In yesterday’s game against the Indiana Pacers Kyrie Irving had to be carried off the floor due to a possible left knee injury. Irving was able to return to the game but is scheduled for a MRI today. Reports on both sides have come out: Either Irving has a torn ACL or the MRI is for precautionary measures. We will look at a couple scenarios depending on the results of the MRI and what the Cavaliers will do in those cases.
Worst Case – Irving Has a Torn ACL
The “We are going to try” Scenario
Obviously Irving getting hurt is the worst case for the Cavaliers. Losing your star player is never a positive. The Cavaliers, especially GM Chris Grant, could still push for a playoff spot in the very weak Eastern Conference. While no one can replace Irving, the Cavaliers have some depth at guard. Jarrett Jack or Dion Waiters may be inserted into the starting lineup joining CJ Miles in the backcourt. The other would be the first guard off the bench with Matthew Dellavadova as the other backup guard spot.
The Cavs could still look to move assets, including Andrew Bynum’s contract and future first round picks, to improve the roster through a number of trades. As the Cavs try to push for the playoffs in this scenario Pau Gasol, Luol Deng or others could join the roster. Adding a guard could now be a higher priority if Irving is injured.
Could Waiters carry the team, and prove what he believes about his abilities to carry a team? Could Grant’s desperate need to make the playoffs actually pay off? Or will his desperation cause future cap and asset issues for the team?
The “Time to tank it up” Scenario
Irving is hurt, the Cavs are tied for the 5th worst record in the NBA and that was with the team trying to win. A perfect opportunity to give time to youngsters Anthony Bennett, Tyler Zeller and Sergey Karasev all while positioning themselves for a high pick in the vaunted 2014 NBA draft. While this may mean Chris Grant won’t be back next year, he could still look to make moves to add more assets to their future. Could Bynum’s contract be used to bring in a young player or draft pick while giving another team salary cap relief. Could he look to move some of their conditional picks, and second rounders, for a guaranteed pick? The Cavs have a chance for a top pick and a returning Irving to put them in contention starting next year.
Best Case – Irving is fine or out for a short time
The “Relieved, we are going to do this” Scenario
The Cavs, both coaches and players, are relieved to hear the good news and use this as a milestone in their season. The coaches and players find a way to come together as a team, even if Irving needs some time to recover. The team, which has seemed to be disjointed at times this year, are able to see their need for each other and Irving sees the need to play more of a team game. The Cavs start to live up to their individual talent, together as a team.
The “We need to improve now” Scenario
The Cavs, with a big sigh of relief, sees a need to make moves now given Irving’s injury history, and this scare. The Cavs go all in to trade for a player or two to make huge improvements to the core of their team, giving up future assets to do so. Instead of keeping their assets for the long term the Cavs do whatever they can to make the most of Irving’s time while healthy. A move to add Gasol, Aaron Afflalo, Jeff Green or any number of players could make alot of sense in this scenario.
The “Should we just tank already?” Scenario
Similar to the “Time to Tank It Up” Scenario, the Cavs see no chance to make the playoffs and see a very flawed team. They sell off pieces, including possibly Waiters and others to assist them in building for the future, and adding ping pong balls for 2014. With that the Cavs turn the page on their last planned build, but still have Irving to build around. Grant most likely loses his chance to see this rebuild out.