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Channing Frye took his best shot with the Cavaliers last season and it was a swish.
Who can forget how the Cavs won 18 of the first 19 games in which Frye appeared?
Then the Cavs traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers in February. But Frye wasn’t mad. He returned to the Cavs as a free agent in July. He could have gone anywhere. He chose the Cavs.
He even returned after learning LeBron James had left for the Lakers. But Frye knows the Cavs. He has played alongside power forward and resident All-Star Kevin Love. He has started in front of and backed up center Tristan Thompson. He has spent plenty of time in a variety of roles under coach Tyronn Lue.
He has won a lot in Cleveland and understands what pro sports mean to the city.
Frye, 35, took a one-year deal for $2.4 million to return to the Cavs. He only averaged about 5 points and three rebounds in 41 games with the Cavs last season, but his value extends beyond mere numbers.
The Cavs are counting on him to help guide a cast of younger players, many of whom could also be reserves. The list includes Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic, Sam Dekker and rookie lottery pick Collin Sexton.
Frye stands tall at 6-foot-11 and likes what he sees. The Cavs open training camp Sept. 25, a week from Tuesday.
“We have a nice solid core of guys that have been in the trenches, but are still growing themselves,” he told Erik Garcia Gunderson of LeBronWire. “It’s going to be awesome to see. I think the Cleveland fans are going to be surprised because everyone doesn’t take us seriously.”
A lot of people who follow the NBA seem to be done following the Cavs. That includes the league office, which scheduled the Cavs’ home opener for a Sunday night against the lowly Atlanta Hawks. The Cavs have just two nationally televised games this season.
It’s quite a major change from the always-in-the-news era of LeBron. In fact, it’s the extreme opposite.
This, of course, was James’ second departure from the Cavs. He did the same thing in 2010, when he bolted for the Miami Heat.
The Cavs immediately sank to an all-time low, losing a franchise-record 26 straight.
Nobody on the team today was involved with the organization back then, but the organization clearly learned from it. At least, Frye thinks so.
“When (LeBron) left the first time, it was a bunch of young guys and rookies and a different coach,” Frye said. “Now you have a championship coach with a championship pedigree team.
“We’re not just resetting the clock. We’re just taking it back a little bit to compete and contend for the next 5-10 years.”
Frye clearly is happy to be a part of it again.
“This is a business. The hardest thing in this league is to not take things personally,” he said. “I’ve been traded to places where I get a call and they say ‘You’re gonna do great at this place.’ And then that’s the end of it.
“But having the relationships I do with the guys on (the Cavs) regardless of LeBron, and the relationship I had with the city and the fanbase, I looked at free agency and said, I’m 35. I’m at the end of my career. Am I going somewhere where somebody is going to have to learn who I am, what I can do and what I can’t?”
The answer is no. Frye is back in a place with which he’s familiar, ready to give the Cavs another best shot.