I read almost every post on this site and it appears that many of you are pushing to expedite the rebuilding process. I think this line of thinking is flawed, and we need to be patient with our players, and our front office. I have written this article to explain why being patient during this process is absolutely critical.
We are only in the second year of our rebuild. Everyone likes to say this is the third year of the plan, but it isn’t. The year after LeBron was not spent rebuilding, that was spent jettisoning bad contracts, and finally beginning to compile assets. We had no young players, and we had no high draft picks. The rebuild really did not start until we drafted Kyrie Irving. Expecting a team to rebuild for one season, and then contend is unreasonable.
The Cavs are literally right on schedule for their plan. We are in the second year of the rebuild and we already have the right type of assets required to build a contender.All-Star?: Check
No bad long-term contracts?: Check
Young promising front-court player?: Check
Young promising Back Court?: Check
Financial flexibility?: Check
Multiple draft picks?: Check
These are the components you rebuild with. We have ALL of them; our current problem is that they have not matured..
With the current CBA rules, you only get one shot at free agency. One of the biggest complaints I see is that the Cavs did not fill out there bench in the offseason, essentially dooming us to a terrible record. I agree with that statement but I don’t believe it’s as bad as everyone makes it out to be. With the new harsher salary cap, you only get to blow your free agency load once. If you miss, that’s it, you’re done. Signing a bad free agent to a long-term contract is the worst possible mistake you can make with the new salary rules.
Look at the Nets, they are absolutely screwed and there is nothing they can do about it. They signed and traded for players who do not perform to the level of their contracts, and they’re done. They will never seriously contend because they do not have a roster that will ever bring home a championship.
Does that fate look familiar? It should, it was the same fate the LeBron era Cavs had, except LeBron was great enough vs. the Pistons to catapult us into the Finals so we could enjoy the experience of being blown out for 4 straight games. We need to avoid this fate at all costs. It is much better for Chris Grant to fail to pay a performing player than it is to overpay an underperforming player. We get ONE shot at this, we cannot miss. Maximum discretion is required.
Our young players are not ready for a playoff push yet. I’ll use Dion as my prime example. I criticize Dion constantly on this site; he is by a wide margin our most frustrating player. The truth about Dion is that he just isn’t ready yet. He isn’t ready to consistently perform at a high level in the NBA as a starting guard. This is 100% fine, he isn’t supposed to be ready yet. Dion, Zeller, and TT are not even close to finished products yet. They need to get consistent minutes and get ALL of their flaws on display.
This may seem counter-intuitive but until you know what’s broken, you don’t know what to fix. Tyler needs to be stronger, and learn how to defend NBA big-men. Dion needs to learn how to play basketball at a high level. Right now, he has no idea what to do in an NBA offense or defensive system. He also needs to work on his jumper.
We don’t really know what we have yet. We don’t know how Dion and Tyler will develop with a full off-season. Look at Tristan Thompson; he looked absolutely horrible last year on offense. This year he has developed two very reliable moves, and he has at least one HUGE dunk every single game on a put-back. The transformation is amazing. What will Dion look like next year? What will Tyler look like? The answer is, we have no idea..
Without knowing how our young players will turn out, we don’t know which holes to fill in free agency. The light may never go on for Dion or Tyler, they may not improve much. We may also have another all-star and a starting center. Without having any idea how they will pan out, we don’t know if we have to pay another SG in free agency. You can’t be blindly groping in the dark with your cap space, you must know exactly what you need, and then take a calculated risk on a free agent or trade acquisition. We do not have enough information to take our shot yet.
The good news is our players will get better every single year due to their age. The bad news is, we don’t know what we have, or what we need yet. I believe we need another full-season before it really becomes clear what major pieces we need to fill in through trades and free agency.