A franchise with a small market is unable to bring in superstars, forcing it to either build a team of average and promising players or tank and hope for high draft picks. For the 2021\22 season, J.B. Bickerstaff is the head coach and Dan Gilbert is the majority owner of the team.
Periods of decline
In its debut season in the NBA, Cleveland posted the worst record in franchise history. The team finished the season with 15 wins under Billy Fitch. The reason for their poor showing was too small a market – top players of the time did not want to come to Cleveland, and the team only managed to truly expand with the infusion of cash four years after the franchise began in the NBA.
Their failure in the 2002-2003 season, with 17 wins and 65 losses, marked the departure of John Lucas, who was never able to lead the club to an NBA title after that. They blamed the disappointing performance on a lack of top-level players and the low age of the roster – only two players on the roster were over 30. Failure during the season helped Cleveland obtain LeBron James, the team’s first-round draft pick, who helped the team improve the following season.
LeBron’s first departure, however, left the team’s fans disappointed with their idol. James’ jerseys were being burned all over Cleveland and the Cavs began to believe in the next first pick. The Cavaliers selected Duke University point guard Kyrie Irving in the draft. Kyrie led the team in scoring in his first season, but did not change the balance of power for Cleveland. The team had not surpassed the 35-win mark until James’ return.
Periods of prosperity
The team had its first peak in the late eighties and early nineties, when the team was led by Lenny Wilkens. Cleveland made several playoff appearances, and the team led by Brad Doherty and Larry Nance reached the mark of 57 regular season victories, a franchise record in the 20th century. Having advanced to the conference finals, the Cavs faced the Chicago Bulls. By the fifth game, the series was tied at three wins, and Michael Jordan’s decisive shot sent Cleveland on a well-deserved holiday, after which the team had not had such a successful run until the LeBron era.
Since the selection of James with the first pick of the draft, the team has improved in quality of play. LeBron’s lack of stars has not prevented him from making the playoffs time and time again. In the 2006/2007 season, the King almost single-handedly gave Cleveland the first NBA Finals in franchise history, racking up a 27-6-6 line as the season progressed. But in the final, the Cavaliers were awaited by Greg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs and the final sweep. After that, LeBron and the Cavs advanced three times to the first round of the playoffs, but were defeated twice by Boston and once by Orlando. After the second loss to Boston, LeBron left the Cavaliers for Miami.
The King’s comeback took place in 2014. Kyrie Irving re-signed with Cleveland at the same time, while Minnesota’s Kevin Love became the latest member of the “big three”. While the Cavaliers reached the finals in 2014-15, but lost to HCV, a blocked shot by LeBron James and a three-pointer by Kyrie Irving in the seventh game of the final series decided the outcome against the Warriors. Cleveland won the NBA championship for the first time in history. Kyrie decided to leave the team, and LeBron led the Cavs to the final twice more, where the Cavaliers lost to GSW.