The Clevleand Cavaliers have played themselves out of playoff talks ever since the continuation of play after the All-Star break. The Cavaliers are a dismal 4-11 after being in the race for the eighth and final spot in the Easter Conference playoffs. Cleveland is currently in 10th place in the East and five-and-a-half games out of the final playoff spot that is currently being held by the red-hot New York Knicks.
All of this is not so shocking because a lot has changed wit the Cavaliers team since the time around the All-Star break. Anderson Varejao, who was having one of the best seasons of his seven-year career, is still out with a wrist injury, but is expected to start practicing the first or second week of April. Parker has also been very bad offensively since returning from his injury, as he is averaging just 5.7 points per game.
Antawn Jamison at one point after the All-Star break had a streak of eight games where he had scored 20 points or more. Since that streak ended on March 14, Jamison has only scored 20 points or more one time.
You can’t forget the roster changes that the Cavaliers made, which unofficially declared that Cleveland was throwing in the white flag for the playoff race and that they are now in a state of rebuilding. Former Cavaliers guard Ramon Sessions is now taking on a starting role with the Los Angles Lakers, and is being missed by head coach Byron Scott whenever he looks to the bench. Cleveland also traded away shining development league player Christian Eyenga to Los Angeles. Center Ryan Hollins was waived by the Cavliers and was recently signed by the Boston Celtics.
Omri Casspi has also been removed from his starting small forward position as Alonzo Gee has finally earned the trust from Scott. Scott liked the energy that Gee was brining in off the bench, but Casspi had been lacking the offensive fire power to hold his starting job. With Hollins departure Thompson has taken over as the starting center and has succeeded so far in the four games.
In return for the Sessions and Eyenga trade, Cleveland got a first-round pick, Luke Walton and Jason Kapono, who was released before he had a chance to suit up as a Cavalier. Rookie Donald Sloan (signed by the Cavaliers) and Manny Harris (brought up from the Canton Charger), have been seeing some minutes with all the roster changes that have been made.
So it’s obvious that the Cavaliers are in a rebuilding phase, but what is still unanswered is the question of who will be around next season? Some players, like Varejao and Irving, are already locked in to stay with Cleveland for next season. Other players, like Jamison and Gee, might not return next year as they will both become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.
It’s also obvious that the Cavaliers will most likely not earn the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.