CSN is looking around the league as we prepare for the 2017-18 NBA season. Today, we break down the Cleveland Cavaliers' outlook...
2016-17 record: 51-31, 2nd in East
Coach: Tyronn Lue
Key additions: PG Isaiah Thomas, SF Jae Crowder, PG Derrick Rose, SG Dwyane Wade
Key losses: PG Kyrie Irving
Projected lineup: PG Isaiah Thomas, SG J.R. Smith, SF LeBron James, PF Kevin Love, C Tristan Thompson
1. When will Thomas return?
The Cavaliers have a major wild card entering this season, as Thomas offers no guarantees with a faulty hip. He has a partially torn labrum in his right hip that ended his postseason, ironically in a series against the Cavs. And by opting to not have surgery, Thomas is still without a timeframe to return now months later.
The Cavs knew the risk when they traded for him and were able to get an extra draft pick because it. But when and how Thomas returns will determine plenty for them this year. If healthy, he should replace the void left by Irving quite nicely. But the longer he is out, the longer the Cavs will have to rely on Rose and Jose Calderon, who turns 36 during training camp.
[RELATED: BROOKS KNOWS RE-SIGNING STARS ISN'T EASY]
2. Can anyone knock them off?
Despite losing Irving and the uncertainty of Thomas, the Cavs should still be very good with James, Love and others in store, and last year they only lost one game in their demolition of the East during the playoffs. That said, LeBron's streak of seven straight NBA Finals could be on shaky ground. The Celtics added many pieces this summer and, if it all clicks early, could be better. The Raptors will have Kyle Lowry healthy and Serge Ibaka for a full season. The Wizards will be one year older with a young team on the rise. And the Bucks could make a big leap with Giannis Antetokounmpo continuing to develop. Everyone is gunning for the Cavs and their major changes this offseason could make the East more wide open than it has been in several years.
3. Is this LeBron's final year in Cleveland?
Cavaliers fans may want to watch as many games as they can this year because it could be their last with LeBron. The NBA's best player has just one year left on his contract and the rumors have already started. At this point none of those rumors seem very legitimate, however, the possiblity of him leaving is certainly there and Cleveland fans know the feeling all too well.
If LeBron were to exit, it would be hard to fault him. He already won Cleveland a title and only has so much time left in his prime. Cavs fans should accept whatever happens and just appreciate the time they have with him in town.
More 2017-18 previews:
[RELATED: CAN WALL FOLLOW THROUGH ON KOBE'S CHALLENGE?]
SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE WIZARDS STORIES