Editors note: This is the third in a week-long series looking back, and ahead, at the Cavaliers. Part I: Questions abound as process continues.Part II: Player-by-player breakdown.
When it comes to rebuilding, the Cavaliers certainly have a lot of competition. After all, they arent the only NBA team that possesses gifted young talent and a lottery pick in the June draft.
They arent the only team with a determined front office, strong ownership, available cap space and a supportive fan base. The Cavs are near the top, for sure. But theyre not alone.
In fact, much of what the Cavs do this off-season will be based on other teams -- as opposed to solely what general manager Chris Grant and his staff are conjuring up.
First, theres the lottery (May 21). The Cavs can draft no worse than the sixth pick. They also own the No. 24 selection (via the L.A. Lakers).
Then comes potential trades and free-agent signings. Again, theyll have plenty of competition in these areas. In order to make a trade, you need a dance partner. Oftentimes, the team youre talking to backs out. Other times, they dont offer you anything but a bad contract in return. Usually, discussions result in nothing beyond a dont call us, well call you.
This isnt meant to downplay the Cavs options to reshape the roster -- because they do indeed have plenty. But they need help. Both from the teams that want to beat them and free agents who will be courted by nearly every other franchise.
So are the Cavs really closer to reaching the post-season than other Eastern Conference teams that failed to reach the playoffs? Lets take a look:
Closed the season with six straight wins, mostly because of the fantastic chemistry displayed by young point guard John Wall and center Nene. Imagine adding a top draft prospect such as Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to that combo. Its certainly doable, as the Wizards finished with the second-worst record and can do no worse than the fifth overall pick.
They could also be in line for a bigger name on the sidelines, as ex-Cavs coach and Wizards interim man Randy Wittman isnt likely to be retained. Mike DAntoni (Knicks, Suns) is among the names being mentioned.
Either way, I give a slight nod to the Cavs. They have a coach in Byron Scott and two young players in Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson who already know what he expects. Chances are, Wall, Nene and shooting guard Jordan Crawford will need to learn a new system all over again.
Like the Cavs, the Pistons had a talented rookie guard in Brandon Knight, a more-than-capable young big man in Greg Monroe and an excellent coach in Lawrence Frank. Those are three very good starts.
Problem is, they dont really have a ton of assets, having handcuffed themselves with a few veteran contracts (see, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villaneuva). Also, the only movable deals belong to Jason Maxiell (player option) and Austin Daye (team option).
That said, itd be difficult to give the Cavs an edge here, but theyre really in no worse than a tie when it comes to which team looks more promising at the moment.
NBA fans keep uttering the name of Jonas Valanciunas, the Raptors first-round pick last summer whom no one has actually ever seen play in the NBA. But hes expected to arrive next season, as is a top eight or nine draft pick.
Those two things would make this suddenly ignored franchise quickly relevant again, especially when teamed with the rising Andrea Bargnani. But, man, a lot of things have to go right if the idea is a quick turnaround.
You would think a team with Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, and an improved Kris Humphries would have done better. And it still could, but the Nets will have to do more than just move furniture and basketballs to Brooklyn.
Theyll need to finish in the top three in the lottery (otherwise the pick goes to Portland). Theyll need to re-sign Williams, Wallace, Humphries and center Brooke Lopez -- all of whom are entering free agency to some degree. Then theyll need to bring in some bench help, and hope the returnees have some actual cohesiveness.
If all that happens, theyll likely get to where they want to go faster than the Cavs. If not, well, at least theyll have an unmatched amount of cap space. Just not a team.
Lost 23 straight to close the season, fired coach Paul Silas, and nobody really wants anyone they would have to offer, outside of maybe Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson.
Other than that, life is great for Michael Jordans club.
But like most everyone else, winning the lottery and landing Davis could change a lot in a hurry. And the Bobcats enter the lottery with the best chance to win. Still, the Bobcats will have to get really lucky before they get good.
Finished as the ninth seed, just missing the playoffs. The expected result is a roster shakeup and perhaps a coaching change.
Regardless, with a backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, the Bucks have assets and must be considered closer to the playoffs than other East team that failed to qualify.
Especially since, even if everything stays the same, even a late lottery could potentially make a big difference in the draft. So, yes, theyre the one team that you could say is without question closer to the post-season than the Cavs. Today.
Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO