This offseason has been much longer than normal for Cavs fans, but the Cleveland Cavaliers will finally begin training camp this month.
The playoffs are likely still out of reach for this young team, but the 2019-2020 season should be entertaining nonetheless.
Here are three storylines to follow as the preseason approaches.
3. Kevin Love’s health and trade value
Cleveland’s best player and team leader missed 60 games last season due to a foot injury. The Cavs missed his offensive presence dearly, even though his efficiency wasn’t the greatest when he was on the floor. Love is now healthy, and should be able to carry much of the scoring load in 2019-2020.
But as he enters the first season of his four-year $120 million extension, his future with the Cavaliers is cloudy. He is now 31 years old, and doesn’t fit the timeline that the team is currently in.
There are reasons why he is constantly involved in trade rumors. It may make more sense for Cleveland to trade him for young players and draft picks, rather than keep around the aging star. But Love has stated multiple times that he has no desire to leave, and wants to finish his career in the wine and gold.
By giving him that lucrative extension, the Cavs may feel the same way, but if Love is healthy and playing well prior to the February team, a team desperate to contend may make the Cavaliers an offer they can’t refuse.
2. John Beilein’s adjustment to the NBA
The 66-year-old has had a very successful coaching career, taking programs that didn’t have the benefit of elite talent and turning them into perennial winners.
Beilein is a great basketball mind who balances classic and modern playstyles with his players. He’s found success everywhere he’s been, but he has never coached in the NBA in any capacity.
There will be growing pains, especially since Cleveland’s rotation will be full of inexperienced players. It’s fair to question whether Beilein’s coaching methods, schemes, and system will translate to the pro game.
Things should eventually pan out, but the beginning of the season may be difficult, as Beilein must figure out how to balance playing time for the surprisingly deep roster that the Cavaliers have.
1. The development of the young talent
Figuring out how to get all six significant and consistent playing time will be a challenge for Beilein, as the Cavs have seven veterans who also need to play significant minutes. This logjam will likely be loosened a bit at the trade deadline, but until then, Cleveland has to prioritize the young players, especially in the backcourt.
Sexton and Garland have similar physical profiles and weaknesses, and the team has to figure out quickly whether the two can play together long-term, or if one will have to be moved to benefit the other. Osman is also due for a contract extension, so seeing how much he’s improved this offseason will be important for negotiations.
Porter Jr. and Windler will be backups, but both have the talent to play big roles early on. 50 losses or more is likely once again for this team, so fans will need to focus on the young guys to give them hope for the future.