The NBA Finals ended as many predicted, with a deeper, more-talented, less-injured Golden State Warriors team beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 4 games to 2. The Warriors’ celebration will be long after ending the team’s 40-year championship drought. But they probably won’t be celebrating all offseason, given that they have a very good chance of reaching the 2016 NBA Finals with their returning roster. Cleveland, on the other hand, needs to consider which of their six free agents will be re-signed if they’re to reach the Finals again. That said, let’s look over the Cavs’ laundry list of tough decisions, as well as the lone major free agent that Golden State needs to worry about.
Cleveland Cavaliers 2015 Free Agency
Iman Shumpert – The 24-year-old shooting guard played well for the Cavaliers in the first three postseason series, but was stifled by the Warriors, shooting just 24.3%. Based on how things ended against Golden State, Shumpert probably won’t get the asking price he wanted going into the NBA Finals. However, that’s not to say that another team won’t offer Shumpert more money than the Cavs are willing to pay him – especially since he’s young.
J.R. Smith – Smith has already indicated that he’ll probably opt out of the final year of his deal, which would pay $6.4 million. It’s unclear what kind of market there is for a soon-to-be 30-year-old shooting guard who’s extremely streaky. But it’s clear that Cleveland and LeBron want him back if he’s willing to re-sign. Smith also had a tough series against Golden State, shooting just 32.8% (29.3% from three-point), but he did help Cleveland quite a bit after coming over from New York along with Shumpert in a mid-season trade.
LeBron James – There’s not really much to discuss here because James is staying in Cleveland and will help make free agent decisions this offseason. But he will opt out of his deal and sign a one-year contract so that he can get more when the salary cap raises in the 2016-17 season.
Kevin Love – Whether or not Love will stay in Cleveland has created a media circus all year long. LeBron pushed to get Love on the team, but they didn’t really mesh well on or off the court. Some suggested that the Cavs don’t really need Love after he averaged 16.4 PPG and 9.7 RPG. But it’s pretty clear that Cleveland would have been much better off against the Warriors with an All-Star power forward who can spread the floor with his shooting ability. Love has said that he’s going to be playing for Cleveland on opening day next season, but there are lots of suitors who’ll be throwing themselves at him.
Matthew Dellavedova – The undrafted point guard was about a zero for Cleveland’s offense against the Warriors, shooting just 28.3% from the floor. But his excellent defense on Steph Curry (an unguardable player) and hustle won Cavs fans over. Dellavedova will likely be brought back if another team doesn’t offer to overpay him.
Tristan Thompson – Thompson turned down Cleveland’s four-year, $52 million deal last summer in hopes that he could do better. The gamble paid off and the Cavs need to pay Thompson if they want him back. The 24-year-old is one of the few players that held his own against Golden State in the Finals, averaging 11.6 PPG and 12.6 RPG. Plus he has the support of LeBron, who said that Thompson should “probably be a Cavalier for his whole career.” Cleveland can keep him on a one-year, $7.1 million qualifying offer for next season, but they could lock him up for years with a good deal now.
Golden State Warriors 2015 Free Agency
Draymond Green – Unlike Cleveland, the Warriors only have to worry about keeping Green as far as key starters go. And the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year has already indicated that he’d like to re-sign with Golden State. So it looks like the core will definitely stay intact.
Leandro Barbosa – Barbosa played some quality minutes off the bench for Golden State and averaged 5.8 PPG in the Finals. It’s unclear if he will definitely be with the Warriors next year, but re-signing him is not an absolute must.
James Michael McAdoo – McAdoo only played in 15 games for the Warriors this season, so next year definitely doesn’t hang in the balance if they don’t bring him back.