This time last summer, The Cleveland Cavaliers were on top of the world and the greatest chapter of LeBron’s legacy had just been written after having resurrected the Cavs from a 3-1 deficit and capping the greatest NBA Finals ever by bringing Cleveland the city’s first championship in over fifty years.
Fast forward one major free-agent signing and a spirit-crushing NBA Finals one year later and the Cavaliers have suddenly transformed into something resembling the shit storm that made LeBron exit to Miami nearly six years ago.
A week after Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors dismantled the Cavaliers in five, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert decided not to re-new Cavs General Manager David Griffin’s contract that was set to expire June 30th, all but terminating the executive who had built a team that reached the NBA Finals three consecutive years. Griffin was also responsible for bringing back LeBron, trading for Kevin Love, and promoting Tyron Lue to head coach. Why on Earth Gilbert thought it would be best to part ways with Griffin is beyond me and, apparently, LeBron as well:
If no one appreciated you Griff I did, and hopefully all the people of Cleveland! Thanks for what u did for the team for 3 yrs! We got us 1?
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 20, 2017
Since Griffin’s dismissal, the Cavaliers have had a complete mess of an off season and have shown a skill of ineptitude, watching them try to flag down potential trade pieces as their ship sinks lower and lower.
Prior to the draft, the Cavs were reportedly interested in acquiring Jimmy Butler from the Bulls who would have bolstered their defense tremendously and added a legitimate #3 scorer. LeBron and Kyrie Irving both attempted to personally recruit Butler, however he would later publicly stat that he would rather stay in Chicago and help make them into a contender, all the while rumors swirled that Butler had been warned by Cavs players to stay away from the team because of Gilbert. A few days later on draft night, the Bulls shipped Butler to Minnesota for next to nothing, providing everyone the closest validation possible of those rumors actually being true.
With Butler out of the picture, the Cavs set their sights on Paul “I’m going to Cali” George who had already notified the Pacers of his intentions of becoming a free agent after the 2017-2018 season. With every interest in trading him for something, the Pacers and Cavs were this close to pulling the trigger on a draft night three-team trade that would have sent George and Kenneth Faried to Cleveland, Love to Denver, and young players like Emmanuel Mudiay and Wilson Chandler to the Pacers. At the last minute, the teams all had a change of heart and botched what would have been a major upgrade for the Cavs. There were also reports of another variation of the George trade where Kyrie would have been shipped to the Suns for Eric Bledsoe on draft night only to end in a bust.
Although a trade of George can still happen, it’s beginning to look more and more unlikely as teams with better trade-able assets like the Celtics and the Wizards are also looking into nabbing George from the trading block.
The Cavs are reportedly interested in acquiring Carmelo Anthony or Dwyane Wade, but both are so far removed from their prime that either move would wreak of desperation and get the Cavs nowhere closer to closing the gap against the Warriors.
Although there’s plenty of off-season left for trades to be made and free agents to be signed, the Cavs could still pull off a few moves here and there before Golden State vs Cleveland: Round 4, something tells me that Gilbert is gonna manage to fuck this all up and pile-drive this team into the fucking ground. Much like in 2010-2011, Gilbert is doing just about everything to push LeBron away again and Kyrie’s already made it clear that if LeBron exits Cleveland for a 2nd time, he will demand to be traded.
But look on the bright side, Cleveland: football season is coming up!