Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hear me out...Fallout from the 2017 NBA Finals

So Kevin Durant is really good at basketball

 

June 17, 2017

COURTESY/ MGN

Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant begins celebrating the Warriors NBA Championship after defeating the Cleveland Cavilers 4-1 in the NBA Finals Monday night at Oracle Arena.

In case you didn't know by now, Kevin Durant is really good at basketball, and as it turned out was the difference between winning and losing an NBA title for Cleveland and Golden State.

Say what you will about three of the five final scores, watching Durant go head-to-head with LeBron James was a treat for everyone who watched. Durant was incredible for all five games. He was everywhere making plays on both ends of the floor. He played rim protector for stretches and that short corner shot was an automatic bucket.

When Durant chose to leave the Thunder for the Warriors last summer he was blasted for it by many sports personalities. He was called soft or was accused for not caring enough. His Finals performance sent all of that nonsense out the window because, again, he was the difference between an NBA title for the Warriors or Cavs.

He also solidified his position in the NBA as the second best player in the league and accomplished what he and his teammates set out to do when he decided to go to Golden State. And if the Warriors were your typical NBA team, with its hierarchy system, we'd get a whole summer of who is the "alpha" on the Warriors? Is Curry upset that Durant has taken over his team?

One thing I enjoyed very much about the Warriors win was all those sports talking heads who went from vehement critics to adoring fans of Durant, I'm looking at you Stephen A. Smith. It proves the theory, win a title and all is forgiven.

If you thought Durant and the Warriors were terrifying this season, wait until next season. As long as everyone stays healthy and they keep a majority of their bench, this team will have the best regular season record in NBA history.

I'm not going to get into whether the '17 Warriors were better than the '96 Bulls, right now. That's a column all unto its own.

WHAT DO THE CAVS DO NOW?

I've learned from last year, before you start making wild trade speculations make sure LeBron and Co. are dead and since it's official and there's no coming back from a 3-1 deficit nonsense. It's time to tap dance on the Cavs grave.

Losing in five to the Warriors, who the Cavs considered their equal, is a setback. For the Cavs to win a single game in the Finals they literally needed to play at a historic level. The question now becomes what direction do they go from here?

They still have the best basketball player on the planet so there's that.

But as far as I can see, they have three options to choose from; they can blow it all up, tinker with their roster or stand-pat.

From the fans perspective, nuking the roster would be the most entertaining. Everyone but LeBron is available and going to a new home.

The popular player put in the trade machine has been Kevin Love. Which makes sense because he's the third wheel of the Cavs Big 3. But trading Love would be a mistake, he brings a lot to the table for this team. A Love for the Pacers Paul George is a popular trade but, George is good but not that good. And that commercial George has of him hitting a game-winner has literally never happened in his NBA career.

If you're going to trade anyone on the Cavs it should be Kyrie Irving.

I said this last year, but I believe trading Kyrie would make the Cavs much better. Kyrie is probably the best pure scorer in the league, but that is all he does. He does not make his teammates better by distributing the ball or playing defense.

Thankfully the one skill he has he's unbelievable at, making his trade value higher than Love's.

I also said this last year and stand by it, a Kyrie for Memphis' Mike Conley would be the best option. Conley is one of the best pure point guards in the league. When he's out on the court he's going to make everyone better on offense, and defensively he's one of the leagues better perimeter defenders.

Now to make salaries work you'd have to toss in Tristian Thompson (Cavs) and Brandan Wright (Grizz). But this would also be a win for the Cavs, they get another playmaker in Conley and also a rim protector in Wright.

There is a blow it up option, that's a possibility and makes me sick to think about.

The Cavs package Thompson, Kyrie and some future draft picks and send them to the Chicago Bulls for Dwyane Wade (That's a win for all Bulls fans) and Jimmy Butler (A gut shot for all Bulls fans). The Cavs and Bulls are inter-division rivals but before you say it wouldn't happen, Bulls management is dumb enough to pull the trigger on this. Believe me.

LeBron would be reunited with his buddy Wade (And one half of the "Banana Boat Crew" would be together) and be teamed with Butler a top two-way superstar. Butler would be the starting 2 and Wade could come off the bench to save his legs. They'd still need a rim protector and they could get that done with other moves.

Standing pat and letting the team gel for another season could be what they do. While boring for the offseason, it might be the better move.

What I think the Cavs should do is tinker with their bench squad. The Cavs cannot out punch the Warriors offensively for a series, it's not going to happen and you're playing into their hands. Defense should be the new focus for them. Finding 3-and-D guys, players who can play defense and hit an open shot, should be a priority.

They've tried to make Iman Shumpert that but it's clearly not working. Whenever he would take a shot, he was wide open, the Warriors wanted him to shoot. And I swear if a Warrior defender got too close to him another Warrior would pull him back just to give Shumpert all the room he needed.

A refocus on defense, because that was their major weakness this season, will draw the Cavs closer to beating the Warriors. At worst next season's Finals would at least go to six games.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE OTHER 28 NBA TEAMS

Wait. Give it like 3-4 seasons and once the landscape looks a little more palatable emerge. Kind of like how mammals had to wait for dinosaurs to die off.

 
 

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