The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a wild and dysfunctional offseason. It began with the shocking decision by owner Dan Gilbert to let general manager David Griffin leave once his contract expired (or a few days before). Since, there has been a lack of clear leadership and direction with the team, from the outside if not from within. Without a general manager, the Cavs might have missed out on opportunities due to the overhaul in the front office. And, ugh, there is also the weird saga with Chauncey Billups. The offseason has been reminiscent of some of the past Browns front offices we have been so accustomed to seeing. But, even with all these weird happenings, the Cavaliers are still in a great position because of what they already have and what has gone on elsewhere in the NBA this offseason.
The Cavs have made some moves so far in the offseason. They signed backup point guard Jose Calderon and re-signed Kyle Korver. Both should be pieces on the Cavs bench this coming season. But, the most help has come from the rest of the NBA; in particular the Eastern Conference. The biggest names available in free agency or in trade have migrated to the Western Conference, leaving the Eastern Conference more bare than it has been over the past three seasons of the Cavs dominance. It has left the Cavs to deal with just three teams in the entire conference: Boston, Toronto and Washington. All three teams could be troublesome as currently configured, but not a real threat to the reigning Eastern Conference champs.
These factors have changed the urgency of the Cavs offseason. They are focused on beating the Golden State Warriors and that goal has a flexible timetable. The Cavs do not need to trade for a player tomorrow or sign a player tomorrow. They have the entire offseason and half the season to work their roster to better their match up with the Warriors. The East is not their focus and shouldn’t affect their urgency level.
Cleveland should be patient with trades or using their mid-level exception. This approach has worked quite well for the team in the past. They waited for a couple seasons to acquire Kyle Korver, winning the waiting game last season when the Atlanta Hawks finally decided to blow up their team. They also showed the waiting game when they were gifted with the ability to sign Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut late in the season last year, after both were cut past the trade deadline. The players did not work out as most expected, but the principle of waiting worked out. The Cavs should do the same thing this season.
This offseason could see some big opportunities present themselves. Cleveland needs to hold steady and not pounce at the first opportunity available. One of the big possibilities is Carmelo Anthony. With the unrest in New York, Anthony’s status with the Knicks is uncertain. Many believe he will be bought out, which would be a huge opportunity for the Cavs. But, it will take time and patience. The Cavs may need to hold off using their mid-level exception, so they can use it to sign Anthony if/when he is bought out. Dwayne Wade is another player who could become available this offseason or sometime during the season. There are other unforeseen opportunities because the NBA is nothing if not tumultuous.
Yes, waiting is frustrating especially after the lackluster start of the offseason. But, patience is a virtue. If the Cavs can wait just long enough, they could have opportunities fall right into their lap. The only urgency the Cavs should show is in their decision making of hiring a general manager. The front office should be the top priority and the one urgent matter this offseason.