Why the Cavs did not “buy” their championship
It was a long and hard road to the 2016 NBA championship for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The season was filled with ups and downs and a whole lot of drama. All year, fans held their breath hoping that the Cavs would get a shot at a title with a healthy roster. They did and they won it in an exciting come from behind fashion.
When a team accomplishes a goal set out so long ago and they put so much work into it, it is frustrating when people attempt to put an asterisk next to the feat. Ever since the NBA’s luxury tax numbers came out, many people have been claiming that the Cavs “bought” their title.
It is time to shatter that narrative.
A team who “buys” a title is usually something spoken of in baseball. The reason for this is because there is no salary cap like in the NBA and NFL. So, the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, or any other large market team can bring in as many free agents as they want, as long as the owner is willing to write the check. Now, the salary cap prevents this from being possible in the NBA, but people still seem to want to claim the Cavs have done it.
Cleveland did not go out and sign multiple free agents in order to strengthen their team. LeBron James came home for a price that isn’t as crazy as some lesser players. They drafted Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. The only way they were able to acquire a player like Kevin Love was by using their own previously drafted players in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.
A team should not be shunned for using their drafted assets to bring in another player. Matthew Dellavedova was an undrafted free agent whom the Cavs were able to see potential in. The Cavs also did not sign away Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith, or Iman Shumpert. They used more of their assets (draft picks and Dion Waiters) in order to get them to Cleveland.
The core of this team was not “bought” but acquired by facilitating assets.
Although the Cavaliers’ luxury tax number was high, it was used to retain their own players, not sign free agents. A midseason trade for big man Channing Frye was most definitely a salary dump for the Orlando Magic, but contenders take on players like this all the time. Notable players who were signed through free agency by the Cavs are: Richard Jefferson, James Jones, and Mo Williams. Their salaries combined do not amount to much.
If any argument is to be made against the Cavaliers’ title (none should be made) it is that the Cavs got extremely lucky in the draft lottery. Think about this, had the Cavs not gotten the first overall pick three times, LeBron James may have never even come back to Cleveland.
It happens every year that fans try to make excuses for why their team did not win and why another team did. We saw it last year when Golden State won a title against the Cavs without Love or Irving. The reality of it is, the Cavs are the 2016 NBA Champs, and that is written in stone.