2023 Cleveland Cavaliers offseason predictions

With an uncertain cap situation, who are some of the faces that may leave for another team?
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) celebrates with guard Donovan Mitchell (45)...
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) celebrates with guard Donovan Mitchell (45) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)(Ron Schwane | AP)
Published: Jun. 26, 2023 at 5:17 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Beginning Friday, June 30 at 6 p.m., the 2023 NBA free agency period will begin, allowing the 30 teams to begin negotiating terms with players on the market in hopes of striking a deal.

For the Cavaliers, they find themselves in an interesting situation, as according to Spotrac’s NBA salary cap tracker, the wine and gold are expected to begin the new league year with $-38 million in practical cap space, a position none too ideal.

Of course, a team can still spend money on free agents, which the Cavs are expected to do, especially at the forward position. However, in simple terms, the Cavs are going to have to either cut/sign/trade players to free up available space, or pay a specific luxury tax per dollar spent over the cap limit.

A great way to understand the complexities of the NBA cap situation is to follow this 2022 guide from CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn, who gives a glossary of what the basic terms mean.

Heading into this offseason, the names from this past year’s team that are going to be unrestricted free agents are:

- Caris LeVert

- Dylan Windler

- Danny Green

- Raul Neto

- Robin Lopez

- Isaiah Mobley

- Mamadi Diakite

The standout name on this list is LeVert, who was traded for back on Feb. 6, 2022 from the Indiana Pacers for Ricky Rubio, a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick, and two second-round picks.

This past season, LeVert was a crucial part of the team, as he rotated in as the primary sixth man off the bench, with stretches of starting minutes as well. In 74 games last season, LeVert averaged 12.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists a game.

A native of Columbus, the 28 year old LeVert had his ups and downs with the team, but the 2022-23 price tag of $18.8 million is the floor for what is expected to be an asked contract of a $20+ million per year range.

Should the Cavs give him that amount of money? Maybe, but the tax threshold placed on that deal could be considered bold to many, especially for a player who is regarded as more of a role player than a franchise face.

In regards to the other free agents, the only face that may reasonably be brought back is Windler, as his three-point shooting ability is something the Cavs have shown patience in waiting for, despite his repeated injury history.

Expect the older veterans like, Green, Neto, and Lopez to be signed elsewhere/retire, as the cap situation and reasonable performance replication from other free agents can be created through more team-friendly deals.

Now, with that being said, here is a look at what the 19 Sports Department believes will happen if/when these situations are brought up.

1. What should the Cavs do with Caris LeVert?

Baillie: “Offer him bare minimum one year deal.”

Chris: “Sign and trade him.”

Intern Steve: “If possible, sign and trade to young team for youth/picks. Otherwise, let him go.”

2. Do you think the team should consider a Donovan Mitchell trade now?

For more context, the reason this proposal is brought up, is the fact that Mitchell is expected to make nearly $33.2 million this upcoming season, and the increased presence of Mitchell appearing to become intrigued with potentially playing in his home state of New York, for his hometown team, the New York Knicks.

Baillie: No.

Chris: No.

Intern Steve: No.

3. Is there any other trade the Cavs should consider making?

Baillie: Potentially Jarrett Allen, but the Cavs are not in the best position.

Chris: No.

Intern Steve: “Test the waters on a Jarrett Allen trade; see if you can add additional draft capital and a veteran center with rim protecting ability at a cheaper price. As of now, Allen is owed $20 million per year fully guaranteed.”

4. Who is your surprise cut to save salary cap space?

Baillie: “Same as Chris.”

Chris: “Cedi Osman. The non-fully guaranteed makes the choice easier.”

Intern Steve: “Isaac Okoro because he has a team option of $8.9 million next year, and has not developed an efficient offensive game fast enough for the price tag.”

5. Who is one player the Cavs should consider signing in free agency?

Baillie: “INSERT NAME HERE, I do not think it’s going to matter.”

Chris: “Tre Jones (Point Guard, 23 years old, restricted free agent, projected salary range of $1.5-2 million a year).”

Intern Steve: “Torrey Craig (Small Forward, age 32, projected salary range of $5-6 million per year).”

The Cavs are not in the worst situation however. Based on Spotrac’s analysis, the Portland Trail Blazers are going to have the least amount of available cap space (-$77.8 million). Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets are predicted to have the most available space with $59.7 million.