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Despite early playoff exit, Cavs fans should be excited for the future

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots against Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9)
Ron Schwane
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots against Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Cavaliers begin the offseason searching for answers following a disappointing playoff run. They were beat up by the New York Knicks despite leading the league in defense and securing home-court advantage.

Ideastream Public Media sports commentator Terry Pluto says he's been hearing from many disappointed and angry fans.

"To read my emails, the general manager did a terrible job. The coach should be fired. The roster’s got too many soft players. And you would think we were back to the year when they won 22 games instead of 51 games," Pluto said.

Pluto said head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has helped turned around the franchise.

"The same coach that did struggle in the playoffs, J.B. Bickerstaff, is the coach who went from 22 wins to 44 victories to 51 victories with a starting lineup 26-year-old and younger [and] relatively drama-free in a league that is full of divas," he said. "And now you wanna fire him because he had problems in the playoffs, which would be utterly ridiculous."

During his end-of-season press conference, President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman said there would be no major changes to the coaching staff or with team’s star players. But Pluto said the roster will need some work in the offseason.

“They’ve got to get more shooting. They could use another veteran or two,” he said.

Pluto believes veteran players Ricky Rubio and Danny Green weren’t healthy enough to help the Cavs in the playoffs.

“Both were coming off of ACL knee surgeries, they’re older players, and neither looked anywhere close to 100% physically,” he said.

Pluto said another tough thing for Cavs fans to see is former star player Kevin Love helping the Miami Heat move on to the second round of the playoffs. Love and the Cavs reached a buyout agreement in February. He then signed with Miami after nine years in Cleveland.

“[He] actually struggled for most of the regular season in Miami like he was here. The playoffs came and, bang! Kevin Love has helped the Miami Heat win the first round off the bench. He’s coming in and getting nine, ten points and some rebounds — that would look good for Cleveland. I have to admit, I’m kind of shocked he did it because it looked like his tank was empty, but he found some of those fumes to get that going."

Pluto said the future is bright for basketball in Cleveland.

"Fans get mad at me when I try to say, 'Put this in some perspective. You had five months of really good games to watch the Cavs. It is a likeable team that won a lot more than they lost. And they got to the playoffs and they got hammered. That’s disappointing,'" Pluto said. "This was not a group of guys thrown together that’s going to split apart because they’re all free agents or whatever. It is a group that all of the key players are under contract for next year. ... I’m actually very excited to see what they do in the offseason to set themselves up for next year."

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