The Cleveland Cavaliers have had bar none the most active offseason in the NBA. The following are moves the Cavs have made this offseason: Fired head coach Mike Brown, named David Griffin the full-time general manager, hired David Blatt as the new head coach, signed Kyrie Irving to a five-year max extension, traded Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, Tyler Zeller, and a first round pick in a three-team deal, traded Carrick Felix, signed LeBron James, Mike Miller, James Jones, Alex Kirk and Shawn Marion and have a trade in place to send number one overall picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to Minnesota for Kevin Love. *exhales*
The Cavs’ current roster going into this year compared to last year is astronomically different, the only holdovers being Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Matthew Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson, and Anderson Varejao. That roster last year got the Cavs 33 wins, a nine-game improvement from the previous year, a 12-game improvement from two years prior (strike-shortened season), and a 14-game increase from three years ago. In the last four years the Cavs’ overall record has been 97-215, a “winning” percentage of 31%. We’ve suffered a lot of losing over the past four seasons, more so than anyone deserves. Heck, we suffered through an NBA record 26-game losing streak.
All that said, as the old saying goes, we should start acting like we’ve been there before. We went through a bad stretch as Cavs fans, perhaps the worst four-year stretch of basketball anyone has ever gone through. But it’s not like the Cavs have been a perennial loser for a decade. The Cavs have been the most successful team in Cleveland in the last 10 years. Since 2004, the Cavs have had a winning percentage of 51.1% (411-393), compared to 31.9% (51-109) for the Browns and 49.5% for the Indians (802-818). The Cavs are also the only team in this town to make it to the championship of their respective sport. Cleveland sports as a whole has been suffering for these 10 years (and even longer), but the Cavs have held up their end of the bargain for the most part.
I’m not asking to be ho-hum about all the Cavs moves. Getting LeBron is a big deal. Getting Kevin Love is a big deal. Having those two plus Kyrie Irving on the same team is a very big deal. But we’re allowed to talk about our situation without being in awe. There’s no reason for us to be surprised the Cavs were able to get LeBron James; we saw him play here for seven years, help deliver the best basketball in franchise history and win two MVPs. The Cavs had the best record in all of the NBA in consecutive seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10 – both of which were 60-win seasons. We’ve had quality basketball here before, and having it again is not something we should have to apologize for or feel like we backed into a good situation. We deserve the great offseason moves that have happened. We deserve to analyze them and talk about the great things that will probably happen this season and beyond. But no more do we have to feel lucky; this team has won before – not too long ago – and it’s going to win again, presumably for an extended period of time.
Celebrating free agent moves during the offseason is something I rarely participate in anymore. That doesn’t make me a curmudgeon or a non-fan. I just have a certain level of patience I keep before I let myself blow the lid off my excitement. For reference: I’m a Denver Broncos fan. This offseason they were able to land pro bowlers like DeMarcus Ware and T.J. Ward. These are big moves that should improve the team, but they just went to a Super Bowl last year. These are only exciting moves to me if they help the team win a championship. Will it be fun to watch these new players show a high level of skills each Sunday? Absolutely. But the process and the end game is what I’m most interested in and that’s why my celebrations are saved until the season kicks off, or in this instance tips off.
The Cavs are in a similar position. They’re not coming off a championship caliber season, but it wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about this team going for the Larry O’Brien trophy. We’ve seen great basketball before. The past teams will probably be outshined this season and down the line, but watching the process is a heck of a lot more relevant and exciting to me than looking at a piece of paper with a bunch of dudes’ names on it. The constant shock I hear on the radio and see on twitter is something that I’ve thought was unnecessary. This team is great and we’ve seen great Cavs teams before – granted, with not as much firepower as they’re likely to have this year.
Don’t apologize for having great players on this team. This has the potential to be the greatest team in Cleveland sports history. We’ve seen great Cavalier teams in recent history. We’ve had a four-year hold on consistent quality basketball in this town. We know the fun is in the process during the season. Don’t suppress your giddiness going into this season, but just remember that we’ve been here before.