When news broke earlier this week that Kyrie Irving would miss at least two weeks of action with a left bicep strain, it felt to fans as if the Cleveland Cavaliers’ season was effectively over. With just 13 games remaining in the season, the Cavs are still sitting six and a half games outside of the playoffs. The question now becomes, what does Cleveland do with the rest of the season?
Every move that the front office has made in the past year has been about winning. They signed Andrew Bynum in a failed effort to stabilize their frontcourt. They added a veteran guard in Jarrett Jack to play backup point guard and to add a new dynamic playing next to Irving. They traded several draft picks for Luol Deng to have the first star small forward in Cleveland since LeBron James. They even gave up two second round picks to acquire Spencer Hawes at the trade deadline as a stretch big.
But as every move was made with winning in mind, none of the front office efforts have added significantly to the win column and they’ve even cost the team some future flexibility with the loss of draft picks (or potentially the overpaying of Deng or Hawes this summer).
At the earliest it seems like Kyrie would be able to play the last seven games of the season. The truth of the matter is that Cleveland is currently closer to a bottom five record in the entire league than they are to a playoff spot in the East. With so many teams having attrocious seasons, and a few fielding D-League quality teams (hello Milwaukee and Philadelphia) in an effort to lose on purpose, it is remarkable to think that Cleveland could potentially fail their way into a high pick in a strong draft.
How good would Jabari Parker look in a Cavaliers jersey? Could Joel Embiid be a key addition for 2014-2015? Allowing Kyrie Irving to sit for the rest of the season could make the difference between a player like Parker and Embiid, or Doug McDermott and Dario Saric.
For the greater good of the franchise, Kyrie Irving may have played his last game on the season. It may also be coming close to the time for Deng, Hawes, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson to rest some “nagging injuries” as well. Up until now, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been tanking accidentally…but with just a few weeks remaining on the season it may become more intentional.