The Cleveland Cavaliers never had a chance against what can be considered the greatest team ever assembled in NBA history. They were simply outmatched, outgunned, and outmaneuvered by the Golden State Warriors. After LeBron James and his Cavaliers process this recent Finals loss, the next question they should ask is what’s next? James said it best after the Game 5 loss: “I need to sit down and figure this thing out.”
The Warriors’ core will still be intact next season and if these playoffs are any indication, all the other NBA teams will be gunning for 2nd place at best. A 4-1 series would suggest that indeed a big gap now exists between the Warriors and the rest of the league. If you are an owner, this would influence your decisions since what’s the point of giving up assets, or say, sign big name agents if you know that it won’t be enough against the juggernaut Warriors.
For LeBron, who turns 33 in December, this is definitely worrisome since the Warriors’ top players are still in their 20s and at their peaks. This means that he would have to contend with a core that may potentially still improve, making it more difficult for him to win championships and chase Michael Jordan’s ghost.
James was on fire in the NBA Finals and is the first player in league history to average a triple-double playing 212 minutes out of a possible 240. This means that he rested 5.6 minutes per game since the Cavs would collapse every time he stepped off the floor. Even with minimal rest, James scored 33.6 points on 56.4 percent shooting from the field, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.0 block in 5 games. You simply cannot expect him to do all that if he reaches the Finals again next year, and still guard the 2nd best player on the planet. He needs help and he needs it fast!
The problem is the Cavaliers are way over the salary cap with a payroll of $128 million for 2017-2018. They were able to get a lot of help from other ring chasers but all of them disappeared in the Finals. Deron Williams, Channing Frye, and Kyle Korver were basically non-factors. The Cavs only have a $5.2 million mid-level exception to play with and that won’t be enough to land another All-Star caliber player.
The only avenue towards any kind of improvement would be to trade players and the only tradeable asset would be Kevin Love. James and Kyrie Irving are basically untouchable while no team wants to touch the overpaid Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith, both one-dimensional players.
The Cavs really have a lot to ponder this offseason and LeBron more so. The Warriors are built to last and the King will possibly face this same team a few more times before Father Time finally forces him to hang up his signature sneakers.