After watching the Warriors make history all season long, the Cavaliers made some of their own Sunday night. Cleveland became the first team ever to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals and the first to win Game 7 of the finals on the road since 1978.
LeBron James‘ return home in the summer of 2014 created the foundation for this year’s title, but so did the three No. 1 draft picks in four years that brought Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins, who was traded to Minnesota to acquire Kevin Love.
Tonight’s victory served as vindication for Love, who has been the subject of criticism and trade rumors almost from the time he arrived in Cleveland. It also validated the controversial decision to fire David Blatt in January with a 30-11 record and turn the team over to first-time head coach Tyronn Lue. The win rewarded owner Dan Gilbert for his willingness to take on salary right up to the trade deadline, even though the Cavs were facing the highest luxury tax in the league.
Cleveland will almost certainly keep the core of this year’s team together to try to defend its title. James will be a free agent, but it’s unthinkable that he would leave town again after winning a ring. The Love trade talk should die down, at least for the offseason. J.R. Smith has a $5MM player option and Mo Williams has already said he will opt in for next season for $2MM. Richard Jefferson, who turns 36 on Tuesday, announced that he plans to retire. Also headed toward free agency are Timofey Mozgov, Matthew Dellavedova and James Jones.
The Cavaliers have traded both their picks in this year’s draft and have no cap room to chase free agents other than the $3.477MM taxpayer mid-level exception. They have a trade exception from the Anderson Varejao deal worth $9,638,554 that will be in effect until February 18th. They also have a $2,854,940 exception from the trade of Mike Miller and a $2,329,471 exception from a deal involving Brendan Haywood. Both of those expire July 30th.
That brings us to tonight’s question: Should the Cavaliers be favored to win the title again next season? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.