of the speculation it is hard to imagine they will make it to training camp.
The Cavs has 2 options for the future.
Either Cleveland trade for an immediate piece that can dethrone Golden State i.e. The Banana Boat Crew. Or trade for the future assuming that Lebron will leave Cleveland again next summer i.e. young talent future picks. As it has always been, the state of the franchise relies solely on Lebron James. Over the summer, Lebron has become “frustrated” on the Cavs off-season moves. After being one phone call away from acquiring Paul George. Deciding not to pay Jamal Crawford and letting him walk. James and the Cavs are not on the best terms as of this moment.
There is already a notion around the league that concludes Lebron will join Lonzo Ball and the youthful Lakers. His agent Rich Paul is already discussing with LA about cap space and possibly making room for the King. However, it is too early to assume he will leave a year in advance. What if Cleveland, somehow defeats the Warriors next season, or become just shy of becoming champions again. It is going to be hard to leave that.
The bottom line is that right now, staying at home will give him the best chance at winning and he will receive more money in Cleveland. As for his legacy, there will be an immense pressure on Lebron if he goes to LA. To go to the Lakers and to not win a championship will be the biggest dent on his reputation. Although, Lebron is known for being very unpredictable. By Leaving Cleveland for Miami, then returning to go back to Cleveland again. It’s too early to tell but, if the uneasy relationship is like this next year..He’s as good as gone.