The Cleveland Cavaliers have been staying under the radar this offseason. They added some non-star shooters, kept their core together, and everyone is saying the right things now that Training Camp has begun. Given the additions other East contenders have made, the Cavs are comfortably outside of the spotlight heading into the season.
The same cannot be said for other teams around the league, with trade rumors and consummations and Media Day quotes and new league rules all demanding attention. Which stories matter to the Cavaliers and their fans? Let’s take a look at five non-Cleveland storylines that fans should be paying attention to.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: James Harden wants a trade. The former MVP has become one of the league’s most quickly dissatisfied players and is pushing for a trade out of Philadelphia. After spending the offseason calling Daryl Morey a liar and declaring he would never play for him again, Harden has turned up for training camp and is playing along (for now).
This matters in a huge way for the Cavaliers, as the 76ers are a team parallel to the Cavs; strong regular season teams on the fringes of contention in the Eastern Conference with muted playoff success. If Harden is traded for floatsam, the Cavs will clearly leap the Sixers in the East pecking order. If he sticks around and loafs through the season, that could give Cleveland a leg up. If he returns and buys in for one more run, the Sixers are suddenly the favorites over the Cavs in the East standings.
Harden’s situation also has shockwaves for reigning MVP Joel Embiid. Depending on how things develop, it’s not out of the question to see Embiid request a trade because he doesn’t feel like Philly can reasonably compete for a title now or moving forward. That would take the Sixers off the board, but it could also propel a team like the New York Knicks up into the top tier. How the Harden situation resolves could have a major impact on the Cavaliers.