Going stretches of time without a coaching staff in place is commonplace in the city of Cleveland. With the turnover that has plagued the Browns for the last 18 years, there have been countless months where fans have been forced to follow the search—now with consultants!—to see who the team is interviewing, who’s saying “no thanks!” before even sitting down, and who finally inks that multi-year deal, one which never quite makes it to the final year.1 But as these searches have gone on, even the Browns (the Browns!) have had a front office plan in place. Sure, they may have been littered with tyrants and texters, but at least there was a plan.
While the Browns were not exactly Benefactors of Fortune over the last few years, what winning just a handful of games provided them was an early exit from relevancy, allowing them to start their vetting and analysis much earlier than other teams. Yes, this made it tough when the team wanted to interview individuals still in the playoffs, but good news for them was most of those individuals—Josh McDaniels, for example—had no desire to swap multiple Super Bowl runs for the chance to potentially be fired from a shit organization just a few years later.
When it comes to the Cavaliers, however, a run into a third consecutive NBA Finals means very little time for turnaround when it comes to the next season. You know how Bill Belichick would say how the worst part of being in a Super Bowl is being that much further behind the other 30 teams? Well strip out the #humblebrag and you have a guy with a salient point. Now traverse that line of thinking over to a league where there is literally one week between the end of the season and that summer’s draft (The NFL at least has a large part of three months) and you have the current situation of the reigning Eastern Conference Champions—except they also have no “office” doing said planning. They have Koby Altman, assistant general manger, and Dan Gilbert, team owner. They have Chauncey Billups, reportedly sitting on a five-year deal to be the team’s President of Operations, but he would then have to hire a GM at some point in the future.
Yet—somehow—they’re still in trade talks to acquire players who most NBA teams would salivate over.
The part I’m wrestling with: LeBron James makes Cleveland a destination. Whether it’s Paul George at 27 or Dwyane Wade at 35, NBA players—you may want to sit for this one—want to win basketball games, and, if all goes according to plan, contend for championships. Couple this with the lack of cap space and ability to really maneuver in the free agency pool, how much can be done? That said, James himself is 32 and will not be playing at this level forever and this team will eventually need someone to navigate the S.S. Rebuild beyond his playing days.2 And if we’re being honest with ourselves, the lack of space and wiggle room makes it that much more important to make the right moves as there is an immensely thin safety net below. Sure, one can afford to have Chris Andersen and Andrew Bogut go down with injuries, but what if something were to happen to any of the starters?
I remember just a few winters ago when I thought it was insane that the Browns were going to hire a head coach first and then allow him to be a part of the GM search. Given the Good Old Boy network in the NFL, the downhill flowchart tends to prevail. Nevertheless, they landed their top head coaching target in Hue Jackson and seemingly filled out the front office with intelligent individuals in specific roles. The Cavs, with Ty Lue signing a contact just last summer, have their head coach in place and need to—gulp—follow the Browns in filling out the rest.
The good news: While the Browns appear headed in the right direction, they’re starting from a point most franchises will never see. The Cavs have a chance to win more games in their first full week of play than the Browns will all season and could realistically not hire a GM at all and somehow get back to the NBA Finals. If you’re an Ends Justify the Means type, this should be fine. Optically, however, the only thing worse that offering a five-year contract to someone without experience is if that person turns you down.
This Week in #ActualSportswriting:
- “Roberto Osuna’s battle with anxiety hits close to home” by Eric Kareeen (The Athletic)3
- “Former Patriots and Chiefs tackle Ryan O’Callaghan comes out as gay” by Cyd Zeigler (Outsports)4
- “The World Without Messi” by Chris Jones (ESPNFC)5
- “Lonzo, the Lakers, and an L.A. Dream Come True” by Lee Jenkins (Sports Illustrated)
This Week in #ActualNonsportswriting:
- “Obama’s Secret Struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault” by Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Natous (The Washington Post)6
- “Mahershala Ali Thinks We Can Still Make This Country Great” by Carvell Wallace (GQ)7
- “The Book of Henry: The Best Worst Movie of the Year” by Dave Holmes (Esquire)8
- “While My Guitar Gentley Weeps” by Geoff Edgers (The Washington Post)9
This Week in Announcements:
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- There are even times where they do not see the second year. [↩]
- I maintain we should prep for this arrival sooner rather than later. [↩]
- The type of stories people should be willing to pay for, even if this one is free. [↩]
- This lede. [↩]
- “Today’s Messi is mostly past. Each time we see him, we get a little bit closer to what will be our last chance.” I missed Chris Jones. [↩]
- A three-headed byline, chock full of reporting. This has Pulitzer written all over it. [↩]
- Huge fan of Remy Danton. [↩]
- Fewer things better than a sharply-written review. [↩]
- It’s not just the sales of rock music that’s on the decline… [↩]