And now, we bring you more anecdotal evidence that the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a psychological slump.
At 2-8 since Christmas, with a bottom-10 offense, bottom-three defense and bottom-three net rating, the Cavaliers are feeling the weight of their own expectations being undermined by their inadequately built roster. And at times like these, they can react in one of two ways: by doing something about it, or by lamenting decisions that got them here.
The Cavaliers, ever the thorough martyrs, are doing both.
As we’ve already talked about, people around the league expect them to do something, anything in advance of the NBA’s Feb. 28 trade deadline. But they’re also wallowing in self-pity to some extent, by way of second-guessing what they received from the Boston Celtics in exchange for Kyrie Irving, according to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst:
There was excitement in Cleveland for the pieces the Cavs got in the Irving trade. But as the season has unfolded, second-guessing has been developing. James himself was publicly supportive, but it is no secret within the organization that he was against trading Irving after the demand (and well before the now-famous Arthur tweet). It’s fair to wonder what might’ve happened had the Cavs simply told Irving, who was under contract for two more years, they weren’t trading him, as the Spurs held the line with Aldridge.
Pinpointing one returning asset the Cavaliers are most disappointed in remains difficult. Are they turned off by Jae Crowder’s performance thus far? Did they not expect Isaiah Thomas’ hip injury to be as serious as it was? Might they just be overwhelmingly annoyed, maybe miffed, at the Brooklyn Nets torpedoing the value of their 2018 first-rounder?
A combination of all these things is more likely than not driving the Cavaliers’ doubt. Luckily for them, though, they have LeBron James, and they remain the Eastern Conference favorites as a result. Whether that will stay the case in the months ahead is up to them.