Not much changed for Channing Frye following his first NBA championship.
He returned to his life of relative anonymity in the Pacific Northwest, he enjoyed his same walks to Lewis & Clark College and he didn’t even bother to watch the replay of the Cavaliers’ Game 7 championship victory.
“I watched it the actual time,” Frye joked. “I didn’t play.”
Indeed, Frye only played a total of 33 minutes throughout the seven-game series against the Golden State Warriors. He didn’t play at all in the last three games and missed the only three shots he took in the series. His only points came at the free-throw line in the Game 1 loss at Oracle Arena.
None of that, however, defines the impact Frye had on the Cavs last season. He scored 27 points, including seven 3-pointers, in a playoff win against the Atlanta Hawks. He became a weapon offensively as a stretch-5 who could make opposing centers uncomfortable by pulling them out to the 3-point line.
And, off the floor, Frye has been credited with breaking down any cliques in the Cavs locker room upon arriving from the Orlando Magic last season in a deal at the trade deadline. He has always been close to Richard Jefferson, but Frye began randomly texting players last season in group chats. It’s just part of his nature and it extended into the offseason, when Frye said he remained in contact with everyone on the team.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team where I legitimately talk to these guys during the summer once every three days. I’m talking about everybody,” Frye said. “We all enjoy each other’s company, we all hang out with each other as much as possible.”
That seemed evident during the Indians’ divisional series against the Red Sox, when a number of Cavs players – including Frye – were falling over themselves to get on the scoreboard at Progressive Field. It’s also evident on the Snapchat accounts of guys like Jefferson and Frye, who only recently has gotten more active on the social media site after Jefferson dominated it last season.
Jefferson and Frye have been close friends for years, but only got the chance to play together last season. Not even Frye knows how serious Jefferson was about retiring last summer, when he declared in the locker room after the championship victory that his career was over.
“He wasn’t that committed to his retirement,” Frye said. “I just think he wanted to get a big applause and see how much people loved him.”
Frye finally watched the replay of Game 7 for the first time shortly after he returned to Cleveland for the start of training camp. He didn’t feel the need to watch it at home in Portland, where he is rarely recognized as an NBA player. When he finally did get around to watching it, all of the emotions from that night came pouring back.
“Every play, I knew exactly how I felt,” he said. “For me, I only wanted to watch it once. I have it recorded on DVD, but that’s over. We’re the champs, but in about (one week), we get that ring and then that’s the last hurrah, then everyone else is coming at our neck.”
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue has hinted a couple of times at ways he might experiment with the Cavs’ reserve unit, and specifically Frye. He paired Frye alongside Chris Andersen with the second unit in Tuesday’s preseason finale, but dismissed the idea of starting Frye at center despite reiterating he wants to try to lessen the load on Tristan Thompson at center.
“We can definitely experiment with him because with his length he can guard 5s in the post, so he can play 4 or 5,” Lue said. “But right now I’m envisioning something else to start the season, something we’ve been thinking about doing a little different. We’ll see how it works.”