Commissioner Adam Silver wanted the focus to be on the playoff contenders and the only thing the Cavs were contending for when the world came to a screeching halt in March was lottery position. At 19-46, they owned the worst record in the Eastern Conference and second worst in the NBA behind Golden State.
But the Cavs started to show signs of life after J.B. Bickerstaff replaced John Beilein, who resigned, having won five of 11 games before the stoppage.
“I was sick,” guard Collin Sexton said Friday during a Zoom call with reporters when asked what his reaction to the news the season was over was.
“We've got to get better as a team so they could not leave us out. I feel like next season, it's going to make us that much more hungry so nothing like this ever happens again.”
That hunger Sexton spoke of echoed what Bickerstaff said earlier in the week about using the lack of an invitation to Orlando as motivation going forward.
Forward Kevin Love shared Sexton’s sentiments, but also conceded it was difficult to argue against the league’s strategy.
“It's a tough pill to swallow, but from a league perspective of being safe, I understand that,” Love said.
Sexton, who wrapped up his second season in the NBA, felt things were finally starting to fall into place for him and his teammates.
For Love, the sun set on season No. 12.
“I just don't want to have any more missed opportunities or even regrets,” Love said. “This season has shown the game can be taken away so fast. Who would have ever imagined we'd be in this type of situation?”
Love praised the growth of the young guard Friday and lit up when Sexton popped into the Zoom chat room to take his turn with reporters.
“He's such a competitor it's infectious to be around,” Love said. “Never have I seen somebody work so hard in this league to get better.”
While many were binging series on Netflix, Sexton spent his time watching all 65 games – twice.
“We were looking to ruin teams’ hopes in the playoffs and get a few wins here and there and just play it out,” Sexton said. “We weren’t going to make the playoffs but I felt like us playing those games was definitely going to help.”
Sexton has set his sights on becoming an All-Star as early as next season and the only way he knows that will happen is if he’s able to help the Cavs start winning.
But they need practice and competition, and right now there’s nothing definitive from the league that will give them the opportunity to do either until training camp, whenever that ends up starting.
“It’s paramount for teams like us that are in the bottom eight to have some good competition,” Love said. “Eight months off from competitive basketball is not conducive to getting better.”