Sexton Is A Solid Pick For Wine and Gold.

In today’s NBA, what happens on draft night could be totally different two weeks or two months from now.

As it stands right now, the Cavaliers drafted a point guard with the eighth overall pick in the draft last night, grabbing Alabama’s Collin Sexton, a pick that received mixed reviews.

We believe the reason was the expectation that GM Koby Altman was going to swing a deal to bring in a veteran star player in an effort to keep LeBron James with the team, but James is said to like Sexton too.

Of course, there is still time for Altman to swing a deal before the end of the month when the free agency period begins in earnest.

In our opinion, Sexton is a very good pick.

There is no question that he needs to work on his shot.  He shot just 44.7% from the floor and just 33.6% from behind the arc.  However, he demonstrated a tremendous ability to get to the basket.

He did shoot 78% from the line which shows he can shoot a bit, and remember, he’s just 19 years old, and although a player can’t improve his lateral quickness, they can work on their shooting, and get better through spending time in the gym.

One thing that was evident watching the Cavs in the playoffs, was they needed players who can create offense by attacking the basket.  Too often, the only guy doing that was James.

Let’s face it, after the Kyrie Irving deal last summer, the Cavs needed a penetrating guard who can finish around the basket, although that could be a problem without a reliable jump shot to keep defenders honest.

Sexton will need to improve his playmaking ability to be successful in the NBA, because he was more of a combo guard in college, but again, he’s just a year out of high school, and we have seen a lot of scorers in college become playmakers in the pros.

His reputation is that he is a hard worker and plays well in big games.  We love that.  Players can improve by working hard, and when players don’t pan out in the NBA, many times it is because they don’t put the time in during the off-season.

And as a bonus, Sexton is considered a solid defender, something that outside of George Hill has been missing from the games of Cavs’ point guards for awhile.

Another reason for disappointment with the choice of Sexton is that the wine and gold passed on Michael Porter Jr., considered one of the most talented players available.

However, Porter’s back problems (also at age 19!) were simply too much of a red flag.  Everyone seems to look at his upside, but what if he’s this decade’s Greg Oden, a player who simply can’t either get on the floor or stay on it.

As for the big picture, keeping the pick and taking Sexton doesn’t mean James is leaving Cleveland, nor does it mean he is staying.

We said it before the Cavs have another week to make moves in an attempt to make James see this is a good place for him to try to win another title.

It could be the most important week this franchise has had off the court in a long time.

JK

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Is Lue The Right Man For This Cavs’ Team?

As the Cleveland Cavaliers head into another “must win” game tonight against the Indiana Pacers, down 2-1 in the best of seven series, the heat is getting turned up on coach Tyronn Lue.

Many people, including us, have been critical of Lue’s substitution patterns and the wine and gold’s defensive scheme, which centers on having players who can defend multiple positions.

He has had problems incorporating the four players GM Koby Altman acquired at the trade deadline into the mix.  Outside of Larry Nance Jr., and we are stretching it with that, none of the new guys appear to know what they are supposed to do on a night in, night out basis.

However, when Lue took over the head coaching reins midway through the 2015-16 campaign, he took over a pretty much a veteran unit.

The only younger guy he inherited was Matthew Dellavedova, who was in his third NBA season, and was a backup point guard and defensive specialist.

Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert were in the fifth NBA seasons, and they all understood what their roles were.  Irving was the second option offensively, capable of explosive performances.

Thompson and Shumpert were defensive players based on hustle and grit.

The primary bench options on that team were veterans like Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, and Mo Williams.

Lue’s biggest move upon taking over the team was to get them to play at a faster pace.  He famously said the Cavs were not in shape to play the up tempo game he wanted.

Now, switch to 2017-18, and the Cavaliers are a much different team.

Yes, there still is experience with James and Kyle Korver (15th season), JR Smith (14th),  Jose Calderon (13th), and Jeff Green and George Hill (10th), but after the deadline moves, there are also a lot of younger players in the rotation.

Nance is in his third year, while Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson are both in their fourth seasons, and of that trio, only Hood has been on a winning team prior to coming to Cleveland.

Cedi Osman is a rookie, and although he has shown promise that he can contribute to this team, the coaching staff seemed bothered by his presence, giving him real minutes only after the trade, and many times that was due to necessity.

What we are trying to say is Lue didn’t have experience as a head coach in developing young players, and that’s what was needed after Altman turned over the roster.

The coaching staff appears to be throwing these young players out there and seeing if they can figure it out, that doesn’t always work.

At least one media member has pointed out that the four new guys played better before the coaching staff started giving them instructions and direction.

Remember the two games right after the deals?  The road wins over Boston and Oklahoma City might have been the two best wins of the season for Cleveland.  The newcomers just went out and played basketball.

Even the veterans who started the season, save for Dwyane Wade, looked lost at times, not sure of what they were supposed to do.  Jae Crowder didn’t look remotely like the player he was in Boston, but he’s contributing for Utah right now.

NBA head coaches are used to change a team’s culture, which Lue was brought in to do in 2016.  Other times, they are needed to coach, to develop younger talent.  That’s wasn’t Tyronn Lue’s job when he took over.

But that’s what is needed now.

JK

Will A Rookie Help the ’18-’19 Cavs?

The Cleveland Cavaliers are heading to the NBA playoffs, but some fans are obsessed with the draft pick which the Cavs acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade.

That pick, of course, originally belonged to the Brooklyn Nets, who fans of the wine and gold have been following all season long.

We even heard some fans saying that LeBron James should sit out Sunday’s game against Dallas because a Mavericks victory could help the Nets sink in the standings, thus giving the Cavs a better chance to obtain the first pick in the NBA draft.

The most attractive thing about the pick, which currently sits in the 7th position if the season ended today, giving Cleveland a 4.3% chance at the first overall selection and a 15% opportunity to pick in the top three, is what it is worth to other teams.

We say that because of today’s nature of the draft, which because of the “one and done” rule, means many of the lottery picks are based on potential, not the ability to help a good NBA team right now.

Note that we said a good NBA team, meaning one that makes the playoffs.  Let’s examine last June’s draft, for example.

Of the rookies getting more than 20 minutes of playing time per game, only four are doing so on teams that will probably make the post-season.  That quartet would be Jayson Tatum (Boston), Donovan Mitchell (Utah), Bam Adebayo (Miami), and OG Anunoby (Toronto).

Of those four, only Tatum was picked in the top ten.  Granted, most good teams don’t get an opportunity to pick in the top ten, however, think about it.  None of the rookies taken in the top ten have been impactful enough to lift their teams out of the lottery.

Looking at the year before, the only player who was a rotation players with a playoff teams was Jaylen Brown (3rd overall pick with Boston).

Now in their second year, Ben Simmons (Philadelphia-1st overall), Jamal Murray (Denver-7th pick), Jakob Poeltl (Toronto 9th), and Thon Maker (Milwaukee-10th) are contributing to playoff teams, but the other players who were selected in the top of the draft are still on bad teams.

Going back to 2015, first overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns will likely help Minnesota make the playoffs, but the rest of the players picked in the top ten are still on also-rans.

Beyond that group, Myles Turner Kelly Oubre, and Terry Rozier and solid contributors on playoff squads.

So, looking at the players projected to be selected in the top ten in the 2018 draft, how many could get significant playing time on the Cavs next fall, if James remains with the team?

Certainly Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton and Duke’s Marvin Bagley would be rotation players, but they are projected to go with the first two selections.

Most of the other players thought to be top ten picks probably don’t have NBA ready bodies.

Other players we think could play right away are Collin Sexton, a freshman point guard out of Alabama, Duke C Wendell Carter, and Villanova swingman Mikel Bridges, who is a junior, not a one year college player.

This isn’t to say the other top selections won’t be solid NBA players in time, or that they won’t put up good numbers for bad teams.

The point is there aren’t many players ready to come into the league and be solid contributors for a team with aspirations of making a deep playoff run, and history shows this is the norm.

So, the best plan for GM Koby Altman is a draft day trade to bring in a young veteran who will fit in and be able to help now.  We aren’t talking about a guy who is on the wrong side of 30, but a player in his mid-20’s who might be heading toward the free agent market, like Kevin Love was when the Cavs traded for him.

That’s the best bet for the Cavaliers, not someone who played just one year of college basketball.

JK

Cavs’ Roster Make Over…Wow!

Wow!  That is our first reaction to the wheeling and dealing done by Cleveland Cavaliers’ GM Koby Altman on the day of the NBA trade deadline, in which he turned over 40% of his team’s roster.

The Cavs were the NBA’s oldest roster and they were showing it over the last six weeks, losing 12 of their last 19 games and getting boat raced by every good team they played, and some average teams as well.

In three big moves, the wine and gold got younger, more athletic, and in our opinion, more likely to retain LeBron James when he becomes a free agent after the season.

Of the six players moved, the biggest impact looking to be the departure of Channing Frye, a veteran glue guy who provided leadership in the locker room.

Dwyane Wade, who went back home to Miami for a second round pick, will also be missed.  Wade, no longer with the athleticism he had in his prime, still made the correct play, and tried to impart that to his teammates.

The other four were disappointments.  Isaiah Thomas didn’t seem to fit in with the Cavs, and neither did the guy who came over from Boston with him, Jae Crowder.

Thomas is a good player, but was not 100% after the hip injury, and since he was a free agent to be at the end of the season, the Cavs couldn’t afford to see how that story ended.

Crowder scored more than five points per game less than he did a year ago, and was shooting five percentage points less in 2017-18.

Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert have been injured much of the season.

In return, Cleveland got three players in their mid-twenties in Rodney Hood (25), Larry Nance Jr. (25), and Jordan Clarkson (25) and George Hill, who will turn 32 in May.

Hood, coming from Utah, is enjoying his best season as a pro, averaging 16.8 points per game, shooting 38.9% from three point range.  He’s long too at 6’8″, and a good free throw shooter at 87.6%.

Nance Jr. is coming home, where his father’s number hangs in the rafters.  He’s a solid defender, can jump through the ceiling, and is scoring 8.6 points and grabbing 6.8 board per contest.

Clarkson is a combo guard, with a career scoring average of 14.5 points per night.  He can knock down threes, although he’s kind of a streaky shooter.  He is getting 3.3 assists per game in an average of just under 24 minutes.

Hill is the veteran and will likely take over starting duties.  He’s 6’3″, and currently leads the league in three point shooting at 45.3%.  He is scoring at 10.3 points per game with Sacramento this season, after getting 16.9 a night last season.

This quartet makes the wine and gold longer and that should help the defense.  Hill keeps his man in front of him, something not seen much in Cleveland this season.

We have begged coach Tyronn Lue to slow down the pace because of the age of the team, but with the younger legs, he should be able to get the ball up the floor quickly going forward.

But now the Cavs have some young players who can get better going forward to go with James, and that may be enough, along with a draft pick that could be in the top five by the time the season is over, to entice him to re-sign in northeast Ohio.

That pick could be used on draft night to bring in another star player in a trade.

The biggest thing for the fans is hope that the Cavaliers, who looked very little like a team that can make deep playoff run over the last few weeks, now can do just that.

It may take some time for the new pieces to gel, but if and when they do, there is no question the Cavs are in a better place than they were two days ago.

And that’s a good thing.

JK

 

 

Two Wins Doesn’t Mean Cavs Are Good To Go

For the first time since mid December, the Cleveland Cavaliers have won two games in a row.  The consecutive victories came after coach Tyronn Lue moved Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup and moved Jae Crowder to the bench.

However, any thoughts that GM Koby Altman doesn’t need to make any moves heading into the February 8th trading deadline should be put to bed.  This roster still needs some revamping.

First, the two wins both came at Quicken Loans Arena, where the wine and gold haven’t had trouble winning this season.  They are 18-6 at home in 2017-18, one of the top ten records in the league this season.  The best records are San Antonio (21-4) and Toronto (18-4).

The Cavaliers aren’t too far off that pace.

Cleveland is 11-13 away from northeast Ohio.  Only seven teams have winning records on the road this season, but the Cavs are supposed to be an elite team.  The best records are by Golden State, Boston, Houston, Toronto, and Miami.

Outside of the Heat, those are teams who came into the year searching a championship.

The good teams in the NBA also win big.  The squads with the best records in games decided by 10 or more points are Toronto, Boston, Golden State, Houston, and Washington.  Cleveland is 8-11, in the lower half of the league.

This is not a team that looks like an elite team, at least right now.  So, management shouldn’t look at two victories, one over a Pistons team that has lost eight in a row, as a solution.

This basketball team still needs height.

The Cavs’ only true big men are Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, Channing Frye, and little used Ante Zizic.  None provide a deterrent to opponents who want to drive to the basket.

It is something the front office has ignored since the middle of last season, when Chris Andersen and Andrew Bogut went down with injuries.  It has to be addressed going forward.

We are sure that Lue would also be happy if some of the roster logjams are taken care of.  With Isaiah Thomas back, he has to divide up time for Thomas, Dwyane Wade, and Derrick Rose at the point.  For sure, Wade isn’t going anywhere, so moving one of the other two would clarify things.

Jeff Green has been a godsend to date, averaging in double figures in points (10.8) and is one of the few Cavs playing solid defense, but Lue can’t find minutes for Iman Shumpert, who hasn’t earned them, and Cedi Osman, who has.

And remember, in Sunday’s win over Detroit, neither Thomas, Rose, or Thompson played in the fourth quarter when the wine and gold put the game away.

Lue has problems fitting people into rotations, and the roster may be too deep because the coach can’t keep everyone happy.  Players like to know how they are going to be used, and it is difficult for Lue to make that happen.

So, with just a week ago before the trading deadline, Altman can’t be complacent, he has to realize this roster needs help to get to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight year.

General Managers don’t usually get fooled by two games.  Here’s hoping Altman isn’t either.

JK

 

Not Ready To Give Up Hope That Cavs Can’t Win A Title.

Nothing incites panic around the sports city of Cleveland more than a Cavs regular season loss to the Golden State Warriors.

After Monday night’s defeat, the town was filled with talk ranging from the wine and gold having no chance to win a second title in three years to folks talking about how the Cavaliers should deal LeBron James before he can leave in free agency this summer.

Our belief from watching the two games, which were played within three weeks, is right now Cleveland is a little short, but both games were decided late.  The Christmas Day matchup was tied with a couple minutes remaining, while the Martin Luther King Day game was even into the fourth quarter.

It would be surprising if Koby Altman didn’t make a deal before the trading deadline, but everyone assumes such a transaction would involve a fourth star player to add to James, Isaiah Thomas, and Kevin Love.

That may not necessarily be the case.

We believe the team needs an upgrade on the wing, where JR Smith has declined from the title team of 2015-16.  Getting a player like Kent Bazemore from Atlanta (12.5 points, 39% from three, a very good defender) would be an upgrade.

Maybe you could swing a deal to bring Bazemore and C Dewayne Dedmon (10.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 41% from three) to the team, upgrading the team at both the wing and getting a rim protector.

Or you good get Nerlens Noel and Wesley Matthews from Dallas, a duo that would accomplish the same task.

Getting players such as these would give Cleveland a better chance against the Warriors because it would improve them, or at least should improve them defensively.

Of course, improving the team’s defensive scheme would be a step in the right direction as well.  If you don’t think the philosophy is an issue, just check the performance of Jae Crowder last year in Boston, and Kyrie Irving’s defense a year ago in Cleveland.

As for the organization’s biggest prize, the first round pick from Brooklyn, we would consider giving up that pick for a young player who is under contract for two or three more years, or at least isn’t an unrestricted free agent during that span.

After all, a player who is already good is better than one who might be good, because the latter describes most draft picks.

While we understand that Tyronn Lue likes to play with pace, we would rather see a different tact against the Warriors.

We would slow the game down on offense, and try to establish an inside power game vs. Golden State, being very physical with them.  Let James operate the offense out of the post, and whoever is being guarded by Stephen Curry needs to take him to the basket at all costs.

Why not take a page out of the 80’s Celtics playbook vs. the Showtime Lakers?

Playing fast is what Golden State does, and if you try to match them, we feel you will lose more often than not, because they are better at it than you are.

Because the games were close late, we feel some creative minor tinkering would be enough to make a possible fourth straight Finals’ matchup competitive and one the Cavaliers could win.

We refuse to think any team is unbeatable.  No doubt, the Warriors are good, in fact, they are a great team.  They aren’t perfect, though.

It’s up to Lue, James, and the wine and gold organization to put together the plan and the talent to knock them off.

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

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

 

 

Irving’s Shocking News Doesn’t Have To Kill Cavs

It was certainly unbelievable Friday afternoon when word come out that Kyrie Irving wanted to be traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

We have said for a long time that it was not a good thing when Irving started talking to former Laker star Kobe Bryant.

After all, Bryant was so self involved as a player that he ran off the most dominant player in the sport, Shaquille O’Neal, after the 2003-04 season, after a stretch where they won three titles and made four Finals appearances in five years.

The Lakers missed the playoffs the following season, and it took Los Angeles four years before they got to The Finals again, and five before they won another title.

By the way, the Lakers never won a title in a season where Bryant led them in win shares.

So, Irving can add another thing in common with Bryant, perhaps the most selfish superstar of his generation.  He wants to separate himself from the most dominant player currently playing in the NBA, LeBron James.

Irving is certainly a gifted player, but he is far from perfect, although his shot gave the Cavaliers a championship, which makes a lot of fans forgive the weaknesses he has in his game.

His lack of effort on defense is one reason he is not considered one of the sport’s best point guards.  In fact, if you are honest, you would rank him 6th or 7th in the league at his position.

And let’s face it, the ball sticks in his hands on offense, and is a primary reason the Cavs struggle when James is out of the game.  For the most part, The King moves the ball.  Yes, there are still times when he dribbles excessively too, but not like Kyrie when LeBron is on the bench.

In those moments, Irving appears to feel like he must take every shot, passing only when he exhausts every option to get his shot off.

You would think with two other all stars on the floor, the wine and gold should function well with LBJ not playing, but since Irving seems to rarely find Kevin Love on the court, the Cavs struggle in those situations.

This doesn’t need to be the end of the Cavs’ run to The Finals.  In fact, it could be the opportunity they need to improve the team and change the dynamic of the roster.

They may be able get more of a traditional point guard, and a better defender at the position and add help in other areas.

Let’s say you can replace Irving with Phoenix’ Eric Bledsoe (21.1 PPG, 6.3 APG), and you can get another very good young player, or perhaps find a way to get Carmelo Anthony, and still sign Derrick Rose as a free agent.

Of course, you would probably have to move Iman Shumpert and perhaps Channing Frye, two players the wine and gold have been looking to move anyway, as well.

Isn’t the Cavaliers roster a little stronger?

LeBron James might be a demanding teammate, but wouldn’t it be better for Irving’s career if he was the second best player on a team that made four straight Finals appearances, and maybe, just maybe won two titles?

Scottie Pippen is considered an all time great, and he was Michael Jordan’s sidekick with the Bulls’ title teams.

That wasn’t good enough for Kobe, err Kyrie Irving.  That’s why it’s hard to believe he can return to the Cavaliers.

JK

 

No GM, No Big Moves, But Cavs Still Team To Beat In East

Ever since the Cleveland Cavaliers lost Game 5 of the NBA Finals, thus losing the series, it seems like a black cloud has followed the franchise, at least if you listen to the national media.

First, GM David Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert couldn’t reach an agreement on the former’s future with the team and parted ways.

Then, they tried and failed to get Paul George in a trade with Indiana before the draft, and despite the lack of a GM, this one is really on the Pacers, because their general manager killed the deal.

And according to who you listen to the Cavs have lost out on other free agents too, even though most of those players received contract offers much greater than the Cavaliers can pay because of the salary cap.

However, one thing has not changed with the franchise.  They are still the best team in the Eastern Conference and the odds on favorite to return to The Finals for the fourth consecutive year.

That, my friends gives them a one in two chance to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy as NBA Champs.

The team with the best record in the regular season in the East, the Celtics added the prime free agent available this summer in Gordon Hayward, but they also lost Avery Bradley, an excellent defensive guard in a deal with Detroit to clear cap space.

The other challengers in the East, the Wizards, really haven’t added a significant piece, although they helped their bench, and Toronto’s point guard, Kyle Lowry got another year older, and they traded D’Marre Carroll and lost P.J. Tucker as a free agent.

Meanwhile, the Cavs still have the big three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, who together have lost just one playoff series in the last three seasons.

They also still have Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, and kept shooter extraordinaire, Kyle Korver.

The only players lost to this point by Cleveland are the free agents, Deron Williams and James Jones, and the latter is probably going to retire.

Now, we aren’t thrilled with the Jose Calderon signing, but getting Jeff Green is a solid move, and we will have to wait and see if Cedi Osman will be able to play in the NBA.

Whoever the new GM is, and it will probably be Koby Altman, still has some of the mid-level exemption to use to sign more players, and of course, there is the veteran minimum as well.

Some of the players we have talked about recently (Shabazz Muhammad, Jeff Withey, etc.) are still available and with cap space drying up around the league, who knows, perhaps a player like that will fall into the wine and gold’s hands.

As for James’ future, which everyone nationally has him leaving after the 2017-18 season, for every reason “experts” speculate why he will leave, we can think of one why he will remain in northeast Ohio.

FYI, that’s not a prediction, because we don’t think anyone, except for LeBron and his people, knows what he is thinking about right now.

What we do know is the Cavaliers will be a very good team at the start of the regular season and everyone should enjoy it because they will be the team to beat in the East.

As for the West?  Houston and Oklahoma City are challenging Golden State, and you can never forget about San Antonio.

The national media’s worries?  First, the off-season still has about two and a half months to go, so more moves could be coming.

But really, nothing has changed since the Cavs rolled through the East with just one loss in the conference playoffs.

JK