Cleveland general manager David Griffin won't break up his championship core.
Griffin told ESPN radio that the NBA champions enter free agency with the intention to make as little change as possible. That likely means keeping Kevin Love in a Cavaliers uniform despite heightened speculation he could be traded.
“I think our best basketball's in front of us because we finally organically grew to the point that we were ready to achieve something together," Griffin told NBA Lockdown Insiders. "And so I expect you're going to see better play from Kyrie Irving, who I think took a huge jump both as an individual talent and a winner throughout these playoffs. [And] I think Kevin's fit with us is much more clearly defined."
NBA Finals MVP LeBron James opted out of the final year of his contract Wednesday, but continues say he plans re-sign with the team. J.R. Smith, Timofey Mazgov, James Jones, Matthew Dellavedova and Dahntay Jones are Cleveland’s other free agents.
“We've been really fortunate. Ownership has really invested in this group to such a huge degree,” Griffin said, “and when we were the largest taxpayer in the league last year – and I think the second highest ever – there were times during the year where I felt really, really bad about spending that much of their money. But I do think that you saw that the core of our team, it fits together. It's capable of doing some very special things, and I do think we would like to keep it together."
Love appeared on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert earlier this week and concluded he was ready to make another run with Cleveland next season.
“Truthfully, the last two years we were a team that always thrived under chaos,” Love said. “So for us we just looked at it like our backs were against the rope. We knew we could get it done. We had all the stats and everybody saying we couldn’t do it.”
Colbert highlighted Love’s defensive stop against two-time MVP Stephen Curry in the final minute of the game by saying “You were all over him like a spider monkey.”
Love said “I really had to put up my dancing shoes with him ‘cause I knew he was going to throw everything at me. … I mean, he’s the two-time MVP and I had to do everything I could to stay in front him of him and luckily I was there.
“When he threw it up, he usually shoots it and looks at you, so I kind of had to look back and think ‘OK, he’s not looking at me. I contested the shot. I think I’m OK.’ And he missed it short and we got the rebound.”
As for the postgame celebration with James, Love said “It was a special moment. ... It was a warm, cuddly embrace at the end there.”
Colbert wrapped up the interview asking if the Cavs would repeat next season?
“That’s the plan,” Love said. “Yeah, we get everyone back, we feel like we can.”