So, Cleveland – at least somewhat – began preparing for a future without him.
The Cavs kept the Nets’ first-round pick (acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade) rather than deal it for someone who’d help in the 2018 playoffs. Cleveland also valued youth while acquiring Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. rather than prioritizing players who’d most help toward 2018 championship contention.
The Cavaliers lost to the Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals. LeBron left for the Lakers that summer.
Despite shortchanging its title chances to get a head start on rebuilding, Cleveland has been awful the last three years – going 19-63, 19-46 and 22-50.
Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:
We’re three short years removed from four straight Finals. And when we came out of that, we didn’t really have young talent or draft assets. We had to go all in which was the appropriate thing to do during that time, and what Dan allowed us to do was rip the Band Aid right away and replenish our draft assets and build through the draft.
This is such a mischaracterization of events.
Not only did the Cavs not go all-in during LeBron’s last season with them (different from the preceding three)… not only did the Cavs have some young talent and draft assets when LeBron left… the Cavs didn’t rip the Band Aid right off.
It was a predictable disaster.
This all just shows just how misguided the Cavaliers were to undercut their 2018 title pursuit. It’s so hard to build a championship contender. Once at that point, they should have done more to maximize their title odds.
Maybe Altman is trying to whitewash that misjudgment. Maybe he’s trying to excuse Cleveland not being further in its rebuild now. Maybe he’s trying to cover for Gilbert.
But it’s not an accurate description of what happened.