Seated in comfortable gray leather chairs in the team’s state-of-the-art film room, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brook Lopez and the Los Angeles Lakers are captivated by the scene in front of them.
Then, they tried to move up to No. 6, except they were unwilling to outbid Washington. It’s a bad shake for the Dolphins, but somebody has to end up without a quarterback and Miami drew the short straw.
The Week 17 loss for the Jaguars means they get the No. 4 pick instead of No. 7. It also means the trade that the Jaguars brokered with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to move up to No. 5 is unnecessary. Jacksonville can hang on to the fourth-round pick it sent to Tampa Bay and just select wide receiver Justin Blackmon at No. 4 overall.
Those talks fell through, leaving the Cavs a lot of ground to make up with Irving. He might have held the threat of preseason knee surgery over them. So what? There was no indication he would need a second surgery, or miss serious time. Get the appropriate power players (Gilbert, LeBron, Irving, an empowered GM) in a room to begin reconciliation, let him have surgery, and chase a ring again in June. You think Irving sits the entire season — at his apex, with a movie coming out this summer? Please.
With a player of Irving’s talent, you find a way to salvage the relationship. Cleveland failed. You never let the franchise devolve into fiefdoms and silent tensions in the first place.
At the time, the Boston trade looked like — and probably was — Cleveland’s best shot at threading the needle: win now to coax LeBron into staying, win later if he leaves. There was enormous downside risk given the uncertainty surrounding Thomas’s hip. Once that downside manifested, the trade became the sort of bust from which it can take years to recover.