According to Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, the Cleveland Cavaliers have not yet extended an offer sheet to restricted free agent Gordon Hayward. According to Amick, Hayward's visit to Cleveland yesterday was more of a getting to know you meeting for both sides and that Hayward had an "eagerness to continue testing the rest of the one-man market".
Hayward's visit to Cleveland was reported yesterday and it was reported soon after that the Cavs were to set a offer Hayward a max offer sheet. Such an offer sheet would be for four years and worth about $63 million dollars. Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, however, reported later that such talks was greatly exaggerated. This came on the heels of news that swingman C.J. Miles had signed a four year, $18 million dollar deal with the Indiana Pacers.
What This Means
Signing Hayward would make a lot of sense. With Kyrie Irving's extension kicking in next year (and possibly taking up 30% of the cap) and extensions for players such as Dion Waiters looming, it is plausible that the Cavs won't have this type of cap space again for the foreseeable future. This isn't to say that the Cavs should spend the money just to spend it. But considering that Hayward is a good fit, and likely to get better since he's only 24 and would be in a role more suited to his ability with the Cavs, it would be a solid investment. And perhaps most importantly, he would be a replacement and an admittedly more expensive upgrade over Miles, at least on the court.
But here's the catch: The Cavs won't be the only team pursuing Hayward. Teams like the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns could potentially offer Hayward as well. A team like the Celtics could have a leg up due to Hayward's relationship with Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who was his coach at Butler. And of course, the Utah Jazz could match any offer and bring back Hayward. That, of course, would make this topic moot in a hurry.
Miles signing with the Pacers complicates this even further, as do the Detroit Pistons' signings of Cartier Marin and Jodie Meeks. With the Cavs taking Andrew Wiggins at No. 1, Cleveland needs three-and-d types to fill out the roster and compliment the pieces already in place. The Cavs could also roll into next year with who they have signed now, but that doesn't seem likely. With Irving's extension signed and with the organization signaling that they fully intend to make the playoffs next year, banking on Sergey Karasev, Carrick Felix and/orJoe Harris to be adequate role players seems risky. All three need to be developed before being role players, especially on a team as young as Cleveland.
This leaves the Cavs with a few options. Wings like Thabo Sefolosha and Xavier Henry would be good fits for the short term. Sefolosha, in particular, is interesting considering he would enable the Cavs to slowly develop Andrew Wiggins on the defensive end. The Cavs could also look at other players like Marvin Williams and Danny Granger.
The problem with those players, however, is that none is as good a shooter as Miles. The Cavs struggled with spacing last season before the Spencer Hawes trade and with his return no certain by any means, the Cavs could potentially have to replace their two best shot-up shooters in one offseason. This makes forwards like Channing Frye and Patrick Patterson potential targets as well.
All this considered, the Cavs have two paths to take. Because all the aforementioned wings are unrestricted free agents, the Cavs could sign anyone of them now and be largely done with free agency. If they wait on Hayward to visit with other teams, then signing him to an offer sheet and then bank on the Jazz not matching (or acquiring Hayward in a sign and trade), they could miss out entirely on free agency, thus having to roll into next season relying heavily on inexperienced wings to fill-out the rotation.
While it's still very early in free agency, the wings out there to replace Miles look a bit thin. It will be interesting to see where the Cavs go from here.