After probably the longest sports season I’ve ever experienced (compounded by years of bottom feeding), it’s come to this. The supposed fork in the road has finally arrived. For all intents and purposes, the last three years will be decided in the next twelve months. Chris Grant’s talent evaluation abilities, the supposed ceilings of Kyrie, Tristan, Tyler, and Dion, and even Byron’s coaching ability (despite the fact that he may not even be around at that point) will all be judged and weighed against serious expectations.
The last three years haven’t been easy. As a fan, it’s heartbreaking to watch a team you love lose night in and night out, especially, like last night, to an equally bad Bobcats team. As a writer, examining every facet of the team, it’s taxing. If you need proof, see the comments section, where arguments over the big picture become heated and even, at times, cruel. I’ve seen friends and family who formerly watched the Cavs, unwavering in their dedication even in the pre-Lebron years, slowly but surely lose all interest. Not even the emergence of Kyrie could rope them back in. The hope is whatever is coming will.
I’ve made my views on Byron abundantly clear – last night only strengths my beliefs. Even if Byron could’ve been the man for the job, there has to be a signifier – to the fans, to the players, and to the organization, that things are about to change. There are only so many options available – boot Grant, dump one of the young players, or nix the coach. It’s sad that Byron will likely be the one with the onus squarely on his shoulders, but that comes with the territory of agreeing to coach a rebuild. (Don’t feel too bad – the man made one million dollars for every 4.7 wins) Going forward, the players have to realize it’s win or get off the pot.
I’m not going to speculate on the moves that Grant will make this off season, largely because we’ve all done enough of that as the season has progressed. There has to be something. Drafting Noel will not be enough, nor will adding a rookie small forward. The team’s personality, which has been entirely absent these three years, must take shape. That starts from the top down. Likewise, role players have to be signed and secured as part of the future. I don’t advocate blowing too much cap room, but stalling another year would be a massive mistake.
We’re all tired – three years and 166 losses will do that to a person. Three years ago, after the day that shall live in infamy, this moment seemed beyond comprehension. But sure enough, it has arrived. The Cavaliers have youth and talent, but something is missing. I hope, as I’m sure you all do, that whatever is lost will soon be found. I don’t know the answer to the question of what the next few years hold. All I know is that we’re finally at the fork – lord help us all. We are – for hopefully the last off season – dreaming of what will be instead of what is. The future has arrived, and boy is it scary.