After coming up two games short of winning the NBA Championship last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers begin their quest to win the first title in franchise history on Tuesday with the start of training camp at the teams training facility, Cleveland Clinic Courts in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, Ohio. Monday, the team held their annual media day for members of the local and national press to get their first look at the 2015-2016 Cleveland Cavaliers roster.
The team looks very similar to the one that took home the eastern conference championship before losing to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals last June in six games. Only one member from the core of last years team is not back as of now. Power forward Tristan Thompson is still in a contract holdout and did not show up for media day and is expected to miss Tuesday’s first practice and possibly more practices in the upcoming days. Even without Thompson, the members of wine and gold want to get back on the court get ready for what hopes to be an NBA Championship season.
“Going forward, I think our management staff has done a great job strengthening our team,” head coach David Blatt said on Monday at the team’s media day. “No less important maintaining the consistency of our core group. We have eleven contract players coming back, that’s not an easy task particularly not when you are a successful group as we were last year.”
The core of the team is the big three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. There will be concerns especially early on with Irving and Love as they are coming off season ending injuries suffered during the playoffs last season. Love suffered a separated shoulder in the first round series sweep of the Boston Celtics. Irving fractured a knee cap in overtime of game one of the NBA Finals. Those two injuries along played a role in the Cavaliers bringing in some veteran experience in Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson to give more rest for Irving, Love and James as well.
“We are a deeper team,” Blatt said. “We have more possibilities. The coaching staff and myself are very very excited about being able to start the year with the team we hopefully will finish with.”
“We’ve got to have the same focus, we’ve got to have the same mind frame,” James said at Monday’s media day. “We’ve got to have the same one goal and better every single day, improve every single month and that will give us every possible chance to play in June.”
Along with the additions of Williams and Jefferson, the remaining free agents from last year’s team are all back with the exception of Thompson right now. J.R. Smith eventually decided to return to Cleveland after electing to test the free agent waters. Smith, who came to the Cavaliers last January along with Iman Shumpert in a trade from the New York Knicks, didn’t get what he was looking for on the open market but is glad to be back with a team that has the talent to win a championship.
“Our core hasn’t really changed much,” Smith said at media day. “We got some more veteran pieces that will help us. I think we made some great moves, it just a matter of putting it on the court and do what we’re supposed to do.”
Love feels the same way as both Smith and LeBron do about the Cavaliers outlook for the upcoming season. The veteran depth that the Cavaliers have will provide a lot of playoff and championship experience to a franchise looking to get the championship monkey of of its back.
“We have some new veterans that are really going to help us, guys back that know what they are capable of,” Love said during Monday’s media day. “We made it to game six of the final last year with two out of our five starters not being there. We’re excited to get on the floor together, excited to get this thing going.”
The wine and gold’s big three really couldn’t wait to start practicing at Cleveland Clinic Courts. James, Irving and Love took turns shooting during the media day activities. The big three used the camera back drops and lighting fixtures as defenders and shot over the top of them. LeBron made three consecutive three pointers during the impromptu shoot around. Yes, the Cavaliers are ready to get back to work and bring the loyal fans of Cleveland the championship it so desires.