The Runner Sports

Will Injuries Plague The Cavaliers In Their Quest To Repeat?

The Cleveland Cavaliers and injuries have become a thing that we have been accustomed to in the past.

This season, all things have to fall into place for the Cavaliers to have a chance to repeat and win a second straight title.

But the injury bug has begun to rear its ugly head once again for the team.

It all started during the off-season when backup point guard Mo Williams — who played much of last season less than 100 percent — received the news that his problematic knee required surgery. He decided just a day before training camp that he would retire.

The twist to this story? If he had made it clear he was going to retire, the team could have waived him prior to August 31st. They could spread out the $2.2 million that they owed him for this season over three years and save $4.5 million in luxury taxes.

Williams now occupies a useless 15th roster spot for the team.

With an injury scare to LeBron James on Monday, December 5th, the wheels of adversity have once again been set into motion.

During that very same game against the Toronto Raptors, J.R. Smith injured his knee. He received an MRI the following day and his knee was deemed to be “structurally sound.” He returned to the floor Dec. 10th against the Charlotte Hornets at home.

The next installment in the “which Cavalier will be injured next” report was filed Friday, December 16th. Cavaliers backup center Chris “Birdman” Andersen tore his ACL during practice and will be out for the rest of the season.

The situation on the Cavaliers is becoming concerning to fans and the team. They have been getting by without Williams by playing Iman Shumpert and DeAndre Liggins at the backup point guard position. Shumpert has been playing very well and has returned to his two-way player form. Liggins has shown why the Cavaliers decided to sign the former D-league player — his defense has been excellent.

But now the Cavaliers have less depth at the center position. And while the team is still able put a formidable starting five on the court every night, the insurance that Andersen provided off the bench cannot be taken lightly.

In essence, the Cavaliers have a team of thirteen players.

An NBA season is long and full of ups and downs. What the Cavaliers hope is that in January, when the trade deadline hits, there will be a backup center or an impactful point guard available for the team to trade for with one of its many TPEs (traded player exceptions).

The team has started to become proactive in its attempts to keep the “Big 3” healthy throughout and into the playoffs.

This past Wednesday, December 14th, the Cavaliers made an unprecedented move for as early in the season as it is. They rested all three of their stars on a back-to-back game, leaving LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love back in Cleveland as they travelled to Memphis to play the Grizzlies.

Many a fan that had bought tickets to that game to see James, Irving, and Love play were disappointed. Even media members tried to knock the Cavs for the move.

But what they are trying to do is preserve their stars for when the lights shine the brightest — the NBA playoffs. And the move also gave many players who have not played much this season meaningful minutes.

Can the Cavaliers replace Williams and Andersen?

With the salary cap tax looming high again this season, it would seem that they have only two choices. 1.) Release both players and pay the penalty of being over the cap. 2.) Try to fly with the players they have and hope for a trade in January.

The later would no doubt be the financially sound option.

So, once again adversity has become an opponent of the Cavaliers and their NBA championship aspirations.

Will the Cavaliers be healthy and have bench depth heading into the playoffs? Since it is in the hands of Cavs G.M. David Griffin there is hope. There is no doubt in this writer’s mind he is leaving no option nor stone unturned. It is now up to him to return his team to the NBA Finals for the third straight season.