The Cleveland Cavaliers’ season ended on Wednesday night after falling to the Charlotte Bobcats, 105-98. Once down by 24 points in the second quarter, the Cavs looked like they were just going to coast into the offseason after the month of April made the team want to bury their heads in the sand. The Wine and Gold started the game with their feet in a sinking pit looking like they were going to be swallowed into the other side that is known as the offseason; or one of the most hopeful and ironically optimistic times of the season for northeast Ohioans. 64 wins* over the past three seasons under Coach Byron Scott – only three more than the team had in LeBron’s final season with the Cavs – and the numerous blown leads (including a 28- and 27-point blown lead to the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat respectively this season alone) have many calling for change in Cleveland: a ring that hasn’t been answered since the 2010-11 season.
*The Bobcats have won 61 games over that same three-year span
This team is different and has changed dramatically since then, but in more negative ways than positive. Already taking into account that Daniel Gibson won’t be back next season, Anderson Varejao will be the only player left on the team that was a member of the 2010-11 squad. This team has been gutted just like the management wanted, but was there any direction in mind? Will the pitiful play over the last month or so result in Marreese Speights using his player option to escape purgatory? How many players from this year It’s will actually be back next season?
–Luke Walton – it was nice knowin’ ya
–Daniel Gibson – he’s not even a glimpse of what he once was during his first four seasons
–Marreese Speights – his lack of aggressiveness down the stretch was a signal to me that he doesn’t want to be a part of this team’s future
–Omri Casspi – he was gone around the time that Alonzo Gee took his starting job last season
–Wayne Ellington – a player I would like to see back, but I think the Cavaliers can find better backup shooting guard talent elsewhere
–Shaun Livingston – another player I would like to see back, but I have similar thoughts as I expressed above (he has the best chance out off any of these guys to resign in the offseason)
–Kevin Jones – made the most of his minutes and showed growth toward the end of the season – a great bench asset going into next season
–Chris Quinn – was just a filler
–Byron Scott – while he still has the extension left to fulfill, I do not see a scenario where the Cavaliers keep him even if he is the best option out there
Five of these players saw action against Charlotte tonight, and three of these guys were with the Cavaliers the season prior. It’s great that Cleveland will look to free agency and the draft to build a competitive unit once again, but who is to say that we won’t endure another season of players shifting on and off between the D-League and waivers? This can’t happen moving forward, or the team will be stuck in an infinite loop in which our draft stars will leave town once their contracts have been served. It seems that is how most players have spent their time here as of late. It’s hard to believe that there is plan of action going into the fourth post-LeBron season, but General Manager Chris Grant has shown flashes of brilliance during this rough transition period.
But I digress. There’s little to take away from this game because both teams knew well before now that their fate would be in the form of Ping-Pong balls coming up soon. Allowing the Bobcats to shoot 40 percent from three-point range truly shows how much defensive help this team needs on the perimeter. Josh McRoberts was perfect from the field (6-of-6 from the field, 3-of-3 from three). Both teams seemed to not acknowledge any change of momentum or game plan around streaky runs. It looked like two teams who have been stuck in the cellar for some time now just trying to finish out a season with nothing at all to lose (except a better chance at a lottery pick).
And despite breaking out of his scoring slump, Kyrie shot under 50 percent from the field and finished 2-of-9 from long range. Through eight games in April, Kyrie shot at the lowest clip of any month this season. 34.8 percent from the field (yikes) and 27.9 percent from three (Kyrie only shot lower than 40 percent from beyond the arc in one other month). Whether he gave up or the injury affected him that much concerns me either way. This team lacks leadership and players who can dig down deep in games to escape the sand pits. Until there is a solution to this, the Cavs will keep on shuffling their roster looking for players who “might be” future contributors.
There is no next game to alert you about, but this offseason will be the most important in a long time even though 2014 will be a star-studded frenzy. This is the breaking point. They need to make sure they’re ready to take the next step so players want to come to Cleveland in 2014. They need to be aggressive early on in free agency with all the money they have at their disposal. And need some luck when it comes to injuries.
Anyways, thank you so much for coming to RDE all season long for your Cavs news. Your readership is greatly appreciated. Offseason mode does not mean rest mode for us, so keep on checking on what moves your Cavaliers are making. Look for some great end-of-the-season content to go up soon!