Cavs set to move at a new speed with LeBron's departure

Pace the name of the game sans The King

Alex Hooper
September 24, 2018 - 5:48 pm

Ben Fontana - 92.3 The Fan

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Independence, OH (92.3 The Fan) – With the departure of LeBron James, and with him the franchise’s championship window, the Cleveland Cavaliers are now ‘in the player development business.’

To head coach Tyronn Lue, such a vocation requires not just the young talent to bring along, but at least a fraction of the winning that took he and his squad to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances.

“Most of player development comes from playing meaningful games,” Lue said at the team’s Media Day on Monday. “I think our guys have the chance to do that this year, so I’m excited to do that.”

After immediate cries of tearing things down to the studs, a la “The Process” of the Sam Hinkie-era Philadelphia 76ers, owner Dan Gilbert made it very clear that the team would continue to make a push to the Eastern Conference playoffs. That idea aligns favorably with Lue’s assertion that rookie Collin Sexton, promising Euro Cedi Osman and others will benefit most by winning.

James’ hike out west changes the dynamic across the board for the Cavs, refocusing roster construction to young talents, as well as reconfiguring days off. The relaxed days to keep veterans ready for the NBA Finals are over, as Lue will hone in on using as many allotted practice days as possible.

Gone are the days of seeking James out on the fast break, or aborting offensive momentum in favor of the best player on the planet. Pace will be the name of the game, with everyone from Sexton and Osman to Larry Nance facilitating fast breaks.

That will require elite conditioning, something LeBron teams, especially in the days of Dwyane Wade seemed to lack. The Cavaliers ranked 12th in pace in 2017-18, but had ranked 16th, 28th, and 26th in the three prior years, respectively.

The old guard does not seemed troubled by this, with new No. 1 option Kevin Love mentioning that players are excited for the new offensive flow.

The team’s oldest player, yet miles per minute Ironman, 37-year-old Kyle Korver, sees it as an ‘adapt or die’ move.

“We’re going to evolve. We’re going to play a different style of basketball, and if we don’t, we probably won’t be very good,” he said. “We’re going to be playing new lineups, new people, new system. Probably a bunch of old habits that we have to break, develop new habits, which you know you have to do after you break old habits.”

Korver likened the change to moving as a child, when he would get a fresh start, leaving behind that about himself which he did not like.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the ramp up in court time will likely not affect Sexton, who noted that Alabama Head Coach Avery Johnson saw to it that ‘The Young Bull’ was in the best shape of anyone on his team.

Love will serve as the team’s focus, and says he has prepared for a stark increase in touches. The 30-year-old will serve as Sexton’s counterpart as he learns how to be effective in the pick-and-roll at the NBA level. Love will also have to delegate out of the post, a task which he relishes.

“My game has definitely changed,” he said. “Will there be nights when my statistics will be gaudy? It’s very, very likely. In some cases, I’ll be asked to do that. In a lot of cases, I’ll be looking to set up teammates to help other guys grow in their game. I think that’s part of the leadership aspect, as well. I know what I’m capable of.”