In the same week that Paul Simon announced his farewell tour, the Cleveland Cavaliers are experiencing Troubled Waters. But who, if anyone, can be the bridge that leads them to a return trip to the Eastern Conference Finals?
The Cavs displayed a blatant lack of defense and aggression in a 116-98 loss at Orlando on Tuesday night. After leading by 16 at halftime, the Cavs were outscored 65-31 the rest of the way including a paltry 9 points in the 4th Quarter.
Head Coach Tyron Lue exited the sideline in the 2nd Quarter in what has been referred to as food poisoning, a foreshadowing of the ills that would befall his team in the 2nd Half. It seemed as if the Cavs hit the Disney all-you-can-eat buffet at halftime because they repapered from the tunnel a sluggish, somnambulant, and all-together disjointed unit.
In a post-game interview PG Isiah Thomas didn’t exactly retreat into The Sound of Silence alluding to the fractured nature of a team by telling reporters, “When adversity hits, we go our separate ways.” Thomas, who has been critical of his teammates after returning to the floor just weeks ago, went 3-13 from the floor, and seemed to be passively admonished by decreasingly Homeward Bound LeBron James after James threw an errant pass into the Orlando stands.
After the game, James reiterated his statement about not waiving his no-trade clause as the NBA backs into the trade deadline on Thursday with the following: “I’m here for the long-haul, I’m here for this season right now to try to figure out ways to compete… I couldn’t give up on my teammates like that.” (h/t espn.com) With James not committed to a long-term deal in Cleveland, the Cavs’ front-office cannot mortgage it’s 1st Round Pick (and future) from the Brooklyn Nets in order to save this sinking ship- there may only be 1 Way to Leave Their Lover (James).
If LeBron wants to return to Graceland, it is clear that it will not be with the Cavaliers unless he gets the help he wants owner Dan Gilbert to pursue. The Cavs are currently sitting in the 3rd spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs (going 6-13 since Christmas Day) behind James’ “buddy” and 2018 All-Star teammate Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors respectively.
Possible trades that could bolster and pump new life into this roster include perpetually shirtless J.R Smith and Tristan Thompson (obviously with his mind on his impending newborn while turning in a respectable 12-9 performance against the Magic) for a rim protector ala Los Angeles Clipper DeAndre Jordan. The fact is, if the Cavs want to win with LeBron, ownership will have to sacrifice a King’s Ransom (sorry) and if they let LeBron leave after next season, Gilbert’s valuation of the Cavs will likely sink Like A Rock.
For now, James is in total control it would seem, with Diamonds on the Soles of His Shoes (Nikes to be exact) while the rest of the NBA and fans alike await his encore.