The Cleveland Cavaliers have a huge summer ahead of them.
Fresh off their Game 6 NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Cavaliers have big decisions to make regarding a lot of their key pieces. And according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Cavs will be looking for major input from LeBron James as they construct their roster for next season:
James’ foreseeable future is in Cleveland. With the ability to opt out of the two-year deal he signed with the Cavaliers last offseason, James must now decide just how much he wants to influence the Cavs as they enter a summer full of uncertainty and potentially massive spending.
The Cavs prefer he give a lot of input. In past similar situations, James has skewed toward passive-aggressiveness from the shadows. Taking such a position now would only add to the anxiety the franchise is sure to feel.
As Windhorst notes, the Cavs will have major decisions to make on Kevin Love, J.R. Smith—both of whom have player options they’ll likely decline in order to become free agents, like James—Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova, the latter three all likely to become restricted free agents.
The big decision is going to be regarding Love, who will want a max contract but struggled to mesh with James and the Cavs this season. Indeed, Love saw his points, rebounds and assists per game all decrease fairly dramatically, while his minutes per contest also declined.
While that wasn’t shocking—Chris Bosh saw his numbers drop while playing next to James as well—it remains to be seen if Love wants to return to Cleveland and, perhaps more importantly, if James would even want him back.
Thompson, on the other hand, is a player he seemingly wants very much to return, even noting during the conference finals, per Windhorst, that “Tristan should probably be a Cavalier for his whole career. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t.”
Ultimately, the Cavs are going to want to keep James happy, meaning that Thompson is a player they’ll likely look to lock up long term simply because James has vocally said they should, in so many words. It remains to be seen how vocal James will be with the other roster decisions to come, but it certainly sounds as though the Cavs are open to him helping shape the roster as much as possible.