Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Roll up your sleeves – it’s time to get to work

We all knew things were going to be tough for the Cavs post-LeBron. But in the past few days, it’s become clear that things are going to be really tough, at least in the short term.

The team not only has to replace the two-time MVP in the lineup, but they have to learn and adjust to coach Byron Scott’s system, which is significantly different that the one run by former coach Mike Brown. Scott wants the team to run off of “rebounds, turnovers and even made baskets, we’re going to try to run off all of them,” Scott said in published reports.

And after five years of watching taller guards come up short – Sasha Pavlovic anyone – the team is now looking for guards who can push the ball to create offensive chances.

The Cavs came up short in their bid to acquire Houston guard Kyle Lowry, and now are reportedly looking at Mike Conley (Memphis) and Ramon Sessions (Minnesota). They may also give some time to current guard Sebastian Telfair.

Not exactly the cream of the crop, but at this stage they may be only players available.

The team is also taking a look at 2009 first-round pick Christian Eyenga – remember him? – at the Las Vegas Summer League.

This is what Brian Windhorst had to say about Eyenga:

“Whether you’re watching him in a practice or a game, usually within a few minutes it is easy to see why the Cavaliers were so attracted to the talent of Christian Eyenga. Often, at the same time, it is easy to see why it is hard to figure what to do with him.

“The 2009 first-round pick from the Congo is immensely gifted with remarkable leaping ability and long arms on his 6-foot-7 frame and the ability to get from one side of the floor to the other in an instant. He can close to block a shot in a flash or outrun everyone on the floor to finish a fast break.

“But then he’ll miss a defensive assignment, take the wrong angle on defending a screen roll or get trapped on the wing without a move to counter the defender.”

Oh boy, that doesn’t sound like fun.

Windhorst also said the Cavs are kicking the tires on Adam Morrison, who has averaged 7.5 points on 37 percent shooting for his four-year career.

This just gets funner by the minute.

But the hardest article to read may have been one Windhorst penned for In it he says:

“In the midst of trying to pick up the pieces, the Cavs are suddenly staring at one of the league’s toughest conundrums, one that nearly every franchise faces once a decade or so. How can they rebuild? How should they rebuild? How can they sell the rebuilding process?

“The questions are unpleasant and the answers are complicated for reasons the Cavs can’t control and reasons they can.

“In the unrelenting heat of Vegas, though, reality is here. The Cavs see it as they watch their summer league team attempt to install new coach Byron Scott’s running offense, a system for which they don’t have the personnel right now. They hear it when they talk to agents about their clients and the troubles recruiting them to what is left of the team. They feel it in the glares of other executives as they know teams see them as desperate.

“The truth, whether the team and its fans are prepared to admit it, is the Cavs cannot rebuild quickly or on the fly. They will not be competing with the Heat for the championship this season and more than likely not next season either. After being one of the focus points of the NBA since making the Finals in 2007, the national television games and late postseason runs are done for now.”

This is where the Cavs have to get it right. They now have an opportunity to rebuild the team in a way that will allow them to be competitive long-term, rather than worrying about appeasing one player. And it seems as if Dan Gilbert has seen the light, telling Sports Illustrated in this week’s issue:

“It’s kind of a relief on the organization,” he said. acknowledging that the franchise had made trade after trade with the short-term goal of convincing James to to re-enlist. “People have to understand this was a LeBron-centric situation. We haven’t experienced trying to do it the right way, and in a way it’s exciting for us to move forward without that kind of weight on us.”

Building a winning team in the NBA takes patience, smarts, good management and luck.

The Cavs have the first three pieces in place. Hopefully they didn’t squander all of the fourth piece over the past seven years.

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