In the 2017 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers were dethroned as “defending champs” after the Golden State Warriors almost effortlessly defeated them in 5 games. The Cavs team payroll is at a whopping $128,492,467 (Hoops Hype). Awarding the Cavs as the NBA team with the highest team payroll in the NBA. So, from a logical standpoint, the Cavs should have never been severely outplayed in these Finals if they paid the most money in order to attain “best team to contend with these juggernaut Warriors,” right? Wrong! In all and utter honesty, the Cavs have simply overpaid some of these rotation players that look appealing on paper but cannot get the job done when an NBA title is on the line. As a result, in the offseason, don’t be surprised if the Cavs make some jaw-dropping transactions in order to make a more legitimate title contention and pose a real threat to the new-found dynasty we identify as the Warriors.
- Iman Shumpert
Iman Shumpert is currently under a contract where the Cavs will have to pay him around $10.33M this upcoming season. Now, on a good note, Iman Shumpert is a good defender and is a gifted athlete with phenomenal leaping ability, however, Shumpert is an unreliable shooter. In the 66 minutes he played in the Finals, his true shooting percentage was just 42.1%. He only connected on 4 field goals (2 of them being 3 pointers) (Basketball-Reference). So, just having Shumpert out on the floor did more harm than good because his shooting inconsistencies caused the floor to shrink significantly making the Cavs offense even more painful to watch.
- Channing Frye
The 2017-18 season will be the finale of Channing Frye’s current contract where the Cavs have to pay him $7.42M (Hoops Hype). Over-paid? Without question, Frye is over-paid! Arguably, Frye was at his best and putting up career-best numbers when he was with the Phoenix Suns (2009-2014); they only paid him, at most, $6.4M (Spotrac). For Cleveland, Frye is merely a reserve getting paid to sit the bench. In these Finals, Frye only played a grand total of 11 minutes (Basketball-Reference). Sure he’s a 7-footer who can efficiently shoot three’s, but he is a great defensive liability further proving that he is severely over-paid.
- Kyle Korver
Cavs had only signed Kyle Korver for this season only paying him $5.23M (Hoops Hype). In his career, Korver is #7 all-time in 3-point field goal percentage (43.1%) in the regular season. However, he is #72 all-time in 3-point field goal percentage (38.6%) in the post-season (Basketball-Reference). Not the most reliable shooter when it counts most. Korver played about 19 minutes per game (97 minutes total) in the Finals. In the time he played he shot 16 three’s connecting only on 5 of them resulting in him shooting just 31% from beyond the arc (Basketball-Reference). Korver is 36 years-old unclutch shooter and I will be very surprised if the Cavs sign him to an extension.
- Richard Jefferson
Cavs gave 36-year old Richard Jefferson a multi-year $2.5M contract which expires in 2019 (Hoops Hype). MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR DEAL FOR 2 MORE YEARS?! RICHARD JEFFERSON?! Mind you this is the guy who contemplated retirement last year. I don’t know what Cleveland was thinking with this one. Why sign a 36-year old who is a shell of himself? They would’ve been better off signing a guy from the D-League! But on a serious note, Jefferson does bring veteran leadership and tried to somewhat contain Finals MVP Kevin Durant who averaged 35 PPG, shooting 55% from the field, 47% from 3, and 93% from the free throw line. And, in the 83 minutes he played, he only made 1 3-pointer shooting just 11% from beyond in the entirety of the series (Basketball-Reference). Father Time is undefeated and Richard Jefferson is not getting any younger or more dynamic as a ball player, so once again: WHY SIGN THIS MAN TO A MULTI-YEAR CONTRACT DEAL?
- Deron Williams
Deron Williams signed the veteran minimum which is worth $400K for this year only (Hoops Hype). Supposedly, Williams was deemed to be the playmaker LeBron and the Cavs were desiring in order to put them in the best position for a repeat. But the exact opposite happened. Williams, who is 32-years old going on 40, looked completely outmatched the entire Finals. In the 61 minutes he played, Williams only made 2 field goals, dished out only 6 assists, and turned the ball over 5 times (Basketball-Reference). There’s no assessment needed after seeing the terrible stats Williams posted in these Finals. If Williams wants to save face and not slip a disc while trying to walk the ball up the floor, I suggest he do one thing, and one thing only: RETIRE ASAP!
- Kevin Love
Kevin Love is currently under a multi-year contract with a player option in 2020 worth about $25.5M (Hoops Hype). The reason why Kevin Love is on this “doomed” list of players likely to be moved in the offseason is because he has consistently come up small in moments when the Cavs need him the most. In a must-win Game 3, Love only recorded 9 points. Cavs loss 118-113. In Game 5, Love had the same amount of points as Warriors rookie reserve, Patrick McCaw, which was 6 points. Cavs loss the game 120-129! Imagine if Love doesn’t underachieve and actually makes an impact in those key moments in these Finals… But those hypotheticals aren’t important as of now. Now, the real hypothetical is: where will the Cavs trade Love this offseason? In a perfect world, Love will get traded to the Indiana Pacers for Paul George who won’t mind taking a pretty big pay-cut and shapeshift his role in order to play best with James and Irving.
All in all, the window to win championships is closing steadily and LeBron’s 3-4 years of dominance is gradually declining in a similar fashion. Cavs have put themselves in a bad spot by overpaying mediocre players and has-beens, but with a little luck and execution, the Cavs can still be a legit contender against the Warriors for several more years.