The Cleveland Cavaliers are opening the 2024 NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic, and they have a lot on the line. While the Cavs are now a year removed from last year's postseason meltdown against the New York Knicks, they still haven't fully washed off the stench of defeat heading into a matchup, even with a different opponent.

Until Cleveland looks like an elite team despite their ongoing on-court struggles against Orlando, the stink from how last season ended won't go away. If the Cavs come out flat against the Magic when the series opens at home, things are only going to get worse – especially if they end up losing like they did to the Knicks last year.

Obviously, if Cleveland is sent packing by Orlando in the first round, that would be the ultimate worst-case scenario. If that were ever to happen, wholesale change would likely follow for the front office, coaching staff, and roster. In fact, in this doomsday scenario for the Cavs, the team could be totally different between when the season ends and when the next season begins.

Same Cavs team, new players?

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) and guard Darius Garland (10) talk in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Everything starts and ends with Donovan Mitchell's plans regarding the future of Cleveland's roster.

Before the start of this season, Mitchell made it clear he wouldn't entertain signing an extension with the Cavs until this offseason at the absolute earliest. If Mitchell tells Cleveland he's not interested in signing a long-term deal, the Cavs will either have to bite the bullet and look to trade their superstar guard or make a last-ditch effort to appease Mitchell and sign him at the start of next summer's free agency period.

If Mitchell elects to commit to Cleveland long-term, a wholesale change to appease him might still follow. Last summer, Mitchell was actively recruiting players like Georges Niang to join him on the Cavs, which was something he did when his future wasn't even set in stone with Cleveland.

But if he does sign an extension with the Cavs, Mitchell might be even more involved in helping shape Cleveland's roster, especially since he's so driven to compete for championships. Although considering how top-heavy the Cavs are salary-wise, if Cleveland wants to build a team more centric to Mitchell and his ambitions, that might mean having to give up the stars that originally helped get them here.

Depending on the moves, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, or even Evan Mobley could be on a different team next season. That doesn't mean the Cavs need to completely tear down everything they've built. In fact, that would be incredibly foolish and set the team back, even if Mitchell recommitted since young connective pieces don't grow on trees. Moreover, organizations cannot sacrifice everything for just a player or two when no one on the roster has proved they're worth that kind of sacrifice yet.

But if players like Karl Anthony-Towns, who has been rumored to be available this offseason, Mikal Bridges, or even Brandon Ingram become available, it would be remiss of Cleveland not to entertain going after one or two of them if they were available.

Of course, that would start the long and difficult process of dismantling part of what the Cavs had built. But if the vision is building around Mitchell if he commits or just building a legitimate overall contender, those are conversations and eventual sacrifices that need to be had.

Again, this all starts and ends with what Mitchell decides to do regarding his future, but if the Cavs are bounced in the first round by the Magic, the reality of the situation could come crashing in much sooner than expected.