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Real or mirage: Without LeBron James, the Cavs are headed back to the lottery?
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Steve Aschburner: Real and surreal. Hey, James might wind up winning the 2017-18 Kia MVP award retroactively, given how sorely he is missed in The Land. That’s a joke borrowed from social media, but this plummet by Cleveland is breathtaking and unfortunate. I thought that re-upping Kevin Love as their All-Star in residence, maintaining and fleshing out roles for the veteran supporting cast and adding the energy and freshness of rookie Collin Sexton would be enough to get the Cavs into one of the last two spots in the East. But this horrendous start is beyond even the pessimists’ fears. Love’s injury and surgery, the coaching change, J.R. Smith’s spiral, Sexton’s limited minutes and more have sucked the air out of Cleveland’s season to this point.
Tas Melas: Real, and Cavs management wants it that way. From my perspective, when Kevin Love went down with his toe injury, the organization decided to do a 180-degree turn from a postseason charge in hopes of keeping their top-10 protected pick this June (which is probably the smart move). At 1-9, and with no Love for at least the next five weeks, there's basically no chance at the playoffs.
Shaun Powell: That's as real as real can get. Not only are the Cavs headed back to the lottery, but they'll likely get the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick. Just for the sake of reference, their first rounder is top-10 protected from the Hawks, which means the Hawks aren't getting it this season.
John Schuhmann: As real as it gets. The Cavs are the worst team in the league in the standings, rank 29th statistically (point differential per 100 possessions), and appear to be right there with the Wolves and Wizards in regard to dysfunction. If they were going to have any chance of being a playoff team, they needed to be better than Atlanta, Brooklyn, Charlotte and Orlando. They're 1-4 against that group thus far, with three of the four losses coming by more than 15 points. If Kevin Love was healthy, this is not a playoff team. With Love out for an extended period, the Cavs are the favorite to finish last in the Eastern Conference.
Sekou Smith: So real. The Cavaliers are headed back to the lottery with a golden ticket. I knew they'd miss LeBron in this first season after his departure (don't his exes always?), but I wasn't expecting it to be as ugly as it's been. Tyronn Lue was the first casualty. Then Kevin Love goes down with an injury and J.R. Smith's desire to exit the premises hit at nearly the same time. At least we know Larry Drew is in as coach for the rest of the season. But the danger zone in Cleveland right now is that strange space they've put young Collin Sexton in not even a full month into his first NBA season. A dysfunctional atmosphere is no place for a precocious rookie point guard you are hoping to be one of your young building blocks. I don't have a good feeling about what is going on in Cleveland right now.