CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers came up three wins short of their ultimate goal of a second straight NBA Championship when Kevin Durant led the Golden State Warriors to the franchise’s second title in three years.
In order for the Cavaliers to get back to the top of the NBA and be successful in The Finals once again, here are five things that need to be done this offseason.
FIND GENERAL MANAGER
Less than two weeks away from the expiration of his contract, general manager David Griffin and the Cavaliers parted ways, meaning the very man who served as the architect of the organization’s first-ever NBA Championship was allowed to walk in free agency, so to speak.
At the helm of the franchise since the spring of 2014, Griffin executed dozens of trades and negotiated contract extensions for all of the key pieces to the Cavaliers’ championship run, and as such, was deserving of an extension of his own.
Now, the Cavaliers must find a way to fill the void left by Griffin’s departure, and do so with most every other team having their front office firmly in place ahead of the 2017 NBA Draft Thursday night.
EXPLORE TRADE DEALS
According to various reports, Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George has informed the organization that he intends to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018.
Although George has expressed interest in joining the rebuilding Los Angeles Lakers, who play their games an hour from his hometown of Palmdale, California, it is certainly worth the Cavaliers doing their due-diligence to see if a deal is possible.
Additionally, the Cavaliers could be looking at bringing in Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler.
Over six years with the Bulls, Butler has averaged 15.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.9 steals in 399 regular-season games. His points-per-game average has gone up every year of his career, and increased from 20.9 to 23.9 from the 2015-2016 season to 2016-2017.
FIND PLAYERS WHO CAN COMPLEMENT LEBRON JAMES
Despite coming up on the losing end of The Finals for the fifth time in eight trips, James made NBA history against the Warriors, as he became the first player in league history to average a triple-double of points, rebounds and assists in the championship series.
James averaged 33.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists while shooting .564 from the field and .387 from three-point range against the Warriors, and more than that, his teammates feel he made them better throughout the season.
“Unbelievable,” shooting guard J.R. Smith said. “He leads by example every, single day. He’s the best player in the world and you see him continuously working on his game, working on his body, working on the mental aspect, watching film. That intrigues you to do more at all times.”
BUILD UP LIKE GOLDEN STATE
The Warriors added an all-star caliber player without having to separate with any one of their “Big Three” of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and for the Cavaliers to make a countermove, they must avoid knee-jerk reactions that mortgage the futures of the core group of James, point guard Kyrie Irving and power forward Kevin Love.
CBSSports.com’s Jack Maloney said it could be possible that the Pacers would ask for both Irving and Love in exchange for George, but parting with two All-Star caliber players for a one-year rental is not the way back to prominence.
CHOOSE WHO’S MORE IMPORTANT
If the Cavaliers must part with an All-Star caliber player to get George, they must figure out who is worth keeping.
Irving averaged a career-best 25.2 points, along with 5.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals over 35.1 minutes per game during 72 regular-season games, and that productivity continued throughout the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
Irving averaged 25.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals over 18 games in his third straight trip to the postseason. The points and assists-per-game averages were single-season career bests for Irving, the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
Love had his best season with the Cavaliers in 2016-2017.
Despite having surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee on Valentine’s Day and missing a month to recover, Love averaged 19.0 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 0.9 steals over 60 games during the regular season.
Over 18 games in the NBA Playoffs, Love averaged 16.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.9 blocks and 1.2 steals in 32.1 minutes.