Well, that was embarrassing. I’m so glad I don’t live in Ohio so I don’t have to watch this group of individuals (I can’t in good conscience call them a team, but maybe a "team") on a regular basis. There is so much dysfunction throughout the whole organization that everything is a mess. Unfortunately, we fans aren’t privy to much of the inner workings and dynamics between the players as well as the coaches. However, there is one essential truth found in this disaster of an organization: its success is tied directly to the development of Kyrie Irving. He is easily the most talented individual currently on the team and everyone else is more-or-less replaceable. So when making decisions moving forward, the possible effects, whether direct or indirect, on Kyrie Irving must be considered. He has superstar potential and everything this front office does should help him realize that potential (which they have failed to do thus far). So here is my suggested plan of attack:
1) Trade Andy at the deadline if a decent deal can be found.
This probably deserves more discussion than I will talk about right now but we aren’t winning with him and his value won’t ever be higher. Although he’s a great guy and hard worker, he doesn’t appear to be a commanding leader or influential locker-room presence. There are some serious issues behind-the-scenes and Andy simply isn’t a unifying force that can help straighten everything out. Just look at Kyrie’s statement on Deng’s professionalism and leadership. Remember that Andy has been on the Cavs during Irving’s entire tenure, so he’s obviously not making any sort of impact on Kyrie. While it’s difficult to create a trade scenario without any players being publicly shopped, Chris Grant (who I’ll get to soon) should look to grab a young player or draft pick. Maybe the Thunder would be willing to give up Jeremy Lamb for a new starting center.
2) Trade Dion
I think we all know it’s inevitable that Dion will need to be moved as he and Kyrie are totally incompatible at this point in their careers. The best backcourts in the league have guys with complementary skill sets that allow each man to play to his strengths and allow the group to be greater than the sum of its parts. Kyrie is an amazingly talented offensive weapon that needs the ball in his hands yet is a sieve defensively. So the last guy you want to pair him with is a good offensive player that needs the ball in his hands yet is a sieve defensively. It’s just not going to work. Going back to point #1, a player like Jeremy Lamb has been surprisingly solid on defense and is used to playing alongside ball-dominant point guards like Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier, and Russell Westbrook. Since Kyrie is the one untouchable on this team, he needs to be paired with a more appropriate shooting guard. Remember when we had Wayne Ellington play significant minutes last year? Yeah, a better version of him would really help.
3) Fire Chris Grant
I was all for keeping him until earlier this month, but now I think he needs to go. Yes, he’s made good trades but it hasn’t translated to any wins yet, mostly because he trades for draft picks that bust. Grant has been given two number one picks and two number four picks and Kyrie is likely the only one that will be significantly above average. I don’t care how bad the recent drafts were; if you defy popular opinion and consistently reach on prospects, you should be held accountable when they don’t work out. If the Cavs end up with a top-five draft pick, I have absolutely no confidence that Chris Grant will make the correct choice. For small market, rebuilding teams, the draft is the best chance to increase your team’s talent level. Chris Grant can’t draft so he shouldn’t be the GM of a team so dependent on draft-day success.
4) Consider firing Mike Brown
I don’t think Mike Brown is a poor coach, but if he is losing the team it’s something that needs to be considered. Personally, I feel the main problems for this team center around the players themselves as well as the people responsible for assembling the roster. However, Brown certainly isn’t helping matters. It took a Varejao injury for this year’s number one pick to even see the court. His rotations have been incredibly confusing at times, too. All in all, while I think he should stay, if he loses the confidence of the players he needs to be fired.
5) Bring in another professional, respected veteran this offseason
While Luol Deng isn’t a miracle worker, the comments made by current Cavalier players showed they were excited to have a true professional join the team. This current roster is young and has a combined basketball IQ lower than Forrest Gump. They need someone to teach them about work ethic and making sound decisions on the court. They need someone that isn’t afraid of confrontation and is ok with getting in their teammates’ faces. I don’t know who that would be but this team has absolutely no toughness and it shows in the number of blowouts they suffer week after week. Kyrie needs someone to look up to and model his behaviors after; someone that demands perfection and doesn't roll over when adversity strikes. Or maybe Mike Brown should just recreate this Liar Liar scene and see if it has any effect:
6) And PLEASE draft someone long and athletic with a passable shot!!!
I’m tired of watching a team that has been undersized at four positions ever since Lebron left (now only three with the addition of Deng). Do you know how much easier it is to shoot when you can run past or shoot right over your defender? Spoiler alert: it’s a lot easier. And think how much better you can defend when you have quick feet and a 6’10" wingspan. I’m tired of watching undersized tweeners like Dion and Anthony struggle to get a shot off while Tristan gets bullied in the paint by David West. Almost every stud in the NBA is a physical freak, whether due to their length, quickness, sheer size, or a combination of the three. Who’s the best player in the league that can be considered physically average at best? Paul Millsap and David Lee are the best I can recall. I think that informal assessment speaks for itself.
Now this is no panacea, but it’s a good start to get out of this rut the organization has found itself in. Much of the burden falls on Kyrie to make the leap to super-stardom. But these moves should put him and his teammates in a much better position to succeed moving forward.