Cavaliers Preparing to Struggle With Life After LeBron James

Cavaliers Preparing to Struggle With Life After LeBron James Breaking up is hard to do — especially when you're Dan Gilbert and your franchise has been defined for the last seven years by the presence of one LeBron Raymone James. The Cavs have a new coach, a new GM and a new direction as they move on from the loss of their iconic superstar. Sadly, though, that direction is likely downward. The Cavs led the league in wins each of the last two seasons, and it'll probably be a long time before they ever do it again.

2009-10 Record: 61-21 (first in Central Division, first in Eastern Conference, lost to Celtics in East semifinals)

Celtics' record vs. Cavaliers: 111-67 all time, 2-2 last season, won East semifinals in six

Familiar faces: Leon Powe
(played three seasons with Celtics)

Key additions: Joey Graham (free agent), Ramon Sessions, Ryan Hollins (both traded from Timberwolves), Christian Eyenga (draft), Samardo Samuels (undrafted free agent)

Key losses: LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas (both signed with Heat), Shaquille O'Neal (signed with Celtics), Delonte West, Sebastian Telfair (both sent to Timberwolves in Sessions/Hollins deal)

Burning question:
Who steps up to lead this team?

How are the Cavs at a loss with LeBron's departure this summer? Let me count the ways.

There's scoring. There's rebounding. There's playmaking, with and without the ball. There's defense. There's the transition game.

There's also leadership, both on the floor and off, and it's not clear how the Cavs are going to fill that void. They'll have to dig deep, that's for sure.

Mo Williams is a half-decent point guard, but he's not about to lead the way for a playoff team. Antawn Jamison has shown flashes of brilliance from year to year, but he's now 34 and not nearly the player he once was. Anderson Varejao? High-energy, high-IQ big man, but not the kind of guy who can carry the load.

Who's the go-to guy in Cleveland now? For seven years, that was never a question. Now, it's a big one, and it's one that might cripple the Cavaliers for the next couple of seasons.

2010-11 outlook: When they were next to LeBron, Jamison and Williams were decent pieces. Having a superstar by their side every night made them look really, really good. But on their own, leading the way without a helping hand, they're going to look lost. The Cavs are going to fall from grace, and hard. Who knows? Maybe they'll end up back in the lottery, where they can draft the next LeBron and start anew. That's probably the best they can hope for.

Did you know? Chris Grant, the Cavs' new GM, and Mike Brown, their old head coach, were actually college teammates. Grant was a center for the University of San Diego basketball team; Brown transferred to USD from Mesa Community College in Arizona, joining Grant on the Toreros for one season in the early 1990s.