1. So, um, what exactly is going on with Tristan Thompson? What does he end up signing for?
Chris Manning (@cwmwrites): I'm not surprised this has been drawn out this long - Rich Paul did the same thing with Eric Bledsoe next summer - but it's got to get done at some point, right? I imagine this is ultimately over a few million dollars and Thompson ends up signing for $85 million before Oct. 1.
Carter Rodriguez (@Carter_Shade): Uh, I dunno? If I'm being honest, this is one Cavs issue I'm pretty ambivalent on. The team's retention of three maximum salary players in Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James has sort of depressed my interest in the final dollar totals for Tristan Thompson. This team is building for the now, and there's pretty much no point within the next four years that you could reasonably expect the Cavaliers to have cap room anyway. Yes, every dollar spent on Tristan will make it harder to retain Timofey Mozgov, but that will eventually fall on Dan Gilbert's checkbook, not on available cap room, so I can't get too worked up about it.
Trevor Magnotti (@IllegalScreens): My stance remains the same that it has been since March:
Mike Mayer (@MikeMayer64): Like Carter, I'm not overly worked up about this. I'm fine with overpaying him a little bit, because there is some unquantifiable value in not having it serve as a distraction all season. I'm also pretty sure that part of Dan Gilbert's conversation with LeBron when he flew down to Miami in the summer of 2014 involved a promise to spend on role players, and now it's time for him to put his money where his mouth his. My prediction is that he'll end up signing for five years, at slightly below the max. Maybe around $85 million.
Jack Zink (@jackson_zink): As Chris pointed out above, this isn't the first time that Rich Paul has drug out negotiations with one of his clients, so I can't say I'm totally surprised that all of this is happening. Paul knows that the Cavs cannot replace Thompson, and is using that leverage to the fullest. I do think he signs somewhere in the 5-year, $85 million range sometime in the next few weeks.
Ryan Mourton (@Ryan_Mourton): I apologize but I fired all of my remaining "Tristan Thompson contract situation" cares into the sun. I'll say the qualifying offer because it's the 28th, and the QO expires on the 1st of next month.
2. What offseason acquisition will have the biggest impact this season: Mo Williams, Sasha Kaun or Richard Jefferson?
CM: I'll say Mo Williams. If he can dial back his usage rate and play within the a role that presents himself, he's going to be a total upgrade over Matthew Dellavedova in almost every area. Coupled with Kyrie Irving's injury and the fact that Richard Jefferson will be backing up LeBron, Williams is the answer here, although both are going to have very important roles to play this season.
CSR: Full disclosure: the first time I read this, I thought it said "Sasha Pavlovic." I think he'd do great here.
Jokes aside, I think it's going to be Mo Williams, for better or worse. The Cavaliers needed more playmaking at the backup point guard spot, and an upgrade on Noted Folk Hero Matthew Dellavedova. Mo Williams is not a low-usage player, and will have to make serious adjustments to his game to fit in. Whether he has much left in the tank is going to have a significant amount more impact on the Cavaliers season whether it's a good impact or a bad one. He's a talent upgrade, and should be able to inject some serious life into second units.
TM: I definitely think Richard Jefferson has the chance to make the biggest impact. As I've stated elsewhere on the site, Richard Jefferson does all the things that were asked of James Jones last year, except he's better at all of that except shooting, and he's still a very good shooter at this point in his career. He needs to be able to step into those small-ball roles where he plays on the wing on offense and defends fours on defense, allowing LeBron freedom to drop inside or go on the ball while not having to guard fours in small-ball lineups. I think he can do this, and these lineups won't hemorrhage points with Jefferson like they did last year with Jones. Kaun is an unknown, and Mo has been trash the last two years, so Jefferson's the clear winner to me.
MM: I agree that it's Mo Williams. Kyrie is going to get hurt at some point, and it will be nice to have a guy who can still be effective on offense step in for him
JZ: I've been very high on the Mo Williams signing, personally calling it one of the better moves made by any team in this year's offseason. Nothing against Matthew Dellavedova, but he's not suited to play 15-20 minutes per night, and with Kyrie Irving sidelined for at least the first game, I would feel less confident if Delly were starting place of Williams. I wrote about how Williams is a significant upgrade over Dellavedova and I will stand by that heading into the season.
RM: Mo Williams is the definite choice here. The Cavs were plagued all last season by a complete inability to run offense if one of Kyrie or LeBron weren't handling the ball. Like, they couldn't even get into plays at times. Williams should mesh perfectly as a creator to not skip a bit when one of Kyrie or LBJ sits, and push guards that shouldn't be playing much if at all out of the rotation.
3. Who should start at shooting guard: J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert?
CM: I'm going to go with J.R. I think with Williams on the roster, you want to split up J.R. and Williams as much as possible because those two playing together doesn't seem to be the best idea. Starting J.R. makes balancing those two out easier, so for that reason, I go with Smith while also noting that Shumpert would be the guy I'd go with in the fourth quarter.
CSR: While I'm ambivalent about the significantly more important issue of what to do with Tristan Thompson, this is an issue I feel pretty strongly about. I really would prefer J.R. Smith to remain in the starting lineup. The version of J.R. that evolved over the course of his tenure with the Cavaliers was as a insane three point bomber that somehow was only the fourth option. He can break an already bent defense as a starter. The concept of bringing J.R. off the bench to provide more offense is great in theory, but he's honestly a pretty terrible creator on offense at this point. Every time he steps inside the three-point line, I break into cold sweats. As a result, I want him spending more time in lineups that he's not encouraged to do so.
TM: I'll go with the guy who's more consistent, is younger, and it's a sneaky reward for signing back with the team without holding out with zero other offers on the table. J.R. really only has an advantage in injury, which A. doesn't matter in determining the starter, and B. might only because J.R. has taken the Keith Richards track of doing so many awful things to his body that it has turned him into a bizarro spartan warrior. Really, I don't think this matters a ton, because I think you get the same production and rotation slotting with both in either spot, but I'll take Shump because SOMEONE didn't hold out until late August for no discernible gain.
MM: On paper, it makes all kinds of sense to have Shumpert start, and have J.R. help Mo Williams bring offense off the bench. But J.R. worked so well in the starting lineup last season, I don't think I'd mess with it. With Kyrie, Love, and J.R. all out there, the floor will be spaced. So spaced.
JZ: On 2k, I tend to start Shumpert over Smith simply because I trust J.R. to create more with the big three on the bench more than I do Shumpert. But since nobody cares about my 2k strategy, I would give the slight edge to Smith for one reason: his ability to knock down open shots. It's not that Shumpert can't shoot, it's just that he's not as deadly as a knockdown shooter as Smith is and I think the starting lineup needs that more than defense.
RM:I don't care about the regular season, but if you can look at the Cavs numbers for the Kyrie, J.R., LeBron, Love, Mozgov lineup last season and come up with a compelling reason not to do that, I'd be impressed.
4. Do you want to see Kevin Love and/or Kyrie Irving in preseason? Why or why not?
CM: No, not at all. I'd rather they just rest up and get ready for the regular season. Aside from Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson, this is the same roster as last year and there are no new pieces to incorporate during the preseason. If they're healthy, play them but since they aren't, there's no harm or foul here.
CSR: I mean, if they're healthy, sure. But if they're not 100%, it'd be nonsense to play them. I do disagree with Trevor to an extent, as I'm very interested in David Blatt using camp and preseason to install some more wrinkles into the offense that hypothetically could be put into practice in a game-setting. I'm not so interested that I want injured players on the court, though.
TM: Preseason serves no academic purpose and should be banned. Neither of these players should see a minute in the preseason, especially Kyrie, if he's not going to be ready for the beginning of the regular season as is.
MM: I STRONGLY disagree with Trevor that the preseason should be banned (mostly because I currently live in Columbus and I like it when the Cavs play here). But there's no reason to play either of them if they're not ready. This isn't a brand new team anymore, they should already be fairly comfortable playing with each other.
JZ: Kyrie? NOPE. That shouldn't even be considered at all.
As for Kevin Love, I'd like to see him maybe get in the last two games, just to get some of the rust off from not playing competitively in a couple of months. But if he doesn't play? I wouldn't be mad at all, as long as he's ready to go against Chicago on opening night.
RM: No. This team has finals aspirations, health matters, they can tune up through the first months of the season. Last year should have been the definitive "Shut up until February" statement we all needed.
5. What's one thing you're hoping to learn from the preseason?
CM: Is 30-year-old J.R. Smith toned down in any way?
Oh. Just kidding.
TM: What exactly is a Sasha Kaun, anyway?
CSR: I alluded to it earlier, but I want to see how the team interacts with David Blatt. He never got a fair shake last season with the roster turnover and early struggles. What does the full arsenal look like in his system, and will his team give him a chance to show them?
MM: Are they going to continue using Kevin Love the same way, or will David Blatt try and feature him on offense more? If Love plays in the preseason, we could get our first hint. But, as I said above, it's not really a big deal if he doesn't play in the preseason at all.
JZ: Is it better to fit in or fit out?
In a serious note, I really just want to get a timetable for Kyrie. We've heard everything from "he'll be out until at least January" to "he's doubtful for opening night" with no clear update of where he's at in the recovery process. Hopefully we'll get something official sometime before Oct. 27.
RM: I guess what Sasha Kaun plays like. Other than that, there isn't really anything to glean from what they'll be doing.