CLEVELAND — Byron Scott believes the Cavaliers can be a playoff team in 2013-14.
Really, he does.
Not this version of the Cavs, mind you. But Scott bases his thinking on the idea that his roster will resemble a pro basketball team and not just some sort of waiting list for the Cleveland Clinic.
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“First thing is, stay healthy,” Scott said of the Cavs’ future, prior to Friday’s 97-87 loss to visiting Philadelphia.
“Add another player or two,” Scott said.
That’s a given, because it happens every year. The Cavs pick up a free agent, select a couple young dudes in the draft, maybe make a trade.
Every team does it. No big deal there.
Staying injury-free, however, is a considerably taller task. Especially with this bunch.
Starting center Anderson Varejao will finish his second straight season of playing just 25 games. He tallied 31 the year before that.
Star point guard Kyrie Irving has played 100 of a possible 137 games over two seasons.
Rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters has missed four straight games with a sore knee.
Along with forward TristanThompson, those are the Cavs’ biggest reasons for hope. Yet they can’t seem to stay on the floor at the same time.
In order for the Cavs to grow, to attain the progress they’re aiming for, that has to change. Irving and Waiters must get familiar with one another. Varejao does the team no good in a suit.
This isn’t the fault of the players. It’s not the fault of Scott or trainer Max Benton. It’s no one’s fault. But it has to change. Like, now.
At least, it does if the Cavs are to become anything close to a playoff team.
So how, exactly, can you keep key guys from missing so much time — beyond perhaps lifting your hands to the heavens and begging the basketball gods for a little stinking mercy?
“One thing we can do is find out what guys are doing in the summer and monitor that a little more,” Scott said.
It’s not like the Cavs (22-49) have ignored that chore in the past. It’s that now, they’ll pay a little closer attention to how folks take care of their bodies.
That may especially be true of Irving. On the bright side, his injuries aren’t the lingering type. They’ve all happened to a different body part.
At Duke, it was the toe. Since the summer, it’s been the hand, the finger, the jaw and now the shoulder. He also had some sort of strange knee soreness thrown in there, but it didn’t keep him off the court.
When Irving does play, he’s doggone good. In fact, members of the Boston Celtics were debating before a game in Cleveland whether Irving is the league’s best point guard.
But, again, in order for him to be in the conversation, he needs to be healthy enough to handle the ball.
Scott doesn’t think it will take much. He doesn’t expect Irving to become the next Hulk Hogan.
“I think Kyrie’s gotta get stronger,” Scott said, pointing out there’s a difference between that and adding a bunch of muscle.
“It’s gonna be a little bit of sitting down with the strength coaches and the medical people,” he added, referring to the Cavs as a whole.
Outside of that, there’s really nothing more than can be done. Well, maybe a little something.
“Somehow, we have to have one of those years where we have some luck,” Scott said. “I think we can be pretty good.”