Preseason Preview #20: Cleveland Cavaliers

Season Goal: Sell K-Love Jerseys

Losing Lebron for the second time in less than 10 years has to be extremely painful for the Cavaliers. Now, only one member from the former big 3 remains, Kevin Love. After locking him in with a 4 year, $120 million deal the Cavs seem to be committed to being average for a couple more years. This team is obviously trying to remain somewhat relevant in the post-Lebron era. Their only chance to not tank was resigning Kevin Love. Now only time will tell if Minnesota Love will return and carry the Cavaliers to a 7/8 seed in the East, or if they will become completely irrelevant once again.

Storylines:

What now?

A franchise that’s entire history is basically defined by Lebron James is obviously in turmoil without him. Cleveland is now plagued with bad contracts handed out while James was on the team and will now struggle to offload them. Additionally, this team has few young pieces to build around due to their win now focus when they Lebron. Currently, the most promising piece is Collin Sexton, their number 8 pick this year. Outside of that, no young player appears to have star potential (sorry Cedi Osman).

Similar to what the Clippers’ claimed they wanted to do, the Cavaliers seem to be in a unique compete while rebuilding position. Being in the East they probably can get into the playoffs with 40ish wins and still get the 15/16th pick. The problem with this plan is that Cleveland already shipped off their 2019 pick to Atlanta with top 10 protection. Logically, it would be better to tank for two years and then the first round pick becomes two second-rounders, but this team has just bought into K-Love, and think that Sexton can help them compete now.

Overall, this team’s direction is very confusing, to say the least. They could continue to be mediocre and semi-relevant for another 4+ years, or just not be good enough and forced to tank. For a small market team trying to make a profit that just lost its biggest star, keeping whatever talent they can isn’t a bad idea. Although, from a basketball standpoint it is a bad idea. The best option would be to trade everyone for rebuilding assets and start the painful process earlier. The next couple of seasons will be critical in deciding the future of this franchise, and hopefully, they make the right decisions.

Depth Chart:

PG: George Hill, Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, Isaiah Taylor

SG: JR Smith, Kyle Korver, David Nwaba

SF: Cedi Osman, Sam Dekker

PF: Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., Channing Frye

C: Tristan Thompson, Ante Zizic

Salary Cap Situation:

~112M of ~101M cap committed

Expiring Deals: Larry Nance Jr., Channing Frye, Sam Dekker

Bad Contracts: George Hill (2yrs, 42M), JR Smith (2yrs, 30M), Jordan Clarkson (2yrs, 26M), Tristan Thompson (2yrs, 36M)

*All salary data via sportrac*

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