After falling to the Warriors in five games in the 2017 NBA Finals, the Cavaliers entered the offseason intent on making major upgrades to their roster. Early rumors focused on players like Paul George and Jimmy Butler, with Kevin Love mentioned frequently as potential trade bait. But Cleveland’s offseason appeared to go off the rails when the team decided that GM David Griffin wouldn’t be retained.
With Griffin and right-hand man Trent Redden no longer in the Cavs’ front office, the team saw George and Butler head elsewhere, and struggled to make impact additions of its own. Jose Calderon, Jeff Green, Cedi Osman, and eventually Derrick Rose came aboard, but none of those players was viewed as a potential difference-maker in a series against Golden State.
The Cavs finally made their big summer splash in late August, sending All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick.
On the surface, it sounds like a massive haul for Irving, but Zizic and the draft pick won’t help much in 2017/18, barring their inclusion in another trade. And it’s possible that Thomas’ impact this season could be minimal as well, if his recovery from a hip injury doesn’t progress as smoothly as hoped. It’s a risky move for the Cavs, and one that probably sets them up more for the seasons beyond 2017/18 than it does for the short term.
Offshore betting site Bovada.lv projects Cleveland’s win total for the coming season at an over/under of 53.5. That may not seem like a significant total for a team led by LeBron James, but the Cavs have only topped that mark once in the three years since LeBron’s return — typically, the club doesn’t push hard for that No. 1 seed in the East, preferring to save its energy for the postseason. If Thomas misses time, or if the new-look Cavs take some time to gel, finishing with 53 wins or less wouldn’t be surprising.
What do you think? Do the Cavs simply have too much talent to finish under 53.5 wins, or will the team once again sacrifice a sparkling regular season record in order to focus on the playoffs? Vote below and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!
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