INDEPENDENCE — Kicking off what feels like a watershed season for the franchise, for better or for worse, the Cavs held their media day Monday, the centerpiece of which was LeBron James going full icon: officially welcoming his many new teammates, giving his glory-seeking former teammate — repeatedly referring to him, icily, as “The kid” — a dead-fish buh-bye (“Fredo, you’re nothing to me now”), saying he intends to finish his career in Cleveland, officially opening his D-Wade recruitment campaign and … um … there was one other …
Oh, yeah, and, for the second day in a row, posterizing the Commander in Chief.
Then he broke for lunch.
How was your Monday?
Despite all that, the single most entertaining moment of the day was produced by a quick scan of the Cavs’ training camp roster. It was easy to overlook, because it was right in the middle of the list of 19 names, but there it was, wearing uniform No. 21: Kendrick Perkins! (exclamation point is mine).
I don’t know about you, but I’m all in. Kendrick “The Anvil” Perkins is back!
Is it a typo? I hope not, and I doubt it, although it could be. Jose Calderon is listed as wearing uniform No. 81. Who wears No. 81 on a basketball court?
Who cares? Kendrick Perkins, first-team all-scowl, is on the roster, at least for now.
The biggest news of the day, bigger even than The Kendrick Perkins Comeback, is that the Cavs have stopped stonewalling about the condition of Isaiah Thomas’ hip.
They now say he should be playing by January.
“Physically, I’m in a good place,” Thomas said. “I’m making progress. Each day is better than the previous day.”
He’s also raring to go.
“I said to myself the other day, ‘Damn, I’m really with the Cavs,’” Thomas said. “Just being around these guys, I can see why they win.”
Thomas is only one of a handful of new Cavs players, in this, a season perhaps unlike any other in the history of the franchise. Think about it. It’s a team that has made three consecutive trips to The Finals, won the world championship in the middle year and has returned this season following a major roster overhaul.
They’ve added Thomas, Calderon, Jae Crowder, Jeff Green, Derrick Rose, Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic and Perkins, comma, Kendrick.
Who did the adding? The brand new front office, led by new general manager Koby Altman.
They’ve subtracted Chris Andersen, Andrew Bogut, Dahntay Jones, James Jones, DeAndre Liggins, Jordan McRae, both Williams (Deron and Derrick) and the previously named point guard who shall not be named.
And they still might add Dwyane Wade.
That’s a lot of roster turnover, but the Cavs obviously feel it’s more roster than they had last year.
“I’m excited about the players we got. We have the versatility to be flexible offensively and defensively,” said coach Tyronn Lue.
“Our team,” said James, “is as complete as it’s been in a long time.”
That includes the point guard position, where the Cavs have replaced a point guard who demanded the chance to chase an MVP award with one who already has one.
That’s Rose, whom Lue pointed out is still only 28.
“He’s a former MVP. I think he’ll be great for us, and I’m confident he can hold the fort until (Thomas) gets back,” said Lue.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we’d be teammates,” said James.
Rose is 28, but it’s an old 28. Over the last five years, he’s averaged just 46 games per season, and that doesn’t count sitting out the 2012-13 season after blowing out his knee. He’s productive when he plays — he averaged 18 points per game last year — he just doesn’t play enough.
Calderon will turn 36 on Thursday. Green is 31. Holdovers Richard Jefferson (37), Kyle Korver (36), Channing Frye (34) and J.R. Smith (32) are all on the back nine of their playing careers, and a couple of them are putting on No. 18.
Even Perkins, who didn’t play anywhere last year, and hardly played anywhere the year before, is 33. Even if he makes the team, everyone knows anvils start to lose it at 32.
They still hope to sign Wade, and he’s 35.
Clearly this is a roster that’s built to win now, if not sooner.
“We’ve got a great group of guys. No entitlement,” said James — perhaps inadvertently making a reference to the Celtics’ new point guard?
It should be a better Cavs team defensively. Crowder is a load on defense and Tristan Thompson never gets outworked.
With the Cavs having traded their ball-stopping point guard from last year, Kevin Love could potentially flourish even more offensively. And if, in January, Thomas returns healthy and Thomassy, the Eastern Conference Finals could be a slugfest.
With or without Kendrick Perkins.
- Derrick Rose feeling fresh, reminds everyone he's still just 28, says he's confident he can still thrive
- Cavs moving Love to center and putting Crowder in starting lineup
- Cavs: Lue announces that Wade will start at shooting guard in place of Smith
- Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue has a plan for how to use Dwyane Wade; LeBron James day-to-day with ankle injury
- Numerous reports have Dwyane Wade signing with Cavs
- "That's one of my best friends" Dwyane Wade officially reunites with LeBron James
- Ingraham: It's a few years late, but this Cavs roster can still be great
- Cavaliers Media Day: Lebron James talks free agency, Kyrie Irving, more
- Cavs notes: Isaiah Thomas could be ready to go by January; Cavs a favorite to land Dwyane Wade
- LeBron James speaks out about Trump, national anthem