It is incumbent for a champion to not stand pat, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are no exception.
Even though they delivered the first championship for the Cleveland area in 52 years, there is no question every other team in the NBA is now gunning for them, especially the squad they defeated in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors.
They signed one of the league’s top five players (probably top three) is Kevin Durant, to go with a unit that won an NBA record 73 games this past season.
We all know by now the wine and gold lost two players in free agency, Timofey Mozgov going to the Lakers, and Matthew Dellavedova to Milwaukee in a sign and trade scenario for a trade exemption.
Using that trade exemption and preying on the Bulls need to shed salary to sign Dwyane Wade, GM David Griffin picked up another veteran shooter for the bench in Mike Dunleavy.
Soon to be 36 years old, the 6’9″ former third overall pick is a career 38% shooter from behind the arc, but he’s been improving with age, making 40% of his shots from distance since turning 30.
To be sure, the Cleveland bench has a lot of age on it, adding Dunleavy to Richard Jefferson (36), Mo Williams (33), and Channing Frye (33). But if you limit these guys to 15-20 minutes per night, they can be highly effective for Tyronn Lue.
It appears the bench will get another veteran soon, as Lue intimated the organization is talking to another of LeBron James’ former Miami teammates in big man Chris Andersen, who just turned 38.
He’s a guy who doesn’t need to score, just wanting to play defense and rebound. He grabbed 4.5 per game in 18 minutes with Memphis last season.
As we have said before, we also expect Jordan McRae to be a rotation player for 2016-17 too, getting many of Dellavedova’s minutes.
Rookie Kay Felder has shown in the summer league that he has some ability, but when you are the defending champs (that sounds awesome, no?), it will be difficult for Felder to see minutes in Cleveland.
More likely, he will be getting a lot of minutes for the Canton Charge.
We would like to see the Cavs somehow get another younger player to help out next season. We like Terrence Jones, who played with Houston last season.
Jones will start the season at 24 years old and is 6’9″. He averaged 12 points per game in his second year in the league, but saw his minutes drop a year ago.
The league is putting a premium on guys from 6’7″ to 6’9″ who can play out on the floor, and Jones fits that bill.
He is a free agent, and might be worth a look for the Cavaliers.
Of course, the most important signatures that Griffin needs to get on paper are James and JR Smith, who are both free agents. It has been reported that Smith is close to a deal, and James has already told the world he will be back to defend the title.
The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be better than they were the night they won their first NBA Championship, and we doubt Griffin is finished trying to improve the team, because he is always looking.
To be sure, he will be creative in getting this done.