The Cleveland Cavaliers quest to repeat as NBA Champions begins Tuesday night when they host the upgraded New York Knicks. Unfortunately, the Cavs will be facing more than just their opponent when they take the floor.
As reported by ESPN, the Cavs are actively shopping two of their returning players, Mo Williams and guard Jordan McRae after Williams failed to report to training camp.
“The Cleveland Cavaliers are at an impasse with guard Mo Williams and it has left them scouring the league for a trade partner so they don’t have to swallow millions. Williams is owed $2.2 million for this season and he did not report to training camp. The Cavs, who were caught off guard by the decision, have not had meaningful discussions with Williams on a buyout agreement, sources said.”
Further, other roster deficiencies have forced their hand, which is the impetus behind including McRae in the deal.
“Needing both a roster spot and a backup point guard, the Cavs are in a squeeze as the regular season opener looms. They are looking to attach guard Jordan McRae to Williams in trades, sources said.”
The team also reportedly “showcased McRae during the preseason” to help entice potential trade partners.
J.R. Smith: “As long as I keep making (shots), I guess I’ll stay on the court.” pic.twitter.com/4t1dEfPMea
— Cavs Nation (@CavsNationNet) October 22, 2016
Meanwhile, as reported by Inquisitr, the Cavs finally came to terms with their other returning free agent guard in J.R. Smith. And while the signing gives the Cavs the dubious distinction of being the most expensive starting five in league NBA history – all five starters exceed the actual salary cap of $94 million – the real concern is whether or not J.R. will be ready to produce after holding out well into training camp.
“Yesterday I was (rusty) and obviously the first day of practice I was just because of probably anxiousness and wanting to do so much,” Smith admitted Friday, as reported by Cleveland.com. “Bron (LeBron James) and Ky (Kyrie Irving) told me I got to slow down because I was trying to do way too much and too fast. But I’m starting to get back on pace.”
With the regular season just days away however, it’s likely his conditioning will simply not be up to par at the start of the NBA schedule. His coach admitted as much to reporters.
He’s coming,” head coach Tyronn Lue said. “A little tired today. He played a lot, scrimmaged a lot. He went hard so it’s to be expected. If you’re going to get in shape you’ve got to go hard. He was a little winded but he played hard and played through it.”
The Cavs are going to need all the help they can get if they hope to repeat as NBA Champions. Forget the additions made by their Finals opponent the Golden State Warriors, they need to settle their own house first before they can think about the competition. And while they do have the best player in the NBA – and arguably ever – in LeBron James, repeating isn’t easy. Ironically, the last team to repeat was LeBron’s Miami Heat but that squad had a Dwyane Wade in his prime, a healthy Chris Bosh and a score of talented role players like Ray Allen to solidify their run.
This Cavs team will most definitely not be confused with that squad of future hall of famers, though they at least bring a legit No. 2 in Kyrie Irving. But following that, the drop off is massive. Kevin Love has never really gelled with LeBron, and J.R. Smith is more famous for taking his shirt off after the Cavs won it all than for making a big shot in the clutch.
What do you think? Will the Cavs repeat as NBA Champs in 2017?
[Featured Image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]