Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers stood at 13-7 after the first 20 games of the season. This year isn't a major departure, as the Cavs are 11-9 through 20 games, but the increased expectations around this team (and a truly agonizing loss to the Portland Trail Blazers at home last week) make 11-9 feel like 5-15.
The optimist can point to the myriad of injuries that have inflicted this team in the early going, hot opponent shooting or to the marquee wins that Cleveland has earned and suggest a better tomorrow is in store. It likely is. Even so, there is also plenty of room for the Cavaliers to have regrets about this past summer.
It was a busy summer, with the Cavaliers reshaping the roster around their four stars. They moved on from beloved role players like Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens, added shooting with Max Strus and Georges Niang, and snagged a pair of former Warriors in Ty Jerome and Damian Jones. They used their lone second-round draft pick to select Emoni Bates, and added Craig Porter Jr. as an undrafted free agent.
Some of those moves worked out, and others have fallen flat. Let's look at three decisions they made this past offseason that they may be regretting now.
Regret No. 1: Trading for Damian Jones
The Cleveland Cavaliers elected not to re-sign Robin Lopez this offseason, instead trading for Utah Jazz reserve center Damian Jones to fill in behind Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley at the pivot. Jones has hung around the league after a disappointing start to his career in Golden State, but his defensive metrics with Utah a year ago spoke to a reliable paint presense with a whisper of "stretch" to his offensive game.
The results have been quite disappointing. The seven-year vet saw increased playing time right from the jump due to Allen's ankle injury, and he did very little with it. Jones is taking nearly all of his shots from right at the rim and yet is shooting just 50 percent from the field; he hasn't taken a single 3-pointer. When he is on the court the Cavs' offense grinds to a halt as his defender ignores him, and his defense has been below average, unable to earn back any of the points he cost the Cavs on the other end.
Jones has been passed by Tristan Thompson in the rotation; Thompson was out of the league working for ESPN this time last year. Any number of solid veteran centers were available at the minimum this summer and the Cavs instead chose to trade for Jones, a player they may well waive before the end of the season.