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Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 129-120 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday.
1. Well, that’s it. The Cavs finished second. But stop right there — if you’re the Cavs or their fans, this is a No Depression Zone.
2. LeBron James and the Cavaliers delivered the city a championship parade last June. It was an amazing experience for the entire sports universe, and especially, Northeast Ohio. Most of you reading this column were a part of it in some way, shape or form. Most of you will forever be grateful for it, too.
3. As LeBron indicated after the game, this isn’t a reason to hang heads. Yeah, it stinks for the Cavs. Yeah, they cried after the game. Yeah, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue had to cut short his postgame speech because it got too emotional. The Cavs gave it their all. It’s honestly not their fault Kevin Durant decided to bolt Oklahoma City for the one team that could beat him in the West.
4. LeBron was amazing — 41 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists. He became the first player in league history to average a triple-double in the Finals. As I wrote in my Finals recap, he was caught on camera hugging Kyrie Irving after the game, promising his younger teammate, “We’ll be back.”
5. We have no reason to doubt James. He’s been to eight of these things, and seven in a row. Think about that. We were all so much younger when LeBron started this run. Somehow, he’s staying young, staying at the top of his game along the way.
6. Trouble is, James is now just 3-5 in the Finals. He can get back, he can win it again. But he needs more help.
7. I outlined some of the Cavs’ needed repairs in a column last week. You can talk about Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson and their up-and-down Finals all you want, but when it comes the Cavs, everything starts with the bench.
8. Deron Williams was a bust. He won’t be back. Kyle Korver isn’t getting any younger. I know James Jones really wants to return, but what’s the point if he doesn’t play? Iman Shumpert is perhaps the team’s biggest trade chip (other than potentially Love, but we’ll discuss that another day). Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye hustle to no end, but are past their prime.
9. I know I’m forgetting someone in there, but let’s just stop with this: The bench is a mess.
10. Basically, the Cavs need a Len Bias the same way the 1986 Boston Celtics needed one. By that, I mean the Cavs need a young, athletic and talented do-it-all type who can bring some energy, athleticism and scoring behind LeBron, Love and the rest.
11. Yes, the Bias story is a tragic one, as he died of a cocaine overdose just a few hours after the Celtics drafted him No. 2 overall (one spot after the Cavs selected Brad Daugherty). And Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and that aging Boston group never won another title.
12. Anyway, my point is the Cavs really could use a guy like the one I mentioned. They have no draft picks — and while they’ve supposedly discussed the No. 12 with the Detroit Pistons, it doesn’t look real promising.
13. Things can change, but right now, the Cavs have to get their general manager David Griffin under contract. After that, Griffin can get right to work. There is little time to waste.
14. Can the Cavs beat the Warriors in the Finals next season? Man, that’s a long ways away. The first step will be to rebuild the bench. Griffin, assuming he remains as the main basketball decision man, will need to get real creative. Finding old guys who want to chase a title is always easy. But finding decent youth? That’s a different story entirely.
15. After the game, Irving (26 points) made the classy move of catching up with and congratulating new champions Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. “Got to give them credit,” Irving said. “They beat us fair and square.”
16. It was great to see J.R. Smith (25 points) come alive in the final three games. It gives you hope that he can shrug off his subpar season and get it going again next year. Smith has been through a lot with the birth of his premature daughter. But she came around and so did he — and now he has something off which to build.
17. Ideally, Smith and Tristan Thompson would be coming off the bench. But with the Cavs’ being capped out, they aren’t likely to find better starters. So the key, it seems, will be to get some fresh legs in reserve.
18. I’ll be writing about that and much, much more as we head into what is sure to be an intriguing offseason. This will be our busiest summer ever, as Amico Hoops is launching a new website for every team. The goal is to be done with all 30 by January. The Los Angeles Lakers site should be ready a night or two before the NBA draft on June 22.
19. Plenty to cover. So thanks as always for stopping by, and I’ll talk to you very soon.