Full disclosure, I am not an NBA guy. I often use the hashtag #NBAFree on twitter when discussing my love for the college game. I hope the Cavaliers do well, but I can’t say that I watch the games or intently read the articles the way I do with the Browns and the Indians. I simply see the tweets throughout the day, check out the boxscores, and move on. But I stayed informed.
Last night as I was locked into the highly entertaining ESPN doubleheader featuring N.C. State/Michigan and North Carolina/Indiana on ESPN, I continued to see the scroll at the bottom showing the Cavs/Suns score. 37-32 Suns at the half? I feel for the people who sat through that half. In the end, the undermanned Wine & Gold lost to Phoenix 91-78 at home. This is a team that starts Goran Dragic and Shannon Brown in the backcourt, Marcin Gortat in the middle, with (Kansas’s own) Markieff Morris and the stoner extraordinaire Michael Beasley at the forward spots.
In other words, the Western Conference version of the Cavs. Sure, the Suns bring Luis Scola and Jared Dudley off the bench, but the rest of their crew is not exactly a group of Vinnie Johnson’s.
Before you jump all over me, I know Kyrie Irving is missing with a finger injury and that completely changes the dynamic of the team. But even with Kyrie, what is the team’s ceiling in 2012-13? 25-30 wins? After last night, the Cavaliers are now 3-12. Yes, they have been in a lot of games, but this business is about wins and losses. I get that the Cavs are young and rebuilding around Kyrie, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller, and Anderson Varejao, but other than the guys I just mentioned, Alonzo Gee and Boobie Gibson, the roster is littered with trash.
Maybe Chris Grant is smarter than we think. I have long been of the opinion that another bottom feeding season and a top three pick is what this team needs for the future. The roster certainly has that look of one that will get the Cavs in that position again. The Kyrie injury is only going to enhance that. Hitting on that top three pick is a must. Want to know how Oklahoma City went from laughing stock to NBA Finalist? Three consecutive years they drafted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. They also hit on Serge Ibaka as a late first round pick in 2008.
That is the Cavs model.
Year one was Irving (all star) and Thompson (should be a 12-10 guy). Year two brought Waiters (Could be the Cavs version of Harden) and Zeller (think OKC’s Nick Collison). We will see what year three will bring.
In the meantime, the record still reeks. 3-12 seems to be getting glossed over here in Cleveland. Probably because our city’s sports franchises are collectively as bad as they have ever been. You’d like to see improvement at least and a steady build towards respectability. Owner Dan Gilbert and GM Chris Grant have preached patience, which we all need to have. But how patient is Gilbert going to be with head coach Byron Scott if the Cavs continue this cycle of losing?
Again, I am no Cavs expert, and I can only go by what I read on this site and Twitter and what my people in the know tell me. But I look at Scott’s situation as very much like the one we just saw going down with our baseball team.
If you have read my stuff, you know I was a staunch defender of now ex-Indians manager Manny Acta. I also didn’t know what was going on inside the clubhouse and that it seems as though the guy we saw in front of the cameras – the master communicator – was in fact the complete opposite with his players. But while the last two seasons were going on, I marveled at the fact that Acta had his team actually playing over .500 baseball as long as they did with the complete lack of quality starting pitching, no left fielder, no first baseman, and no third baseman.
Then the bottom fell out. Acta’s Indians lost 11 in a row and 22 of 27 and looked like a beaten group who were ready to pack it in. Even I couldn’t defend Manny any longer. He was fired with less than a week remaining in the season. You have to wonder if the Cavs go into an Indians-esque swoon (they are currently in one, but its still very early), continue to play porous defense, and tune out Scott the way they did at the end of last season, will Gilbert stay the course and keep Byron for year four, despite a horrific on the court record? Or will he see a stable of unemployed former head coaches like Stan Van Gundy, Jerry Sloan, Clevelander Flip Saunders, and Mike Brown (that’s a joke people, relax) and highly regarded assistants like Michael Malone or Brian Shaw and opt to dump Scott?
Our own Andrew, who is as dialed into the Cavs as anyone, has been one to question if Scott is the right guy for this job long term. Going back to last April,where the Wine and Gold were in full tank mode, he was very concerned:
This franchise deserves better than what we got last night. If players want to roll over and die, they can do so for another franchise. We should all wants players on our team who are going to go out, give us their best, and at least show some competitiveness. We should want a coach who can get more out of his players than what we have seen in so many uninspired, pathetic performances this season.
Speaking of coaching, I asked the question on Twitter last night whether any coach has ever lost 4 games by 35+ points in a single season and kept his job. I don’t know the answer, but I seriously doubt Coach Scott is going anywhere. And you know what? For everything he and this franchise has gone through in two years, he deserves a shot to develop Kyrie, Tristan, and whoever we draft this year. But his grace period is over. Enough is enough. I want to see some evidence that he can get through to this team. If this is a time for development, we need to see some signs that the coach is developing the young players on this team.”
In Byron’s defense, like Acta, look at what he has been given to work with. As I said earlier, he has essentially a seven-man team and now has no Irving. When you are given C.J. Miles as your top perimeter bench player, that’s the equivalent to signing Casey Kotchman to be your first baseman.
I never thought Acta would be the fall guy until it went down. Then when the smoke cleared, you could see it was the right decision. You could easily envision the same thing happening with Scott.
The Cavaliers as a franchise are extremely fan friendly, great marketers, terrific in the community, and do everything they can to enhance the in-arena experience, but the product on the court continues to lag behind. At some point, someone will have to be responsible.
Will Scott end up with the same fate as his ex-Indians counterpart?
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)