With Lebron James departing the Cavaliers for the Lakers, obviously a big change is coming for the organization.
The franchise experienced their greatest run during the last four seasons with four consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals and the franchise’s first NBA championship.
Now that Lebron is gone, the organization will likely head in the direction that it did eight years ago when he bolted for Miami. A four year stretch where the Cavaliers were the worst team in the league and had to rebuild through the draft.
However as it stands right now, that’s not the current plans for the organization.
According to multiple reports, Cleveland will not tear down the roster and wants to compete for the playoffs. In my opinion part of that reasoning is the $140 million renovations ongoing at Quicken Loans Arena and the organization will want to fill that arena up as much as possible to show off the additions.
In terms of roster movement, the Cavs can’t do much when it comes to making moves in free agency. Even after James’ cap hold comes off the books officially when he signs with the Lakers, the Cavaliers 2018-19 team salary stands at $106.3 million, 4.4 million over the salary cap.
The team can use the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception which is worth $8.6 million and the Bi-Annual Exception worth $3.38 million to sign free agents. They can also use the veteran minimum to sign free agents.
Jose Calderon and Jeff Green are the teams’ free agents and Cleveland.com reported Saturday that the Cavaliers would like to bring Jeff Green back.
The team also has three trade exceptions that they can use to absorb salary from another team in a trade:
- $5.8 million from the Kyrie Irving trade (expires August 22)
- $2.5 million from the Richard Jefferson trade (expires October 14)
- $1.3 million from the Kay Felder trade (expires October 14)
Rodney Hood is a restricted free agent and it’s been reported that the Cavaliers would like to bring him back but he’s getting interest from several teams.
Larry Nance has one year left on his contract but the team wants to work on a contract extension with the Akron native that they acquired from the Lakers in February.
Their best trade chip is All-Star forward Kevin Love but multiple reports are that Cleveland is not making him available. While it could be a smart approach to not leak it to the media that a player is available because his value will dip, teams will make calls to Cleveland and make an offer for Love. He has one year left before potentially becoming a free agent next summer, it would be good to listen to offers and to get something for him before letting him walk in free agency.
The Cavaliers are in better shape than they were eight years in terms of young pieces to start a potential rebuild with 2018 first round pick Collin Sexton, Nance, Jordan Clarkson, Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic with potentially Rodney Hood as well. All of those players are 27 or younger and on multi-year deals.
If they can shed the contracts of Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, George Hill and Kyle Korver, the rebuild can get started much quicker. The Atlanta Hawks own the Cavs 2019 first round pick but it’s top ten protected. With some potential elite prospects coming out in the 2019 NBA Draft, it might be wise for Cleveland to “tank” and pick up a blue chip prospect with that draft pick.
It’ll be a interesting next few months to see what direction this franchise goes in after “the Franchise” just left the building once again.