The Cleveland Cavaliers are facing yet another controversy in this young season after it was reported that the organization misled the team’s veterans by telling them that the plan for the 2018-19 season was to compete for a playoff berth.
Now, with just two wins nearly two months into the season, it seems clear that the plan all along was to tank for a high draft pick and try to grab one of the premier talents in a loaded 2019 NBA Draft class.
“The Cavs are facing a bit of a credibility crisis with some of their veterans,” Lloyd wrote. “The talk all summer was how they still had enough to compete, how they were going to push for a playoff berth even without James. Then two games into the season, they pivoted to benching veterans and going with a youth movement — even before Kevin Love’s surgery and Tyronn Lue’s firing.”
According to Lloyd, the desire to compete that the Cavs expressed this past summer was nothing more than a ploy to keep veteran players and fans engaged after LeBron James’ departure.
“The organization insisted to Love they were going to compete, which is part of the reason he signed here long term,” he wrote. “The Athletic reported previously that Kyle Korver was assured he would be bought out or traded if James left, yet he’s still here.
“And now there is the realization this team never intended to compete. Executives around the league shook their heads in disbelief all summer at the idea the Cavs could contend for the playoffs with this roster. Now it’s clear they never really believed it, either. It was just an ill-conceived stunt to try to keep interest high both publicly and internally among the players.”
Another veteran who sensed a change at the onset of the season was point guard George Hill. While many expected Hill to serve as the starting point guard this season, it is now beginning to seem that rookie Collin Sexton will hold on to starting spot for the foreseeable future.
“I asked Hill when the organization recalibrated, when they went from competing to developing (tanking),” Lloyd wrote. “Hill backed Smith in a sense. This was always the plan.
“I think it recalibrated before Game 1 was even played,” Hill said. “In the summer, it felt like politically you have to say we can still do these things because you want everyone to buy in to being here. Once everybody is here, I don’t know. The directions change.”
Now that it is clear what the Cavs plan to do this season, it will be interesting to see what the remaining veterans plan to do. Smith has already parted ways with the team, while Korver is also reportedly on the trading block as well.
Whatever happens, it seems likely that many of the remaining pieces from the previous era of basketball in Cleveland will not be playing for the Cavs much longer.