The feeling surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers prior to the 2013-14 season was hopeful for the first time in four years. After three long seasons, fans believed this team could finally make the playoffs.
This hope quickly slipped out of grasps when the Cavs failed to reach their playoff goal for the fourth year in a row. Although the future looks bright for Cleveland with their young stars, this year fell short of expectations in many ways for the Cavs.
The most obvious way it fell short was not making the playoffs. I believe making the playoffs this season was essential for two reasons. The first was to make it an easier decision for All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to sign a contract extension this season. Irving wants to win now and needs to know the Cavs organization is capable of putting the right pieces around him in order to compete before signing a long-term deal.
The second reason not making the playoffs hurt the Cavs is for attracting free agents. Since the Cavaliers have a long shot at getting a top pick in the lottery, they need to be able to attract free agents this summer. Attracting free agents to Cleveland is a difficult task and not making the playoffs will only make it harder.
The rehiring of head coach Mike Brown is another way the Cavs failed to meet expectations. The team needs to move in another, fresh direction instead of trying to relive the past. Brown, a defensive-minded coach, was unable to implement a successful offense all season. The Cavs are a young team, who need a proven offensive coach to help teach their budding stars how to play together.
The third shortcoming for the Cavs was their new players, whether it be Anthony Bennett, the number one overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Andrew Bynum, who was signed in free agency, or Luol Deng, who was acquired from the Chicago Bulls midseason. Although Bennett did show sparks late in the season, he failed to make an impact on the court. Bynum was supposed to be a huge signing for the Cavs to solidify their playoff goals, but instead turned into a pain for the organization. When the Cavs traded Bynum to the Bulls, they gained a successful scorer, Deng, in return. As soon as Deng came to Cleveland his numbers dropped and seemed to be unhappy with his new team.
Another downfall to the 2013-14 season was the abundance of attention surrounding the dysfunction in the locker room and lack of spotlight on the Cavs in-game successes. The only times the Cavs were talked about in the media was for negative things. Multiple times throughout the season, there were reports of Irving and guard Dion Waiters disliking each other. There were rumors that it had become so bad between the two, they were engaging in fistfights in the locker room. Although both deny the reports and stress they are best of friends on and off the court, the bad media attention does nothing but hurt this young team in trying to attract free agents and resign players.
The Cavs failed in multiple ways this season, but not all was bad in Cleveland. They continue to strengthen their young core of players and are closer than ever to ending the city’s woes.