Cavs Starting To Turn A Corner?

There is no question the Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled starting this season.  They’ve lost games to several of the NBA’s supposed also ran, losing at home to Atlanta, New York, and Indiana.

But just maybe, things are starting to turnaround just a bit as the wine and gold took three out of four on the road, losing only to Houston in the opening game.  That game was close at the end too, as the Cavs had a chance to win.

Yes, the defense could be better, but Tyronn Lue’s team does seem to be able to play at that end of the floor in spurts, such as the fourth quarter in New York on Monday, and in the second half last night in Charlotte.

With three of the next four and four of the next six at Quicken Loans Arena, it would be a good time to start playing better at home and in turn start climbing up the Eastern Conference standings.

Want another sign the Cavs aren’t as bad off as many in the national media think?  Cleveland has won 5 road games this season, and only Boston and Houston (both 7-1) have won more.

You don’t find many bad teams having success on the road.

On the other hand, good teams win games in blowout fashion, and right now the Cavaliers are just 1-4 in games decided by 10 points or more, their win in Milwaukee in the second game of the season being the lone triumph.

They have also been outscored on the season, another sign of a mediocre team.  However, remember Cleveland has played the entire season without Isaiah Thomas, a legitimate 20 points per game scorer, and their best interior defender in Tristan Thompson for most of the schedule.

There will be a period of adjustment when those players return, obviously, but it’s tough to get a good read on this team until they do.

And we say this every year, but we wish the media and fans alike would stop comparing the Cavs to the Golden State Warriors.

First, the Warriors top four players are the same as last year.  Second, most of the games they play their opponents are mesmerized by their style of play and that creates an advantage right from the opening tip.

Also, why should anybody care?  The wine and gold play just two games in the regular season against Golden State, and after that, they won’t see them in the playoffs until the NBA Finals if both teams get to that point.

To compare the Cavs start to the Warriors’ start is an exercise in frustration.  Really, the only thing to be watching right now is how this pretty much new group of players is gelling, and what team in the East may pose a threat to Lue’s squad.

And don’t forget the Cavaliers have made deals during the season in each of the last three seasons to shore up a weakness.  Why wouldn’t you think the same thing will happen this season.

Hopefully, losing to the dregs of the NBA on a regular basis is done, and the momentum gained on this trip will continue.  At the very least, people can breathe a little easier about the Cavs.

JK

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Cavs Defense Might Need A Legitimate Center.

It is no secret that the NBA is going small.

In the 60’s and 70’s, it was thought that you couldn’t win in the league without a dominant big man.

The Celtics were led by Bill Russell, and the only man who could challenge him in those days was Wilt Chamberlain.  Then came Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton.  Even in the late 70’s when the Washington Bullets and Seattle Supersonics were exchanging titles, the Bullets had Wes Unseld and the Sonics had Jack Sikma.

The only anomaly was 1975 when the Warriors led by Rick Barry won the title.

Yes, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird dominated the 80’s, but those teams still had Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Parish manning the middle.  And the Isiah Thomas led Pistons had a very good center in Bill Laimbeer.

It wasn’t until Michael Jordan won with the Bulls was the center not a factor, but the Rockets won with Hakeem Olajuwon, and after Jordan retired, Shaquille O’Neal was the dominant force in the sport.

Despite all this history, the Cavs seem to have no desire to have a true center on the roster.

Even Golden State, the poster boys for today’s NBA have centers on the roster with Zaza Pachulia starting and JeVale McGee backing him up.

Cleveland has no seven footer on the roster.  Their tallest players are 6’11” Channing Frye, who is really a stretch four, and rookie Ante Zizic, who has garnered just 21 minutes on the season, mostly in mop up roles.

Tristan Thompson plays a lot of center, but he is just 6’9″ and not really a shot blocker.  Kevin Love, ideally a power forward, also gets some time in the pivot.

By contrast, Pachulia and McGee log about 22 minutes per night for the Warriors.

The other elite teams in the NBA also have centers.  Houston has Nene (6’11”) and Clint Capela (6’10”) who averages 1.6 blocks per night in 24 minutes.

Oklahoma City has seven footer Steven Adams, and in the East, the Wizards have Marcin Gortat and Toronto has Jonas Valenciunas.

And we haven’t mentioned Marc Gasol (Memphis) and Pau Gasol (San Antonio).

When Timofey Mozgov departed via free agency after the 2015-16 championship season, so did any interior defensive force Tyronn Lue had at his disposal.

To be fair, the Cavs did sign Chris Andersen and Andrew Bogut a year ago to play that role, but both were injured shortly after arriving in town.

We understand Lue wants his squad to play with pace and be able to spread the floor to open up driving lanes for LeBron James, Derrick Rose, and Dwyane Wade.

That seems to negate the need for a traditional center, however, there are times when you have to put a legitimate rim protector on the floor.

Right now, opposing teams know there is no penalty in getting to the basket against Cleveland.

We know James is a master at the chase down block, and Wade is a very good shot blocker for a guard, but it’s not quite the same.

If there is one thing that should be on GM Koby Altman’s “to do” list, it should be to get a legitimate inside defensive force.

Thompson is more known for his ability to defend away from the basket on pick and rolls, and his offensive rebounding ability than as an interior defender, and Lue doesn’t seem to want to develop Zizic.

The Cavs need to improve their defensive schemes and principals for sure, but getting someone who can clog the middle and discourage a parade to the rim for the opponents in needed too.

The wine and gold seem to have forgotten that fact.

JK

 

 

 

Best Thing For Cavs’ Defense? Make Shots.

There is no question that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ defense has been hugely disappointing so far in this young NBA season.

And the biggest thing needed to help the defense might be for the Cavs to start making shots.

That seems ridiculous, right?

Let’s start with the fact that the Cavs’ transition defense is terrible.  Besides giving up easy layups on fast break opportunities, the new NBA has three point shooters spotting up in transition, and they are getting wide open opportunities.

In the wine and gold’s four victories this season, the lowest shooting percentage for the team was an Opening Night 45.8% vs. Boston.  In the other three games, the Cavs shot over 50%.

In their five losses, they shot 50% or better in just one game, the loss last Wednesday night to Indiana.

Overall, Cleveland ranks 5th in the NBA in field goal percentage, but that is misleading because LeBron James has started the season on fire.

James has been taking roughly a quarter of the team’s shots (23.1%), and he is making a crazy 61% of those attempts.

However Kevin Love, who has taken the next most shots, is hitting just 41.4% of his attempts.  Derrick Rose is third in attempts per game, and is making 50%, but he has missed four games, and the Cavs lost three of those contests.

It gets worse from there, though.

Dwyane Wade is making just 40.3%, Jae Crowder is hitting on 39.7% of his shots, and JR Smith is at a horrific 27.4% total, and only 21% from behind the arc.

And those players rank 4th through 6th on the team in field goals attempted.

Combined, that sextet combines for 88% of the Cavaliers’ field goal attempts on the season.  And four of those players are in major shooting slumps.

When those guys start making more shots, and yes, we understand James won’t be able to maintain that torrid pace (we think), there will be less transition opportunities, which will help the defense.

That’s not the only thing that needs to improve.

For some reason, the Cavs’ organization seems to ignore the impact of having big men on the floor.

Even Golden State, for all of their small ball tendencies, still have made it a priority to have some size on the roster.  Besides Kevin Durant, they have Zaza Pachulia, JeVale McGee, and David West, and brought in rookie Jordan Bell, who Steve Kerr is giving some playing time.

Without Tristan Thompson available, coach Tyronn Lue needs to start giving rookie Ante Zizic some time because outside of Love and Jeff Green, he doesn’t have a lot of height on the roster.

Sometimes, we think the Cavs forget that height is a big factor in the sport of basketball.

We also believe the Cavaliers play too fast for their own good.

In 2015-16, Cleveland was 28th in pace and 10th in defensive efficiency.  That number dropped to 21st last season, with the Cavs ranking 15th in pace.

This season, albeit very early, Lue’s team ranks 14th in pace, and last in defense.  Perhaps some sort of compromise is in order.

We believe the shooting issues will take care of themselves.  Players like Love, Crowder, and Smith have proven track records of making shots.

The other issues are incumbent on the coaching staff.  There is a time to play bigger and slower, particularly with a roster that is one of the league’s oldest.

We will see if Lue can adjust.

JK

 

Cavs Having October Basketball Issues

The first week of the NBA season is a time for weird things to happen.

That’s why we aren’t too concerned with the performance of the Cleveland Cavaliers thus far.

Tyronn Lue’s team has struggled out of the gate, losing two of their last three, against a trio of teams expected to be also-rans this season, the Magic, Bulls, and Nets.

If we get to game 15, and the team is 8-7 and still struggling to show any consistency, then we may have some serious questions.

Remember that the Cavaliers have eight new faces on the roster, and three of those players, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, and Isaiah Thomas, have been battling injuries.

Rose might be more important to the team than originally thought.  The Cavs opened with two straight wins, but he left the latter of the two victories late with a sprained ankle and hasn’t played since.

In his absence, Lue tried Jose Calderon against Orlando, and as expected, the veteran struggled, particularly on defense.

So, the coach turned to LeBron James at the point, moving Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup.  That unit struggled on the defensive end as well, mainly because they struggle to defend the quickness of a traditional point guards.

Rose is supposed to return to the lineup Saturday night against New Orleans, and it will be interesting to see how his presence on the court affects the other players.

Lue has been highly critical of his defense, but last night, Jae Crowder played just 20 minutes, and Tristan Thompson was on the floor for just 22 minutes.

Those two are the wine and gold’s most accomplished defenders, so if Lue wants a defensive presence for his team, it should start by giving these two players more time.

Particularly Crowder, who can shoot the three and stretch the floor on offense.

On the other hand, we said a week ago that with all the new players on the roster, we knew it would take some time for Lue to develop a rotation that works, and that process was set back a week by the absences of Rose and Wade.

Having James miss most of the pre-season with a sprained ankle didn’t help the situation either.

And yes, we know the Cavs are the oldest team in the league, but that number is skewed by the presence of Channing Frye (34), Calderon (36), and Kyle Korver (36).  Out of that trio, only Korver figures to get a lot of playing time this season.

If you take Frye and Calderon out of the mix, Cleveland is very similar in age to San Antonio, Golden State, and Houston, the next three teams in this category.

Oh, by the way, those teams are all title contenders, just like the Cavs.

Our point is we don’t want to hear how the defensive problems are due to age.  The players getting the bulk of the playing time aren’t or shouldn’t be on their last legs.

We trust Lue to figure this out.

Let’s see what happens when Rose is back and Crowder gets more time on the floor.  If the Cavs win the next three games, and look good doing it, these last three games will be forgotten.

JK

 

 

 

 

Cavs’ Opener Just One Game, They Will Only Get Better.

The Cleveland Cavaliers started the defense of their Eastern Conference title by beating Boston 102-99 Tuesday night.

There is no question this is a very different team than last year, as Kyrie Irving is gone, and partially because of the deal which sent him to Boston, the roster is much deeper than a year ago.

They are also not a team that is as reliant on the three point shot as a year ago, but they still have the perimeter threats that are needed on a team where LeBron James is the best player on the roster.

Coach Tyronn Lue has Jae Crowder, JR Smith, Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, and Channing Frye on the roster, and all of them are very good from beyond the arc.

However, whereas last year, just James and Irving could create their own shots, the wine and gold have Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade too, and the other night saw Smith showing something beside standing outside waiting for the ball to find him.

Any concerns about a three point win over a team that lost their second best player five minutes into the game should be excused right now as a team still learning how to play together and a coach still searching for the right combinations.

Many of already questioned Lue’s choice as a starting lineup, but does it really matter?  The bigger question is who will play at crunch time, and while Tuesday night it was the starters, something tells us that will change as the season continues.

We would expect Smith will be out there at the end of the game because of his defense and ability to stretch the floor.

And depending on the opponent, you could see a different combination upfront, but likely two of these three (Love, Crowder, and Tristan Thompson) will be out there with James and Rose.

In the first half, the defense looked much improved with everyone keeping their men in front of them.  And we thought Rose did a solid job denying Irving the ball in the last few minutes in the opener.

If Rose’s knee is sound, he will provide better defense at the point guard position than Cleveland received a year ago.

We are anxious to see how Lue divides the minutes going forward.

We would like to see James getting about 34-35 minutes per night, with Wade getting around 24 to keep them strong and fresh heading into the playoffs.

No doubt Thompson will get more than the 19 minutes he played in the lidlifter.

And we are sure the staff will put some things in to get Kyle Korver some shots when he is on the floor.

While much was made Tuesday night about the Celtics roster turnover, the Cavaliers are facing the same issue, but apparently since they have James, it is overlooked.

Lue started only two players (James and Love) that started a year ago.  And outside of LeBron, every member of the first two units has a different role than they had a year ago.

So, there is a lot for this team get used to.

It was a win, and that is better than losing.  However, it will be interesting to see where the Cavs are after 10 or 15 games.  That will be a more accurate barometer for the progress of a pretty much new group of players.

JK

 

Will Added Depth Be Enough For Cavs

Basketball season is just around the corner and the most interesting team in the NBA is probably the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A team that has gone to the NBA Finals three consecutive years has made some drastic changes to the roster.

In fact, the Cavs might have the deepest roster in the league, with 14 players currently on the roster who have had success in the NBA.

That number includes the newest Cavalier, 12 time all star Dwyane Wade, who signed with the wine and gold after getting a buyout from the Chicago Bulls.

Tyronn Lue will need all the depth because there is a lot medical issues on the roster, so the 12 players who are active will probably change on the night by night basis.

Isaiah Thomas will likely miss the first two and a half months with his hip injury, so he will not be part of the mix early in the season, and we would expect Wade, who will turn 36 this season, to get plenty of games off as well.

Veterans like Kyle Korver, Channing Frye, and Richard Jefferson are others who may not be active every night when the schedule gets heavy.

Lue will have to find a balance between rest and rust for these players, making sure they can stay sharp in the regular season while making sure they are sharp for the post-season.

What will this mean if the Cavs and Golden State Warriors match up in The Finals for a 4th straight season?

For one, Cleveland played even with the Warriors when LeBron James was on the floor, but when James was on the bench, Golden State rolled.

Hopefully, there is way more firepower off the bench, and it’s not just the extreme isolation ball (Kyrie Irving) or one dimensional three point shooters.

With players like Wade and Derrick Rose, Lue has more players who can create their own shots at his disposal, and that will keep more pressure on opponents.

Face it, last year, the only Cavs who could create offense were James and Irving.  This year, Lue has James, Wade, Rose, and Thomas when he returns.

And they still have JR Smith, Korver, Frye, and of course Kevin Love, who can knock down threes.  Don’t sleep on Jae Crowder in that regard either.

Cleveland also added a premier defender in Crowder, which will take some of the responsibility for guarding Kevin Durant away from James, and veteran Jeff Green, who can cover both small and power forwards.

There is no question is our mind that the difference in the Finals was Durant.

If he can be slowed down, it would definitely help the Cavs’ cause.

While giving the veterans some rest, he could use that time to develop young players Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic, and Edy Tavares.  The latter two could be key because the roster still seems to be one quality big man short.

It will also be interesting to see how quickly the newcomers gel with the players who were here last season.

Lue and James have made the transition much quicker than it has taken other teams in the past.

Will the Cavs miss the player they traded to Boston?  They certainly will miss his incredible shot making ability.

On the other hand, they won’t have to play a completely different style with James off the floor, which could lead to a reduced workload.  They should also have ball movement no matter who is on the floor.

It should be fun and it should be interesting to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers this year.  Watching a highly motivated James won’t be bad either.

JK

 

 

Where Do Cavs Go From Here?

Last night, there were reports of new Cavaliers’ guard Isaiah Thomas not being able to pass a physical right now, and what would that mean for the megadeal going forward.

Our guess is the trade will not be rescinded.  Kyrie Irving has napalmed any bridge between himself and the organization, and despite LeBron James’ public comments wishing Irving well and thanking him for the last three seasons, that relationship has been destroyed too.

So, we would anticipate additional compensation from Boston in the form of an additional draft pick or another player before the deal would be rescinded.

Besides, although Thomas is a very good player, making second team All NBA in 2016-17, GM Koby Altman probably made the deal to secure Brooklyn’s first round pick next year, and rugged wing defender Jae Crowder first and foremost.

Remember that Thomas is a free agent after next season, and is looking for a max contract.

Also, Altman had to move Irving, who asked for a trade shortly after the Cleveland season ended, and even the national media has praised him for getting an impressive haul for a player who wanted out.

If the deal is called off, there is no guarantee that the wine and gold could make this good of a trade with another team.

So, assuming something is worked out, where do the Cavs go from here?

We are fairly certain that this isn’t the last move Altman will make before training camp.

One, Tyronn Lue has a roster full of wings, with more players available than he has playing time to dole out.

Besides James and JR Smith, the projected starters, Lue needs to find some court time for Crowder, Jeff Green, Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver, and newcomer Cedi Osman.

And don’t forget the rumors that Dwyane Wade could be heading to Cleveland if his contract is bought out by the Bulls, which some have reported as a certainty.

It would figure that Iman Shumpert is the odd man out, but we could also see Jefferson be moved too, although he is a leader in the locker room.

That’s an impossible task.  We would anticipate one, if not two of those players are sent elsewhere, possibly for an experience big man, that the team needs.

Right now, the bigs would be Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Channing Frye, and two inexperienced players:  Edy Tavares and Ante Zizic, who came over in the Irving deal.

The Cavs needed another post player, particularly a rim protector, last season, and to date still have acquired one.  So, there is still definitely a need.

It is doubtful that Kay Felder returns, particularly if Thomas is here, because two sub six foot point guards is one too many.

And, of course, there is the Brooklyn pick, which is huge.  Altman could use it to deal for another star player before the season starts, use it at the trade deadline, or perhaps have it for next year’s draft, as it should be a top five pick.

The Cavs have a chip that a lot of teams will want, especially teams in a rebuilding mode.  That’s why it may be the most important asset received in the trade.

That alone is the reason the deal will not be rescinded.  It might be tweaked, but Kyrie Irving has played his last game with the Cavaliers.

JK

Kyrie Gone, Cavs Better?

The hope of a reconciliation between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving went up in smoke yesterday as GM Koby Altman sent the four time All Star to the Boston Celtics for three players and Brooklyn’s first pick in the 2018 NBA draft.

The best player the Cavs received is Isaiah Thomas, a two time All Star that finished third in the league in scoring last year.  In fact, according to the similarity scores on Basketball Reference, the most similar player to Thomas is indeed Irving.

Irving took more shots per game than Thomas, but the newest Cavalier scored more because he went to the free throw line three and a half times more than the man who made the biggest shot in franchise history.

There is no doubt that Irving is the better player, but the edge isn’t that great, so when you figure in getting Jae Crowder, an excellent defender who can also knock down shots, and the pick, which figures to be in the top three of next year’s draft, and you would have to say Altman got a very good return for a player who wanted out.

Think about it, the return is greater than what Indiana received for Paul George, and Chicago received for Jimmy Butler.

And we would rate both of those players as better than Irving.

Assuming Tyronn Lue uses his bench effectively, the Cavs are a deep, deep team, which should allow a player like LeBron James to get more rest during the regular season.

Figuring Thomas starting at the point, he would join JR Smith, James, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson at the beginning of the game.

That would mean the reserves would consist of Derrick Rose, Kyle Korver, Crowder, Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, Jeff Green, and barring any more moves, Iman Shumpert.

And it may not be out of the realm of possibility that Rose and Smith swap spots, and than Dwayne Wade joins the Cavs if and when the Bulls buy him out.

That’s a roster that would figure to be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

We would also anticipate other moves to come.  The Cavaliers have a glut of wing players and have some younger players, including the big man who came over in this deal, Ante Zizic and Cedi Osman, that could be moved to get another big man, perhaps a strong defender.

As for the pick, which should be a lottery pick, and very well could be in the top five of next year’s draft, there are a several ways Altman can use it.

It’s a piece that can be used at the deadline to bring a major piece for another title run, a player like DeMarcus Cousins, or someone of that ilk.  Or he can use it now to bring in another all star type player to start the season with.

Regardless, that pick has enormous value in today’s NBA, and that’s what makes this deal a definite win for Cleveland.

Irving will have a special place here because he made the shot that brought the Cavaliers their first title, breaking the 52 year drought for the city.

However, he had deficiencies, so at the end of the day, replacing Irving with a player of Thomas’ capabilities, and getting a very good player in Crowder as well, means the wine and gold is a better team.

The draft pick is just the cherry on the top of the sundae.

JK

 

 

 

Cavs Need To Get Younger, With Or Without LeBron

The latest tidbit reported about the Cleveland Cavaliers is that they are planning for the 2018-19 season as if LeBron James is not going to stay in Cleveland.

Another narrative from the national basketball media, who believes it is a foregone conclusion that James will be playing for the Los Angeles Lakers after next season.

Why not?  After all, James wished Magic Johnson a Happy Birthday the other day, and his production company is planning a new television show.

Our guess is it is not the first time James has given Johnson a birthday shout out and his production company has several shows on the air, and yet James isn’t playing for the Lakers, or the Clippers for that matter.

We have said it before, we have no idea what James will do following the upcoming season, and neither does anyone reporting on it.

As for the Cavs, whether or not they believe James will be coming back in 2018-19, they should take steps toward getting younger.

They should learn from the past.

After losing in the 2013-14 Finals, four games to one to San Antonio, James left for a return to the Cavaliers reportedly because the Heat roster had peaked and had considerable age on it.

There were nine players with 10 or more years of experience in the NBA and there were nine players (not the same guys) over 30 years old.  James himself would not turn 30 until later that calendar year.

The Cavalier roster that ended this season with a four games to one loss to Golden State also had nine players with over ten years experience.  There eight players over 30 years old.

James Jones has retired, Deron Williams will not return, and we don’t know about Dahntay Jones, so probably three of those players will not be back, but new GM Koby Altman inked Jeff Green to a deal, and he will be 31 years old this season, and Jose Calderon is well over 30 too.

So, if the Cavs move Kyrie Irving, and we believe they will, why wouldn’t they want to get young players in return.  They should get a quality veteran to match up the salaries, but also a very good player still on his rookie contract.

As for those who say the Cavaliers have to “go for it” because this might be James’ last season in a Cavs uniform, any team with LeBron James on it is the favorite in the Eastern Conference, and a younger, more athletic team might be the best kind of team to defeat Golden State if that matchup occurs for a fourth straight year.

Either way, it makes sense to get younger.

If James leaves, you are set up well for the future along with whatever point guard you receive in a deal for Irving, Love, Tristan Thompson, and the other piece in the deal.

If he stays, it will be because he sees a team with the capability to make several more runs at a title.  He didn’t see that after the 2013 season with the Heat.

Getting another young stud to grow with the Cavs is simply the correct thing to do from a basketball standpoint, no matter what decision James makes.

LeBron James is a pragmatist.  He is going to do what is best for himself and his legacy.  He feels the need to win more titles to be the best player ever.

We don’t think he’s made any decision at this point.  What the Cavs’ front office and the team does between now and next June will help form whatever option he chooses.

JK

 

 

From Our View, Cavs Have To Move Irving

The news that Kyrie Irving asked Cavaliers management to trade him after the 2016-17 season ended, with a trip to the NBA Finals, by the way, is a bit old now, and the emotion can be removed somewhat.

We hear a lot of local people, media and fans alike, suggest that Irving and LeBron James sit down together and hash out their differences and then play together for this season, take the Cavs to another conference championship, and a possible NBA title.

If it were only that simple.

This is basketball we are talking about, a sports that relies on talent certainly, but also trust and teamwork.

It is difficult to achieve success if four players are pulling in one direction, while the fifth man on the court is looking for something different.

NBA history is full of examples of this.

The Detroit Pistons, led by Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace probably didn’t have the best talent in the league, but they played as one, and won a title.

Heck, the Cavs in 2014-15 had James, Irving, and Kevin Love, but it wasn’t until they dealt for JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov, and moved Dion Waiters, that they started to win.

What happens the first time Irving misses a key shot, or fails to pass to an open teammate, or allows his man to get an easy look?

Of course, his commitment to the team will be questioned, and not only by outsiders, but within the locker room.

It’s that kind of stuff that tears a team apart from the inside, and would make Tyronn Lue’s job extremely difficult.

This is especially true since results have come out saying the players on the roster are taking sides, and the vast majority don’t understand why a player would want to leave a team that has been to three straight Finals.

As for what GM Koby Altman can get in return, he will not get a player as talented as Irving is on offense, so what he has to do is construct a team that will win in a different way.

He can get a point guard who is a better defender and better playmaker than Irving.  Remember how James and Matthew Dellavedova would play off of each other?  Maybe you can get someone who can do that in the deal.

You also can create a deeper roster, one that will play better with James off of the floor, which would in turn allow #23 to play less minutes.

Less minutes during the regular season would mean a fresher LeBron in the playoffs, and we all know he can control a game by himself.

A better defender means you don’t have to score as many points to win games, and some of the scoring slack can be picked up by Love, Smith (who had a tough season with injuries a year ago), and newcomer Derrick Rose.

A deeper bench means you won’t have the drought that Cleveland had in the Finals, where when James came out of the game, leads vanished quicker than our money at the Jack Casino.

Moving Irving is Altman’s best chance to reshape the Cavs’ roster, giving the team a better chance to compete at a championship level for the next three to four years, assuming James stays on the roster.

Right now, there is a lot of age on the team, and a deal would allow the wine and gold to get younger and more athletic.

However, it would take more than a meeting of the minds for Kyrie Irving to stay in Cleveland.  The trust is gone, and that would be difficult to repair.

JK