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Cleveland Cavaliers 2013-2014 Season Recap

Photo courtesy of Google Images.
Chad W. Lutz
As I sit here watching Not-Cavaliers play the Surprise Bobcats team in Miami during the first round of the playoffs, I still find myself at a lack of words to close out the 2013-2014 campaigns for the boys in Wine and Gold. It’s been a week since the Cavaliers last tipped off, and it will be the last time until October. Between then and now, a champion will be crowned, deals will be made, and the 2014 NBA Draft will have taken place. Even though the Cavaliers regular season is over, now begins the new season.

Last season was a whirlwind of deals that produced 28 different starting lineups, and the most consistent of which only amassing 10 times. We saw the midseason exit of C Andrew Bynum, who many thought might, if healthy enough, could provide scoring in the low post and a body under the basket to defend against pesky, driving point guards and other bigs in the league. No dice. Our No.1 Overall Pick in the 2013 Draft bottomed out and scraped floor harder than janitors scratching used chewing gum from under gymnasium bleachers. We saw the additions of Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes, who provided late season lifts, and offense that spurred a late but benign playoff push. We witnessed reports of infighting bleed through the news like juice through wet paper. Kyrie Irving won the All-Star game MVP in February. Deng was awarded the Walter J. Kennedy Citizenship Award in April. Tristan Thompson started every single game for the second year in a row.

What happens now is business; the actual season, where entire playoff pushes are pieced together before they ever even step out onto the court opening night. It’s the time of year when mediocre players push themselves into incredible shape and become breakout stars. It’s when battered and beaten stars polish their shines and where those who have already faded find spark or last light. But what really bears meaning on the Cavaliers 2014-2015 campaign is weighed in dollars and cents and rests in the decisions of three major pieces: Kyrie Irving, Luol Deng, and Dion Waiters.

We’re not here to talk about the future, though. What happens in the future is what many of us revere as the thrill and pageantry of sport. Basketball will be played, and we know this. Stars will be paid, and we know that. Talent is rarely left unrewarded, even if it doesn’t pan out, as we saw this year with Anderson Varejao, yet again, and Bynum, also again.

Mike Brown and the Cavaliers front office have some decisions to make this summer, but they have a lot to build on, which is more than what the organization has been able to say for four years now. We improved our record by nine games this past season (24-58 to 33-49). We also established ourselves as a defensive team, strung together meaningful wins and win streaks, and avoided losing streaks of more than six games. That doesn’t sound like an awful lot, but when you compare it to the league-worst 26-game losing streak endured, nay, suffered by the 2010-2011 incarnation of the Wine and Gold ballers it almost feels like we won a championship (but not really). We saw fans actually get excited about Cavs basketball again, which is saying a lot in the wake of a 92-win season for the Tribe that saw Cleveland thunder with postseason revelry for the first time since 2010.
Like many Cavs fans, Chicago C Joakim Noah couldn't believe it when the Bulls dealt Deng to the Cavaliers. (Google Images)
I said this last year, and I’ll say it again: There’s always next year. We still have a lot to improve upon, and consistency will be the key moving forward, but the right pieces and the funds to keep it all together are right there. The upcoming draft will produce an athletic class of NBA freshmen many have been excited about since before the most recent NCAA season ever even tipped off. But none of those things are certain, as we saw colorfully illustrated for us this year. Like this past Wine and Gold campaign, things never really pan out the way we expect them to. Andrew Bynum never saved the franchise, Kyrie Irving was mostly pedestrian and inconsistent, Dion Waiters was our most clutch player, and who honestly in their right fucking mind ever saw Luol Deng in a Cavaliers uni? No, youngbloods, the only certain thing about the future is that the future is uncertain, and basketball will be played.