The Cleveland Cavaliers are only six games into a long 82-game season, but the Cavs have already put themselves in the race for the worst record in the league as they remain winless during this 2018-19 season.
The post-LeBron James era has brought even more devastation than fans had expected, leaving one clear answer for this team: embrace the tank.
A young and inexperienced Cavs roster could very well make a bid to finish last in the entire league, as the rest of the team is comprised of loose pieces meant to play a support role for a superstar player who is no longer there. Yet getting the worst record is not necessary to acquire the first overall pick for the fourth time in the last nine years, as changes to the NBA Draft Lottery structure will now give the worst three teams an equal 14 percent chance to get the No. 1 pick. Furthermore, as long as the Cavs finish with a top-10 pick, they will keep that pick instead of sending it to the Atlanta Hawks.
Despite the recent firing of head coach Tyronn Lue, Cleveland’s 0-6 run has not been a matter of a slow start or organizational dysfunction, but rather a mere lack of talent and a poor roster construction as a result of building a team to maximize one player’s strengths without a backup plan.
That backup plan was Kevin Love, who the Cavs signed to a four-year, $120 million extension earlier in the summer, a move that was likely destined to fail from its very origin.
Love had already proven incapable of single-handedly carrying a team to the postseason during his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and whatever upside he had as a 20-10 threat was lost after four years mired as the support piece for LeBron James, which only hindered his progress as a player.
This now takes a different twist as the Cavs prepare to be without Love for roughly a month or more, putting the team in deep trouble if they hoped to be on the playoff bubble.
As for the trade deadline, anyone above the age of 30 could be a potential goner, as Kyle Korver, 37; Channing Frye, 35; J.R. Smith, 33; and George Hill, 32; could all be packaged in any potential trade including Love, 30; should teams call inquiring.
Cleveland has a bevy of young players to develop in Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson, among others. These players will go through their fair share of struggles but ultimately get the necessary game experience to bloom as potential helpful pieces for this roster moving forward.
If the Cavs fall among the three worst teams in the NBA, they stand a good shot at garnering one of the best talents in the NBA Draft, perhaps one of Duke’s holy trinity of next-level talent in Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and R.J. Barrett — three potentially transformational players who can bring this team back to relevance over the turn of the decade.
Cleveland has likely seen the very last of LeBron in a Cavs jersey (barring a retirement tour), so the franchise should now focus on rebuilding and building for a brighter future by scoring big in the draft. The team will still need to assign an interim coach, as Larry Drew has yet to agree to terms due to the non-existent guarantee for a long-term position.
Whomever the Cavs hire to take over the helm should ultimately be on board with this short-term goal: embrace the tank and ensure the team is in a position to come out of this nightmarish season to see brighter days.