LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are officially up against it in the NBA Finals. They trail the Golden State Warriors 3-0 in the series and, what’s worse, it feels like the Cavs collectively gave the Warriors their best shot at home in Game 3.
Rodney Hood went off and LeBron was his consistent, brilliant self. And Steph Curry and Klay Thompson had subpar games, but Kevin Durant carried the defending NBA champions to their seventh straight win over the Cavaliers in the Finals, putting the Eastern Conference champions on the brink heading into Game 4.
It’s not exactly a time for reflection just yet, but with the series feeling decided it was something James couldn’t help but do on Thursday afternoon. Asked about the playmakers on the Cavaliers, James admitted he felt the team had more of them before they made trades in February in an attempt to save their season.
It’s pretty damning of George Hill, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., who were added to the roster at the trade deadline. None of those players have exactly stood out this postseason as Ty Lue has struggled to find a rotation that works. But it also speaks to the explosiveness and potential of the players Cleveland moved in an effort to fix what was ailing them.
The problem with the Cavaliers for much of the season was that they were shorthanded with an injured Isaiah Thomas, who was never himself when he finally took the floor. And Dwyane Wade, quite frankly, was disengaged as a player. When Wade returned to Miami he was very different than he was in Cleveland, but the Cavaliers weren’t getting that guy to play like that near Lake Erie.
Still, it’s also a quote that can cast James’ future in Cleveland further into doubt, especially if you feel like the team doesn’t have enough assets to bring playmakers in after this season. The Cavaliers have the 8th pick in the upcoming draft, and there’s certainly an expectation that James will get a player he could make another championship run at. But unless other moves are made, James can’t be happy with what the lineup would look like next season.
It’s all speculation based off a single quote, and perhaps Hood will have another great game and the Cavs can mount a comeback. But it’s a telling line from James, who has done everything possible to win a title with the Cavaliers this season. Finally, if only in passing, James has admitted he’s lacking the help he needs.