Latest posts by Sam Amico (see all)
- Follow Amico’s Cavaliers and NBA coverage on SI.com - October 30, 2019
- Dribbles: Another late run can’t overcome Cavs’ lethargic start - November 14, 2019
- Pregame Dribbles: Former Cav Waiters going through rough stretch - November 14, 2019
When it comes to major players in NBA free agency, don’t expect to hear the Cavaliers’ name mentioned.
There just isn’t a lot they can do. They are up against the salary-cap with little wiggle room and let’s be honest, not much interest from players in search of The Next Big Contract.
Instead, it’d probably be best just to focus on the Cavs’ summer roster, which begins play in the three-day, four team Salt Lake City summer league Monday. After that, it’s off to Las Vegas for the 11-day event that features every team, a tournament and a championship game.
It is there that Cavs general manager Koby Altman and his staff will be looking for potential signees — both from their own squad and others.
Along with draft picks Darius Garland, Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr., the Cavs’ roster will feature of mix of Canton Charge alums (Malik Newman, JaCorey Williams, etc.) and undrafted rookies (Phil Booth, Marques Bolden, Dean Wade, and so on and so forth.)
Free agency officially begins Sunday and all eyes will be on the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James’ annual summer circus of trying to stack his team.
Altman and the Cavs are highly unlikely to play a role in any of it.
“I don’t know how big of a player we’re going to be in free agency,” Altman said. “Right now, we’re pretty focused on what we have.”
Now, again, there could be some smaller moves at play.
The Cavs reportedly decided not to renew Jaron Blossomgame’s two-way deal (though he too is playing for the Cavs this summer), and Marquese Chriss and David Nwaba are unrestricted free agents. Those are three spots that will need filled.
And it’s not like the Cavs will stick to filling them only with first- or second-year players. One probable scenario is signing an established player to a veteran minimum deal late in the summer or just before training camp at the end of September.
There is also the possibility of trades. The Cavs have until Sunday to trade J.R. Smith, waive him outright or keep him and pay his entire $15.6 million salary next season. So the last part of that sentence isn’t really an option at all.
While teams trying to cut salary would love to trade for Smith, the Cavs aren’t so sure. They would have to take back a bad contract — and the offers they are getting for players attached to bad contracts have been, well, considerably less-than-stellar.
So expect Smith to get waived and the Cavs to eat only the $3.87 million he is guaranteed.
“We’re going to investigate what we can do there,” is about all Altman said in reference to Smith.
MORE ABOUT LOVE
Meanwhile, some contending teams will strike out in free agency — and those teams will undoubtedly have an interest in Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, both starters on the Cavs’ 2016 championship squad.
The Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans all have at least a passing interest in Love, and word is, the Indiana Pacers would be thrilled to put him next to Victor Oladipo.
Things to consider: Love’s four-year, $120 million extension kicks in this summer and he’s been unable to stay on the floor. Opposing teams will likely want to see him remain healthy for at least a few months before offering the type of large returns the Cavs seek.
As for Thompson, you’d better believe James would love to get him to LA. Thompson takes great pride in being a member of the Cavs, but he would also be more than fine with hanging out in Hollywood all the time, too.
Along with that, Thompson is a native of Toronto and the Raptors have had him on their radar for several years. But their priority at the moment, of course, is Leonard.
Basically, by this time next week, the Cavs will likely look pretty much the same. They may even look the same all the way until the season tips off in October, and beyond.
But that’s OK. They are excited about the rookies, Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman and other youngsters, as well as the prospects of a healthy Love and new coach John Beilein.
Staying put may be the best plan for the Cavs, and that’s a good thing, because not a whole lot else is expected to take place. Not right away, anyway.