A disappointing 2012-13 season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who finished 24-58 on the year, prompted a flurry of additions in the offseason.
These additions to the roster have the potential to make them one of the most intriguing teams in the NBA this season.
The Cavs went into last season hoping a talented young core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, along with long-time Cavalier Anderson Varejao would translate to more wins. After winning only 24 games and ending up with the first pick in the NBA draft for the second time in three years, it became clear the Cavs needed more of a supporting cast to help out the young talent they had gathered.
Their first move, however, was not to bring in a new player, but a new coach.
Byron Scott was fired after his third season with the team, and new (or old) coach Mike Brown was brought back to Cleveland after getting fired by the Los Angeles Lakers. Brown coached L.A. to a 41-25 record in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, but was let go after the team started 1-4 last year.
With a coach in place, it was time for general manager Chris Grant to assemble the roster. In all, eight new players were brought on board, five of which should make a heavy impact on the team.
With the first overall pick, Cleveland took former-UNLV forward Anthony Bennett. Then, with the nineteenth pick, acquired from the Lakers, they selected Sergey Karasev, a forward and three-point specialist from Russia.
Grant was not afraid to spend money, either, signing three of the bigger free agents available. Jarrett Jack, a point guard who last played with the Golden State Warriors, was signed to bring stability and veteran leadership to the backcourt. Earl Clark, who played with Brown in Los Angeles for the Lakers, was signed to be play small forward.
Finally, the Cavs shocked many by bringing in another former player of Brown’s, the oft-injured but supremely talented center Andrew Bynum.
If Bynum can make a full recovery from a plethora of knee injuries, suddenly the Cavs look like a viable threat to be one of the four or five best teams in the Eastern Conference.
What will stand in their way could continue to be inexperience. Irving is already a superstar in the league at just 21 years old, and Waiters and Thompson could emerge to join Irving as the Cavs “Big Three.” But Waiters is only 21 and Thompson is 22. There’s a good chance they will need more experience before they learn how to win games.
That could be the value of someone like Jack, who was brought in not only for his performance on the court, but his abilities to act as a player-coach both on the floor and in the locker room. The Cavs open their season Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Brooklyn in Cleveland.