If mundane and boring was what you were hoping for from the Cavs over the course of their training camp and regular season then Delonte West's arrest last week pretty much killed any chance of that.
West's motorcycle ride down a Maryland freeway with a small arsenal of weapons attached to his person obliterated any hope of tranquility and kicked off the pre-season with what literally could have been a bang.
West's issues, legal and personal, could hover over the Cavaliers like a stalled storm front all season and have far reaching implications. But assuming his punishment from the league costs him seven to ten games and that, like last year, his mental health issues are not a severe issue that require constant attention you have what is shaping up to be an interesting season of basketball in Cleveland.
The Cavs have improved a roster that led them to an NBA-best regular season record last season. Clearly Shaquille O'Neil is a better player than Ben Wallace at his point in their respective careers. Likewise, Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker bring more to the table than the combination of Sasha Pavlovic and Wally Szczerbiak. You also have to like the low risk-high reward potential of bringing a motivated Leon Powe to Cleveland on a team friendly contract, even if he's not available until the second half of the season due to yet another knee surgery.
And to me that's what this entire upcoming Cavs season boils down to: health.
Last year was amazing. The Cavaliers sliced through the league schedule like a running back through the Browns defense on their way to 66 regular season wins, a #1 playoff seed and two early round playoff sweeps.
But we know how that turned out.
The Cavs dedicated themselves last season to capturing that first seed, an achievement they believed was necessary in order to usurp the Celtics in the Eastern Conference. The problem is the Celtics never reached the conference finals and the Cavs ran into an Orlando team that gave them fits from a match up perspective.
This off season the Cavs went the other route when it came to setting their roster. They went out and traded for O'Neil to match up with Dwight Howard and they acquired Moon and Parker to get more athletic on the perimeter, an obvious weakness that showed against the Magic. Powe was brought in to hopefully return sometime around the All-Star break in the hopes that he can spell O'Neil and lean that big body on guys like Howard, thus making it more difficult for centers to command the paint like Superman did against Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao.
From the outside it looks like the Cavs made themselves a more rounded, athletic team. The necessary improvements are small when you employ the best player on the planet and the hopes are that regardless of who the Cavs meet in the playoffs that they have the personnel to minimize match up disparities.
Time will tell if that's the case.
But it will be interesting to see how these acquisitions come together in the regular season and just how hard Head Coach Mike Brown pushes some of his aging players. The Cavs, ostensibly a more talented team, may not be as driven to grind out 65+ wins in an all out attempt to secure the top seed. After a magical regular season that ended with a crashing disappointment in Orlando the onus should be and has to be on finishing stronger and taking that next step. 66 or even 70 regular seasons is going to impress no one if the Cavs don't even get out of the conference and into the finals.
And, whether or not you're aware of it, there's a rumor that #23 has the option of moving on after this season concludes. It'd be far more difficult for LeBron James to entertain offers from another club for next season if he has a ring on his finger after this one.
What it all boils down to for many Cavs fans is that we're willing to sacrifice some of those regular wins and a balls-out scramble to secure the first seed in the playoffs if this basketball team is better equipped to make an extended run in June. No coach will ever tell you that a few more losses are acceptable but as Cavs fans we should be willing to accept that trade off in order to have a rested O'Neil and James and a healthy and effective Powe at the team's disposal when it matters.
As fans you love the payoff of watching a season unfold with victories each and every night. It's entertaining and rewarding to support a team that walks off most courts with a "W".
But not at the expense of the ultimate goal.
You may very well be disappointed after a few more Cavs games this season if you base success on winning and losing in December and January. But if you keep in mind that the ultimate goal for this team is to win the final game they play in June you'll be able to justify all of it.
Health and cohesion are the keys for the Cavaliers this season. Manage those minutes Mike Brown.