So, with the 2014 draft in the belt...and long before Free Agency is close to being done, let's look at what the 2015 Free Agency brings. Wait...why are we doing this long before the current season ever starts? Because, why not overachieve...overachieving is what Coach Blatt specializes in.
Assuming no further major trades are done...and assuming a couple of minor signings for this year (CJ Miles and Spencer Hawes), we could be looking at the following for a roster:
Andrew Wiggins, CJ Miles, Sergey Karasev
Think about this...that's 15 players right there...and we have basically locked up all of our legit capspace on a roster that isn't really ready to contend on a championship level. However, what's really nice about this roster is there are some very cap/team friendly contracts listed. Jarrett Jack is an expiring, Brendan Haywgood has a 10 million dollar fully non-guaranteed team option and Anthony Bennett has a team option as well. If he works out and develops, he's useful as a player, if he doesn't develop...well...that's OK too. Waiters also has a nice team option going...so if he never really figures things out (or just can't figure out how to co-exist with Kyrie) so be it.
Let's assume that in the East, these Cavs make the playoffs? Why would I make this assumption? Because we nearly made it last year with Mike Brown coaching our offense...the Andrew Bynum experiment and many other things. It'll be very hard for us to not improve off of last year. While Andrew Bynum was a member of this team, we won 11 games and lost 23. After he left, we won 22 more games and lost 26 more. (That translates to something closer to a 38 win season last year with virtually no offensive growth whatsoever from anyone on the roster because...well...it's Mike Brown.) Technically, that would tie us for Atlanta...but if we had won 5 more games...it's conceivable that one of those wins came against the Hawks (like say our Double Overtime loss that Andrew Bynum was a -10 in.) Maybe in that game (without Bynum) Varejao (+11) and Zeller (+6) get those additional 18 minutes that Bynum doesn't play...whatever.
Next year, it just seems a little more likely that we're a playoff team...even if we're only a low seed. We'll have a full season of Blatt making great use of Hawes shooting and passing, Kyrie, Dion and Wiggins beasting it off ball...and maybe some actual offensive development from TT. Who knows, even this noted Bennett Hater thinks that if any coach can get something positive out of AB...it's Coach Blatt. So we're a playoff team...we have a good run, but ultimately fail to get to the ECF, let alone the NBA finals. But next year...next year could be special.
Some true blue free agents could happen next year...and at least one of those guys might be enough to push us over the edge. Now I'm not on the Rajon Rondo train...and I'm going to ignore guys like Steve Nash in this exercise. I'm also going to ignore anyone with a team option that seems likely to be retained by their team (so basically, we're not likely getting MKG despite my huge mancrush on him.) I also don't think that PG is going to be a huge priority for this team moving forward. SG could get some attention...so I'll go through a few...and try to highlight who I best think will fit this team moving forward. As things stand, I really see Kyrie, Wiggins, Dion as a key part to our core. More so than TT (whom I love), AB (whom I detest), and even guys that are useful like Hawes, CJ and Zeller.
Danny Green is unlikely to leave the Spurs. I think we all know this. Don't care that he's a free agent, I don't know that he'll be enough of an upgrade over Waiters to merit consideration for a sign and trade type of scenario. Wesley Matthews is a pretty good shooter and doesn't really bring much else to the table. But he'll probably merit a slight overpay. He actually seems to do well the more minutes you give him...though last year was the first healthy one of the last three. This year will determine just what he's worth moving forward. Jason Richardson could be had as a veteran presence...though I don't know for what price. He might not be worth whatever he's asking for.
Rudy Gay might be the biggest name of this group of SFs...and I don't really like him one bit. Wilson Chandler has a non-guaranteed year left at 7M from Denver...but I don't know enough about their team to say whether they'd let him go. Especially since they could use him the same way we are likely to use Brendan Haywood if they really wanted to. I'm not huge fans of Landry Fields or Travis Outlaw...but I also know how little I've paid attention to them. Fields seems like he's always hurt as he's always played in less games than the season before. At the rate he's going, he'll be out of basketball completely in 2015. Outlaw hasn't had a healthy seasons since he played for the Nets. Why these names stick out so much to me I don't know...but the boxscores don't paint a pretty picture for them. Dorell Wright is a guy who I remember hearing as a potential 3 and D guy. He doesn't move the chains much for me.
PF seems to be the position of strength in this particular free agent class. Kevin Love, Lamarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, STAT, Kevin Garnett, Carlos Boozer...those are some of the Who's Who of PF's in the league over the last 5 years. Granted, most of those names are either highly unattainable (Duncan and Love come to mind), or highly undesirable (STAT, Garnett and Boozer come to mind.) What about Aldridge though. What if he isn't happy with the way things are going in Portland after this next upcoming season. Could we do a package of future picks, TT or AB (their choice), Haywood, Jack for Aldridge to come play here? It's possible. If not, then could we get a Paul Millsap to leave Atlanta and come play for us instead?
Center has some big names in it too, with Marc Gasol as one of my favorite players in the league. However, with Z-Bo extending on a much cheaper contract, it seems like Memphis is going to make a play to keep him too...and why wouldn't he want to? He might even take a lesser contract to help build their own version of a super team in Memphis. Omer Asik, Deandre Jordan and Robin Lopez are also free agents this year. They don't have near as much spark in their names as the PF's bring to the table, but what they can add to us has it's own set of value.
Ultimately, if we do make a decent playoff run...and TT/AB don't turn into star PFs...I see us making a huge push for a guy like Aldridge. I don't know that Portland has enough pieces to truly contend for a championship in a Western Conference that still has San Antonio drinking from the fountain of youth, OKC clamoring to topple the Spurs...and a Houston team that might be making it's own push for another stud to play between Harden and Howard. They are like the western conference's version of the Mid 2000's Atlanta Hawks. Good enough to get into the playoffs every year...and good enough to push a little with the top teams...but unlikely to be more than that without a lot of luck. If they decide to blow it up...we could very well be the team that benefits the most from it.
Maybe we end up with a lineup that consists of Kyrie - Dion - Wiggins - Aldridge - Lopez as our starting core...who knows? Either way, it's an exciting time to be a Cav's fan.