At this moment, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the early stages of their “renaissance,” as coach John Beilein emphasized. After the draft and early stages of free agency, it appears the renaissance is proceeding according to plan. The Cavs didn’t have any money to sign anyone, but it’s still considered “sticking to the plan.”
When asked which organization drafted the best, analyst Jay Bilas pointed at the Cavaliers. They drafted according to system fits, since all three players taken: Darius Garland, Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. can all shoot exceptionally well from 3-point range.
Despite the limited action thus far, Windler continued to excel. It was clear his ability to catch off ball and score was as advertised during the draft scouting process. Both Garland and Porter Jr. haven’t played yet. With risk of injury, both draftees won’t see action until training camp and preseason.
If the Cavaliers keep their roster as is, with the exception of eventually trading veteran J.R. Smith, players like Windler and Porter Jr. won’t see as much action as they should. Players like Cedi Osman and Jordan Clarkson will play the bulk of the minutes at the guard and forward positions.
Since it’s a renaissance period, the Cavaliers will try and trade several assets over the course of the 2019-2020 season. The two agents of trade chaos, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, will receive the most interest. After all, Love’s mentioned considerably more in trade talks than he is for his actual ability to play basketball.
According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, it might make more financial sense to keep Love and Thompson for the duration of next season. Thompson’s contract expires after next season regardless and he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.
“If the Cavs simply do nothing to their roster this season, so don’t trade anyone other than JR Smith, and back fill those two roster spots they’ll have open with minimum earners on one-year deals, pick up the options on contracts of Collin Sexton and Ante Zizic, they would enter the summer of 2020 with some $55 million to spend on free agents,” Vardon reported.
Even though Love’s four-year/$120 million extension takes affect this season, it doesn’t hurt the Cavaliers future financial situation. If he stays mostly healthy this upcoming season, there’s no reason to trade him, especially if they’ll have nearly $55 million in open cap space.
Taking a look at the 2020 free agent class
I know, I know. It’s far too early to predict what the actual 2020 free agent class will look like, since extensions will be signed throughout the season. This offseason changed the entire scope of the NBA. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets. Anthony Davis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers to join forces with LeBron James. Most importantly, the Los Angeles Clippers finally became instant championship contenders by adding not only Kawhi Leonard, but Paul George via trade.
Other than drafting three future contributors, the Cavs organization hasn’t participated in any chaotic free agent move. As mentioned before, there’s no financial way they could. Next season, however, will be different for Cleveland.
While it’s incredibly unlikely the Cavaliers only trade Smith, sign two veterans to minimum contracts and so on, the cap space should be wide open regardless of what the front office decides to proceed with.
Unlike this offseason, the 2020 free agent class doesn’t really provide anything exciting for Cleveland. Sorry to get your hopes up, everyone. If certain player options are declined and predicting for the sake of things nobody signs an extension during the offseason, the 2020 free agent class will be highlighted by Davis, Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap, Otto Porter Jr., DeMar DeRozan, Gordon Hayward, Draymond Green and Andre Drummond.
Davis will be the featured story next offseason, but he’ll likely just stay with the Lakers. The rest of the high-end free agents next offseason don’t include anyone worth spending a fortune on, especially in the Cavaliers situation. As the team continues to get younger, players like Millsap and Lowry wouldn’t make much sense.
While the vast majority of the aforementioned players will make an impact, they won’t be with Cleveland. They could maybe sign Hayward, but he hasn’t been the same player since his severe injury at the beginning of the 2017-2018 season. Even if cap space opens, which it will, the Cavaliers won’t compete for nearly any of the top free agents in 2020.
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