For some reason this upcoming Cavaliers season just feels easier to me this time around. No more clinging to every soundbite in order to detect a word of promise amidst a litany of babble. No more watching and rooting in fear of what inevitably transpired this off-season. No more title aspirations for the moment either to be sure, but a new page turned for Cavs basketball nonetheless. So how would you like those first few lines to read?
I’m not asking for you to regurgitate what you learned in General Manager’s school either. I’m not looking for a blueprint. I’ll concede, as most would, that the best way to rebuild in the NBA is to completely blow it up. You have to get worse before you get better. Just ask John Lucas about how many games you need to lose before you can position yourself to bring in a new, potential, face of the franchise type player. He’ll tell you just about all of them.
But as Cavs fans, is that what you want to see this season? The Cavaliers tanking the season struggling to win games at a near record pace and stumbling into the Harrison Barnes draft lottery at 14-68? I would understand if you said yes. I do get that. However, what I do not get is how the national media seems to think the Cavaliers roster, as it is currently composed, has the ‘ability’ to lose that many games. I swear they’re not that bad.
Let’s assume, though, that all those experts who actually get paid money for they’re opinions aren’t too far off in thinking the Cavaliers do have the potential to lose that many games. Even though I’m just some guy blogging about this on a Saturday morning, let’s also say that I could be right in contrastly thinking they also do have the potential to max out a 41 wins and earn an 8th seed in the playoffs. So what to do with all this potential.
I say win each, every, and as many games as possible and that’s what I’m rooting for. I don’t want a tank job. Not this season. I only mentioned that notion to make it clear that I understand that all winning 39 or 40 or 41 games is going to get you is an early exit from the playoffs and a mediocre draft pick. I understand that. But to me, it’s about pride at this point.
I’m not naive enough to think that Byron Scott’s Cavaliers will play the role of Gene Hackman’s Hickory squad this season, and I know we won’t be knocking out the heavyweight champs either. But I feel like we owe it to ourselves to take a couple swings anyways. I want to see guys playing hard, real hard. I want to see everybody who puts on a Cavs uniform taking the court each and every night with a chip the size of Lake Erie on their shoulders. I want to see this team prove to people who thought “there were no pieces here” that even without his highness this squad was a playoff team.
The thing is, the Cleveland Cavaliers organization, and Cleveland, was disrespected this summer like arguably no organization, or sports town, was ever disrespected. I don’t just mean because LeBron left either. I mean the reaction as well. I mean the way the national media talked about the poor old Cavs, and poor old Cleveland with every highlight and news clip. I mean the way ESPN showed two guys burning a LeBron jersey 24-7 and made it seem like the entire county was burning this guys clothes in the front yard. To lay down now, after all that, is just something that I can’t get behind as a Cavs fan.
After this season though, I’m good. The days leading up to the Miami – Cavs series in round one would be enough for me for a while. Just one run here, empty the clip, and see what happens. We can tank it for the next two seasons after that as far as I’m concerned if that proves to be the best route for rebuilding at that juncture. We’ve waited forty some odd years for a title around here, I’m pretty sure we can handle delaying the rebuilding process by one season.
And hey, maybe Harrison Barnes will play two years at Carolina and he can join up with the Cavs after that.