Without LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Should Tank

Nick Wilson doesn't know if "Dan Gilbert's ego will allow it," but the Cavs should "race to the bottom"

After Hours with Amy Lawrence
October 30, 2018 - 11:15 am

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Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan host Nick Wilson dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss the aftermath of LeBron James’ decision to once again leave Northeast Ohio for the glitz and glamour of a major city.

How are the Cleveland faithful reacting? Especially in comparison to 2010?

“It had little bursts of rage or pockets of emotions from Cleveland fans,” Wilson said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence, referring to James’ departure to Los Angeles. “But in 2010, that week after LeBron left was just a four-alarm fire all week of just angry fans and four people saying, ‘He’s still a Northeast Ohio kid’ – and those people getting eviscerated all over. I think now the ratio is kind of flipped. I keep talking about the five stages of grieving. I think that Cleveland fans have come to acceptance a heck of a lot more gentler than they did eight years ago. I think now people are genuinely interested to see what path does LeBron’s legacy finish on and what path do the Cavaliers go down, too?”

The Cavs went 97-215 (.310) in four seasons without LeBron from 2010-14. They went 211-117 (.643) in four seasons with him from 2014-18. They also reached the NBA Finals every season and, of course, won a championship in 2016.

Without James, where do the Cavs go from here?

“Well, I think to most people it’s pretty simple,” Wilson said. “If the Cavs try to make a go of it with Kevin Love and George Hill and the talent that they have here, I actually don’t doubt that . . . they could make the playoffs. But with the way that this team is set up, they’ve got a first-round pick on the line this year – it’s not like you're going to get free agents to swarm here. I think they need to learn from what Miami’s learned. Miami really tried to make a go of it after LeBron James left, and they’ve had a few nice playoff berths, but now they’ve got a bunch of bad contracts and really no superstar on that club – and not really any closer to getting one. 

“So as much as tanking is this kind of hotly contested thing – and I don’t know that Dan Gilbert’s ego will allow him to do it – (the Cavs should do it),” Wilson continued. “You’ve got Kevin Love – highest bidder. You’ve got Kyle Korver – highest bidder. Even guys like Rodney Hood, who’s a restricted free agent, I think you got to race to the bottom. At the bottom or the top, as long as you have a plan, you’re in a good spot. The death is in the middle where you don’t have superstars but you’re just good enough to get by and make (the playoffs).”