Author Archives: rnorman30

Are the Cavs Back?

By Randy Norman

Thursday February 8th marked the trade deadline for the NBA, and it was quite an interesting and eventful day. While a number of players were traded before the deadline, the most surprising and notable trades came from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs completely rearranged their roster, trading away Isaiah Thomas, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, and Jae Crowder. In return the Cavs received Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. from the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as George Hill and Rodney Hood from the Kings and Jazz, respectively. It is a week before the All-Star break, and the Cavs have had a tough year to say the least. While they remain the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, something needed to change and this may be the answer to the Cavalier’s problems.

In the newcomers’ debut on Sunday afternoon, the Cavs looked like a completely different team from just a week ago. The Cavs seem rejuvenated as they played with energy, aggression, and camaraderie, which led them to a twenty-two point victory against Boston. Each of the four new players for the Cavs played exceptionally well for their first game with the team. George Hill started at point guard and scored 12 points, while Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson scored a combined 32 points coming off the bench. Larry Nance Jr. did not contribute much offensively, however his defensive efforts and energy did not go unnoticed (McMenamin, 2018).

With the new additions, the Cavs have gained youth and athleticism, which was something that they lacked with the players from their previous roster. Cleveland has also been one of the worst defensive teams in the league this season, allowing on average 110.1 points per game. However, the four new players that the Cavs acquired should be able to help turn around the team’s defensive struggles.

In addition to now having a younger, more athletic, and better defensive roster, the Cavs have also gained more scorers and playmakers. Veteran George Hill is averaging 10.3 points per game this season and currently has the league’s third highest three-point percentage at .453. Rodney Hood is playing the best basketball of his career, averaging a career-high 16.8 points per game and shooting .389 percent from the arc. This season, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. are averaging 14.5 and 8.6 points per game, respectively.

With the All-Star break a week away and only 27 games left in the regular season, many have questioned whether or not the Cavs have enough time to gel and build chemistry before the playoffs. Moreover, many doubt that the additions to the Cavs roster will be enough to push them over the edge and defeat the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors – assuming both teams win their conference titles. Certainly though, the Cavs have improved their chances of coming out of the Eastern Conference. Prior to the trade, the Toronto Raptors were the front runners to win the east, however the Cavs have now reclaimed the spot as the favorite team.

There may be a limited amount of time before the end of the season, but team chemistry certainly did not seem like an issue for the Cavs on Sunday. The Cavs played with tenacity and dominated on both sides of the ball as if the team had been together all season long. After the game, LeBron was undeniably pleased with the team’s performance. “It’s still going to take a little timing. This was an impressive win on the road, that’s a good start,” said James in a postgame interview with Doris Burke.  When asked what excited him the most about the new players’ ability to help the Cavs succeed this year, LeBron responded, “The IQ and the passion that they play with is going to help us out a lot.”

While it is too early to say for sure, after their performance against the Celtics, the Cavs should have a positive outlook on their success for the remainder of the season and continuing into the playoffs. Although they have had their series of struggles this season, the Cavs now look like the team to beat in the east once again.

 

References

McMenamin, D. (2018, February 11).  Cavs kick off their new era with a statement win in Boston. ESPN. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22402516/cleveland-cavaliers-kick-their-new-era-road-rout-boston-celtics-nba

Could LeBron be taking his talents to the Bay?

By Randy Norman

While LeBron James is 33 years of age, he has shown the world that he still has plenty of gas in the tank. So far this season, James is averaging nearly a triple double each game and is shooting over 50% from the field. Not to mention, James recently became the youngest player ever to reach 30,000 points in his career, surpassing NBA legend Kobe Bryant. Amazingly even in the fifteenth season of his career, James remains a dominant force in the league and is indubitably one of the greatest players to ever step foot on the court. James is often compared to the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan, however the definitive factor that seems to always separate the two is championships. While James has won three rings thus far, he is still hungry for more—but the chances of him winning another in Cleveland are slim. Many sources have indicated that LeBron James is likely to decline his player option this offseason and become an unrestricted free agent. Although LeBron has not openly indicated that he is planning to leave Cleveland, if the Cavs are not able to overcome the struggles that they are having this season and find a way to win another NBA championship, much like in 2010 James will probably decide to take his talents elsewhere.

Numerous experts and analysts have made predictions of where LeBron may end up this offseason. Of those predictions some of the teams include the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, and the Boston Celtics. Most recently though, it has been reported that James may be considering joining forces with Kevin Durant and Steph Curry in Golden State, providing that they can offer him a maximum salary. ESPN writer Chris Haynes indicated that the Warriors have not expressed any interest in pursuing James at this time. However, Haynes also notes that according to sources, “Out of respect for the Warriors’ winning culture, James would listen if Golden State explored ways to clear the necessary cap space” (Haynes, 2018, para. 3). As far-fetched as it may sound, it is actually possible for the Warriors to offer James a max deal. Should James choose to opt into his contract at the end of the season and waive his no trade clause, the Cavs would be able to trade him to the Warriors and get several players in return, along with a few draft picks (Marks, 2018).

When asked about the possibility of James going to Golden State, Warriors’ superstar Kevin Durant was very candid in denying the likelihood of that occurring. However Durant also told reporters, “In this league, just like a couple years ago, me coming here, nobody would have thought that” (Nathan, 2018, para. 10). Although the probability of James ending up in the Bay Area may be low, even Durant knows that it cannot be completely ruled out of the picture. Given the current trend in the NBA of building super-teams—which LeBron James started in 2010 when he joined forces with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in Miami—it would not be a total surprise to see James head west and create what would certainly be the most talented and dominant NBA team the world has ever seen. Nevertheless, in the words of Stephen A. Smith, “If you even think about going to the Golden State Warriors, your legacy is tarnished forever.”

The criticism that Durant endured in 2016 when he decided to leave Oklahoma City for Golden State would be miniscule in comparison to the heat that LeBron would take if he does indeed decide to join the Warriors. In the 2016 Western Conference Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder blew a 3-1 series lead to the Warriors and missed the opportunity to compete for an NBA title. The same summer, Durant left the Thunder to join the already stacked Warriors, which was a decision that many considered to be an extremely weak move by a superstar and competitor. If James however, decides to join the Warriors this off-season, the opprobrium that he will likely receive as a competitor is unimaginable. James understandably would like to win a couple more championships before he retires, however joining the same team that the Cavs have failed to defeat in two of the past three NBA Finals; a team that already contains two future hall-of-famers (one of them being the second greatest basketball player in the world), could be construed as a weak and cowardly move.

Ultimately it is too early to speculate for sure where LeBron James will end up next season. There are several months left in the regular season and James’ focus right now is with the Cavaliers and doing everything in his power to get the team in better shape for the playoffs. It will be interesting though to see how the playoffs pan out, as the outcome will likely play a significant role in James’ decision to leave Cleveland.

Randy Norman is a junior at Bowling Green State University where he pursues a major in Sport Management with a specialization in General Business. He is originally from Bolingbrook, Illinois, a southwest suburb of Chicago. His primary sport interests include basketball, football, boxing, and track & field – both at the amateur and professional levels.