Your finger is hovering above the button already, don't deny it. Sweat is forming on your forehead, little beads of anxiety poised to drip down your arms, soaking you with worry. Admit it. You've had the thought. That word has been lodged in your brain since opening night. Say it. Come on, it'll be our little secret, just you, me and the vast digital abyss. SAY IT.
This season has been what? Say it.
An unmitigated, irresponsible disaster.
Let's look at the facts.
- The Cavaliers are sitting at .500.
- They are third (THIRD) in the Central Division behind the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are without star rookie Jabari Parker.
- They are more than 6 games behind the Chicago Bulls.
- The defense is porous. They're giving up 99.8 ppg, good for 18th in the league.
- Opponents are shooting .470 against this team. That's the 28th worst mark in the league, in front of only the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves (who are also injury riddled).
- The offense ranks as the 17th best, according to ESPN. They're scoring 99.8 ppg (the exact same amount they're giving up to opposing offenses).
- The offense is shooting .448. That's the 18th best mark in the league.
- According to ESPN's stats, they're the 24th best rebounding team in the league.
- Cleveland is 15th in offensive rebounds.
- Everyone is hurt. Let's look at the list of players that have been injured for the Cavaliers: Anderson Varejao, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Shawn Marion, Mike Miller, Iman Shumpert. That's a lot of people.
- They're 22nd in steals per game
- 26th in blocks per game
James seems uninterested in being in Cleveland. He's lackadaisical on defense. His ability to finish at the rim is declining. He's not rebounding as ferociously. Everything about his game seems blah. (And yeah, I know he's still having an insane year by any standard besides his own. But I don't give a shit. This is the standard he has set up for himself.)
It's difficult to stomach this idea, but here it is: He looks like he might leave again.
He really doesn't seem to give a shit. This team is free falling right now and the guy is practicing without playing. I understand that he's older and that he's looking out for his body and his future. But he's a basketball player and his basketball team is failing. They clearly need him to play. They don't just need his leadership or his coaching ability, they need him to fucking play. And it would be a smart business move to start playing and to start playing well. The whole idea of LeBron James is tied into basketball. Marketing people want him to be a champion. Yes, he carries the abstract title "Best Player in the World." But if someone else wins a title (or two) they will begin to absorb that title. Abandon the basketball ship, or let someone else into your limelight (James Harden or Steph Curry for instance) and the shine will come off of your image.
And if he does leave, he'll have Miley Cyrus'd this team (Wrecking Ball joke). They've leveraged their entire future for the next few seasons. In a matter of months the Cavaliers traded away: Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Zeller, and Sergey Karasev. They also dumped Anthony Bennett but I'm for that. They could have traded him for Stephen Hawking and I would have been fine with it. At least Eddie Redmayne would have his sequel.
More than just trading the young talent away, they've pissed away their cap (thanks Anderson Varejao's insane contract and Tristan Thompson's inevitably insane contract!). They've pissed away ALL of the draft picks. All of them. They even went out, got more draft picks and then immediately traded them.
And they did it because having LeBron James makes this franchise insane. The entire front office is going bonkers trying to kowtow to this guy and meanwhile Cleveland is burning around them. Yes, James is "The Best Player in the World" but he is not "The Best GM in the world" or "Capable of beating teams single handedly." Didn't the San Antonio series (either of them) teach us anything?
Apparently not. Because the all of the trade assets are gone, all of the future building block assets are all gone, all of the cap is gone (even when the new TV deal gets factored in). It's gone.
There is a part of me, a very small part of me that knows it's insane, that thinks LBJ is Kevin Spacey in the movie Seven. He hates Dan Gilbert. He hates the Cavaliers because of his hatred for Dan Gilbert. So he came to the team, blew up the building blocks, insisted everything get traded away so that there was no future potential and in two years the fan-base will be Brad Pitt, looking at The Q and wondering:
Brad asked I write a haiku for this thing so here's this:
We are already dead
We just didn't know it yet
The future is gone
Or maybe things aren't as bleak as they look. Maybe Brad can convince you to keep your chin up. Maybe things will get better. Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow. Or maybe time is a flat circle and we're doomed to repeat this tragedy over and over again. Who knows?