Buy or Sell: Cavaliers, Rams, Dodgers
This week on Buy or Sell, we take a look at whether Dan Gilbert made the right move, whether the NFL’s sole remaining undefeated team can join the company of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and whether a window of competition has closed for one of the more dominant National League teams in recent memory.
Cullen: The Cleveland Cavaliers Made the Wrong Decision in Firing Tyronn Lue
RahimAli: I’ll buy the Cavs made the wrong decision by firing Lue. I mean, let’s face it: the Cavaliers won’t be any good anyway and Lue probably isn’t going to be there for the foreseeable future. At least give him a chance to show how he can coach a team without a superstar. Yes, I said without a superstar, and there is no argument for Kevin Love because he’s just an average player who looked great with LeBron. Love has also averaged a double-double in points and rebounds, but he can’t lead the team. Why penalize the head coach for it?
If Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers have a plan to get a better coach and players in Cleveland, then it makes sense. Until then, the team will probably be in the lottery again this year and the next like they were before drafting LeBron. They were even like that after he “took his talents to South Beach.” The Cavaliers have a decent team and are one superstar away from being a playoff team again, but where will that superstar come from?
Having loyalty to a head coach who can connect to the players may actually give other players a chance to build a relationship with him.
To be honest, they shouldn’t have traded Kyrie Irving in the first place because looking back on it, it helped neither side. Irving got injured and missed most of the season and all the players involved in that deal got traded again. I’m not sure what the front office has planned for the future, but having Love as the franchise guy is not very attractive to anyone who thought about joining Cleveland.
Firing Lue now puts the whole team on notice of much bigger things to come. Hopefully, Larry Nance Jr. and Collin Sexton continue to improve their game and the Cavaliers can get back on the winning side of things with at least 25 or 30 wins under the interim head coach who has not yet been named.
Mickayeen: I’m gonna sell the Cavs making the wrong decision in firing Ty Lue. His hiring had LeBron’s “yes man” written all over it from day one, especially coming off the heels of David Blatt who, by all accounts, did all he could to run things his way and didn’t go to LeBron for anything. Firing Blatt and bringing in Lue, who is only about eight years older than LeBron, was a move to please LeBron.
One could argue, like RahimAli did, that he should have been given a chance to coach without a superstar. Well, in the 19 games he had without ‘Bron he was 1-18. The lone win came back in 2016-17 when the Cavs still had Kyrie and they still only beat the Dallas Mavericks by one point (99-98). Saying all this doesn’t mean he won’t be a great coach in the future, but he just isn’t right now. If the Cavs want to move on from LeBron, this was the next logical move. It’ll all depend on who replaces him.
RahimAli: The Los Angeles Rams Will Go Undefeated This Season
Cullen: I’m selling on the Rams going undefeated, for a couple of reasons.
First one is this: they don’t have the easiest of schedules for the second half of the season. Next week they travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints in what could very well be a preview of the NFC Championship Game. They follow that up with a home game against a suddenly vital Seattle Seahawks game before traveling to Mexico City to take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. I believe the Rams will lose one of those three games.
Even if they get through that window undefeated, they still have three road games (at Detroit and at Chicago in Weeks 13 and 14, respectively, then at Arizona in Week 16), plus they host the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15. Those will all be tough games, and three of those four teams (sorry, Cardinals) are capable of upending the Rams given the perfect situation.
Final reason it won’t happen: say the Rams get to Week 15 undefeated and beat the Eagles, giving them a 14-0 record. L.A. will have wrapped up not only the NFC West, but also the entire NFC. Why risk injury against the Cardinals and then the 49ers in Week 17? I don’t think coach Sean McVay will do that. Instead, he’ll rest his starters, guys like QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley, DT Aaron Donald and the team’s rather fragile secondary. Those two games don’t mean anything at all, and this team should want to be fully prepared for a Super Bowl run instead of seeking perfection.
Mickayeen: I’m also gonna sell the Rams going undefeated. They very well could have lost the game last Sunday against the Packers if not for an untimely fumble. It could have gone differently. The Rams still could have held the Packers, but there are very few quarterbacks in the history of the league I would take over Aaron Rodgers down 2 with just under 2 minutes and the ball.
To Cullen’s point, their schedule does not get any easier, facing three very tough teams in the next three weeks with a lot of travel in between. Their last road game was a beat down of the Garoppolo-less 49ers (who have given the Cardinals their only two wins), but the two before that they barely eked out a 33-31 win against the Seahawks and almost blew a 20-3 lead against the Broncos. They’re gonna lose a road game.
But, again to Cullen’s point, even if they make it past that, we have to remember that this is a team that rested most of their starters throughout the preseason. If they have nothing to play for, it’d be hard to see them chasing perfection.
Mickayeen: After Losing Two Straight World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Window is Closed
Cullen: Here’s why I’m selling on the Dodgers’ window being closed.
First, this ownership wants to win it all, and after coming tantalizingly close for two straight years, they’re going to keep going all in. Spearheaded by Magic Johnson, who never missed the playoffs or suffered through a losing season during his basketball career with the Lakers, the Dodgers are expected to extend manager Dave Roberts, prevent Clayton Kershaw from opting out (or, at least, leaving), attempt to keep around Manny Machado, and target several key free agents, chief among them: Bryce Harper.
They have some other player matters to decide, like whether to pick up David Freese’s option (they should) or whether they should extend a qualifying offer to Hyun-Jin Ryu (they shouldn’t), but after that, the bulk of this team will return. Gone will be pieces like relievers Ryan Madson, Daniel Hudson, and infielder Brian Dozier, but this team was already deep, so those departures won’t hurt that much.
Now, they’ll have to keep ahead of the Colorado Rockies, whom they had to defeat in a tiebreaker to win the West, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, only a year removed from a trip to October, but the Dodgers currently have better talent than those teams, a more committed ownership (always expect the Dodgers to land a key player or two around the trade deadline), and, of course, deeper pockets.
I’m not saying the Dodgers will win a World Series with this current group of players, but what I’m saying is to expect them to keep representing the West in the playoffs for at least the next two seasons. And, of course, anything can happen in October, so why not the Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1988?
RahimAli: I am also selling! As a Dodgers fan, it’s been a rough couple of seasons watching the Dodgers be so close, but still so far. As somebody who was born in 1990, I haven’t lived to see the Dodgers last World Series win, and it’s long overdue.
Cullen has explained everything well enough for you, so I won’t take much of your time, but the Dodgers always manage to find a way to make the playoffs and have a great postseason. Clayton Kershaw still has two years left on his deal. By the time you read this, we may already know whether or not he’ll stay. I think he should also, despite his struggles in the postseason.
The Dodgers weak points aren’t with Kershaw or Kenley Jensen, but everyone else in between. The only way they survived this season was by moving capable starting pitchers to the bullpen and getting them to help in the middle innings of the game.
Keeping Manny Machado is ideal for the Dodgers, especially if they end up losing Corey Seager, who has missed almost all of the 2018 season with an injury. But let’s imagine this as a lineup for the Dodgers.
Short Stop: Machado
Outfielders: Puig, Bellinger, Taylor
That could be the best offensive lineup in the league if everyone stays healthy, so let’s go Dodgers!
What does everyone else think? Was Gilbert right or wrong in canning Lue so early? Will the Rams run the table through the Super Bowl? Can the Dodgers finally get over the hump in 2019, or should they hit the re-set button? Let us know in the comments!