The Cleveland Cavaliers have to still be feeling the sting of losing the NBA Finals in six games to the Golden State Warriors.
At Thursday's end-of-season press conference, Cavs general manager David Griffin and head coach David Blatt promoted the positive direction the team headed after a midseason roster overhaul. Griffin and Blatt present a unified front in an organization that had been missing such synergy until the return of superstar LeBron James last offseason.
To extinguish any speculation that Blatt's job was in danger after overseeing the most successful season in franchise history, the coach voiced his intentions to stay, per Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico:
Instead of backing down or being intimidated at the prospect of coaching James, Blatt has embraced the opportunity and The King's input, reflected in comments recorded by ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin:
The following testimony from ESPN.com's Marc Stein in a Thursday report did nothing to quiet down the purported control James has over the team, including Blatt:
My ESPN.com colleague Brian Windhorst, who ranks as the most credentialed LeBron-ologist there is after shadowing James since his teens, went on SVP & Russillo on Wednesday and posited that No. 23 actually wouldn't mind if the Euroleague import keeps coaching the Cavs because he "likes having Blatt to kick around." I wouldn't expect to hear anyone in Cleveland dispute it, either. Because they can't.
Stein also mentioned that James openly and demonstratively disagreed with Blatt during the NBA Finals. In one instance, James allegedly disliked a play so much that Blatt wound up drawing up a new one to please him.
Griffin criticized those who had given Blatt flak, per the Akron Beacon Journal's Marla Ridenour:
Sam Vecenie of CBSSports.com poked a bit of fun at the possibility of Blatt being fired at the expense of his predecessors:
With key contributors such as Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov arriving well into the 2014-15 campaign, Blatt had to adjust on the fly while also tailoring his style of coaching to the NBA game.
Blatt hinted at his excitement for more stability next year, per the Cavs' official Twitter account:
It's an undeniably monumental offseason for Griffin. Brilliant as he was to pull off deals that worked wonders during his first year as GM, he'll need to do just as well to keep a phenomenal nucleus intact.
Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal logged what Griffin had to say along those lines:
In a candid string of replies, Griffin explained how he'll address the multitude of priorities on his plate, per Cleveland.com's Chris Haynes:
Power forward Tristan Thompson, 24, is a young building block Griffin said he'd like to retain, per Amico:
The biggest domino to fall is Kevin Love. He didn't quite fit in before a shoulder injury in the opening round of the playoffs cut short his time to shine on the big stage.
Thompson will command a big salary, and the still-developing player and transcendent offensive rebounder may be worth every penny. Meanwhile, Love supplies the type of offensive firepower Cleveland needs to defeat Golden State if it gets another shot at the reigning champions. The dilemma is trying to afford both.
With the salary cap slated for a huge increase in the 2016-17 season, there's a chance the Cavs can afford to fork over a lot of money for Thompson and spend even more on roster upgrades. Cleveland's future with regard to keeping the current core together seems more up in the air than it probably is because everyone ought to opt out if given the choice with the cap bump on the horizon.
Since the Cavs play in the weaker Eastern Conference and have the likes of James and Kyrie Irving leading the way, the others have to realize how strong their chances are for consistent championship contention in the next few years.
If Cleveland has a healthy Irving and Love next season and keeps most or all of its role players, the city's championship drought in major pro sports may not last much longer.