The Cleveland Cavaliers are already the favorite on the NBA futures for next season but the reality is that their roster could look very different. Coach David Blatt is again on the hot seat, King James and Kevin Love are opting out, while Tristan Thompson and a slew of others have to be taken care of. Here’s a breakdown of everyone’s situations and our prediction on who’ll be back and who’ll take off.
Let’s not really waste too much space here. Barring James pulling off a mask and proving to be Darth Vader underneath, he’ll be back in Cleveland next season. NBA odds makers also think that he’s not ripping Cleveland fans’ hearts out again.
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Coach David Blatt
Blatt is likely to be back. Yes, there’s some issues with him but the team still made it to the finals with him. And they outcoached a number of teams along the way (see: Tom Thibodeau). Things should run smoother in his second season.
This is where things start to get interesting. The Cavs say they’ll max out Love but will he accept? He’s clearly the third wheel and he’s playing in a system that doesn’t highlight his skillset. He could bounce and play in Los Angeles, still get tons of money and be a star again. Although he’s saying all of the right things, the feeling is that he might be gone.
The Cavs probably wouldn’t mind too much but the challenge is that in the modern day NBA, it’s best to keep your assets. If Love leaves, the Cavs will still be up against the cap and won’t be able to sign anyone of his caliber. So a sign-and-trade could be ideal where they ship him off and get something back.
Thompson is restricted but he’ll be getting big offers this offseason. The Cavs really have to ask themselves how much they want to commit at the power forward position. How much can they really pay Thompson if they’re keeping Love and will have to pay more than $10 million to have Thompson come off the bench. And remember, Anderson Varejao is making $9.7 million, so that’s an insane amount of money to commit to the power forward position.
Smart money suggests that Love is gone, Thompson starts next season and Varejao fills the bench role.
Smith has a player option for $6.9 million, so he’s got a choice to make. He probably won’t get a lot more on the open market but you never know. If someone offers him $9 or $10 million, he’s probably gone. The problem is that it’s more likely that nobody is dumb enough to do that and that if he opts out, he finds a longer contract but for less money per year. If he has a good agent, he’ll opt in and try to build his value for one more season before hitting free agency next offseason.
The Cavs have a team option for Mozgov at just under $5 million and it makes plenty of sense to bring him back. He’s a quality starting center that changed the course of this team’s season. This is a no-brainer.
This would appear to be another no-brainer. Shumpert provided quality bench minutes throughout the season and even started at times. He’s a young player who is only going to get better. The Cavs can qualify him at $3.89 million and it’s very likely he’s back. That’s a great price for the value he brings to the team.
Dellavedova is in an interesting spot. He’s restricted and the Cavs can qualify him at $1.47 million but given the stellar postseason he had, it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone offered him something like a three-year $10 or $12 million contract. Crazier things have happened. The Cavs would be in a tight spot at that point deciding whether they want to bring him back or not. At the end of the day, I expect him back in Cleveland, though.