A few weeks ago the sky was falling for the Cleveland Cavaliers, with LeBron James getting blamed for everything, and if not him it was Kevin Love, who everyone said the Cavs should trade. Eventually, it all fell on the shoulders of David Blatt.
When a head coach gets fired, it means the players need to start being held accountable. One coach gets fired? Fine. But when another one doesn’t make it with a group that’s supposed to be extremely talented, it means that the problems are on the court, not the sidelines. So the Cavaliers had themselves a fierce heart to heart in a player meeting that’s been talking about quite a lot since the momentum has flipped, and from a 13-point loss against the Bulls on Tyronn Lue’s debut, the Cavaliers have won five consecutive games while scoring 111 points or more.
Last season, after a very bad first half to the season partially because of James missing a chunk of games before making a hero-like return, the Cavaliers made trades that changed the season, getting J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov, to finish the season with the best record in the league during its second half, and making the NBA finals. LeBron James has made the finals in each of the last five seasons so maybe it would have happened anyway, but something wasn’t working before those trades.
This season Mozgov has been mentioned a number of times as someone who could be traded, struggling to recreate his form from last season, while the Cavaliers usually look better when Tristan Thompson is playing. Kevin Love, who has vastly improved under Lue thanks to better positioning, is better when Mozgov isn’t playing. The Russian center should have been building towards a big contract signing in the offseason with someone based on this campaign, but right now he seems like excess baggage, and the Cavs might not be able to get too much for him.
And the Love trade that seemed like the only way the Cavaliers could have dream of competing with the Warriors? Unless something drastic and negative happens in the next three weeks, that’s the last we’ve heard of Love leaving the Cavaliers, at least until they (if they lose) lose to the Warriors (or someone else) in the NBA Finals and the same chorus will turn up the volume once again. Right now, with the Cavaliers playing so well (And it has nothing to do with pace for now), Love, or any other trade, isn’t on the table.