Stay the Course
Even after such a devastating loss to the Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers should not overreact and make drastic changes to their team. The Cavs are still the best team in the Eastern Conference, by far. They were able to defeat the Warriors. Even if it was still just one game, that’s one game more than all the teams the Warriors faced in the playoffs on their way to the finals. They still have the unanimous best player in the planet in Lebron James, and they still have the best finishing guard in the league with Kyrie Irving. If it’s one thing they can’t get immediately, its team chemistry. And this team has made it to the NBA finals for three straight years. There’s no reason to blow that up now.
Free Agent Signing
That being said, there is room for improvement. Back in the regular season when Lebron was asking for more help from the front office, a lot of people thought he was being too greedy and too selfish. What we didn’t know was that he had the foresight to see this Juggernaut of a team that was forming in the Bay Area. He somehow knew that he needed more help to defeat the Golden State squad, and he was right. There are a lot of free agents in this year’s summer and there’s definitely room to improve with the Cavs’ current roster. Among the biggest names out there include point guards Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry, and forwards Gordon Hayward and Serge Ibaka.
Last Year’s Pick Ups
Lebron got his wish somewhat when the Cavaliers front office signed names that included Deron Williams and Kyle Korver in the middle of the season. Although they only had a few games to gel with the team, they actually put up pretty decent numbers. Deron Williams fit the mold of the “playmaker” that Lebron was so eager to add to the squad, while Korver is still one of the best knockdown outside shooters in the league not wearing a Golden State uniform. While it is unlikely that they are going to keep these players because of their age (32 and 35 respectively), it is actually a good idea to keep them with the team and see what a full season with a training camp can bring them more into the fold.
Keeping the Love
Despite proving himself over and over during the past three years, trade rumors will still continue to circulate around Kevin Love. Love has had a remarkable run with the Cavs and has found his niche in the offense. He plays well with Kyrie and has found a way to coexist and spread the floor with Lebron James. It took three years to form this chemistry and coordination, and shipping him out for a new piece is just a waste of time and could very well be a step back for Cleveland. Keeping the big three intact ensures them a foothold as the best team in the Eastern Conference and practically assures them another Finals berth next year.
Missing a Consistent Shooting Guard
One of the biggest holes in the Cavs rotation is the 2-guard spot. These minutes are currently being shared by JR Smith and Iman Shumpert. Despite performing well in the last few games of the Finals, Smith has been inconsistent at best for the Cavs all season long. Shumpert is a very solid defender but he has been even more erratic for the team. Granted, you can’t really expect more from these guys, when they are playing just 14-16 minutes per game. But finding a solid shooting guard to log heavy minutes could be better for the Cavs lineup. If Cleveland is going shopping at the free agent market this summer, one of the top things in their list should be a solid and consistent shooting guard.
While there is a premium on veteran players that know their way around the NBA, the Cavs will need younger legs in their roster next year. They currently have 4 players over the age of 35 (Dahntay Jones, James Jones, Richard Jefferson, Kyle Korver) and three players 31 and older (Channing Frye, Deron Williams, JR Smith). They will need energy if they want to regain the top spot in the East, which they lost to the younger Celtics last season. While home court advantage did not matter when they dispatched the Eastern Conference easily (12-1), having younger legs off the bench can help preserve the bodies of the starters next season so they can stay fresh for yet another playoff run. It also helps to have younger players to bolster your lineup during the long regular season grind.
One of the hardest things that a team can do is to stay hungry even after a successful season. Yes, the loss to the Warriors can prove to be fuel for some players in the Cavs team, but after three straight finals appearances, expect to see fatigue and mental exhaustion to be a factor. Lebron just played in his seventh straight Finals series, and if you think that hasn’t had an effect on him, you are wrong. Lebron is in great physical shape and has a great motor, but you can’t dismiss the toll of 7 years of steep competition has had on his body and mind. The King will be playing in his 15th season next year and will most likely play deep into the playoffs again. He will definitely need more help during the regular season and the post season if he wants another crack at the title and regain his Kingdom.