Cavs will need some luck for sure, but need to get offseason right
What's next for the Cleveland Cavaliers?
Well, not a trip to Disney World. As you know by now, the Cavs were not among the 22 lucky teams (or actually, teams that didn't stink) invited to Orlando to resume the season.
So Cavs general manager Koby Altman can now focus on three things:
1. The 2020 NBA Draft in October. (Yes, October.)
2. Free agency. (Yes, also October.)
3. Trades. (Whenever Altman wants, but just not now, per the league's new calendar.)
No matter how Altman and the Cavs approach the offseason, one thing we do know is they can't keep going down this road. They've won a mere 19 games each of the past two seasons -- and buzzwords such as "process" and "growth" can only carry you so far in the eyes of the public.
Everyone wants to support a winner. Eventually, just showing chemistry and promise gets old. People who watch sports want results and the Cavs haven't been real good in that department without You Know Who on the team.
But that doesn't mean you give up, and if anything, Altman has proven to be aggressive when it comes to making trades.
Who can forget how he tried to rescue the season at the trade deadline in 2018? Or how about at this past deadline, when he landed Andre Drummond from Detroit for the expiring contracts of John Henson and Brandon Knight?
The best thing about all this is Altman doesn't act like he has all the answers, or that he is out-smarting the masses or like every move he makes should be praised by media and fans alike. But he is willing to try something, anything -- and take some risks to get the Cavs to return to relevancy.
It's not always about winning a championship. You need to win some actual games first. That's where the Cavs are today, and they have a long way to go before becoming more than an organization that prays to the high heavens for a good lottery pick every year.
Anyway, so what's the plan?
It starts with the lottery. The Cavs gave a great shot to win the No. 1 pick. Or at least as good of a shot as the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves, and a better shot than everyone else.
They want one of three players, in no determined order, regardless of position -- Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, Memphis center James Wiseman or well-traveled point guard LaMelo Ball, who spent this past season playing professionally in Australia.
I don't know this for a fact, but my gut tells me Ball is the young man they want most. He is 6-foot-7 with great court vision, handles and passing skills. He is the prototypical point guard who can drive and deliver the ball to wide open 3-point shooters. Ball may not turn into a super-duper star, but he could raise everyone's game around him.
Then again, a lot of people have compared Edwards to Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade. If that's the case ... well, the Cavs will have a big decision to make in the draft. They just hope to make that decision at No. 1. But we won't know where they'll pick until after the draft lottery in late August.
CALLS ON ROSTER
As for the veterans, Altman will have quite a few big decisions in that department, too.
Drummond has already indicated he will pick up his massive contract option (about $29 million) for next season. I suspect the Cavs will explore both trading Drummond and signing him long-term. A lot of it will depend on how well he fares and fits once basketball resumes.
Also, Tristan Thompson becomes an unrestricted free agent. It's true he may have played his last game as a member of the Cavaliers. I'm leaning more toward that than I am on Thompson returning. Again, that's based on nothing but a gut feeling.
Thompson likes the Cavs and the Cavs love Thompson. But this is a business based on dollars and cents. Emotional attachments rarely play a role.
There's a chance Thompson and the Cavs could agree to a one-year deal, allowing him to try free agency again once the world is more stable.
And yes, I totally expect Altman to take some trade calls on Kevin Love -- whether Altman wants them or not. Plenty of teams still value Love's ability to hit outside shots, rebound and accept (even prefer) a role as a second or third option. The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets will almost definitely be among those teams.
Finally, the Cavs will indeed be looking to sign a player or two in free agency. If young Memphis Grizzlies forward Josh Jackson isn't on their radar yet, he should be soon.
Also keep an eye out for center Isaiah Hartenstein, power forward Tyler Lydon and guard Allonzo Trier. All are younger and could come cheap.
But no matter who the Cavs draft, sign or trade this offseason, they need to get it right.
You can only stink for so long, and by the end of the 2020-21 season it will have gotten really old again.