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The View Beyond Pluto: LeBron-less Cavs Have Sights on the Playoffs

Kevin Love signed a long-term deal with the Cavs, making him the new face of the franchise
Kevin Love signed a long-term deal with the Cavs, making him the new face of the franchise

The Cavs began training camp this week on a much different tone. The face of the franchise, LeBron James, departed in the off season for the L.A. Lakers. 

Terry Pluto said there's lots of mixed emotions. Some players are excited to see more playing time, while fans are bracing for a season of uncertainty. 

Pluto says with James gone, there's no guarantee the team will even make the playoffs.

"The days of the ticket to the NBA Finals is No. 23 and all you have to do is sit with the coach and the pilot will take you there, those days are long over."

Now, the team is built around Kevin Love, the only one of the Cavs' "big three" who remains on the team. He signed a long-term contract in the off season. And, the only player left on the team who knows what it's like to play without James is Tristan Thompson.  

The team will also be putting its hopes in rookie Collin Sexton, who played very well in the NBA Summer League. Others like Larry Nance Jr., Geroge Hill and Rodney Hood will see significant playing time. 

Not tanking

Pluto says the front office wants to avoid what happened when LeBron James left in 2010, when the team had the worst cumulative record in the NBA. 

"They did not want to go through a 26-game losing streak when you just pound your fan base and everyone else into the ground. And, I know Dan Gilbert would love to make the playoffs without LeBron."

Pluto says the good news for the Cavs and the rest of the Eastern Conference is that James now plays in the Western Conference. 

Pluto says what will be interesting is to see what coach Tyronn Lue will do without James.

"He always said he was not able to coach the way he wanted to because he had to build around LeBron. Can he actually incorporate the things he wants to do? He gets his chance."

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Amanda Rabinowitz
Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. Her days begin before the sun comes up as the local anchor for NPR’s Morning Edition, which airs on WKSU each weekday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio’s sports scene.