Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, center, celebrates with teammates after Game 7 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 19, 2016. The Cavaliers won 93-89. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez
Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez

Not much Cavs can do to counter Durant's signing with Warriors

Now what is general manager David Griffin's big move to return serve on the Golden State Warriors in what is becoming one of the league's juiciest _ and most watched _ rivalries?

The short answer is ... not much.

With no cap space, another soaring tax bill, a full roster and limited trade assets, there aren't many moves left for the Cavs to make. Then again, they are the defending NBA champions and they're keeping the bulk of the roster intact. That will have to be good enough.

There will be an adjustment period in the Bay Area while Durant acclimates to his new teammates, much like the Miami Heat needed a year to figure things out when their stars came together and the Cavs didn't win a title until LeBron James' second year back in Cleveland.

This time, it's slightly different. Durant is just one new piece joining a core that is established and accustomed to winning. Commissioner Adam Silver, a champion of competitive balance, has already expressed a degree of disappointment with Durant's decision.

"I do not think that's ideal from the league standpoint," Silver said this week in Las Vegas while stressing he supports a player's right to choose in free agency.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, a former player who often still thinks like a player, sees nothing wrong with Durant's choice.

"People get mad about what he did, but to me, I've been a player and I've been a coach. When you're free, that means you're free. You can do what you want to do. He opted to go to Golden State. That's his choice," Lue said. "But they don't say anything or get mad when guys get cut or they trade guys. Nothing is said about that. But as soon as a guy picks a team he wants to go to, it's a big deal. I don't understand it. I like KD. I support him in whatever he wants to do."

The Cavs' biggest counter move to this point has been trading for 35-year-old Mike Dunleavy, who missed half of last season due to back surgery. The Cavs are comfortable there are no lingering concerns over his back, however, and Dunleavy provides another terrific 3-point shooter to space the floor. He can struggle at times defensively, but he is expected to share a role with Richard Jefferson.

"More depth, more shooting, a guy who can come off screens and pindowns and play off movement, getting to the basket and making the right pass," Lue said.

The loss of Matthew Dellavedova stings, but he was probably the most replaceable of all the rotation pieces. Meanwhile, the front office is encouraged over the early returns of second-round pick Kay Felder, whose quickness is turning heads here at summer league. They see him as a miniature version of Dellavedova, mostly because of his tenacity. He's not as good of a 3-point shooter as Dellavedova, but he has time to get there.

The addition of Dunleavy was a sneaky gift after the Chicago Bulls needed to clear cap space to sign Dwyane Wade and there is still the matter of J.R. Smith's free agency to clear up, but the Cavs are hopeful they can get something done. They have little choice. If they were to lose him in free agency, they have no great options to replace him, particularly after Iman Shumpert struggled through a tough season and has never been Smith's caliber as a shooter.

Jordan McRae is an athletic scorer who has produced the two highest-scoring games in this summer league (36 and 33 points), but he is not a viable alternative to replace Smith and start on a championship contender.

For all the work Smith has done rehabbing his image in Cleveland, teams are still showing a reluctance to bet long term on Smith. That should play to the Cavs' advantage. There was a time they were committed to spending big money to retain Timofey Mozgov before he fell apart last season. Now the bulk of the money slotted for Mozgov can go to Smith, only on a shorter-term deal.

"I think the good news is J.R. wants to be here and we want J.R. back," Griffin said this week during one of the Cavs' summer league telecasts on ESPN. "These things sometimes take time and he has representatives that want him to be with us as well. When the time is right, something will get done. I'm very confident about that."

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