Let's get this out of the way first: It would cost a lot of money for the Cavs to keep Matthew Dellavedova. My current salary cap projection for the Cavaliers puts them a little over $123 million in total salary, slightly more than $10 million over the tax line. That would result in them paying around $17 million in luxury tax after the 2016-17 season. Adding another $9 million in team salary (assuming Delly's four-year, $39 million offer sheet with the Bucks is a standard contract with 4.5 percent annual raises) would result in an additional $25 million in luxury tax payment just next year. The Cavaliers will likely be paying the repeater tax in years two to four of his deal, so it would get very expensive.
However, in the past Dan Gilbert has shown a willingness to pay the luxury tax if it meant making the team better. Granted, now that Cleveland has won their first title in 52 years the cost to benefit analysis might be a little different. That being said, Dellavedova has been and likely would continue to be an asset to this team. Why?
While fans might argue the Dellavedova is 'just a guy' and that he's very replaceable, that simply isn't the case. Let's take a look at the most important skills he brings to the table:
- Very good three point shooting on reasonable volume (41 percent on 4.5 attempts per 36 minutes the last two years)
- Contributes to good ball movement (5.8 assists per 36 minutes for his career, peaking at 6.3 last season)
- Excellent defensive effort with generally positive results
- While defense is difficult to quantify accurately, the other two categories can be combined in a search quite easily on basketball-reference.com. I'll search for seasons that fit the following criteria:
- 25 years of age or younger.
- At least 1,000 minutes played.
- At least 4 three point attempts per 36 minutes.
- At least 40 percent three point shooting.
- At least five assists per 36 minutes.
- Limited to the 2000-01 season until now to keep the comparisons modern and relevant.
How many seasons would you expect to show up on that list? Only seven appeared: four seasons by Stephen Curry, one by Kyrie Irving and two by Dellavedova. If the threshold for three point accuracy is lowered to 39 percent, several more names show up but the list is still populated by many very good players. Factor in that Dellavedova is a solid defender on top of that skill set, and it becomes clear that he is, in fact, a unique young player.
Now, it is true that most players on these lists have more diverse offensive games than Delly. But on a team with Irving and LeBron James, the Cavs don't need him to do much else besides hit threes, find the open man, and defend. Delly can do all of these things, while playing either point guard or shooting guard, and this contract will consist of his age 26 through 29 seasons. Considering what other players have been payed this offseason, his offer sheet seems like a real bargain relative to the Cavaliers' team needs.
Fiscally, matching the offer sheet for Delly might not make sense given the luxury tax situation the Cavs are in. But there's little doubt that he would be a very useful player on this team for the duration of that contract.