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Cavaliers' Post-Deadline Salary Commitments and Options

Now that the trade deadline has come and passed, we can really start to look at the possibilities for the Cavaliers' offseason.

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The Cavaliers are on a verifiable roll right now, having won 10 of 16 games since the Jon Leuer trade (12 of their past 19 games overall). So with that in mind, it might not be a bad idea to look forward and see what this team might have returning next season, when the playoffs will certainly be the goal.

I've broken the Cavaliers' players down into three categories: 1) Rookie Contracts, 2) Others Returning and 3) Not under contract and most likely not returning. Let's begin.

1) Under Rookie Contracts for next season and staying

This is the easiest group to construct. Topping this list is obviously Kyrie Irving, coming in at $5.915M. Considering his play likely warrants a max contract, his rookie deal is a great luxury to have for the Cavaliers. Also, Tristan Thompson's $4.285M cap number is an under-market deal for the next two seasons. Dion Waiters has a $3.894M cap hit, and Tyler Zeller possesses a very cheap $1.633M contract. These four make up the core for the Cavaliers going forward, and considering they're all under rookie contracts for the next two seasons, it should be somewhat easy to bring in free agent help to surround them.

Total Cap Hit: $15.817M next season, $18.645M in 2014-2015

2) Others Most Likely Returning

Alonzo Gee is the most certain of this group to be on the team next year, at $3.25M. C.J. Miles has a team option at $2.225M, which I assume will be exercised given his versatility at the wing position and production this season. I'm going to throw Wayne Ellington in this group too. After the way he has played since being acquired, I imagine he will be tendered a qualifying offer at $3.103M. It wouldn't surprise me if he accepted that offer, but most likely he'll go to restricted free agency and be retained by the Cavs on a two or three year deal at around $3M per.

Finally, there's Anderson Varejao. He'll be under contract at $9.1M next season. It's extremely doubtful that he has any trade value due to his various injuries, so it's a very safe bet that he'll be on the team when next season begins. Varejao should be ready for the start of the regular season, and is still an extremely productive player while he's on the floor.

Total Cap Hit: $17.7M next season (including Ellington at $3M)

3) Not Under Contract, Most Likely Not Returning

This is another somewhat easy group to categorize. Omri Casspi has a $3.313M dollar qualifying offer that most assuredly will not be extended his way, making him a free agent. Daniel Gibson's contract also runs out, and given that he's now fourth on the depth chart at shooting guard behind Waiters, Ellington, and Miles, it's probably time that he moved on.

4) Other Cap Commitments

It's worth mentioning that (even though this wasn't a "cap" commitment) Baron Davis's amnestied contract runs out this season, meaning Dan Gilbert no longer has to pay him and that his deal doesn't count towards the cap floor. The Cavaliers will also have to pay their draft picks next season. Right now they have two first round picks. Assuming the Cavaliers pick 7th and 28th (where they're listed now), they would owe ~$4M. Given that the Cavaliers will have two picks in the 30-40 range (they also own Orlando's second rounder this year), another trade up is possible, as is acquiring the Lakers pick remains on their radar.

Overall Salary Obligations for 2013-2014: ~$37.5M with 10 players under contract (assuming two players are drafted).

The salary cap floor, assuming the cap stays constant at $58.044M, will be $52.23M (or 90% of the cap). Even though Conrad and Ben Cox like to point out that there is no explicit "penalty" for not hitting the salary cap floor in the CBA, I imagine that David Stern, in his final half-season of power, would probably have something to say about a team not hitting that level. Meaning the Cavaliers must spend at least $15M, which shouldn't be difficult to spread out over five spots. Also, it's important to note that the Cavaliers do have max contract space.

So where do the Cavaliers go from here? Marreese Speights has a player option for about $4.5M. Unlike Conrad in the first FTS podcast or David in this article, I don't think that Speights will exercise that player option. With at least 10 teams having to spend a considerable amount of money to reach the cap floor and a somewhat weak free agency class, I don't see any way that Speights doesn't command at least $4.5M per season for multiple years if he continues to play the way that he has. The Cavaliers could probably stand to pay that price, but with the apparent goal being to conserve cap space for the 2014 off-season, I don't think they would.

Shaun Livingston talked in the Jonathan Abrams piece on Grantland about wanting security more than anything at this point. If the Cavaliers were to offer him a two-year deal at $2M per season, that wouldn't harm their ability to give out a max contract in 2014 and it would give them a solid backup point guard for two seasons. I would be very much in favor of this. Additionally, Luke Walton's contract ends, and I'm actually pretty sure that David is right: there is a good chance that Luke Walton is a Cleveland Cavalier next season. It just makes a lot of sense to sign him to a one-year, $2-3M deal if the goal is to save cap space for 2014. It eats into the amount they have to spend to reach the floor, and keeps a veteran on a team that is still extremely young.

Josh Selby has a team option for $884,000. Considering he's shooting 35% in the D-League right now, there's a chance that this deal isn't picked up. However, given that he's still young and his contract is cheap (and that the Cavaliers will probably have roster space), it probably makes sense to pick up that option and hope a switch gets flipped in his development. Kevin Jones' contract is non-guaranteed for next season, too. He hasn't shown me a single thing to prove that he's actually an NBA player yet, so I don't think they'll exercise the $788,000 that HoopsWorld has on the books for him.

So basically what all of this means is that if the Cavaliers don't sign Speights, they will still need to find a way to spend at least $9M to reach the cap floor. Which means they either have to take on a team's bad contract in a trade (extremely possible with the repeater luxury tax taking effect next season) or spend a lot of money on a middling player in free agency -- most likely by overpaying on a one-year deal. I personally hope it's the former and not the latter. But that's for Chris Grant to decide.