Last summer, a historic cap rise and a bit of luck gave the Golden State Warriors the room to pursue Kevin Durant. And, Durant was a big difference maker against the Cavaliers in the Finals. Cleveland had no answer as Golden State quickly closed out in five games.
Now, Cleveland must look to reload. A redemptive rematch with the Warriors is very possible with free agent options this summer. How does the Cavs payroll look in 2017-2018?
Via Basketball Reference:
So, before even thinking of signing their valuable free agents such as Kyle Korver and Deron Williams, the Cavs are sitting at $129,803,438. The actual number is a bit higher based on things like cap holds for Cleveland’s free agents.
The NBA salary cap for 2018-2019 is projected to be $103 million, with a $125 million luxury tax threshold. Cleveland is well above that.
So, what options do the Cavs have that don’t involve trading away some of those contracts? Not many.
The Cavs always have the option of signing free agents to the veteran minimum, which is only a little over $1 million a year, depending on years spent in the league. Many free agents aren’t willing to take that kind of pay cut.
The NBA does, however, allow teams above the luxury tax such as the Cavs to offer free agents a taxpayer mid-level exception. The Cavs could offer a first year salary of $3.7 million to one free agent, or split that sum up if they wish.
So, barring any major trade moves, the Cavs will be approaching the free agent market with offers of around $1.3 million or $3.7 million. However, plenty of minor moves can be made that, along with other minor assets could give Cleveland the extra boost they need to bolster their roster for next year’s run at redemption.
The starting lineup, which was largely successful throughout the season and even in the five-game Finals loss, will stay most likely stay intact. Therefore, Cleveland’s first step is to reevaluate its suddenly aged bench. With James Jones planning on retiring, and other veterans such as Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Kyle Korver have to reconsider their careers as Cavaliers.
Cavs plan to raise and renew their relationship with GM wizard David Griffin, who can make magic happen with limited cap and assets such as Kay Felder and Cedi Osman. Cavs will look to acquire targets to bolster their defensive discipline and bench scoring, both of which can be accomplished with subtle yet substantial role players.
Overall, the Cavs hands are largely tied, especially considering the cash other teams will be spending with yet another large salary cap rise. Don’t underestimate, however, the recruiting and negotiating abilities of LeBron James.