I certainly know that much has been written since Chris Grant decided to make a run for the playoffs this year. Many have said that Grant made that decision to attempt to save his job. While that may be true, the result was a new beginning for the Cavs season and a fan base infused with excitement. There are many reasons for this result but it was not just getting a quality player for Bynum. It was the exact player they received in return and the fact that no quality Cavs player was involved. The only “assets” used were other teams draft picks and a potential draft pick swap in 2015.
Anyone who questions this deal in any way is not looking logically at the Cavs desperate situation. The Cavs have PLENTY of draft picks going forward and may acquire more in future deals. What they don’t have are wins!! And do not be deluded that the Cavs could have gone through another year of “tanking”. My observation as a season ticket holder is that the Cavs fan base was growing weary of the continued losing. Another year at the top of the lottery was going to drive many fans that have remained loyal since LeBron to depart discouraged and dejected. Sure I know many hard core fans like those I brush elbows with in Twitter would have been just fine with another tanking season. But I don’t think the majority of the fans could understand or support it. The boos would have slowly intensified as each putrid loss flew by. The attendance would have dipped as well.
Now you could say that the Cavs might have turned it around without a deal so all that gloom and doom talk is unjustified. And, as I have said in past posts, the team might have turned it around by Irving leading with increased intensity and improved defense. In analyzing the season so far, I was becoming increasingly concerned that nothing was going to turn the losing around this year baring a miracle.
The Luol Deng trade has changed the possibilities for this year and potentially for years to come. That could happen with or without Deng signing long term. Here are the reasons why this trade was far superior to any other possible trade:
1) Pau Gasol is a fine player who was having arguably the worst season of his career and played in a position that the Cavs had minimal need. To have added him in a similar trade with little chance of resigning would not have changed the Cavs fortunes. Gasol is also considerably older than Deng.
2) The Cavs added a player who is in his prime, having the best scoring year of his career thus far, has unquestioned high character, and is a defensive force on a team that needs more intensity on both ends.
3) The Cavs added a player in a critical position of need where the players were so forgettable that, if they cut both Gee and Clark tomorrow, no one would shed a tear.
4) Offensively the team now has another quality option who knows how to move the ball and cut to the basket without the ball (an area of critical need for the Cavs)
5) The long offensive lapses of no points for 8 minutes on the clock should fade away with Deng added to our other options
6) The Cavs have more than a remote chance of resigning Deng because of the type of character he has and the fact the Cavs will be able to make a very attractive offer.
7) The players will be energized because the management has made a commitment to winning THIS year and not just looking way into the future. This will be very important to help the players realize that there is no hidden agenda to “tank” again and that the organization EXPECTS them to win.
8) Irving will be able to feel the commitment of the team to building a winning culture instead of the draining losing he had seen thus far.
9) Most importantly – And I mean most importantly – The Cavs management and coaches now have the opportunity to see how this team will be able to play with a legitimate small forward. Something none of us have seen since the departure of James.
The thing that will derail all of these good vibrations is not winning. There is no guarantee that the team will begin to win consistently even with Deng. He is a fine player and I think the trade was fantastic, but that does not guarantee even one win. The Cavs still need to exert maximal effort for 4 quarters in order to string significant wins together. They have to play better and harder on the road. So there are many things we don’t know and many things we can hope for.
So even though the results are still in question, the fact remains that the Cavs season starts again now. The interest will never be higher and if the results are favorable on the scoreboard, we may remember this trade fondly for years to come. If for no other reason than allowing us to find out how good the Cavaliers can be with a real small forward.