In the post decision era Cavs fans have had to endure a lot of terrible weeks. Weeks where key players sustain injuries, losses mount, and the growing pains of rebuilding an entire franchise takes its toll. I could go out on a limb and say this past week was the best in our new “Post-Decision” era and hopefully is the sign of many more to come.
We started the week in relative obscurity, sitting on the sidelines as the league showcased itself for it’s holiday viewers, but ended the week making all kinds of noise on and off the court.
As with any recent Cavalier success story it begins with our soon to be named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Kyrie Irving. Kyrie started by torching Rajon Rondo in the final minute on his way to 40. He iced a great comeback win against the Bucks with a few buckets. Then slayed an old dragon from 28 feet out at the buzzer in Toronto. In the end his team went 3-0 in three close games in large part because of his insane play in the clutch that was so good it somehow overshadows the fact that he averaged roughly 36 pts a night and shot 61% from the field. To put it another way, he scored 107 points and took 67 shots.
Yet the biggest moment for himself and for the organization as a whole came on an off night. While some were concerned he would be snubbed in All Star voting due to the Cavs record, I was not. Anyone who watches the way opposing teams defend Kyrie and the Cavs knew pretty well that a panel of coaches weren’t going to leave him off the team. Sure enough they didn’t. In front of the NBA world, the very last name to be called, he was named an All Star. What many pundits agreed would be his ceiling in a best case scenario he achieved at 20 years old and put his name beside a handful of current and future hall of famers in doing so. Lebron, Magic, KG, Isaiah, Shaq, Kyrie. As I wrote earlier in the week, anxiety about the Cavs was reaching new levels. the losing was getting old. Then you go ahead and beat the hated Celtics at home and two days later, in a way, the entire rebuilding process gets an official stamp of approval by having your 20 year old PG named an All Star.
Of course as we know Thursday brought us some other news off the court. The man who fleeced the Clippers and brought us our young cornerstone was at it again. Chris Grant once upon a time claimed Jon Leuer off of waivers. Thursday he flipped him for a 25 year old big man in Marreese Speights who was buried behind some quality big men in Memphis but averages 16 & 12 per 36 minutes. Also receiving Wayne Ellington, a young shooter and decent wing defender. It’s widely thought that this stretch with the Cavs is his last chance to guarantee himself a spot in the NBA next year. Josh Selby also came in the deal and was immediately send to Canton for seasoning. All young, all hungry.
The pick that came along with it was obviously the key. Chris Grant is stacking up assets like a 60 year old laddering CD’s. He swindled the Grizzlies for a valuable first round pick in 2015 or 2016 that will look incredible to use in the future or to include in a trade proposal sooner than that. However it’s used it just gave a situation with a ton of options even more options. In the new NBA these deals are going to become more and more common. This being at the early stages of the new CBA, Chris Grant has set the price very high. So much so that it would probably make sense to hang onto more space all next year to see how many of these deals Grant can barge his way into. Then ultimately cash in during the summer of 2014 when more top tier talent should be available. By the way in the short term, Speights and Ellington have both played key roles in winning the last two games of our first three game winning streak of the season. The third of which was punctuated by Irving calmly walking the ball up the court down two, stopping 28 feet out with .7 seconds left and dropping a three. Word has it that once Alan Anderson stayed down in his stance at the three point line the Bus Driver just started the engine.
Quietly the Cavs have been playing near .500 ball (8-9) over the last month. With the new influx of bench talent, the emergence of Tristan Thompson, the excellence of Kyrie Irving, and the continued development of rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller the Cavaliers have a chance still to accomplish the one and only goal I had for them this season. Create a buzz. You think Uncle Drew might have Houston buzzing once or twice in mid February? Like I keep saying. Hang in there Cavs fans.