The King and company have returned to Cleveland in search of more gold.
After a quick summer celebrating the end of a 52-year championship drought in Cleveland, LeBron James and the Cavs got training camp underway Monday with media day in Independence.
It’s been roughly 3 months since 1.3 million people flooded downtown for an epic title parade but much has changed for the Cavaliers.
Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov highlight the names that have parted company with the Cavaliers since the Finals. On the addition side of the ledger, Chris “Birdman” Anderson, Mike Dunleavy and Kay Felder are new to the team.
Subtractions aren’t the only headlines made by the Cavaliers this offseason. JR Smith remains unsigned in a contract dispute similar to Tristan Thompson’s from just one year ago.
Iman Shumpert made music videos with his beautiful wife & Kanye West which is sure to stop the rumblings that Shump is too concerned with his own brand. Shumpert is likely also facing punishment from the league and the law stemming from his early August arrest for DUI and possession of marijuana.
As the Cavaliers sit just over a week away from their preseason debut against the Magic in Cleveland, here are some notes from media day.
No Mo, No Problem? – Cavs General Manager David Griffin led off media day with the surprising news that backup point guard Mo Williams would be retiring from the NBA rather than return to Cleveland for a second year.
Williams status had been in doubt for most of the offseason with the Cavs having talks about waiving him with the stretch provision to lessen their luxury tax. This news also directly contradicts Mo Williams’ own tweet from 5 days earlier.
While Mo Williams was certainly not an impact player for the Cavs during their champion run, the loss is palpable to a team fresh off losing Matthew Dellavedova to Milwaukee. Williams was easily the best option on the roster to backup Kyrie Irving and a return to previous form on the court was not out of the question for the vet.
That leaves the Cavs with only 2016 second round pick Kay Felder on the roster at the position. The team is said to love Felder’s potential but his lack of experience and late round status leaves him an underwhelming option for a team trying to repeat.
Griffin also touted Jordan McRae’s presence as a possible solution but all of his limited play last year came from the two-guard position.
It’s important to remember that Kyrie Irving has missed 10 or more games in 4 of his 5 NBA seasons due to injuries. He is also coming off playing 4 rounds of playoff basketball last season and spent the summer playing Olympic basketball for Team USA. Anticipating 72 or more games this season feels like blind optimism.
Cleveland.com is reporting the Cavs have interest in Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Kirk Hinrich to replace Williams. The Ohio native Cole is a former teammate of LeBron in Miami and the youngest of the trio.
The Cavaliers do have several trade exceptions that Griffin could parlay into a viable backup but that path could take up to the NBA trade deadline next year. Irving’s health could always force the issue before the market allows a move.
Cavs Doth Protest The Exact Right Amount? – All Cavs representatives today faced questions about athletes protesting with Anthem-gate still going strong. LeBron and several other players spoke out about various causes this offseason, it was GM Griffin whose words which surprised most on Monday.
Griffin’s personal feelings on the protests reflect my own which I’ve shared on the station before. Any interest to discuss the relevance of how a person protests stifles the ability to discuss the actual issue the person is protesting for. Both discussions may be valid but neither should drowned out the other.
Imagine if instead of embracing the message of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream Speech,” people focused solely on if he had a right to even take part in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in the first place.
The NBA has done a fine job of standing by causes important to the league and their players such as removing the 2017 All-Star Weekend from Charlotte over objections about the HB2 laws. These actions have set the NBA ahead of Major League Baseball and the NFL who remain silent on most issues.
That said, another part of America’s greatness is our ability to accept other points of view. The Cavs sharing their personal beliefs is fantastic but would they accept a dissenting view in their locker-room? Would such a player be deemed a distraction or even welcomed?
LeBron spoke of any response to protests being a team wide response. That means 15 individuals with different backgrounds, personalities and beliefs accepting one action as a reflection of them.
Don’t think it’s a concern in locker-rooms? I challenge you to walk out to E. 9th on any given day and try to find 15 people to agree on anything related to politics.
The statements by various Cavaliers players & officials seem to link up with perceived liberal beliefs held by many in the Association.
There is always an opposite side of a discussion and my hope is that any player that can voice those beliefs without resorting to incendiary speech would be afforded the right to do so whether in Cleveland or elsewhere without being made a pariah.
Difficulty Repeating – In his book “Eleven Rings,” longtime NBA Head Coach Phil Jackson surmised that winning a second straight championship was exceedingly more difficult than the first because personal constitutions change with success.
In the drive for a first championship, teammates pull together for the team and happily make personal sacrifices to taste gold. In year two however, many revert to looking out for their own personal interests after fulfilling more selfless goals.
Halfway through last year, there were multiple reports the Cavs were concerned with the strong personal interests of several of their players off the court. Iman Shumpert’s rap career, clothing line & general state of being, Kevin Love’s modeling career and JR Smith simply being JR Smith.
In a locker-room with defined and dominant personalities this might end up as Head Coach Tyronn Lue’s greatest challenge in his young career. That is quite a statement given that Lue took over an established locker-room full of those personalities halfway through last year and managed to lead them to a championship.
Fortunately for Lue he has the trust of James which is far more than any other Cavalier head coach has previously gotten from the King.
Regardless of the challenges ahead, Mel Brook’s classic line from “History Of The World, Part One” rings true for LeBron, “It’s Good To Be The King.”
It’s not too shabby to be his teammate or a Cavs executive either.