The first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers had every reason to celebrate this off-season. However, winning the NBA Championship was not the biggest victory Cleveland won this off-season. Signing LeBron James to an extension was.
James (along with fellow superstar Kevin Durant), was entering the summer a free agent and all eyes where on if he was staying or leaving (again). Winning a championship for his city was his ultimate goal and after dong that, many felt he would “take his talents” elsewhere (again). Cleveland made sure he would not leave them high and dry again; signing James to a three year, $100 million.
James signing a new contract keeps the “Big 3” of James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love secure for at least the next few years. The chemistry between James and Irving shined brightest in the Finals and Cleveland did not want to lose that spark.
Cleveland added sharp shooter Mike Dunleavy, big man Chris “Birdman” Anderson, rookie Kay Felder (who was fourth in scoring last year in college), and veteran Toney Douglas this off-season. These additions give the Cavaliers more depth which always helps. But will all that depth, one key piece is still missing from last year; JR Smith.
Smith was another player that hit free agency this summer. Expressing his desire to stay with Cleveland, JR also wants more money to do so. Smith is asking for a multi-year deal that pays roughly $15 million per year. Cleveland wants to keep it in the $10 million a year range. Players such as James have come out publicly, supporting Smith.
“We just miss him. We miss having him around. He’s a big piece of our team and they just need to get it done.”
Cleveland needs Smith. He was their leading (and only) consistentt three point shooter the entire season and it would be a huge blow if Smith signs with another team.
Keeping key prices and adding new ones did nothing but strengthen the Cavaliers this summer. And playing in a weaker Eastern Conference, do not be surprised if come Cleveland is again gearing up for June.