Lots written about Cavs, and now comes the tough part
Random stuff following the Cavaliers’ 96-94 overtime loss to the visiting Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday:
— One wild ride of a regular season is about to conclude, and barring a miracle unlike any in NBA history, the Cavs’ final game will be April 16. There will be no playoffs.
— Amazingly, I’ve spent less time writing about the actual game on game nights than ever before. So much drama (or at least imagined drama) has surrounded the Cavs, and it all started in about the third week of the season. I have never put so much effort into reacting to national reports about a team, most of which accentuated the negative.
— Off the top of my head, I can list the following major stories involving the Cavs: The so-called confrontational team meeting, the report of Dion Waiters wanting to be traded, Waiters’ ensuing denial, the suspension of Andrew Bynum, the trade of Bynum, the 44-point loss at Sacramento, the report centered on Luol Deng’s unhappiness, the disgraceful loss at New York, the firing of former general manager Chris Grant, the return of LeBron James for Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey retirement, the multiple reports that Kyrie Irving is miserable in Cleveland.
— And goodness gracious, that’s just a sample. Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons actually fired their coach in the middle of his first year and have majorly disappointed after obtaining Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings over the summer. Yet national NBA reporters hardly mention them. Instead, it’s Cavs this and Cavs that, Cavs, Cavs, Cavs, CAVS.
— What makes all this even more interesting is the Cavs have spent at least the previous four years as one of the league’s more tight-lipped organizations. Yet nearly every national reporter seems to have the inside scoop on the inner-workings of the team? How can this be?
— That’s not a criticism of the Cavs, by the way. It’s just an observation. When you consider some of the stories out there, who could blame them for being little guarded? Frankly, it’s ridiculous, and I’m sick of it. I can only imagine how Kyrie Irving and other members of the organization feel.
— Actually, Irving expressed similar sentiments before the game. Here is what he told reporters: "In terms of all the rumors and accusations of what goes on in our locker room — it’s been going on all season, to a certain extent." Good grief. No kidding. Give it a rest.
— Now, some of this has been of the Cavs’ own doing. But they’re 15-14 since acting GM David Griffin replaced Grant. The culture in the locker room has shifted for the better. Most people figured the Cavs would finish around .500 this season. While they can certainly still be maddening, they’ve been the team most of us assumed they would be, record-wise, under Griffin. That’s why I think he deserves the job. His influence has played a role in helping clean-up a fairly dreadful situation. That counts for a lot, and I wouldn’t tinker too much with it.
— As for the actual game, what is there to say? The Bobcats clinched a playoff berth with the win, and that has to hurt. They were supposed to be more like the Cavs this season, and the Cavs were supposed to be more like the Bobcats. But one team has completely avoided distractions by playing smart, steady basketball all year. The other is just now sort of getting it figured out.
— Irving scored a career-high 44 points, and overall, was fantastic. But I can’t decide if he sometimes takes so many shots (31) because he doesn’t trust his teammates, or if it’s because Mike Brown wants it that way. But we’ll cover that another time. It’s been a long weekend.
— Now, after everything I’ve written, I’ll leave you with this: Sometime soon, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert will start contemplating what to do about the future. He’ll have to ask himself some serious questions. Namely, where does he want this team to be next season? What about in three years? And who are these guys? What is their identity? Are the Cavs a defensive team? Do they play with enough consistency on offense? Do they have the right pieces to move forward? What’s the plan? Mostly, who here will help take you to where you want to go?
— Those are tough questions that few owners want to face. They’d prefer to put their basketball people in place and keep them there. But only Gilbert can make those decisions now, and you can be sure he will. In the meantime, maybe the national guys can write about something else for a change.