The Cleveland Cavaliers have been clearly frustrated with their on-court performance. But many may not realize the root of the problem.
The front office may be looking to add depth to their second unit but the truth of the matter is Dwyane Wade, Kyle Korver and Jeff Green are all playing well together off the bench.
For the Cavaliers, the issue that must be addressed is why their starting five has not been able to play cohesively this month.
Among lineups that have played at least 50 minutes together in January, the unit featuring LeBron James and Kevin Love with Isaiah Thomas as well as Jae Crowder and JR Smith has the second-worst offense (97.4 offensive rating) in the NBA.
They have been outscored by 21.6 points per 100 possessions, which is the worst overall net rating out of any lineup that has played at least 36 minutes together on the court so far this month. It’s beyond worrisome for the three-time defending conference champions.
Some have wondered whether or not they should consider replacing Smith with Korver as the first option at the shooting guard position. But this is an even deeper concern than one player.
Love is shooting 6-for-19 (31.6 percent) after passes from Thomas. James, Crowder, Korver, Green and Wade have not yet connected a three-pointer on their combined seventeen attempts following a look from the point guard.
Recent rumors have connected the team to players including DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams, George Hill, Nikola Mirotic and Kent Bazemore. All would immediately help the struggling first unit and every player on the roster except James is presumably available for trade.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst has speculated that they could consider a swap of Thomas for Charlotte’s Kemba Walker. Cleveland would also likely include expiring contracts and take back Nic Batum.
Regardless, the offense looks inept for the Cavaliers, so it wouldn’t be a shock if they made a change in a hail mary effort to keep James before he becomes a free agent this offseason.