Cavs Face The Summer Dreaming About Paul George

Cavs Free Agents: Kyle Korver, James Jones, Derrick Williams, Deron Williams

2015-16  Cavs Weaknesses30th: Steals. 29th: 2-Point Attempts, Center Scoring. 28th: Bench Points. 27th: Shooting Guard Scoring.  25th: Blocks. 23rd: Free Throw Percentage. 21st: Offensive Rebounding.

2015-16 Cavs Strengths: 1st: Power Forward Scoring. 2nd: Three Point Attempts, Three Point Percentage,Offensive Rating. 3rd: 2-Point Percentage.  4th: Points, Starters Points. 5th: Field Goal Percentage. 6th: Point Guard Scoring. 7th: Defensive Rebounding, Frontcourt Scoring, Points in the Paint. 9th: Starters Points.

Highest Contracts 2017-18: LeBron James $33,285,709. Kevin Love $22,642,350. Kyrie Irving $20,099,189.

Player Option(s): None

The numbers explain why the Cleveland Cavaliers are not NBA champions. They produced few fast break points and were dead last in steals. They didn’t offensive rebound well which is why the Warriors jammed their defense down the Cavs throats.  They had no bench help which doesn’t work in the NBA Finals. You need to get something from the “others”. If you are depending on old in the ankles Deron Williams or slow Kyle Korver, you can forget it. It was predictable, their Finals loss.

While the Warriors got better in adding Durant, the Cavs, off their 2016 title, returned their same team sprinkled in with a few additions that made no sense, other than being cheap. Which is the Cavs problem. Money.

They have all their money tied up in LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thomspon. They can only offer lower class contracts.  Which means no under 30 players who can do some things. It is their great paradox. What now?

Paul George perhaps?

Paul George has made it clear he wants to be in L.A. Whoever makes the deal is renting him. But if anyone can change his mind, it’s LeBron James.

As for the King, he too is in the last year of his deal. He and George could bolt for L.A. or stay, if the Cavs win a second title. Stranger things have happened.

The Cavs would have to give up assets to get George. The problem is the Pacers want a player and two first rounders. They don’t want Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith. They want young talent. The old Cavs were exposed in the Finals.

Veterans may entice contenders for championship runs but rebuilding requires youth, which the Cavs don’t have.

The pressure is on Ty Lue to figure it all out within a short span of time, George or no George.  Luxury is bestowed upon the NBA Finals winner. Lue doesn’t have that in his back pocket, particularly with the way his team lost and his bench giving the Cavs nothing. He is in the same boat as some of his coaching brethren except he has LeBron James and a free agent year hanging over his head.

The challenge for Lue at season’s beginning was intoxicating. Could he get the same level of energy and desire that is required to slog through the regular season?

Champions lose their hunger, they are wined and dined and toasted and loved. Could the Cavs turn the page? The June answer we found out was a resounding no.

The reason teams don’t repeat is because they feel pretty satisfied about last year’s accomplishments. They aren’t thirsty. They rest on last year’s success instead of living in the moment. And they get injured.

Add one more problem to the mix. Players age. They are not what they used to be.

The Cavs need an offensive system besides this 3-point or bust garbage they trotted out in 2016-17. While it got them into the playoffs, they didn’t have the number one seed in the east, not that it mattered against those scrubs. But in the Finals, they came up against the best three point defense in the league. There was no Plan B.

How much longer can LeBron James as a scorer, passer, rebounder, leader and coach on the floor give everything. He was frustrated in the Finals. He didn’t have enough help in the versatility department. Once they trapped Kryie with Klay Thompson, the Cavs were desperate for a creator. James is starting to feel the effects of being the most utilized player of the past decade.

The Cavs biggest opponent is their age. They need to get younger on the perimeter, add a creator who can get in the paint, and diversify the offense so they have a go-to besides jacking up threes.

They will be favored to get to the Finals next year. But here is the truth. They have been no competition for the Warriors so far. They were beaten in six games two years ago. They were beaten in five games two weeks ago. . Their lone victory was a dagger with under a minute left in a game 7. The Cavs don’t have the defensive matchups to make the Warriors uncomfortable. They are too slow. Their iso offense is a dinosaur.

Aside from James, there isn’t much explosiveness up front. Because of it, they didn’t get to the line. With James and Irving, the Cavs still rely on iso ball. They were not a top-10 assist team.   Every year is different but to ignore what happened in June would be a grave error. They lost grotesquely in the Finals for a reason. An emphasis has to be on the not-scoring part of basketball.

The East has one really good team: Cleveland. The rest are vying for leftovers.

But,  it’s a long time until June 2018. It will be an endless Cavs summer. Unless Paul George is on the roster. Then it’s the beautiful game once again.

photo via llananba