The NBA Finals will play a role in free agency

The Cavs trail the Warriors 2-0 because they’ve struggled to make 3-pointers, because their best lineups have defensive weak spots that the Warriors exploit, and because vital role players haven’t delivered. But they’re also behind because they’ve been bested in the transaction game the past two summers, one year when Durant joined their rival and the next when they lost Kyrie Irving.

Because they’re limited in their options this summer, the Finals may not be the only major competition they struggle with. The fight to keep James and further support him is just as challenging as finding a way to defend the Warriors with Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson on the court together.

As he sat quietly at his locker in Oakland on Sunday night peeling off ice bags and bandages protecting floor burns, James had to be considering his lot in both battles. Losing on the floor is bitter enough — losing in the transaction game is frustrating too.