Fear the Sword Emperor David Zavac asked me to write a column about how my early faith in Dion Waiters was wrong and how I've grown to love and accept the trades for JR Smith and Iman Shumpert. I've sat down at my computer and tried many times. I can't do it. It doesn't feel right.
A championship run without Dion Waiters is an abomination.
I feel like I've been watching a horror movie these playoffs. Character after character dying off at the hand of some unseen force. I watch as the remaining players on this team try to claw their way out of a house of terror only to be pulled by the knee or shoulder back into the house. Only to be worn to exhaustion trying to escape.
And there is no way out.
For a while last season, there was an argument about who was better: Waiters or Irving. Who should the Cavs keep? Both players are watching these Finals from home. One with a wrapped gash in his knee from surgery. The other a star and MVP-caliber player ready to play if only he were allowed.
We look at the guards who are still on the court, and it's J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Matthew Dellavedova. People wanted to say J.R. is a better version of Dion Waiters because he doesn't need the ball in his hands to be effective. Tell me how that is working with JR in a shooting slump now that players are guarding him closely. Now the Cavs need someone else who can create.
Tell me how Shump is working with injury after injury and a shooting stroke that comes and goes like ocean tides- only this is unpredictable.
Delly is playing over his head, but if anything, that would be a positive with Waiters out there. Dion always played best with Delly feeding him the ball in his spots. Deferring to the star that Waiters is. Helping Waiters choke the life out of opposing guards on defense. Delly was always the wagon hitched to Waiters' star.
I wanted to do you all proud and say look how better off we are in the Finals without Dion. Look at how well this team is playing despite all odds. This team has overcome many odds, and one of them is playing without Waiters. I'm sorry, but I can't spit on his grave just because this team is persevering after trading their star.
Everyone wants to get caught up in the magic of team ball. Deep rosters with no one great option but no bad options either. We traded Waiters and got three rotation players back. That's well and fine, but if the Warriors win on the back of Curry's individual excellence, I'm going to say "I told you so." The Cavs need a star to fling them over the hump, but they traded him away midseason.
If the Cavs win without Waiters, I guess I'll eat my words. A starless team can win in the NBA, but it won't feel right. I'll keep wondering if they could have done it quicker and more dominating with Waiters. I'll wonder if they threw away their chance at a dynasty. One title is great. With ten plus years left in Waiters' career, he could have surpassed Bill Russell.
Sometimes the most horrible thing is doing the wrong thing and still succeeding. It only gives incentive to keep doing the wrong thing. If a sociopath kills his first victim and doesn't get caught, he will probably keep on killing. I'll be overjoyed if the Cavs win their first championship this season, but I have a pit in my stomach telling me GM David Griffin will keep trading away his best players for spare parts if they do.
Who does Griffin trade next? Budding superstar Dellavedova? Then who is left?
Keep on cheering. Keep pretending everything is okay. We are only in the first act of the horror movie where everything seems like it's okay. We're getting set up for the fall.
You're all pretending the monster in the darkness doesn't exist. It does. It's coming for all of us.