While head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who led the team to a 5-6 record after John Beilein stepped down, will get a shot at coaching the team next season, the team had the second-worst record of the year. (Four games better than the Golden State Warriors, though!)
And while the Cavs will have great odds for a high draft pick, and NBA champion Kevin Love spent the extra downtime picking up some new hardware, we’ve still got some interest in the league’s Disney experiment tips off July 31. Here are three teams to keep an eye on.
Los Angeles Lakers
It’s impossible not to have some misgivings here. Yes, LeBron James left. Twice. His 2016 miracle, helping the Cavs overcome a 3-1 NBA Finals deficit to the Warriors, is enough to wash away his sins for some fans. But Cleveland is a football town, and the Cleveland Indians have been around for legit nearly 100 years. So maybe a title from the third-most popular team doesn’t register for everyone. But when his storied career wraps up, he’ll still have played more games for the Cavs than any other team and own basically every team record. He needs more titles to make his case as the basketball G.O.A.T. We sorta hope he wins one this year.
At 53-12, the team had the best regular season record up until the league shut down in March, and has the second-best odds to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy when the Finals wrap up in — checks notes — October. We can’t help but relate. Milwaukee’s a beer-drinking Midwest town that’s just our kind of blue collar. And with questions surrounding the future of megastar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, we hope the Bucks succeed where James’ 2003-2010 Cavs teams failed.
New Orleans Pelicans
There’s a lot to like on this team for lovers of basketball, and it all starts with the excitement of rookie Zion Williamson, who just back on the court when the season was shut down. With the eight regular season games left to play, the Pelicans are just 3 1/2 games back of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, which isn’t insurmountable for team that won eight of its last 13 games before the shutdown. Plus, making the playoffs the year after Anthony Davis forced his way to the Lakers would be some sweet karma.
4:00 PM EST
July 2, 2020