The Cavaliers are still left with a LeBron James-sized hole in their lineup heading into the 2018-19 season, but Tyronn Lue doesn’t think this team is primed for a rebuild.
#Cavaliers HC Tyronn Lue: "No tanking. You can see that with Dan (Gilbert) giving Kevin Love an extension. Not a rebuild at all. It's a challenge. We want to compete for the playoffs." #NBA pic.twitter.com/8vdIM0pQA5— Brian Dulik (@BrianDulik) September 24, 2018
Lue correctly notes that giving 30-year-old Kevin Love a four-year extension doesn’t exactly sound like a team that’s ready to blow it all up. When asked about who will be the new favorite in the conference, Lue refused to yield the floor.
Tyronn Lue on if the Cavs are still the team to beat in the East: "We haven't lost yet, have we? There's a lot of expectations. We'll see." #3Cavs— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) September 24, 2018
With that said, Lue did concede that the Cavaliers would be playing the long game, and that the season would be a learning process.
Ultimately, this is what media day is - it’s talking a big game about what you expect for the season before reality sets in. Most of the time, you hear about players being in the best shape of their lives, putting on 15 pounds of muscle, and re-working their jump shots before none of it ultimately ends up holding true once the games start.
Tyronn Lue has clearly been given an edict by management to try to win games. That’s not a bad thing (though the Cavaliers top-10 protected first round pick could be a casualty). As long as the team isn’t actively hurting the development of their young players, then it makes sense given the current structure of the roster to try to put a good product onto the floor.
It’s easy to talk a big game about tanking being the best strategy, but it’s easy to forget just how dark the four years following the first decision were. As former FTS editor David Zavac has said multiple times, this is a team that will need to, at some point, find a positive identity that doesn’t involve LeBron James.
Maybe this is the year for that.