With the Cleveland Cavaliers now officially eliminated from the NBA’s restart next month, the team’s offseason can officially begin and as we mentioned in the last article, the 2020-21 roster will practically look the same barring any unforseen shake-ups to the roster but we will still take a dive into what could happen once the offseason across the NBA begins in October.
The free agency period will not be as big of a spectacle as it was last summer because there’s so much uncertainty surrounding the salary cap due to revenue loss because of the league postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that no fans will be allowed in for the league’s restart.
Prior to the pandemic, the projected salary was $115 million but that number is expected to lower it’s just now known how low the cap will drop. Only two times in league history has the salary cap decreased, 2002-03 and 2009-10 according to Yahoo! Sports.
Cleveland will have no salary cap space regardless if the cap rises, lowers, or stays the same because currently they have $118.2 million in committed salaries heading into the 2020-21 season. They are under the luxury tax threshold so they will be able to add pieces with the mid-level exception ($9.75 million) and the bi-annual exception ($3.82 million) as well as the trade exception acquired from Utah in the Jordan Clarkson trade ($3.83 million) which expires on Christmas Eve.
Andre Drummond will likely be picking up his $28.7 million option and it would be surprising if any player with a contract option were to decline that option because of the uncertainty surrounding the financial aspect of the league.
The Cavaliers also have to decide whether or not they’ll bring back Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, and Ante Zizic who will be unrestricted free agents.
Thompson will be sought after because of his abilities on the defensive end of the floor and would be attractive to contenders but Thompson is also a Rich Paul client and history shows that they squeeze teams for the maximum contract. Cleveland owns his Bird Rights so they would likely get first crack at attempting to re-sign Thompson.
Dellavedova seems comfortable in Cleveland as they’ve remained loyal to him throughout the majority of his career and now with a family established, the veteran point guard could decide to finish his career in the city that took a chance on him as an undrafted free agent in 2013.
Zizic will likely not be returning to Cleveland and there’s been rumors in recent weeks that the big man could head back to the EuroLeague where he played during the 2016-17 season.
Cleveland has the second worst record in the NBA behind only the Golden State Warriors so the odds could be in their favor heading into the NBA Draft Lottery which will tentatively take place on August 25 and the 2020 NBA Draft currently slated for October 15.
Last year, the Cavaliers finished with the second worst record and with the new lottery format established, the odds didn’t work in their favor as they didn’t draw one of the top three selections and wound up with the fifth pick in the draft where they selected Darius Garland.
Golden State, Cleveland, and Minnesota each have a 14% chance of landing the first overall pick and a 52% chance of landing a top three selection. Cleveland can drop no lower than sixth and have a 27.8% chance of landing the fifth pick because the NBA changed the lottery format to stop the tanking methods that teams had been using over the years.
As it pertains to the actual draft, plenty of draft experts have said this draft class doesn’t have a franchise changing prospect unlike last year when everyone was hoping to land the first overall pick to land Zion Williamson.
There are some talented prospects at the top of draft including former Memphis center James Wiseman, Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, point guard LaMelo Ball, and Deni Avdija, the 19-year-old forward from Israel.
LaMelo Ball is rumored to be the top prospect on the Cavaliers draft board right now based on reports from Cleveland.com and interviews on 92.3 The Fan. Now people will say that the Cavaliers don’t need Ball because they already have Collin Sexton and Darius Garland on the roster and they’re both point guards. Cleveland needs to take whoever they feel like is the best player on the board and that can help the team the best moving forward.
Sexton clearly isn’t a point guard and at this point in his career is either your starting shooting guard or the sixth man off the bench. Garland didn’t have the best rookie season but that’s not to say he still can’t be a productive player. Even if they get into a position where they can take Ball, you have to see if those three players can mesh together on the court before you start thinking and planning long term. There’s four months until the draft and until the lottery happens, all the talk about what the Cavaliers should or shouldn’t do in the draft is just water-cooler talk.
If you’re one of those who think the Cavaliers should draft based on need, drafting Edwards or Avdija would make more sense because they need to add more length at the wing positions outside of Kevin Porter Jr. and Cedi Osman. Wiseman doesn’t make sense unless the Cavaliers and Andre Drummond have no intentions of staying together long-term but the Cavaliers do need to find a long-term rim protector of some sorts this offseason because they’re lacking that currently on the roster outside of Drummond.