As of December 10, the Cleveland Cavaliers are 6-21 and sitting at the 14th spot in the Eastern Conference. They are currently six games back from the last playoff spot. LeBron James‘ departure in the summer is forcing this transition period from Eastern Conference champions to bottom of the conference as a future lottery team. This regression is inevitable considering they lost the basketball titan that is James. Kevin Love remains the last all-star from the championship team. However, the star forward has only appeared in four games for the defending eastern conference champs.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Present and Future
So with this comes a relatively similar team that hit the court to start this season. Most of the key contributors are back from last season. The only key pickup is the 8th overall draft pick from the draft, Collin Sexton. The scoring is more or less what is expected from the players on this team. For starters the leading scorers this season are Jordan Clarkson and Sexton. They are averaging 16.3 and 15.7 points per game, respectively. Love is averaging 19 in those four games he has played.
Tyronn Lue, the Cavaliers’ champion-winning coach, was fired after a 0-6 start from his team. Larry Drew is taking over as head coach for the remainder of the season. They have since participated in a couple of trades with the Utah Jazz and the Milwaukee Bucks. Firing a head coach and executing trades to “sell-off” talent can be seen as a team trying to tank. Let us take a look at some of the impacts of these trades.
Impact of Trades
The Cavaliers seemingly have no shot at the playoffs this season. It probably would not be in their best interest to compete for a spot anyway. They seem poised to go the route of many rebuilding teams before them. Kyrie Irving is the last great product of this strategy for the Cavaliers.
Along with the firing of a coach, trades seem to accompany the act of tanking. In both trades the Cavs have made, they have received future picks. In the Jazz trade, the Cavs let go of a premier three-point marksman in Kyle Korver for two future first round picks. Alec Burks was also included in the deal, which could be an underrated acquisition for the Cavaliers. He is currently averaging 14.3 points per game this season but has already hit a game-winner for the Cavaliers so far.
Secondly, the trade with the Bucks saw the Cavs trade George Hill and Sam Dekker in order to receive a future first and second, John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova. In exchange for draft picks to rebuild their team the Cavaliers took on the expensive contracts of Henson and Dellavedova. Expect to see Dellavedova receive regular playing time, that of which he was not receiving in Milwaukee. Henson joins a crowded backcourt but is not expected to be back from his injury for some time.
The Road Ahead
In the short term, the trades look to get assets while ensuring the lowest possible finish from the team. In the long term, they serve the purpose to gain chances to either draft a future star or key role players on rookie contracts. The Cavaliers believe that Sexton would improve enough to become the team’s future centerpiece. They hope this rebuilding phase won’t be quite as long as the last one.