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It's been a pretty rough week for big names in the NBA in the injury department, and they just might have an impact that's felt across the league for years.
DeMarcus Cousins. Kevin Love. John Wall. Mike Conley. Crucially important players for teams with next no room for error to keep on keepin' on, so it's virtually guaranteed to upset more than a few applecarts when a key player like these goes down for extended time.

Some of them, like Wall and Conley, are in the enviable position of having contracts that make them unlikely (or impossible) to be traded. Others, like Cousins and Love, have unique situations that these injuries may have made them more likely to be dealt. The New Orleans Pelicans have a hard decision to make on how to approach DMC's situation, as he's expiring and could have picked his destination - before, that is, he ruptured his Achilles. 
Such injuries can significantly impact and in severe cases even end the careers of players who rely on athleticism, and while medical science has come a long way - take Rudy Gay as an example, who is doing quite well with the San Antonio Spurs - there's no guarantee DeMarcus will ever play like a max player again. 
So what should the Pels do? Low ball an offer to mitigate risk and hope he signs? Flip him for a tangible but reduced-value player? Let him walk if some GM comes hard? It's not an enviable position - one wrong move, and you could see their prized player Anthony Davis lose faith and force a trade, leaving the organization with next to nothing. 
On the other side of the same coin, it's a well-known fact Dan Gilbert has been running his organization as if LeBron James isn't coming back, mostly because he reads and sees all the same stuff we do, and regardless of what you think of Gilbert as an owner or a person, LeBron has seen how Gilbert has been covering his ass, and has responded in kind. And even before this slow-motion break-up (if that's what it is) began, the writing has been on the wall since the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors in the finals last year.

As of now, the Cavs are poised to break the record for payroll and tax set by the Brooklyn Nets after taking on the Boston Celtics' aging core, ready to feel the pain of the brutal repeater tax likely to do exactly what it was created to do - make perennial contenders pay, one way or another. And the play of late, even when Love was healthy was anything but contention-worthy, even when seen through the lens of several seasons of "flip-switching" that has chastened our doubt in the past.
This Cavs team has issues, and not just chemistry ones.

They are aging - even if James seemingly is not - have major structural problems, and have no defense to speak of. Nobody - not even billionaires (maybe especially not?) - is going to pay to lose, perhaps even before sniffing the finals.

So what does this mean for Boston?

Change is coming, and maybe very soon. It's clear the future is going to belong to the Celtics based on what they have managed to put together this season. Key pieces like Greg Monroe and Tyreke Evans could have an outsized role in deciding whether that future begins next season, or this week. Injuries to Conley and Cousins certainly play a role in this, and the landscape of the entire league might be transformed overnight should someone like Dan Gilbert or Dell Demps decide to go an even more radical route by blowing it all up.
We are Schrodinger's Cat and the season's future is the box - we won't know what we have until time passes and we get a chance to observe the results. The new trade deadline comes a week earlier, and for something many considered a non-event in all likelihood, it's already starting to look like we might be in for a wild ride indeed.

For more stories by Justin, click here.



Image: WildWill/NBA
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 2/02/2018 11:42:00 AM Edit
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