It’s safe to say that the Cleveland Cavaliers did not expect their season to end the way it did after playing so well in the regular season. The test of playing the New York Knicks spotlighted a few weaknesses for Cleveland. One of those was the defensive game plan that forced any perimeter player not named Donovan Mitchell or Darius Garland to hit timely shots. This included players such as Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, and Caris LeVert.
While Okoro and Osman did not have true playoff experience as key players before this postseason, LeVert did for multiple years with the Brooklyn Nets. However, the Cavaliers have the least amount of control over LeVert, who is set to enter unrestricted free agency this summer.
Can LeVert fit on the Cavaliers?
There is definitely a place for LeVert with the Cavaliers. The team desperately lacked bench production in the postseason, a place where he was the best form of support most of the year. If he were to remain in Cleveland, acting as the sixth man would be the ideal role for LeVert.
How much is LeVert worth?
This season, LeVert earned $18.8 million on the team’s payroll. Entering free agency at 28 years old, there is likely to be several more seasons where he can contribute at a high level.
The downside for Cleveland’s sake is that there is a good chance he could be looking for a higher annual salary for his next contract. Given the way this season ended for the Cavaliers and the plethora of teams that will be lining up offers for him this summer, it’s plausible that he will not be waiting up on Cleveland if they decide to low-ball their first offer.
So do they bring LeVert back?
The light at the end of the tunnel for the Cavaliers is that this team did not have much experience in big playoff moments. Aside from Donovan Mitchell, nobody else in the core of this team has even made it past the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Paying LeVert more than his previous offer might seem bold. However, the team is still young and he has shown over the past several seasons that he can catch fire with the best the league has to offer.
The safe move would be to present LeVert with an offer he couldn’t turn down, as he remains their best option at the small forward position. Although the Cavaliers should try to remain on high alert this summer, they might need to work quickly to ensure they don’t walk out of the off-season empty-handed.