NBA Hell, Pt. 2
For some NBA teams, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
Current record: 10-46
Point differential: -10.7
Blowout losses: 16
Salary committed in ’11-12: $48.6 million
“Bad” contracts: 1 (Antawn Jamison)
The Cavs beat the Lakers and the Clippers! Mo Williams is back! Put away the paper bags! Everything is solved!
Sorry to rain on your parade, Cleveland, but no. Drop the fireworks. Roll up the celebratory banner. Take the voodoo pins out of that King James bobblehead doll. A win over the Lake Show is cool and all, but it means next to nothing when there’s this much red on your schedule.
Ever since LeBron James skipped town, your team has done nothing but set benchmarks for futility: a 55-point loss to the Lakers, a league record for consecutive losses (26), the most ridiculous celebration of a non-Playoff win in recent memory.
After beating the Clippers (road record: 5-21) on Friday, Cavs team officials showered Quicken Loans Arena with wine and gold confetti and Jamario Moon hugged the ball as though he’d just won the championship.
It would have been a heart-warming moment had it not been so damn embarrassing.
Then again, I can’t really blame them for celebrating. After a loss to the Pistons last week, the situation in Cleveland was so tenuous that beat writer Mary Schmitt Boyer wrote the following:
I would like to see any evidence that this pathetic, gutless team has a heartbeat or any sign of life. I see none. After a shameful showing that was an affront to anybody who works for a living, I see guys walk out of the locker room with food, heading to the rest of their evenings. Nobody’s embarrassed. Nobody’s inconvenienced. Nobody seems to care.
I know they’re professional basketball players. I know they can’t be spanked or sent to bed without their dinners. But it would be nice to see some sort of investment on their part because right now it looks like they’re just collecting paychecks, paychecks they have not earned.
And the award for beat writer least enjoying her job goes to…
I guess that’s what happens when you have to sit through 16 blowout losses, though — the most of any team calculated for this list. You can’t help but get frustrated.
The worst part about Cleveland’s situation is that it doesn’t look like it will get better anytime soon. The Cavs have nearly $50 million committed to the payroll next season, including $15 million earmarked for Antawn Jamison.
That number drops to around $20 million in 2012-13, but there’s little room for maneuvering in the interim, especially when you consider the financial hit the city (and owner Dan Gilbert) took when LeBron took his talents out of state.
Of course, Gilbert will play the “hope for the future” card at season’s end. He has to. The team has been plagued by injuries all year and a high lottery pick is more or less guaranteed. Plus, JJ Hickson put up 27 and 14 against the Clippers.
He’s an All-Star waiting to happen!
Really though, is a Playoff run on the backs of Jamison, Williams, Hickson, Anderson Varejao and, say, Kyrie Irving feasible?
I say no. The Cavs are more than a lottery pick (or two) away from legitimacy. They’re a team built around the strengths of a superstar no longer there. The holes they patched year after year in the name of LeBron couldn’t cover the gaping abyss he created when he left.
Jamison. Varejao. Hickson. Williams. This isn’t a one-year rebuilding project. It’s a construction site.
Which is why a two-out-of-three game winning streak is hardly anything to get excited about.
Sorry, Cavs fans. I hope you packed light. The trip out of NBA hell is going to be a long one.
Salary figures courtesy of hoopshype.com.