CLEVELAND -- While LeBron James has remained relatively mum on his upcoming free agency, the 4-time MVP has made this much clear: If the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to keep their superstar player this summer, they're going to have to make some dramatic improvements to their roster.
"I still want to be in championship mode," James said following the Golden State Warriors' 4-game sweep over the Cavs in the NBA Finals. "I think I've shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode."
In the moment, that comment didn't seem to bode well for Cleveland's chances of keeping James, but given that they were just in the Finals, the Cavs may not be as far off as they seem. In the NBA, it can take as little as one move to shift the landscape of the league, as it's now up to GM Koby Altman and owner Dan Gilbert to present James with a pitch that proves they can live up to his championship standard.
Who could the Cleveland front office target in the coming weeks to bolster its pitch to James? Let's take a look.
A year ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers had reportedly agreed to a deal to acquire Paul George -- only to have the Indiana Pacers back out at the final minute.
After ultimately being sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 5-time All-Star possesses the ability to opt out of his contract this summer -- although in order to make another run at acquiring George, the Cavs would likely need him to pick up his player option.
Should he do that, George could then help orchestrate a deal to send himself to Cleveland, thus allowing the Thunder to recoup some of the assets they lost in acquiring him from Indiana a year ago. One proposed deal that has been floated online involves the Cavs trading Kevin Love and Kyle Korver for the 28-year-old small forward -- although such blockbuster trade would likely first require a commitment from James.
Given their lack of recent success despite possessing one of the highest payrolls in the league, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Washington Wizards look to shake up their roster this summer. And if they opt to do just that, they'll likely receive a call from the Cavs about any number of players -- in particular, John Wall.
A 5-time All-Star, Wall could help fill the void that was left in the Cleveland backcourt when it traded Kyrie Irving a summer ago. What's more is Wall possesses a personal relationship with James, as the offseason workout partners are represented by the same agency, Klutch Sports.
While it remains to be seen whether or not Washington will even make Wall available, he may not come as costly as you might think -- at least as far as trade compensation is concerned. With a 4-year, $169 million contract extension about to kick in, the Cavs conceivably acquire Wall without even having to surrender the No. 8 overall pick in next week's draft.
Much like Washington, the Portland Trail Blazers might currently be feeling as if they aren't getting enough bang for their buck. Should that prove true, it could lead to a dream scenario for the Cavs if Portland is willing to part ways with its star point guard, Damian Lillard.
A 2018 All-NBA first-team selection, Lillard averaged 26.9 points and 6.6 points this past season. It would likely take Love, the No. 8 pick -- and perhaps even more than that -- for Cleveland to pry the 3-time All-Star, but should such move ever come to fruition, it would likely already have James' seal of approval.
"Give me Damian Lillard," James told reporters this past season. "I'll show you how appreciated he'll be."
While acquiring Lillard would be the preference, acquiring his backcourt running mate, C.J. McCollum is probably a more realistic target. It wouldn't be a bad consolation prize either, as the Canton native's skillset could perfectly complement a player like James.
A career 40 percent 3-point shooter, the 26-year-old combo guard has proven effective whether playing on or off the ball. The avid Browns fan has also already publicly flirted with the idea of joining his hometown team, in a deal that would likely cost the Cavs the No. 8 pick.
Lost in the madness of the Cavs' trade deadline overhaul was the team's reported talks with the Charlotte Hornets. Although no deal ever came to fruition, Cleveland was allegedly interested in acquiring Kemba Walker.
Now that the offseason has arrived, those trade talks could resume, in a deal that would make sense for both teams. For the Cavs, acquiring an All-Star point guard like Walker could bolster their chances of keeping James, while the Hornets could jumpstart a much-needed rebuild with the No. 8 pick.
In the same post touting a Paul George-to-Cleveland trade, the author advocates for a deal that would see the Cavs send J.R. Smith, Jordan Clarkson and the No. 8 pick to Charlotte for Walker and Nic Batum. Such trade would seem to make sense both sides.
But perhaps the biggest question is does it make sense for James?