It’s August 15th, Cleveland Cavaliers fans, and that means that we’re only eight days away from Kevin Love reportedly joining our team. That’s neat. Beside that incredible fact, the NBA also released the full-season schedule on Wednesday. We now know several things. We know that the Cavs will open their season on Thursday, October 30th at home against the New York Knicks. We also know that they’ll play the next night in Chicago against the Bulls. Both of these first two games will be on national television, which is something Cavs fans aren’t accustomed to after the last four seasons. In fact, the Cavs will play 25 nationally televised games throughout the course of the season, tied for the most in the league with the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder.
That in and of itself is something to be excited about for Cleveland. Here is the full schedule: http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/schedule
The league obviously realizes how fun and talented this Cavs team is going to be, and acknowledges that they will be a legitimate contender with LeBron James and Love. Then there’s the ostensible possibility that Ray Allen and/or Shawn Marion could join the Cavs’ roster as well. That would be an added luxury for a roster already rife with talent, but something that the Cavs also likely need in order to legitimately compete for a championship this season. Adding an additional sharpshooter (Allen) and/or versatile wing defender (Marion) could go a long way for the Cavs in the playoffs.
The Cavs also signed rookie center Alex Kirk last week. The junior out of New Mexico is 6’11” and 250 pounds with a 7’ 3.5” wingspan. Kirk averaged 13.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 32 minutes per game for the Lobos last season. He has the size to play center in the NBA, but his athleticism and quickness is not there yet, and may never be. Kirk did not impress with his play for the Cavs in the Summer League, but will have the opportunity to try to overcome the huge obstacle of making the Cavs roster during training camp. Kirk has the ability to eventually space the floor at the five and provide defensive hustle plays for an NBA team, but he’ll likely need to spend significant time in the D-League or overseas before he’s realistically ready to do that. The Cavs do have a lack of defensive bigs though, and it’s looking like they probably won’t be able to address that weakness until next offseason. After the assumed Love trade goes down, and if the Cavs add Allen and Marion, the roster will be at 15 players who are likely to make the team: LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao, Matthew Dellavedova, Ray Allen, Shawn Marion, Mike Miller, James Jones, Tristan Thompson, Brendan Haywood, Joe Harris, Dwight Powell and Malcolm Thomas. The Cavs could end up choosing Kirk or another big (likely) to replace Thomas for that 15th spot, but that probably won’t be clear until preseason.
If this does end up being the final roster for the Cavs this season, there will be an abundance of wings that can shoot and defend, which is a nice problem to have. There will only be two true centers on the roster, both of which are injury prone, but Thompson has experience playing the five and James has seen success in small-ball lineups in Miami. With that much talent on the roster, David Blatt should be able to find a way to make it work for at least the first season. After that, if the defense is a clear problem for the Cavs, they should be able to find a way to address during the next offseason. For now, however, Cavs fans can prepare to usher in a ‘big three’ era to Cleveland and more importantly, a new winning culture. We all experienced it during James’ first stint with the Cavs, but this time he has legitimate help. Let’s hope his second stint ends in a championship for the Cavs.