An NBA season wouldn’t be complete without rumors of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ demise.
Shortly after their 118-108 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, several Cavs players acknowledged “growing discontent” on the team and a “strong sense of concern” about Cleveland’s future while speaking off the record to reporters, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported Tuesday morning.
The Cavs, who now sit just one game ahead of the fourth-place Miami Heat, have endured major defensive struggles while going 2-8 in their last 10 games. According to McMenamin, those same Cleveland players are expressing doubt that those issues can be worked out on an “aging roster (with) defensively challenged personnel and a glut of redundant role players.”
Perhaps the most “defensively challenged” player on the Cavs is 5-foot-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas, who joined Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving blockbuster with the Boston Celtics this summer. Thomas only has played in five games for the Cavs since returning from an injured hip, but a league source gave a damning assessment of his defense to Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon.
“Rotations are awful. IT is so much worse than Kyrie defensively it’s insane,” the source told Vardon. “There is not a great feeling anywhere. They need to limp into the All-Star break and get away from each other.”
League sources also informed Vardon of a “sullen and dour” atmosphere on a team that’s 7 1/2 games behind the East-leading Celtics entering Tuesday.
Of course, we’ve seen this script before. The Cavs have routinely endured regular-season drama during the second LeBron James era, only to close ranks and dominate in the postseason. Exhibit A: They fired head coach David Blatt midway through a tumultuous 2015-16 campaign, then went on to win their first NBA title in franchise history under Tyronn Lue.
But with James’ free agency looming in the offseason, there’s a serious chance this could be the beginning of the end in Cleveland. That, or we’re falling for the same trap once again.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports Images