CANTON, Ohio- There are still some moving parts to this Cavaliers team, including missing two key parts. But, they’ve figured out ways to win games lately.
On November 18th, I posted an article on moves that still needed to be made regarding the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I’ve always been straight forward with all of you when I say, I do not have any inside sources or anything like that. I do, however, probably do a little more reading and in-depth reading at that, then the casual fan.
Derrick Rose has left the Cavaliers to think about his future regarding playing basketball. Does he really want to continue playing? From what I read, he’s tired of always being hurt, and just when he thinks he might be able to stay somewhat healthy (By his standards), Rose gets hit with yet another injury. Right now, it’s the ankle. But Rose has been dealing with the injury bug for quite a few years now. It’s a big reason why he came so cheap to Cleveland. It’s time, and been time at that, for the Cavs to move on. It would be in the best interest for both Derrick Rose and the Cavs, if he decides to retire. There’s one big thing that would hold that from happening. And yes, it’s pretty big. Derrick Rose signed a 13-year extension with Adidas in 2012. If he walks away from the NBA now, he’d be walking away from seven years and $80 million left on the deal. Would/could Rose do that?
If Rose does retire, this would help open another roster spot. It would also allow Cleveland to bring in a younger, more talented and reliable player. Right now, Jose Calderon is filling in for Rose. He’s started 3 games and to his credit, he’s held his own. I wasn’t expecting him to play as well as he has. Coach Lue knows Calderon isn’t going to give him many minutes or points. Jose has given them some production. He’s not who you want as the backup all year. Cleveland ideally can’t wait for Isaiah Thomas to get back. Again, I’m predicting sometime in early January. I’m guessing Thomas has January 3rd 2018 circled. Cleveland plays in Boston that night. It will be his first time back in Boston since the trade. Jae Crowder the same.
If I’m the Cavs, I’m hoping Rose decides to retire. They can then find a suitable player to fill that role, or at least have two players consistently playing at the point. Having three different players rotating at one position when it’s happening this often does the team no good.
Dwyane Wade has been a surprise off the bench.
First, I never would have expected him to go to coach Lue and tell him his role on this team would be best coming off the bench. Think about that. Think about how good of a resume Wade has. All that he’s accomplished in his career. For a guy like Wade to realize that he’s better suited to run the bench bunch and then go out and do it, says something. Cleveland had one of the worst benches in the NBA last year. Some say, that if the Cavs had a top five bench like they do this year, last year, they might have been able to push Golden State to seven games. Whether that would have put them over the Warriors, I don’t think so. The Warriors starters were out-playing Cleveland’s starters. But yes, a better bench would’ve helped.
Dwyane Wade, in 17 games with Cleveland, is averaging 10 PPG, 4 assists and 4 rebounds per game. Wade has had some games where he’s scored more than 20 points. The Cavaliers bench is benefitting from his play. This year, Cleveland’s bench is 5th in the NBA in points per game with 40. Only the Kings (49), Nets (45), Grizzlies (43) and Lakers (40.5) are higher. None of those teams are considered title contenders. Golden State’s bench scores 34 PPG which ranks them 18th in the NBA. That’s also an improvement from last year for the Warriors. They ranked 23rd in bench points during the 2016-2017 year. Cleveland ranked 28th.
Kyle Korver has played a huge role in two areas for Cleveland since the trade from Atlanta last year. Korver has helped improve Cleveland’s bench and the Cavs team free-throw percentage. There are a number of players on the Cavs that have aided in this stat, but Korver is a career 88 percent from the free-throw line. Last year, Cleveland ranked 22nd in free-throw percentage at 75 percent. This year, the Cavaliers are the second-best team in the NBA from the line at 81% with only the Utah Jazz ahead of them.
Kyle Korver is not only one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history, but one of the best shooters in NBA history period. Perhaps that has drawn out the shooter in James. Lebron has never really been known as a three-point threat. As a matter of fact, teams have always preferred James to shoot instead of drive to the rim. They still do, but any player, coach or GM will tell you, once James starts hitting his shots from 15 feet out or further, Lebron is not guardable.
Don’t look now, but ever since Korver came to Cleveland last year, Lebron’s three-point percentage has gone up. In 2015-16, James shot 30% from deep. Lebron shot 36% last year and is shooting 42% this year from deep. Now, I don’t anticipate James throwing his name into the three-point contest hat anytime soon during NBA all-star weekend, but if James can stay around 38-40% from deep, talk about stretching a defense!
For the record, James is shooting his best percentage at 78% from the free-throw line as well.
Before I get to the Thompson rumor, I wanted to point out how well Channing Frye has played since he’s been given playing time. I’ll never understand why Lue stopped using him during last year’s playoff run.
There is a rumor going around, that the Cavaliers are indeed very open-minded to dealing Tristan Thompson.
Thompson has been nursing a calf injury and has missed a significant amount of games this year. But that’s not the only thing Cavs officials are concerned about.
Apparently, from what I’ve been reading, and I’ve been doing a lot of reading, Thompson’s focus on basketball hasn’t been the same since his relationship with Khloe Kardashian began. There have been some rumblings from the locker room, that Thompson hasn’t been as focused on basketball and has become more focused on his celebrity status along with her way of life, as opposed to life on the hardwood.
Naturally, with all that comes rumors that Cleveland wants a more basketball-focused big man. I said, well before this whole situation with Khloe even started, that Cleveland could do better at his position. Especially with the money he is making.
New to the Thompson rumor mill today, is a trade that would send Thompson to the Clippers in exchange for big man DeAndre Jordan.
As of now, the Clippers are also seeking a guard in exchange for Jordan due to losing guard Patrick Beverley for the year.
If the Clippers continue to spiral out of control, their asking price may come down.
Would I trade Thompson straight up for Jordan? It’s hard to say, only because Jordan can become a free-agent next Summer. I would not, however, include that Nets first-round pick.
DeAndre Jordan is averaging 10 PTS, 13.8 TRB and 1 BLK per game. But, again, he can become a free-agent. Also, is he a piece that would help Cleveland get past the Warriors? He would provide some rim protection and with more talent around him, Jordan would likely get more high percentage shots than he already does.
Tristan Thompson is signed through the 2019-2020 season, but Thompson is a one trick pony as I said in my last Cavs article. Jordan would pose as a slightly bigger threat on offense with lob passes and dunks. Plus, again, he’s a better rim protector.
Either way, Cleveland needs to figure out a way to get a deal done for Thompson and find a more dependable point guard.
For the last two weeks, all I’ve heard from the national talking heads, was how good of defense Irving has played since joining the Celtics. I checked out who led the league in steals. In fact, it was Irving who was leading the NBA in steals. I talked to a friend of mine, who is a Pistons fan. When I brought that up, he simply smiled a bit and responded with “Ya, that won’t last long. You, especially, should know that covering the Cavs as long as you have”. He was right. Irving has dropped from #1 to 11th. I’ll take it a step further. I watched some of Boston’s game down in Miami the other night and nothing has changed with Kyrie when it comes to dealing with screens. Irving just refuses to stay on front of his man or show any interest of helping out defensively. I did not watch the whole game, but from what I did see, that was what I seen. Boston as a team, is still #1 in points allowed per game at 95. Offensively, the Celtics need help. The Celtics rank 21st in PPG at 102. They better keep playing great defense if they want to continue their early found success.
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Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis