Tyronn Lue is searching for something — anything — to light a fire under this team. It’s not just that they’ve lost 6-of-7, the team has looked dispirited and disinterested, particularly on defense.
The coaching move — shake up the starting lineup. Lue said this was coming, and at practice Thursday Lue confirmed that Tristan Thompson will start and Jae Crowder will come off the bench against the Pacers Friday.
There’s good reason to make the move: the Crowder, LeBron James, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Isaiah Thomas starting unit is being outscored by 22.8 points per 100 possessions since IT returned to the court and moved into the starting lineup earlier this month. That unit was terrible on both ends, and was blitzed by the Spurs at the end of the last game to give San Antonio an easy win in what had been a close one mid-way through the fourth.
The new starting lineup has played all of eight minutes together previously this season. Maybe just the shakeup will at least get the Cavaliers to focus and hustle on defense, something that has been lacking for a while — Thompson is a strong defender, and while that’s Crowder’s reputation he has struggled this season.
Still, it’s something, and Lue had to do something. The front office is looking to do more, there will be trades before the Feb. 8 deadline. The most likely one brings in George Hill from Sacramento for Channing Frye (who will ask for a buyout), Iman Shumpert, and a second round pick (the Cavs don’t have one until 2020 so this is down the line). There may well be others, but don’t expect to see DeAndre Jordan or Kemba Walker in a Cavaliers uniform, the price for the best potential players on the market is too high for the Cavs taste (L.A. or Charlotte would want the Brooklyn pick).