Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview 14/15

lebron Chalk

I think we can sum up the Cavs and the NBA’s off-season in mainly two words ‘The Homecoming’.

It was always a case of ‘when’ with Lebron returning to his home of Ohio rather than if, and the whole of the basketball world was on tenterhooks with King James’ delays on making a decision.

Of course the media frenzy was in overdrive as he announced in Sports Illustrated that his “relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realise that four years ago. I do now”.

This seemingly led to instant forgiveness from the ‘jersey burners’ segment of the Cleveland faithful which Lebron left in his wake four years ago with the famous “taking my talents to South Beach” statement.

It’s fair to say the Cavs nation, and a large chunk of basketball fans worldwide were delighted with the news of Lebron heading home, and back was King James in the famous ’23’ jersey that he had previously played in four years previous for Cleveland – leading to probably the last kick in the mid-section for the Cavs fans who burned the jersey… Back to the retailers you go…

Billboards and constant new feeds across the States -and the world would leave it virtually impossible for sports fans not to know the four-time MVP and arguably the game’s best player had returned to the team that drafted him number 1 back in 2003.

Speaking of draft picks, ‘The Homecoming’ had the wheels in motion for an instant Cavaliers off-season rebuild, with a heavy and let’s say lucky history of landing the number 1 pick in the draft lottery (2014 Andrew Wiggins, 2013 Anthony Bennett) Cleveland would use this as their off-season building (trading) block.

Lebron Cavs

 

With Lebron’s return sewn up on a max two year deal and also bringing along a couple of members of his Miami family entourage with him in James Jones and Mike Miller, who had spent the previous year in Memphis. The pieces now seemed in place (or were in place before he signed the deal…Depending on how you read into it!) for that blockbuster trade involving Kevin Love to make the new ‘big 3’ in basketball happen.

Love was imminently leaving Minnesota as was rumoured for what seemed like an eternity, and it was Cleveland of all the teams who had the pieces in place to make an attractive proposal to Minnesota.

Sending exciting 2014 NBA no.1 draft pick pick Andrew Wiggins, and the less exciting 2013 no.1 draft pick Anthony Bennett to the Timberwolves in what was ultimately a three team trade involving Philadelphia, Cleveland suddenly became real contenders once again.

Other notable mentions would of course include the acquisition of free agent veteran and 4 time all-star Shawn Marion, NBA veteran Brendan Haywood and also free agents Mike Miller and James Jones (previously mentioned), who were all given a sales pitch by Lebron James to come and join him in Cleveland.

Second round draft pick, shooting guard Joe Harris also deserves a little mention as the forgotten man in these off-season moves, and looks like one for the future.

These pieces will be vital in the Cavs’ rotation for the upcoming season ahead along with familiar faces of last year (Varejao, Thompson, Waiters etc.)

Can Cleveland win an NBA Championship with this big three?

Can Cleveland win an NBA Championship with this big three?

It was a busy summer to say the least for GM David Griffin who had to chop, change and upheave the Cavs roster from top to bottom in order to put the vital pieces in place for this team to challenge for rings in the next few years and also to juggle the salary cap.

For me, to name every single trade and transaction that this guy made in the summer in order to create cap space would quite frankly bore you and to be honest there isn’t enough hours in the day – although I will give Keith Bogans an honourable mention as he was a Cav for two days before moving on to pastures (benches) new in Philly.

Like I say, there was many deals like this, none of which I care to mention…

It also has to be said that a new Head Coach would be a main talking topic in off-season conversation, however the acquisition of David Blatt has rightly or wrongly taken a backseat.

A very interesting appointment on David Griffin’s behalf as the Boston born coach has not had any previous NBA experience but does possess a wealth of coaching experience in Europe – mainly Israel of which he spent practically his whole playing career as a point guard.

Blatt won the EuroLeague in the summer as Head Coach of Maccabi Tel-Aviv as well as the honour of Coach of the Year, his pedigree and reputation in Europe stands him in good stead to succeed with Cleveland.

His offensive style of basketball will likely be a hit with fans, especially with the new tools he has at his disposal. I really think this could be a good move for the Cavs, and on another note it is also great to see the game growing globally with coaches/players in Europe and across the world being rewarded for their efforts and acknowledged by the NBA.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are now expected to instantly challenge for titles and rightly so, you’d expect to with the likes of Kyrie, Lebron and Kevin Love on the floor right?

However expecting instant fireworks in year 1 could be a bridge too far for now…

Playoffs? Definitely – they’re in the notoriously weaker Eastern Conference…

Conference Finals? You certainly wouldn’t bet against it…

But ultimately, to dislodge a giant from the West who have had years of team cohesion (San Antonio, OKC, Clippers and possibly Golden State) will probably be a step too far in year one of this new era in Cleveland.

Experts and pundits of the game are predicting this team gets around 60-64 wins this year and we’d have to agree. The era of the new ‘big 3’ is on the horizon nevertheless following the mediocre years beforehand of Kyrie Irving carrying this team at such a young age, and excitement fills the air.

All eyes are now on Lebron and co. as they look to make a run for a Championship, the hype and wait will all be over and finally the basketball will do the talking…

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