First, I would like to start by saying congratulations to the Golden State Warriors on a great accomplishment—winning the 2016-2017 NBA championship. I am a LeBron James fan, but hats off to the Warriors from Oakland!
Enough of that. It is quite apparent that the Cavaliers and Warriors will probably meet again next season for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Vegas odds-makers, just before Game 5 of the 2016-2017 NBA championship released their odds of who would win the 2017-2018 chip. And guess what? Vegas is saying there will be a rematch of the last three NBA championships again next season.
If that is the case, here are some suggestions on what Cleveland can do to have a better outcome next season:
Trade Kyrie Irving for Damon Lillard
I know that sounds crazy, but Uncle Drew is Uncle Drew! Irving is an exciting offensive player who needs to handle the rock in isolation in order to really do damage. He doesn’t move well without the ball and doesn’t play any significant level of defense. In Lillard’s case he can play without the ball and he has a little “dog” on him defensively. Because of the NBA salary cap the money doesn’t work out (Lillard makes about $7M per year more than Irving), but it’s a thought.
Address the ton of one-way players on the Cleveland roster through free agency
Cleveland has too many one-way players to be effective in my opinion. This includes Kyle Korver (free agent), Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and Derrick Williams. I believe that Cleveland should keep Shumpert and possibly Korver. Why get rid of one of the best shooters in the game? But the rest are expendable.
There are some nice two-way (along with one or two good one-way players) free agents that may come to Cleveland for a lesser amount in an attempt to compete for a chip. My list to consider would be Rudy Gay (depending on how he recovered from the injury), Dwayne Wade, Serge Ibaka and Nerlens Noel.
I know Lowry and Paul are free agents as well, but if you are trading Kyrie for Lillard why bring in either of them?
I don’t think Cleveland has a lot to fix. Besides, they went to the Finals with the current roster. A few upgrades here and there should do the trick. Could you imaging a starting lineup featuring LeBron James, Lillard, Love, Thompson and JR Smith with the likes of D. Wade, Korver, Shumpert, Gay, Ibaka or Noel and possibly Deron Williams coming off the bench? That may be enough of an upgrade to push Cleveland over the top. Besides, the Warriors have some real free agency issues to address this year as well, with Curry, Durant, West, Zaza, McGee, Livingston and Iguodala all free agents.
The NBA free agency period which starts on July 1, 2017 should be very interesting!