Pains of “the process” for Cavs promise sustainable returns

A lot of NBA was played on Monday.

Blessed as I was, I had the chance to sit out the storm and enjoy a day off courtesy of Dr. King and his impact on our country. At one point, my oldest boy asked if the Cavs were on.

“Not this year little man, but maybe soon.”

As he ran off, I caught myself remembering back to when the Cavs were the main event on day’s like the King Holiday.

Every year.

Every NBA showcase game they were there. As gone as they are now, I truly believe they’ll be back.

Maybe not to the same scale and probably not next year, but those days will arrive in time to shape into my five-year old’s version of our "Price and Daugherty Era."

The Cavs, and their fans, are swallowing the pain of doing this the right way. Dan Gilbert warned us.

On Tuesday, we had an escape from that monotony. The trade was exciting and Kyrie’s performance at home against the Celtics was even better.

By and large, however, “the process”, includes no shortcuts. The pain will return.

This team is being built through the draft, primarily, in a sustainable way. In the modern NBA, where Jon Leuer can be exchanged for much more than we'd ever imagine, sustainability does not come quick.

Organizations can only shoot for the big trophy in a few different ways, and we’ve clearly chosen the path of patience and prudence. By far the most disciplined and unpopular plan anyway.

On consistently selling the rebuild

You have to tell a fan base coming off two straight 60-plus win seasons that winning 50 of your next 190 games is the plan. Get young, get flexible, stockpile picks, and it’s inevitable that the rest of the NBA will make sure you’re losing.

Frankly, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it masterfully. As far as phase one is concerned, anyway, the Cavaliers have.

The mood is still changing, though, as we approach the 2012-13 All-Star break. Patience is wearing thin, and to some degree, it's understandable. All of the frustrations of losing are taking its toll.

It’s the exact reason that rebuilding is horrible to go through as a fan and also the reason that teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors offer big contracts to Drew Gooden and Landry Fields to temporarily avoid such pain.

It’s also the reason the Orlando Magic, when the situation was screaming for a tear down, took back over $50 million dollars in cap space over the next three to four years for Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington in the Dwight Howard deal.

Mediocrity usually avoids apathy. Gilbert and Grant are choosing to roll the dice, and considering they’re boasting a .263 winning percentage for the last three years and are still middle of the pack in attendance, I think that call is correct.

Chasing the elusive Oklahoma City Thunder Model

The "Oklahoma City Thunder Model" sounds easy enough to duplicate. Unfortunately, for the Cavaliers, they have not been blessed with a similar scenario.

In Kevin Durant’s rookie year, the team’s 20 wins weren’t exactly the biggest concern for Seattle fans as the Sonics were in the process of being swept away to OKC.

Once the relocation was complete, Durant would play his sophomore campaign with rookie Russell Westbrooka young-gunning combo guard who struggled to average 15 points per game in his first season while shooting less than 40 percent from the field.

If it wasn’t for the newness of NBA basketball in Oklahoma City, I’m sure fans would’ve had some degree of anxiety over that 3-29 start to the season along with the 23 wins they posted overall that year.

The point is, while all rebuilds are unique unto themselves, it wasn't too long ago when the Cavs were great and the Thunder were horrible.

It doesn’t take decades for things to change if done properly, but it does take a few seasons. The bubbling sentiment of customer backlash that could emerge moving forward in Cleveland is something the Thunder were never threatened with.

The plan for the process

In today’s NBA,  it’s not even worth tearing down unless you can find a way to acquire a superstar. That piece the Cavaliers have in the 40-point scoring Kyrie Irving.

He SHOULD be finding out Thursday that he’s made his first of many All Star games, a game and a stage his young star will shine for all the NBA world to see.

There are certainly improvements that are needed for Irving to elevate his game even further, but it’s only a matter of exposure for him to break out into widespread super stardom in the eyes of all those not paying attention.

Along with the franchise player, the Cavaliers have also gotten young and flexible. Draft picks on picks on picks have been stockpiled, adding even another on Tuesday. This while continuing to have one of the best cap situations in the entire NBA.

All of which should be our focus, as hard as that may be. Forget about all the players who make you mad when you watch the games. This roster is built to change both dramatically and quickly whenever the Cavaliers choose to pounce.

Trade exploration will continue

The Cavaliers have all kinds of expiring deals and available cap space this year. This will almost assure there will be no major trade talks going on in the NBA without Chris Grant getting a call to see what he can help facilitate.

Or, the Cavs can choose to save it for the summer of 2014. There’s some possibilities that summer that have been discussed. Without identifying anyone specifically, the 2014 free agent class is very deep and talented.

Either way, whatever they do with the assets they've acquired, they have done an unbelievable job of keeping that options as wide and varied as possible.

Trades, free agency, high draft picks. Multiple ways to hit.  

Though the Cavaliers are sitting in the bottom of the standings, they remained positioned to acquire more and more talent in a variety of different ways.

Young talent developing

Tristan Thompson has seemingly turned a corner right before our eyes.

In the absence of Anderson Varejao, he’s been a double-double machine. But beyond the statistics, he’s passing that eye test more and more.

Dion Waiters continues his up and down rookie campaign, but as of now his numbers bare a striking resemblance to the guy Brendan mentioned last week. Just his numbers, guys, relax. 

Since the start of the year, we’ve seen slight improvements in Waiters' shot selection and overall aggressiveness going to the basket. The hero ball hasn't shown up as much as it had while Irving was injured either.

He's shooting a more respectable 43 percent lately, averaging 16 points—much better than the 32 percent he shot during the 11-game stretch with Irving sidelined. 

Dion has a lot of growing up to do, but there’s been many stretches when he’s looked the part of a future star. After witnessing Tristan’s recent revelation, I think I’ll have some patience with him too as he figures it all out.

On car repairs and Cavaliers

Chris Grant just fleeced the Memphis Grizzlies for a quality first round pick just to rent some cap space for a few months.

The franchise point guard is here in Cleveland. Two high lottery picks are developing and two other young playersAlonzo Gee and Tyler Zellerare on extremely cap friendly deals as well.

Draft picks have also been stockpiled to the tune of now eight over the next four years.

So, as a Cavs fan, if you are still teetering towards apathy and jumping off the wagon, I’ll leave you with this:

Would you watch your mechanic tear your car apart for hours just to start walking home as soon as he was about to finish fixing it?

Hang in there Cavs fans, good days are coming soon. 

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

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