The second the 2017 NBA season concluded a little over two weeks ago, a lot of teams immediately began working effortlessly in order to improve their roster. The most glaring takeaway from last season was that if any team was going to knock off Golden State, they needed to make some serious changes, and fast. Several teams have buckled down over the past week, completing trades that will change the future of the NBA landscape as we know it. Chris Paul is now in Houston, Jimmy Butler - once a potential option for the Cavaliers - is now in Minnesota, and hell, even the Brooklyn Nets are making moves as they prepare for the future. What’s amazing about all of these transactions is that - while the actual trades have been surprising - these blockbuster moves are what we should have expected.
The Warriors are forcing other teams to makes moves, challenging them to just try and compete with them. We should expect teams such as Houston or Boston (who will forever be “close” to dealing for either Paul George or Gordon Hayward) to make these sort of runs at high-profile players. These are teams that are on the brink of making serious runs for the NBA Finals. Even the Minnesota Timberwolves - who couldn’t make the playoffs last season - have created a three-headed monster trio of Wiggins-Towns-Butler that is sure to be dangerous for years to come.
But not every team has been desperate to improve, and the most obvious team is the one who has the highest chance at taking down Golden State - the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Let’s recap some of the major headlines that have taken place over the past couple of weeks.
- Jimmy Butler was traded to Minnesota as the Timberwolves swindled the Chicago Bulls out of anything valuable in return.
- Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for what appears to be an entire G-League’s team worth of players.
- James Dolan finally decided to do his job and mutually parted ways with New York Knicks President, Phil Jackson.
- The Brooklyn Nets traded for D’Angelo Russell as the Lakers finagled their way out of the horrendous Timofey Mozgov contract while also acquiring Brook Lopez in the process.
So what have the Cavaliers been doing? Absolutely nothing. Nothing of substance, at least.
Since General Manager David Griffin parted ways with the team, the Cavaliers have been utterly silent. They were permitted from finding their way into the second round of the draft while the Warriors paid their way into the draft, selecting a player that fills their one literal need of an interior presence (gee, thanks, Chicago). The Cavaliers still have a major void to fill with the General Manager position and that seems to be going nowhere fast. The Cavaliers apparent first option, Chauncey Billups, seems extremely hesitant on joining a front office that has a track record of not treating their General Mangers properly and with respect. The Billups situation appears to be going nowhere fast despite the fact that free agency is only days away. The first priority since Griffin’s departure should have been to find someone who can make this team better and they have still yet to do that. In fact, one of the the few guys smart enough to improve the Cavaliers, is the one they let go for no logical reason.
Despite having no GM, the Cavaliers have still been in involved in all sorts of trade rumors, but that’s all the talks have been so far. Just rumors. From Kevin Love being dealt to Denver, to Paul George finding his way to Cleveland, to veterans of the banana boat team (Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony) discussing buyouts with their current teams in order to join Cleveland, the rumor mill has been endlessly churning. The noise level has been staggering, but it’s been white noise up until this point and there isn’t any indication that it will turn into something fruitful before free agency hits on July 1st.
There is still plenty of time for the Cavaliers to get their entire life together and upgrade the roster, but it starts with hiring a General Manager. Whether it be Chauncey Billups or maybe current decision maker Koby Altman, someone needs to take control before the Cavaliers have to sit an watch as Boston collects Paul George or Gordon Hayward (or both). Dan Gilbert is currently too busy taking trips to Washington D.C. to meet the President with the Chicago Cubs baseball team to be bothered with owning an NBA franchise. Someone else needs to step in and make some calls. George is available. The Cavaliers have tradable assets. There are ways to improve the roster immediately, and if you don’t believe me, look at what Minnesota and Houston have done. Two weeks ago, no one would have thought that Chris Paul would be a Rocket and Jimmy Butler a Timberwolf, yet here we are.
The Cavaliers trio of LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love still remains the second most talented squad in the NBA. But others are quickly approaching while the Warriors don’t appear to be coming down to earth anytime soon.