The offseason has officially kicked into high gear after Thursday night’s NBA Draft. The Cavaliers despite being two wins shy of an NBA championship have many questions leading into this offseason. Will Kevin Love remain in Cleveland? Will the Cavs match any offer for Tristan Thompson who is potentially looking at a big contract? How will the Cavaliers look to improve the roster to appease Lebron James?
On Thursday night, the Cavaliers had the 24th overall selection in the first round. They took Duke point guard Tyus Jones which made some Cavalier fans happy because we had got a steal and an upgrade to backup point guard spot. However, the Cavaliers quickly traded Jones to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the 31st and the 36th overall selections as well as a future second round pick. The reason the Cavaliers did this was more or less because of money. It would’ve ultimately cost the Cavaliers over five million dollars in luxury tax on that first round pick alone and my belief is that the Cavs didn’t want to spend that much on a guy who likely wasn’t going to make much of an impact next season. With the 31st pick the Cavaliers selected Cedi Osman, a 6’8 guard/forward from Macedonia who’s currently playing in Turkey. Osman has above average athleticism and excellent quickness but isn’t a great shooter. I wouldn’t expect Osman to join the Cavaliers until 2017 at the earliest but they will hold his rights unless they use him in a trade. At pick 36 and 53 the Cavaliers drafted Rakeem Christmas, a 6’9 forward out of Syracuse and Sir’Dominic Pointer, a 6’6 forward out of St. John’s. Christmas is a great rebounder who can help inside with Thompson, Love and Varejao. Pointer was the co-defensive player of the year in the Big East conference averaging 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 2.5 blocks per game so he help out on the perimeter with Shumpert and James. I don’t expect either player to make the team but there’s always a chance but they should help contribute down in Canton for the Cavs developmental league franchise.
This coming Wednesday is the start of free agency. The Cavaliers are over the salary cap so don’t expect them to go out and sign one of the big free agents such as Jimmy Butler, Marc Gasol or LaMarcus Aldridge. They’ll look to resign their own free agents as Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova are set to hit the open market. I expect most of these players to return to the Wine and Gold. The two most likely to not return in my opinion would be Smith and Dellavedova as I believe the Cavs could upgrade their spots on the team.
I believe Love will take the five year maximum contract the Cavaliers can offer which is worth 110 million dollars. Tristan Thompson will be sought after in free agency after a great postseason in which he averaged 10 points, 11 rebounds and a block per game. The Cavaliers have said they will match any offer sheet Thompson will sign and rumors are he’ll get close to 15 million per year on average. Shumpert was a great addition when the Cavaliers acquired him from the New York Knicks in January. His underrated defense helped the Cavs reach the NBA Finals as he shut down the likes of Jimmy Butler and Kyle Korver and even kept Klay Thompson limited in the Finals despite a nagging shoulder injury for Shumpert. Shumpert has been rumored to be looking at 8 to 10 million per season on average for a new contract and I’m sure the Cavaliers will match any offer due to in part the salary cap will increase significantly next summer.
One trade asset the Cavaliers have is the contract of center Brendan Haywood. Starting July 1, Haywood’s contract will be worth 10.5 million dollars but it’s a non-guaranteed contract through August 1 so any teams looking to clear some cap space could look to acquire Haywood to help free up money to go sign free agents. Rumored names the Cavaliers could look to trade Haywood for include Celtics guard Avery Bradley and Pelicans guard/forward Tyrek Evans. Expect the Cavaliers to use this in a trade.
Two free agents I would definitely expect the Cavaliers to pursue would be former Cavaliers guard Mo Williams and Pelicans guard and Cleveland State alum Norris Cole. According to the Plain Dealer, Williams and the Cavaliers have expressed interest in reuniting. Williams played with the Cavaliers from 2008-2011 and was a fan favorite during his time here. Cole was almost traded here twice at the deadline but Heat president Pat Riley put a stop to it because he didn’t want to help Cleveland. Nothing Riley can do to stop it now. The Cavaliers have 3.5 million to spend via the mini mid-level exception so expect those two to be possible targets with that.
Now I know everyone is if Heat guard Dwayne Wade would really come to the Cavaliers. I would consider it a long shot due to our limited funds. I know there’s been signs of a Lebron/Wade reunion going back to their postgame discussion on Christmas Day last year. But I can’t see a scenario of where Wade who made 17 million dollars last season take a significant pay cut and make only 3.5 million. But, he and Lebron are really good friends and Wade could join Lebron in Cleveland the way Lebron joined Wade in Miami to win championships.
Should be an interesting summer for the Cavaliers. Can’t wait to see the moves general manager David Griffin to get the Cavaliers over the top to win an NBA championship