Random dribbles on the Cavaliers …
1. It’s nearing panic time for general manager Koby Altman and the Cavs’ front office. I’ve been told next season will be the last chance for Altman in terms of the team showing an obvious next step.
2. Ownership is getting a little antsy. More specifically, Dan Gilbert and son Grant Gilbert are growing impatient about putting a competitive product on the court. The Cavs are hosting the All-Star Game next season — and they don’t want the organization to be an embarrassment once February rolls around and it’s time for the big weekend.
3. Dan Gilbert remains in charge of the Cavs. He is continuing to make progress, ever so slowly, from a stroke suffered in May 2019. I’ve been told Grant Gilbert, Dan’s son, does have his father’s ear when it comes to making decisions on the front office. Grant may be why Altman still has a job as Cavs GM.
4. Basically, the Gilberts aren’t OK with the message being spun by Altman in the media that the Cavs are unquestionably on the right path. They want results. They want to see what Altman does with the No. 3 pick and how he approaches the offseason. They aren’t giving any directives, except one — start competing. That not only means winning more games, but putting together a cohesive roster with a fighting spirit.
5. The Cavs have been more than patient with the current plan. Both Gilbert and Altman have made their mistakes, and plenty of them, since LeBron James left in 2018. But Altman has done a solid job with the lottery picks — Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro. He hasn’t hit any home runs, but there are no Anthony Bennett-like flops, either. You also can’t do anything but like the trade for Jarrett Allen.
6. As I mentioned back on lottery night, the Cavs are having some talks about the No. 3 pick. They’re determined to keep it. Most of that is because they aren’t likely to get what they want in return. But they’ll be just fine if they use it. They have one particular prospect in mind already, and they believe he will be there at No. 3.
7. Altman will explore Sexton trades. It doesn’t mean he is looking to put the team’s leading scorer on the first bus out of town. But if the Cavs select a guard in the draft, or land one in a trade, they will likely move on from Sexton, especially since they know they can get a nice return.
8. Paying Sexton a max contract isn’t yet a good idea. He is a fantastic scorer, a good person and plays extremely hard. But as is always the case in the business of the NBA, you have to determine if that player can be your No. 1 option on a winning team — and if he’s not, you can’t afford to pay him like one.
9. I get the sense the Cavs haven’t yet made that determination on Sexton one way or the other.
10. With the likes of the Suns, Clippers, Hawks and Bucks all playing in the conference finals, it just goes to show that the door is wide open. If you put a team like the Hawks together, you can be successful and have a regular season full of fun, followed by a deep playoff run. And this NBA Final Four is evidence that you don’t have to be a traditional power to make it happen.
11. Basically, the fans and most of the higher-ups in the organization are tired of hearing that “we’re only entering Year Four of our rebuild.” Anyone who missed the playoffs can make that claim. It’s not a real battle cry. It’s a lame excuse. Ownership knows that, and is privately putting on the heat for Altman and his staff to start showing strides and quit just talking a good game.