The rebuilding process will be a whole lot easier for the Cleveland Cavaliers if they are able to acquire one of these free agents in the offseason.
Just about everything that could go wrong for the Cleveland Cavaliers following their 2016 NBA championship has happened. In a matter of one year, the franchise lost perhaps it’s two greatest players in Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. Two seasons later and the front office is still scrambling to put the pieces back together.
Their fall off in the aftermath of James’ decision was just as steep as it was the first time. Exactly like in 2011, the Cavaliers finished with only 19 wins in the King’s absence. However, the void he left behind is not as big as it was when he joined the Miami Heat.
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This is mainly due to the fact that Cleveland made sure to acquire a lottery pick from the Boston Celtics before dealing away Irving in the offseason prior to losing James. This move allowed them to select Collin Sexton, the Rising Star who is leading the team in scoring. In the season after, the Cavaliers made three selections in the first round, taking Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr. and Dylan Windler.
Nonetheless, trailing behind James were the remains of two contracts he helped bargain for. Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith both benefited from being friends of LBJ as the Cavaliers arguably gave them bigger deals than they deserved. Combine this with a max contract extension to Kevin Love in the wake of James’ decision and the franchise has been stifled for cap space ever since.
Financial freedom is an ongoing issue for the Cavs. Although they waived Smith in 2019 and could lose Thompson now that his contract is finished, the organization is still tight on money as the newly acquired Andre Drummond is choosing to opt into the final year of his deal worth $28 million dollars.
This leaves the Cavaliers with no real wiggle room when negotiating future deals. Their only saving grace is the mid-level exception, projected to be worth $9 million dollars. This opens up a path for the franchise to strike gold on a one-year deal with a player that can help accelerate their rebuilding process. Here are the top eight players they should target in the offseason.