LeBron James is preparing to make his fifth straight appearance to the NBA Finals as he brings his hometown team the glory he always wanted for them. While it is unknown just how the NBA Finals will play out for the Cavaliers, but the task to repeat it next year could be difficult. The Cavaliers have contract issues that must be addressed this offseason as several key pieces will either be a restricted free agents or have player options. LeBron James appears to be lobbying for one player over another.
The Cavaliers cannot give max contracts to everyone which means either players must wait for a deal or take a pay cut if they intend on staying with the team. Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love are under the spotlight approaching the offseason as Love has a player option while Thompson is a restricted free agent. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Thompson is looking for a max deal and there could be teams out their willing to give it to him. Love wants the same thing. James recently lobbied to keep Thompson for the long-term which could be a hint that Love is headed out.
"Tristan should probably be a Cavalier for his whole career," James said, via CBSSports.com. "This guy is 24 years old, he's played in 340-plus straight games, and he's gotten better every single season. It's almost like 'What more can you ask out of a guy? He's a young guy, but he's a professional that loves to come to work every day. He plays his heart out every single night, and he has zero sense of entitlement in this league. All he cares about is coming into work. Whatever is given to him, he relishes the opportunity, and he's a great teammate. So he'll be here for a long time."
If Thompson is given a max deal, Love will either need to wait to get his or head elsewhere. Considering the Cavaliers also need to make calls on JR Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov, Love could get pushed to the backburner if he takes time to decide his future. On the chance that Kevin Love heads elsewhere in free agency, who could the Cavaliers target as his potential replacement?
ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy believes that Thompson is an upgrade over Love, but it would not change the fact that the Cavaliers would need size to replace him. Tyson Chandler, Al Jefferson and Larry Sanders would all be strong options to replace the forward while also being excellent defensive additions. The Cavaliers will try and get creative to keep everyone in place, but it seems unlikely everyone will leave happy.