The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the process of executing a historic, monumental offseason. They aren't done yet. While some dared to dream that this might be possible twelve months ago, nothing that has happened has made any type of sense. I don't need to run you through what all has happened to the team in that time period. Suffice it to say that the Cavaliers added Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark, Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev, and Carrick Felix last summer. Only Matthew Dellavedova, who came to the team's training camp on an unguaranteed deal, survives.
So of course, the Cavs are the prohibitive favorite to win the East this year.
Trying to guess what happens in the next twelve months feels like folly, but I am prepared to make a guess or two. And an assertion or two as well.
Guess: The Cleveland Cavaliers won't be coming off a championship season next August.
There are so many new faces, so many young players, and too many players like Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters who are going to have to adjust their usages and games. Now, I could be wrong on this. Irving, LeBron James, and Kevin Love are all really, really good players, and the Cavs have guys like Waiters, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, and perhaps Shawn Marion that have the ability to be competent to good, to varying degrees.
So maybe we will be partying on Euclid avenue. Just guessing we won't.
Assertion: People will be freaking out, and it won't be justified.
If the Cavaliers don't win a title, there will be lots of people who think the team is "fatally flawed". They will say the Cavaliers lack the assets, cap flexibility, whatever, to be able to pull off a championship. Maybe Waiters has trouble taking a reduced role, or doesn't make defensive strides. Maybe Irving does settle in as a high usage, medium efficiency point guard. Maybe Kevin Love's defense takes a step back. Maybe Tristan Thompson doesn't take a step forward with another offseason to hone his shot.
All of those things could easily happen. And I bet they are a topic of conversation if the Cavs don't win it all. But that doesn't mean they will be valid. The Cavs are still going to be in their first year of contention. No one has worked with David Blatt in the past. David Blatt and Tyronn Lue have to adjust. Miami didn't win it all in their first year. And if the Cavaliers lose to the Spurs, well, those guys can't keep doing what they do forever, right?
Guess: The Cavaliers won't do anything major with the Brendan Haywood contract.
While I think Dan Gilbert is willing to pay the luxury tax to an extent, I think it's much more likely the team tries to extend Waiters and Thompson than add another big money player from another team. I could be wrong, but I think they will want to stay young.
Assertion: The Cavaliers will enter 2015-16 as huge Eastern Conference favorites again.
Barring something incredible, the team will have age 24 Kyrie Irving, age 26 Kevin Love, and age 30 LeBron James. That's just going to be difficult for other teams to deal with. You are getting closer to peak Thompson and peak Waiters. Maybe a guy like Joe Harris can help, and the Cavs might be able to add a draft pick or two. Mike Miller will be around. This team is going to be fun and awesome for awhile.
Guess: Anderson Varejao re-signs with the Cavaliers next summer for something like two years, $12-14 million.
He's made a lot of money in Cleveland. He's going to want to finish his career with a contender, I think. He gets along with the organization, from what I can tell. I'm not sure if that contract will function as a discount or something that's pretty fair.
Assertion: The "impending free agency" that both Kevin Love and LeBron James can enter won't be as dramatic as we all fear. I don't think LeBron James is going anywhere, and there are already reports that Kevin Love wants to stay. It would be incredible if he left prime Irving, and LeBron James. Incredible.
So there you have it. I think the Cavaliers are going to give this group more than one year to try and pull a title. You have to be patient and let them see it through. Of course, they might just win the whole thing. And I suppose that would be alright as well.