The high-noon, deadline-day makeover done by Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman and assistant GM Mike Gansey has received mostly favorable reviews across the NBA landscape.
The immediate benefits of adding Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., George Hill and Rodney Hood should be obvious, though it may take a while for them to be fully integrated into Cleveland’s offensive and defensive schemes, and until All-Star Kevin Love returns from a broken left hand.
However, the long-term benefit of the massive roster remake could pay dividends again this summer, when LeBron James most likely declines his $35 million player option and becomes an unrestricted free agent for the third time in his career.
“I would have said it was a 50-50 proposition that he would go back to Cleveland this summer before all of this, even a week ago,” one league executive told Sporting News. “I think this moves it more in the Cavs’ favor. They’re younger and deeper. If the lifestyle is all the same to him, and I don’t know that it is, I’d think he would stay in Cleveland.
“I would put it from 50-50 a week ago to now, something like 75-25 that he stays. Even if they don’t win this year, they’ve given themselves room to grow.”
— Sporting News NBA (@sn_nba) February 11, 2018
Deveney’s excellent story makes it clear the work of Altman, Gansey and owner Dan Gilbert transformed the team, almost on the fly, and have put the onus back on James to make his choice much more difficult.
“The way the Cavs had been constructed, surrounding James with elderly ex-stars and role players who have been dented by injury, made it all too easy for him to look at the Cleveland roster going forward and walk away to the LA sunshine, content with having brought the franchise the 2016 title,” Deveney writes.
“But can James walk away from a team that could be slated for a rebirth, with or without him? Hood is a talented wing, a potential 20-22 points-per-game scorer. Clarkson has Sixth Man of the Year potential. Nance is a valuable role player. Young internationals Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic should be ready to contribute next season. And there’s a strong chance the Cavs wind up with a top-five pick in a top-heavy draft.”