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Without LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Look To Win, Not Rebuild

Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton (from left), head coach Ty Lue and Kevin Love pose for a picture during the team's media day on Monday.
Mark Urycki
Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton (from left), head coach Ty Lue and Kevin Love pose for a picture during the team's media day on Monday.

The Cleveland Cavaliers start practice for the new season Tuesday, the first time in four years without star LeBron James.

The Cavs have signed all-star Kevin Love to a new four year contract, and that’s a sign they plan to get to the playoffs again.

A big trade could still happen but coach Ty Lue says team owner Dan Gilbert is motivated to win, not rebuild from scratch.

“You know Dan, he’s going to spend and do whatever it takes to get that product on the floor,” said Lue at Monday’s Media Day. “You just see him at the Q, building a new arena, for our fans, for our team, for everyone. Like, he never stops.”

The Cavs promise to be a faster, more youthful team. Lue says the Cavs plan to play a much faster pace of basketball with their young players no longer relying on James to set up every play.

Love expects the Cavs will surprise people with the help of young guards like draftee Collin Sexton and second year player Cedi Osman.

“You have Collin who’s going to come in and make a huge impact right away and have to learn and make some mistakes and learn from those,” Love said. “But also Cedi is going to get a lot more time. So we have first and second year guys - guys who have to make a huge impact and solid veterans who have one more year under their belt with playoff experience as well.”

Center Tristan Thompson, who says he likes the mix of veteran and young players, points out people have been doubting the Cavs for years.

“I think Ty Lue takes the challenge, our front office take the challenge, our ownership takes the challenge to prove people wrong. I think that’s what makes this organization special,” Thompson said. “That’s what builds the culture - always being ready to stand up and fight. It kind of represents the city of Cleveland - always underdogs, always being written off, always proving people wrong.”

Veteran three-point shooter Kyle Korver almost called it quits after last seaon’s Finals. He says he talked it over with his family and decided to come back for another year.

He says the game used to be simple - give the ball to LeBron, but now it’s all new.

“We get to create a new identity, and we get to expand our games because there’s a need,” Korver said. “So for us as players that’s exciting.”

Coach Lue says it’s important the players believe they can win.