The Cleveland Cavaliers have the best record in the Eastern Conference, but January has not been kind to the reigning NBA champions.
Cleveland had dropped five of seven entering Wednesday’s game against the Kings at Quicken Loans Arena. The most recent loss was Monday to the New Orleans Pelicans, who played without injured All-Star Anthony Davis.
We have enough on this team to win a championship. And if we can get better, I know Griff (general manager David Griffin) is going to make us better and do the best he can.
Tyronn Lue, Cavaliers coach
After that defeat, Cavaliers star LeBron James expressed his frustration to reporters, calling the Cavaliers’ roster “top-heavy” and adding the roster was not better than the one that won last season’s championship.
In his most direct critique, James said Cleveland needed “a (expletive) playmaker” to ease the burden on himself and fellow All-Star Kyrie Irving.
Coach Tyronn Lue said he addressed the team Wednesday.
“We have enough on this team to win a championship,” Lue said. “And if we can get better, I know Griff (general manager David Griffin) is going to make us better and do the best he can.”
James advanced the discussion via Twitter on Tuesday. “I not mad or upset at management cause Griff and staff have done a great job, I just feel we still need to improve in order to repeat ...”
Griffin said James’ candor won’t change how he does his job and added the organization is not complacent after winning a championship.
“Nothing changes our time line. Nothing changes our game plan,” Griffin said. “We’re still working the same avenues.”
Griffin did not reveal what he and James discussed Wednesday but said the meeting was productive.
“It was a good conversation,” Griffin said. “I think we both needed it. I’m happy it happened.”
Griffin said he shares the team’s frustration from its recent performance. He and Lue said defense is the biggest concern.
Still, Griffin would have liked to have heard James’ concerns through a different platform.
“It wouldn’t have been my preferred method,” Griffin said. “It certainly wasn’t appropriate from a teammate perspective, but it is what it is.”
Nothing changes our time line. Nothing changes our game plan. We’re still working the same avenues.
David Griffin, Cavaliers general manager
Long road – Kings coach Dave Joerger sometimes tests his comedic ability during his media sessions.
That was the case before Wednesday’s game. With the Kings playing the fourth game of an eight-game trip, Joerger was asked how a team deals with a long trip.
“Stay at a hotel connected to a casino,” he said, drawing some laughs from the media.
The trip was supposed to be seven games, but the Kings are making up their game at Philadelphia on Monday. The Nov. 30 contest was postponed because of poor floor conditions.
Joerger said he didn’t see any reason to be concerned about fatigue at the trip’s midway point.
“I think we’re OK,” he said. “We had a day in between Detroit, a day in between Cleveland, a day in between Indiana and then we play four in five.”
Still recovering – Forward Omri Casspi remained sidelined by a strained tendon in his right calf. He was injured during practice Jan. 16.
The initial prognosis had Casspi missing one to two weeks. Joerger said he has not been told Casspi is close to returning.