The Cleveland Cavaliers are headed into a pivotal offseason where either a lot could change or they could head into next season with the same basic team. Here’s everything you need to know to get ready for it.
Do the Cavs have a GM yet?
The Cavs do not have any cap space and can’t create any without dumping significant salary. They already have $125 million in guaranteed salary on the books for next season. In all likelihood, another large tax bill is coming and whoever replaces David Griffin and other departed executives will have to get creative in order to add useful talent. And the Cavs do not have many assets left besides Cedi Osman and their 2021 first round pick.
Salary cap exceptions
- Trade exception: $4,837,500
- Trade exception: $2,194,500
- Trade exception: $1,333,420
- Trade exception: $980,431
- Taxpayer MLE - worth $5,192,000
- Edy Tavares: $1,471,382, but not until July 13
- Kay Felder: $1,312,611 ($456,529 guaranteed)
- Kyle Korver (UFA) — $9,954,930 (Bird)
- James Jones (UFA) — $1,471,382 (Bird)
- Deron Williams (UFA) — $1,471,382 (Non-bird)
- Derrick Williams (UFA) — $1,471,382 (Non-bird)
- Dhantay Jones (UFA) — $1,471,382 (Non-bird)
LeBron isn’t going anywhere yet, if at all. But this summer, and how successful the Cavs are in retooling, could have some impact on his willingness to re-up next summer.
After LeBron, Kyrie is the least movable player on the team. He’s not going anywhere.
As everyone already knows, Kevin Love is the player the Cavs will have to move if they want to retool. The problem is that a) Love isn’t enough to the Cavs to get Paul George directly from the Pacers and b) three-team deals where Love could land in Denver haven’t been enough either. That could change, but it’s very possible Love is back with the Cavs next year. And is that so bad?
Thompson’s value on the Cavs is higher than it would be on other teams. But because of his salary — $16.4 million for 2017-18 — it’s possible the Cavs try to float him in deals in an effort to change their formula. But a deal where Thompson ends up with another team seems unlikely.
It’s doubtful other teams would have a lot of interest in Smith, so expect him to stick around this summer. The Cavs would also have a hard time replacing him if they decided to get his salary off the books.
Iman Shumpert and his $10 million dollar contract would be something the Cavs would like to get out of this summer. The trick will be finding a deal that gets them a useful player in return. A straight salary dump for Shumpert doesn’t make a lot of sense, as it’d require the Cavs to give up assets they don’t really have.
If Richard Jefferson decided to retire, it would save the Cavs a little bit of money, but would leave a hole in the rotation. The sooner he makes a decision, the better it is for the Cavs.
Channing Frye has made it clear that he’s not retiring, and it seems unlikely the Cavs will be able to dump his salary without attaching an asset, so he’s probably around next year. He’s still useful in the regular season and has been essential to the Cavaliers’ locker room in the last year or so.
The Cavs hold his Bird Rights — meaning they can sign him despite being well over the cap — and both sides are interested in continuing the relationship. But Cleveland may be smart to let the market dictate Korver’s price before committing. But something like two years, $12 million could make sense for both sides.
Yes, he played bad in the Finals. But he could be a good backup for Irving next year at the right price. Will he come back for the minimum, or will he seek at least part of the Cavs’ taxpayer mid-level exception? Using the MLE on Williams might not be the best use of it for Cleveland.
The Cavs do not hold his Bird Rights, so one of three things will happen: 1) he walks because he gets a better offer; 2) he comes back for the minimum; 3) the Cavs use their MLE to sign him. The first two options seem the most likely and the market might dictate Williams’ future in Cleveland more than anything.
The Cavs could cut him and be on the hook for just a small portion of his contract, so a strong performance at summer league would be good for him. And how aggressively the Cavs chase point guards will say a lot about the Cavs’ faith in him as a contributor next season.
Because of his contract guarantee date, he is likely to be in training camp competing for a roster spot. He directly benefits from the Cavs having very few ways to acquire another backup center this summer. A strong summer league showing would help too.
If he doesn’t retire, he’ll probably be back for the minimum. Such is life.
This year’s postseason run may be it for him. Highly unlikely the Cavs would commit anything more than a training camp invite to him this summer.
Do the Cavs have a GM yet?
Not yet, but maybe they will before midnight, aka when free agency starts. That would be ideal. They already should have one, but hiring someone to replace Griffin would be good.
- For Cleveland, this summer is all about finding a way to better match-up with the Warriors. That starts with trying to acquire George and tweaking the roster in an effort to better match Golden State. Until George is on another team, it’ll almost certainly keep trying to make deals.
- If the Cavs strike out on George, they will have to get creative in improving the roster. Could they convince a P.J. Tucker type to sign for the MLE? Who can they can get on minimum deals? Can they use any of their trade exceptions — most notably the $4.8 million one created in the Korver-Mike Dunleavy deal — to land a role player? In some way, the Cavs have to compete in the arms race. They have no choice if they want to beat the Warriors next year.
- Will Cedi Osman come over this summer? The Cavs would have to use part of the MLE to sign him, so bringing him over could limit their ability to use that money to sign a veteran. Could the Cavs also decide to flip him for a more seasoned player or as a sweetener in a salary dump? Without a GM in place, it’s hard to know how Cleveland views him. Do not expect to see him at Summer League.
- What do the Cavs actually think of Felder and Tavares? Both could be thrown into the rotation and both could be off the team come August. If the Cavs trust them to play, or are at least comfortable trying them out, it could free up money elsewhere?
- Will the Cavs utilize two-way contracts? Under the new CBA, Cleveland can sign players to two-way deals and essential stash players with the Canton Charge. Will they make it point to sign a summer league standout or a D-Leaguer to a two-day deal in hopes of turning them into a contributor?
Do the Cavs have a GM yet?
It’s 6 a.m. in Cleveland as this article is published and the Cavs do not yet have David Griffin’s replacement hired. But Griffin is interviewing with the Knicks, so there’s that.