Lebron’s quiet exit marks the second time he has left the franchise. This time there was no televised “decision” special, just a low key announcement. This time Cleveland is in a better position than last time. A complete rebuild for the Cavs is unnecessary at this time. The current roster, while flawed shouldn’t finish near the bottom. Unlike the last time Lebron left, this time around they have more talent to work with.
The current players on the team are solid pros but lack a real playmaker. Lebron was the engine that made the team go, and without an elite playmaker this team becomes average at best. Kevin Love was an all-star in Minnesota, but is not a shot creator. The hope is that Collin Sexton is that player, however, it’s hard to tell with rookies. Only time will tell.
Looking at the salary situation it appears that in the next few years keeping the core intact may be the best strategy in the short term due to salary commitments over the next few seasons. Resigning Kevin Love is a clear indicator of the direction Cleveland plans to take.
For the most part, with the pressure to win a championship all but gone, it’s time for the Cavs to rebuild around Kevin Love with players that compliment his skill set. My prediction this season for Cleveland is that they barely make the playoffs or just miss the postseason.
While the loss of Lebron hurts, at least this time nobody is burning jerseys, taking ads out, or publicly ripping Lebron. It’s a move that everyone saw coming after watching Lebron carry an average team to the finals. But this average team still has a few years ahead of them before a complete rebuild is required
The Raptors had a excellent regular season, and had a top playoff seed to show for it. They had several consecutive seasons of improvement, but they either need to make a franchise changing move in the off-season, or quietly start retooling the roster for some “not so good” years (possible tanking).
The Raptors have created a solid team and developed their young players well. For all of the positives, there are couple issues that firing Dwane Casey won’t fix. Getting embarrassed by Lebron is not something that will change next season unless Lebron moves to the Western Conference. The lack of an elite wing talent is not something that you can put on Coach Casey. He worked with the pieces he had and did a admiral job with them, but the roster had a ceiling which they have reached. Given the play of Philly, Boston, and Lebron being in Cleveland, along with an emerging Milwaukee team all of a sudden you have some tangible roadblocks to repeating the record they had last season.
With zero cap space and zero draft picks going into next season. What’s next?
It’s time to consider making a trade, which Masai is completely capable of (see the Carmelo Anthony fleecing of the Knicks).
To compete, the Raptors need a top 15-20 talent. Kyle and Demar are a solid backcourt and are both all-stars, but it’s clear that they need to add an elite wing player who is able to create his own shot. Paul George would work, but may not be possible given the salary cap situation. The win by committee approach is fine in the regular season, but in the playoffs you need a player that could create and score of the bounce which just wasn’t happening consistently from the wing. OG has the tools to be solid, but depending on the next steps (win now, versus win later) could be replaced in the starting lineup.
On the flipside, the Raptors could prepare for a tear down. With only three players under contract in the 2020-21 season, that could be a good time to start a rebuild. The Raptors won’t finish last next season, but given the lack of guaranteed contracts past next season tanking could be a future move. Given the changing climate of tanking, actually finishing last may not help the Raptors. So for better or worse, the Raptors have to ride this out unless something major happens which is the hope, otherwise we will be treated to a finish between 3-5 and an early playoff exit before some real decisions are made in 2021.