As All-Star weekend is set to begin, it is a great time to reflect on the first half of the season. Leading up to the trade deadline, most fans and those in the media considered the Cavs season to be a disappointment. The overall consensus was the culprit was an old roster with with washed up stars that didn’t fit well with each other. Ego’s were ever present both in the starting lineup and off the bench, and LeBron James played like he had given up on trying get it to work.
Enter the trade deadline, and the Cavs seemingly absent GM Koby Altman pulled off the biggest player overhaul in over a decade. The results, albeit a small sample size of two games, have been telling. Ego’s were traded in for humble talent, and more importantly stars of yesteryear were replaced with hungry talented role players. Rose, Thomas, and Wade were all superstars in the past, but were not able to transition to role players on the LeBron James run Cavs team. They just didn’t fit.
With them gone, the air seems lighter, the negative comments are no longer prevalent between teammates and players once playing poorly have found new legs. A full week has gone by without finger pointing and more importantly LeBron and his remaining teammates from the pre-trade team all seem happy again. They are playing with joy and for each other. They are playing team basketball.
Add in the youth, energy and talent of the four new players, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, and Larry Nance Jr. and it looks like a sustainable recipe for success. Yes, these four players are not Kyrie Irving, but together the sum of their parts may be better in a series against Golden State. LeBron is the unquestioned King of this team now, and all the new and remaining players are quite ok with that. It’s this new mentality that will allow this team to go far into the playoffs and why the Cavs are now, once again, favorites to win the East.
David Griffin, the Cavs previous GM once said ” It’s all about the Fit” and I think we can see that the new GM, Koby Altman, has quickly realized that many pieces did not fit the needs, chemistry, and values of the Cavaliers. In three swift trades he rectified that by sending them away and bring in players that know and embrace their roles.
Only time will tell how far this team can go, but if the last two games are any indication of the potential of the new look Cavs, then I think we can all agree that like Lebron, we are all a lot more hopeful today than we were a week ago of the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Kaan Gencer