Cleveland Cavaliers fans consoled themselves over the last four seasons by clinging tightly to the idea that the team had tons of salary cap flexibility, that the team had lots of young players with upside, that the team had lots of future picks to trade or add more youth to the roster.
The salary cap situation
Well, the Cavaliers now pay, or will be paying soon, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Kevin Love huge salaries. The team does not have salary cap space, and won't have salary cap space for a long time. And that's the best case scenario. You want that to happen. Teams dream of having three players worth that kind of money on their roster. The Cavs have achieved it.
The Cavaliers are over the salary cap, but still under the dollar amount when the luxury tax kicks in. This is important moving forward. It's one thing to pay the tax. It's another to pay the repeater tax, which costs your owner more and more each dollar you go over designated luxury tax line. Perhaps the Cavaliers go over the tax next season, but for now, thanks largely to the fact that Irving's new deal doesn't kick in until 2015-16, the Cavaliers should steer clear of it.
Cleveland is likely to give Kevin Love a max extension next summer that will keep them above the salary cap again. This is a good thing. One, it secures Kevin Love for a long time. Two, it should give them access to two exceptions that allow you to spend even though you are over the cap. The mid-level exception, likely to be worth up to $7 million a year, and the bi-annual exception, which should be worth around $2.5 million. This will allow the Cavaliers to shore up their depth.
The Cavaliers may have to make tough choices on what to do with Tristan Thompson or Dion Waiters, as well as whether to use those exceptions if they are determined to stay under the luxury tax next season. I'd guess it will come in around $80 million, and the Cavs will have around $60 million in their Big 3. They will also have Brendan Haywood's voidable $10.5 million deal to dangle in trades.
What picks are left?
It's worth noting that the Cavaliers are still a young team before delving into the future picks. Irving is 22, Waiters is 22, Thompson is 23, Joe Harris is 22, Matthew Dellavedova is 23, and Kevin Love is 25.
The Kevin Love trade is likely to cost the Cavs the last pick from Miami they acquired so long ago when LeBron James left.
In Kevin Love deal, Cavs likely to send Wolves the 2015 protected first-rounder it owns via Miami, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 7, 2014
Still, they can bolster the roster with their own 2015 first, though it isn't likely to be great. The team will likely be really awesome, and even if they are merely very good, the Bulls have the right to swap picks.
In 2016, the Cavaliers will actually send their first round pick to Boston, due to the deal moving Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller, and Sergey Karasev. It's top 10 protected, but again, we are talking about a team likely to be employing LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving.
The Cavaliers still have access to the Memphis pick they acquired 18 months ago. The protections on that pick, according to RealGM.com:
2015 first round draft pick from Memphis.
Memphis' 1st round pick to Cleveland protected for selections 1-5 and 15-30 in 2015, 1-5 and 15-30 in 2016, 1-5 in 2017 or 1-5 in 2018 or unprotected in 2019 [Cleveland-Memphis, 1/22/2013]
The Cavaliers also do not have access to their second round pick in next June's draft, as they sent it to Utah with Carrick Felix. There is a small chance that they could receive the Clippers 2nd round pick, if the Clippers are amongst the NBA's top five teams in wins.
All information on future picks courtesy of RealGM.com.