The Cleveland Cavaliers are on fire right now – not in the good NBA Jam way, though. They’re 3-7 in their last 10 games and sit six games adrift of the Boston Celtics for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Yes, the Cavs are aflame much like Springfield’s eternal tire fire, sending toxic fumes into the atmosphere.
While the meeting before Monday’s practice that reportedly devolved into just a bunch of people screaming at Kevin Love might be the season’s nadir (well, for now), there have been a lot of bumps on the road to it. In fact, to properly understand why things are the way they are right now, you have to go all the way back to the summer.
June 12, 2017 – Try as they might, the Cavs couldn’t manage to defend their NBA Title, falling in five games to the Golden State Warriors in the thrilling conclusion to their trilogy of NBA Finals. LeBron James did what he could, averaging a completely absurd 33.6 points, 12.0 boards and 10.0 assists a night over the series.
June 19, 2017 – General manager David Griffin’s contract was not renewed, which is to say he was fired, after three seasons. Griffin had engineered LeBron’s return to the Cavs, as well as the trade of Andrew Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Love. Reports emerged that owner Dan Gilbert made the decision to let Griffin go without consulting James, a move that left LeBron “surprised” and “disappointed.” Word later emerged that prior to his dismissal, Griffin had made headway on a deal for Jimmy Butler. That, of course, collapsed and the Chicago Bulls, days later, dealt Butler to the T-Wolves.
June 25, 2017 – The Cavs were to enter a three-way deal with the Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets that would have seen Paul George head to the Cavs, while Love would be shunted off to Denver. The deal never came to fruition and George would be traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder a few days later.
July 3, 2017 – TNT analyst Chauncey Billups withdraws his name for consideration for the vacant team president role, ESPN reported, at least partially because the team low-balled him on the offer. While the going salary for most team presidents is $4 million a season, the Cavs came in to Billups with a reported offer of half of that.
July 17, 2017 – USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt reports that the Cavs’ offseason of general inaction is weighing on James, with LeBron growing increasingly frustrated with the way the summer was playing out both in terms of player personnel and front-office staffing.
July 21, 2017 – Kyrie Irving shocks the NBA world when ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports that he’s asked to be traded, offering a limited list of teams to which he’d accept a move with the New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat reportedly among them.
July 25, 2017 – After failing to attract an outside target, the team promotes assistant general manager Koby Altman to GM.
July 25, 2017 – The Cavs’ first major addition of the summer comes in the form of Derrick Rose, signing the 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player to a one-year deal.
August 22, 2017 – Kyrie is traded to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick in 2018. After over a month, the Irving saga finally looked to be finished. It was not.
August 25, 2017 – ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that concerns arose over the condition of Thomas’s hip during his physical, complicating the official completion of the deal. Thomas won’t be available until the new year.
August 30, 2017 – Because the Cavs were well within their rights to rescind the deal thanks to Thomas’s hip, the Celtics coughed up an additional second-round pick in 2020 (via the Heat) to sweeten and officially complete the Kyrie trade.
September 27, 2017 – Recently waived by the Bulls, Dwyane Wade reunites with LeBron, signing a one-year deal with the Cavs
October 17, 2017 – The Cavs kick off the season with a 102-99 victory over Kyrie and the Celtics, the team widely expected to contest for the East crown with Cleveland. During the game, Boston’s prized free agent signing, Gordon Hayward, goes down with a gruesome leg injury and is potentially lost for the season. The major threat to the Cavs’ reign atop the Eastern Conference is weakened before it even gets going.
November 9, 2017 – In what could be a preview of the NBA Finals, the Cavs fall 117-113 to the Houston Rockets in a nationally televised game at the Toyota Center. Cleveland falls to 5-7 on the season and loses their seventh game of their last 10.
November 24, 2017 – Rose is granted leave from the team to attend to a personal matter. Reports surface that Rose, in the midst of another injury-riddled campaign, is contemplating his future and might not come back at all. Rose would eventually return to the club on December 4 and get back in the lineup on January 18.
December 6, 2017 – LeBron has 32 points as the Cavs dump the Sacramento Kings, 101-95, for their 13th victory in a row. The Cavs sit at 18-7. The ship has been righted. All is well in Cleveland.
December 25, 2017 – The Cavs spend Christmas in Oakland in a rematch of the last three NBA Finals. Draymond Green’s triple-double leads the way as the Dubs emerge victorious, 99-92. It will be the first of three straight losses for the Cavs with the team also falling to the Kings and Utah Jazz.
January 2, 2018 – IT finally makes his Cavs debut in a 127-110 rout of the Portland Trail Blazers. Thomas’s game time is limited, as the diminutive guard scores 17 points in only 19 minutes of work.
January 3, 2018 – Thomas is rested the following night when the Cavs visit Boston, where the Cavs are routed 102-88.
January 11, 2018 – With the Toronto Raptors missing Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, the Cavs are hammered at the ACC by the home team, 133-99, as the Dinos set the mark for most points scored in a non-overtime game in franchise history. It is the Cavs’ second straight game in which they scored 99 points and the second in which they were crushed, having lost 124-99 to the T-Wolves three days prior.
January 15, 2018 – The Dubs come to town and get past the Cavs comfortably again in a 118-108 victory. It is Cleveland’s ninth loss in 12 games and fourth on the trot.January 20, 2018 – After snapping their losing streak against the Orlando Magic, the Cavs are humiliated in a nationally televised game, yet again. The Thunder crushed Cleveland 148-124. The defeat equaled the worst defensive mark in team history, matching the 148 surrendered to the Philadelphia 76ers on January 2, 1972. The 43 points the Thunder scored in the first quarter were the second-most allowed in quarter by a LeBron James team over the course of his entire 15-year NBA career.