While watching the Cleveland Cavaliers play the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, there was never a moment in the game, even when the Cavaliers cut it to two with 7:18 left in the third quarter, that I thought they could pull this game out.
The rotation defense was subpar, the offense was stagnant as usual, with everything being initiated off the dribble, and there was simply no sense of urgency out there.
But I’m not dwelling on this game, or any other game, because they’re all just a culmination of the dismayed Cleveland Cavaliers locker room.
Reports are flying like crazy in Cleveland, mostly concerning the state of the backcourt with young stars Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, and the management of the team by the coaching staff.
A lot of people within the organization have been talking to media in anonymity, and these anonymous voices agree that there is a major problem, which is a different tune than the one the players are singing to the media when the camera is in there face, apart from newcomer Luol Deng.
Behind the scenes, sources within the organization are privately complaining that Brown and his coaching staff are not on the same page, giving mixed signals to the players and causing discouragement; players are not sure when they are in the right or wrong because when they do something one coach says, another coach might reprimand them for doing it. The bench seems to be too deep on the coaching side. One player even said that, at least with Byron Scott, when they were losing they were still having fun.
There also doesn’t seem to be much accountability under Mike Brown, something Brown promised to bring to the team. For example: there apparently was a problem with Dion Waiters in a practice earlier this week and, though this caused him to be removed from said practice, it did not effect his playing time in any way. It reminds me a lot of when LeBron James was under Mike Brown’s tutelage; Brown allowed James to do basically anything he wanted, and didn’t seem to affect any of the play going on, or inspire the play of any the other players in the organization at the time. Though they made the Finals in 2007, Mike Brown seemed to be less of apart of that than Scot Pollard was. I have never questioned why he was let go early by the Los Angeles Lakers, but I have since questioned why the Cavaliers’ organization picked him up at the beginning of the season.
And while Kyrie has remained optimistic with the microphones in front of him, sources say that Irving is simply portraying that nothing is wrong.
But despite what is happening behind the curtains in Cleveland, Luol Deng has been pretty vocal to the media.
But Deng hasn’t been critical of Brown, Waiters, or Kyrie. Though Deng has said the locker room is a “mess” and that the current management of the team wouldn’t be tolerated at a place like Chicago, he remains optimistic about the future. Deng voiced that, if the Cavaliers can bring in some more veterans that are inclined to winning, that the organization can and will win once the internal problems are figured out and the team starts playing as a unit. He swears the Cavaliers’ organization is a place that can facilitate a winning tradition. He claims Cleveland gives their players everything and that the organization is top-notch when it comes to providing for their players.
So, what is going to happen before the trade deadline?
Dion Waiters has seemingly been a problem since the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted him in 2012.
Waiters, who was the sixth man for the Syracuse Orange in his university days, saw the bench again this year when Mike Brown took over the reigns in Cleveland, after Dion had played a prominent, but not consistent, starting role for the Cavs that earned him a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Though Dion has all the talent that two-guard his size could have, his mental approach has been all but shining. He has been known to take awful shots, butt heads with teammates and coaches, and not take responsibility of his actions.
I thinks its obvious Dion Waiters is one of the major problems in this organization and I think trading him away would be nothing but beneficial to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But what can they get for him?
I believe there are a lot of teams that could use a player like Dion, and would be willing to sacrifice, say a veteran, for the youthful play of someone like Waiters on their roster. Looking at teams that are, as of now, not in the playoffs, I saw a few players that teams actually may consider giving up for Waiters. The Detroit Pistons, with a record slightly better than the Cavaliers, have a plethora of backcourt players, none more enticing than Chauncey Billups, the sure shot veteran that has 12 years of playoff experience, including six straight conference championships with the Pistons, two NBA Finals appearances, and one ring. He was also the Finals MVP in 2004, a five-time All-Star, and has twice been named to the NBA All-Defensive second team.
While Billups would be a great veteran for the Cavaliers’ roster, I don’t see the young Pistons dropping a veteran like Billups to pick up another young guard like Dion Waiters.
I think even some teams on the playoff bubble could be up for a trade.
The Phoenix Suns are having a surprisingly excellent season, and there has been some talk of the possibility of a trade with the Cavaliers, though that is all blog talk. I just don’t see any players on the Suns that would bring something new to Cleveland to benefit them in their hopes for a turnaround. I also don’t see Phoenix messing up their current chemistry for the prospects of a player like Dion.
The Brooklyn Nets, who had high expectations coming into the season (much like the Cavs), have not performed up to par with those expectations, though are still in playoff contention as we speak (with a losing record due to the weak Eastern Conference, might I add). They have a plethora of players that would fill their void; Andrei Kirilenko, Joe Johnson, and Jason Terry are all veterans that have plenty of playoff experience and have their own individual strengths to help Cleveland within the their current structure. Andrei Kirilenko is a defensive-minded vet, Joe Johnson is a takeover scorer that would take pressure of the young All-Star Kyrie Irving, and Jason Terry who has been known to hit big shots and is a proven floor general. Brooklyn is a viable option, too, in that they could use some youth, especially in the backcourt to compliment Deron WIlliams.
The Dallas Mavericks offer some potential players that would compliment the current Cavaliers’ roster in either Vince Carter or Shawn Marion. Both have a lot of playoff experience in this league and bring very different dynamics to the table. Vince Carter is a proven scorer that is now at an age where he doesn’t need the majority touches to be effective. Shawn Marion is a vet that has thrived off defense for his entire career, and would bring that mindset to the locker room, as well as add depth at the wing.
Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks offers another promising prospect for the Cavaliers to replace Dion. One of the greatest three-point shooters ever, Korver has been told to be a leader and a great teammate; he brings a lot to the table that Waiters can’t and the Cavs don’t have much of. The Hawks could use a player like Waiters to compliment Jeff Teague, as the next best option is combo-guard Louis Williams, who is more unsure in his position than versatile.
The Memphis Grizzlies are having a decent year, though are still out of playoff contention if the season ended today, could use some explosive scoring in their backcourt. Apart from Mike Coneley, their next best options in the backcourt are Tony Allen and Courtney Lee (averaging 10 and 9 points, respectively), both of whom do not bring a lot to the table in terms of scoring. The Cavaliers could use a veteran presence like Tony Allen to lead their defensive efforts in the backcourt. The Griz are lacking in depth at the point guard position and could use a player like Jarrett Jack to provide a breather for Coneley. If Cleveland could swing a deal to rid of Waiters and the lackluster Jack, they could land a veteran like Tony Allen and add a another wingman in either Tayshaun Prince or Mike Miller. This seems to be an ideal swap for the Cleveland Cavaliers that bring much needed veterans on the squad, as well as more depth at the wing position.
What is the Cleveland Cavaliers’ best option? Anyway they can get rid of Waiters and add a proven veteran with a winning tradition would seemingly be the best move to fix the Cavs chemistry. I see the most viable options in Memphis and Brooklyn, but I think any of these options would work well for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ organization. Most sources agree something will shake up this roster before the trade deadline.
So now I sit down in anticipation for the matchup against the Lakers, hoping for a win, but praying for better chemistry.