The NBA trade deadline time has come and gone with the Cleveland Cavaliers surprising many by staying relatively inactive. The team, which is in the process of interviewing free agents Deron Williams and Larry Sanders, has yet to indicate that they will make any further moves to improve the roster as they head toward the NBA’s final 30-game stretch to the playoffs.
In January, the Cavs did add veteran shooting guard and small forward Kyle Corver in exchange for Mo Williams, Mike Dunleavy, and a future first rounder.
Many, however, had thought that NBA trade deadline time would also bring the franchise the #2 guy that so many believe LeBron James craves, such as the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony or the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler.
The 40-16 Cavs, however, see things a bit differently.
“It’s always about outside noise and that’s just outside noise for us,” said LeBron earlier this month, per the Washington Post. “We gotta focus on what needs to be done and that’s to continue to compete for a championship. And we got who we got. Our GM will do a great job of figuring out if we need something else, but right now we’re in a good place.”
LeBron responds to the recent K Love/Melo trade rumors… pic.twitter.com/zmLTovOpxN
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 7, 2017
Still, at least one or two NBA insiders predicted that come NBA trade deadline time, forward Kevin Love would be moved in a trade. Perhaps the knee injury that currently sidelines him played a factor.
Regardless, most media outlets predict that the Cavs’ three-game lead on the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference should only continue to grow.
“The Cavs remain the team to beat,” noted USA Today recently, “even with forward Kevin Love (knee) and shooting guard J.R. Smith (fractured thumb) out until late March. With All-Stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavs should hold onto first-place in the East, even with a tough schedule remaining and with the Celtics right there.”
Ironically, many believe that it is not the three-back Celtics that the NBA champion Cavs fear most.
Rather, headlines from NBA trade deadline were dominated by the fourth-in-the-East Toronto Raptors.
It was the 33-24 Raptors, who took the Cavaliers to six games in the teams’ hard-fought Eastern Conference Finals matchup last year, who dominated this year’s trade deadline day in what most perceive to be a huge attempt to close the gap on their rivals from Ohio.
Toronto, which USA Today noted “missed a chance in January to pass the Cavs for first place,” has been on a mission since that time to build a team that can unseat LeBron James and Co. should they again meet in the playoffs.
Come NBA trade deadline time, in particular, the Raptors invested to acquire forwards Serge Ibaka (Orlando Magic) and P.J. Tucker (Phoenix Suns), both part of a plan that USA Today said “provides scoring, a stretch four at the three-point line, a rim protector and rebounder — all qualities the Raptors need.”
Meanwhile, the third-place, 34-21 Washington Wizards likewise added talented scorer Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets) to bolster the team’s second-worst scoring bench and give it some depth down the stretch.
In spite of this harrowing news from two of its top competitors, Cavaliers’ players and management believe that they have all of the talent needed to continue to lead the East.
“I’m on this team,” said Love, via the Washington Post, this week. “I’m going to be on this team and we want to win with the guys that we have.”
This point — the notion of the NBA Champion Cavaliers continuing to win for one another without bringing in added talent — has seemingly been a rallying cry for the NBA Champions this season. This comes especially in light of the Western Conference leaders and the Cavs’ 2016 NBA Finals opponent, the Golden State Warriors, adding Kevin Durant as a free agent last Summer.
The transaction, which was regarded by many as a landscape-shaping move, was, at the least, widely seen as a shifting of the balance of power back to the Warriors virtually across the NBA. Except in Cleveland.
Letting NBA trade deadline time come and go was a chance for LeBron James’ team to show that they believe in themselves above all else.
[Featured Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]