When a team loses by more than 40 points, it’s rarely only a product of the available talent on the floor. It’s usually a sign of deeper trouble going on within a given team’s ranks.
The Cavaliers found themselves in this situation on Sunday, losing by 44 points in Sacramento in a game where Kyrie Irving, Luol Deng, and Anderson Varejao all started and played their normal allotment of minutes until garbage time commenced.
There was plenty of blame to go around, and head coach Mike Brown probably deserves the most of it for failing to get his team to compete for 48 minutes. Second-year player Dion Waiters, however, continued his habit of poor body language on the court and on the sidelines during the tougher stretches, and it’s an act his teammates appear to be growing increasingly tired of.
Players have quietly grumbled about Waiters’ act off and on all season, and those grumbles were growing louder Sunday night.
As one player put it, stars can get away with the stuff Waiters pulls on occasion, but Waiters hasn’t even established himself yet in this league, let alone carved out star status. …
This isn’t to pile on Waiters or put all the blame on him, but his behavior was the most evident tonight and the whispers from other players growing tired of his act seem to be growing louder. Again, it’s more of a frustration because overall he’s not a bad guy. It would be different if he was causing major strife within the locker room. He’s not. He’s just drawing a lot of eye rolls.
There’s more there, including an important part about Irving being guilty of some of this too at times, and Brown saying he sees it in multiple players.
Waiters is young, remember, and he’s viewed as having plenty of potential, as evidenced by the invite he received to train at USA Basketball’s mini-camp in Las Vegas this past summer. Teams would love to see if things would be different with Waiters in a new situation, so you’ll continue to hear his name being brought up in trade rumors where the Cavaliers are concerned.
But the franchise isn’t going to consider dealing someone who they selected with the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft, when there are plenty of other issues — Irving’s inconsistency, Deng’s future free agency, and the overall mood surrounding the team — which are clouding Cleveland’s situation.