Grading the Cleveland Cavs’ 2021 NBA offseason
The Cleveland Cavaliers had an active 2021 NBA offseason after another year of missing the playoffs. They finished with a record of 22-50, which placed them 13th in the Eastern Conference. The Cavs are bound to improve this season. They had a solid draft and free agency.
They drafted Evan Mobley with the third pick in the NBA draft, who should pair well with Jarrett Allen. The Cavs resigned Allen to a five-year, $100 million deal, and he will continue to play that defensive anchor role. The most intriguing move the Cavs made was pulling off a sign-and-trade deal for Lauri Markkanen.
ESPN Sources: Cleveland’s acquiring Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen in three-way sign and trade with Portland. Bulls get Derrick Jones Jr., POR’s lottery protected future 1st and Cavs’ future second-rounder. POR gets Larry Nance Jr. https://t.co/CgN3mhaLHY
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 27, 2021
This deal sent Nance Jr. to the Portland Trail Blazers and Derrick Jones Jr. to the Chicago Bulls. Markkanen will come to the Cavs on a 4-year $67 million deal, which is a solid price for a player of his caliber. The question now ponders, how will Markkanen, Mobley, and Allen fit together? While some may doubt it, this rotation will work, but Markkanen or Mobley will likely come off the bench. Markkanen could be a solid player in this role as a solid scorer and floor spacer.
Last season, Markkanen averaged 13.6 points per game along with 5.3 rebounds. He also shot a career-high 40.2 percent from behind the arc on 5.8 attempts per game. Markkanen will be a very valuable player for the Cavs going forward, as they try to make the playoffs.
Bringing in Markkanen has brought up questions of Kevin Love’s future. Love has 2 years left on his deal for $60 million. The Cavs made a huge mistake giving a big contract to Love, and it will be hard to move him. It was reported that Love has no interest in a buyout, meaning a trade is the only option to get rid of him.
Five-time All-Star Kevin Love has no interest in discussing a contract buyout on the two-years, $60M left on his Cleveland Cavaliers deal, agent Jeff Schwartz of @excelbasketball tells ESPN. Story: https://t.co/ye4oNqRM2W
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 28, 2021
It will be extremely difficult to find a trade partner, and the Cavs will likely have to hold onto him for at least this season. Love’s role will be diminished this season with the depth at forward and center. If the Cavs can find a way to get off of his contract, they need to pull the trigger.
Cavs roster breakdown
Other than Love, the Cavs are in a good position with their young core. Collin Sexton has been in trade rumors, but nothing has come to fruition. Unless they are getting a great haul in return, the Cavs should hold onto Sexton for at least this season.
Last season, Sexton averaged 24.3 points per game along with 4.4 assists. He also shot a solid 37.1 percent from three on 4.4 attempts per game. Sexton is a great scorer and will continue in this role with the Cavs this season.
Sexton’s pairing in the backcourt is with Darius Garland. Last season, Garland averaged 17.4 points per game along with 6.1 assists. Garland also shot an efficient 39.5 percent from three. He was the main facilitator for the Cavs last season and will continue in this role next season. The defense of this backcourt is questionable, but the offensive firepower is there.
A player that will help this defensive backcourt is wing Issac Okoro. Okoro struggled offensively in his rookie campaign but proved his worth on the defensive end. His defense along with Allen’s will be vital for the Cavs being a successful team.
Last season, Okoro averaged 9.6 points per game but shot a horrendous 29 percent from three. If he can improve his offensive game, Okoro will be an integral part of the Cavs’ future.
This team made solid offseason moves, and they should compete for a play-in spot. The intriguing storyline going into the season will be how the Cavs manage Markkanen, Mobley, Allen, and Love. Other than that, the Cavs are ready to go and improve this season.