As if this season couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Cavaliers, they lose their leading scorer Kyrie Irving after 10 games. Irving jammed his left index finger Saturday night against the Mavericks, but only missed a few minutes before returning to action. He will be re-evaluated by team doctors in two weeks but he is expected to miss up to a month.
Missing Irving for a month is a huge void in our roster and is a season changing event. The Cavs sit at 2-8 on the season now and with their leading scorer out, their expected to struggle even more.
Without Irving’s 23 points per game, the Cavs will look for more production out of their bench players. This is easier said than done. The bench’s performance for the Cavaliers this year, in the nicest way possible, has been poo. I expect rookie shooting guard, Dion Waiters, to move to the point and C.J. Miles to be inserted in the starting lineup at shooting guard. Miles’ early season struggles are something that has not sat well with head coach Byron Scott. They can only hope by moving Miles into the starting role, he will become the scorer they brought him here to be.
It will be interesting to see how Waiters plays during Irving’s absence. In the past five games, Waiters has been shooting 33 percent from the field and on the season is averaging just two assists a game. General manager Chris Grant really liked Waiters’ versatility at Syracuse. 10 games into the season, fans haven’t seen the same versatility that Grant saw that made him pick Waiters fourth overall in the draft. Early in games, Waiters has settled for a jump shot and has not worked his way in the paint, which was one of his best attributes in college. With Irving out and Waiters taking over the point, it will be mandatory for Waiters to take over the offense and rack up more than his season average of two assists a game.
This injury does not just affect the players and coaches, but the front office as well. With trade speculation surrounding Anderson Varejao, Grant will need to decide if he will deal or not. Of course Grant is going to want draft picks in return, but he will only deal if he gets a young player to go along with the picks. Only a team who will be contending for a championship be willing to part ways with draft picks and young talent. You have to looks at teams who are in need of Varejao’s services – rebounding. Boston and Miami are bottom in the league in rebounding. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Dan Gilbert is not willing to deal with Miami for obvious reasons. And with Boston being an Eastern Conference team, it would not be ideal for Grant to try and deal with them.
If you dig down a little deeper in the stats, you will notice that the Oklahoma City Thunder are ranked 29 in offensive rebounding. The Thunder is an intriguing team to deal with after they dealt reigning Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden, to Houston. In return, OKC received two first round picks, a second round pick as well as Kevin Martin and rookie Jeremy Lamb. OKC would be an ideal team to deal with for the Cavs. With their team almost last in offensive rebounds, they will look to deal for a player like Varejao. If the Cavs could get their hands on a draft pick or two, to go along with a young player like Lamb or Perry Jones III, I think Grant will take it in a heartbeat. But that will be for Grant to decide.
While I remain confident in the Cavs’ rebuilding process, you can’t help but be concerned with this season. The bench may be missing their most productive player with Daniel Gibson suffering an elbow injury in Saturday night’s game against the Mavericks.
Whatever decision the team decides to do will have to be in best interest of the franchise. During their rebuilding stages, Oklahoma City decided to part ways with one of their first-round picks, Jeff Green. Although he was a productive player for them, the Thunder felt that Green didn’t make them a championship contending team.
So my question for you: With the Cavs sitting at 2-8, and Irving out for a month – what do you do with Varejao?