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2019-20 Roster Construction

AllforOne

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(TL;DR - none. Don't fucking read it if you don't want to. You're an adult.)

Where do we go now? Where do we go? Where do we go now?

Nope, we're not talking about Guns n' Roses. We know where they went -- they took over a decade (delayed by various side projects that were little more than heroin-induced noise and by Axl getting the mother of all facelifts) to record the industry's most irrelevant album ever.

I'm wondering what route the Cavs are going to take with building their roster for 2019-20 and beyond.

Right now, they have 14 players under contract for next season -- Love, Tristan, Swish (we know he won't be here, but he is for the moment), Knight, Clarkson, Nance, Henson, Delly, Garland, Sexton, Cedi, Zizic, Wheeler, and KPJ. So on the face of it, this roster is pretty much built already. Thread over, right?

That's not why I called. I see two basic philosophies that the Cavs can take over the next year. I'm wondering which one they will.

As you may know already, most of the Cavs' current salary obligations end at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. Tristan, Swish, Knight, Clarkson, Henson, Delly, and Cedi are all going to be free agents. (Zizic could be as well, if the Cavs decline his fourth-year option.) That's roughly $85.5 million of salaries that will disappear. Assuming that the Cavs pick up the options for Sexton (guaranteed) and Zizic (probable), they have only $63.7 million in salary commitments for the 2020-21 season. Even figuring in a new contract for Cedi, they'll have plenty of cap room (the current estimate for the 2020-21 cap is $116 million) to go free-agent hunting.

So that's Option #1. Let all those veterans play out their contracts, then re-make the team a year from now with Love ...

QUICK NOTE: Yes, I am well aware that Kevin Love may or may not be a good fit for a rebuilding roster. I'm not here to debate that one way or the other. It's sucked up plenty of other threads on this site. I'm going to assume, however realistically, that Love will be here going forward.

Now where were we? Okay, they could let all the contracts expire, then re-make the team next summer with Love, Nance, Garland, Sexton, Windler, KPJ, and maybe Zizic as they only obligations. That's the more flexible route. It's the route that would allow them to possibly bring in a star player via free agency.

But it's not the route I would take. I'd go for option #2. I'd go for one more year of trading expiring contracts for veterans with longer contracts, along with draft picks/young players. Trade JR for a contract that expires in 2020 (Marvin Williams? MKG? Ryan Anderson?), and get a future first-round pick or two as the cost of doing business. Then repeat that same process with whoever they get in that trade and all of their other expirings (TT, Clarkson, Henson, Delly, Knight). By this time next year, the Cavs could have an absolute bumper crop of future picks along with a whole bunch of contracts that expire in the summer of 2021.

The one other complication is the luxury tax. The Cavs probably want to be below the tax line for 2019-20. So by the end of the 2019-20 regular season, they need to have their total salaries at no more than the tax line. The tax line is estimated to be $132 million; the Cavs are currently about $13 million above that number, counting the JR contract.

The way to get around that (or at least, *one* way to get around that): when trading expiring contracts for longer ones, make sure that the expiring guys make more in 2019-20 than the guys who are coming back. As an example: the Cavs could trade Tristan to Charlotte for Cody Zeller and pick(s). Charlotte would get the more useful player for winning now, and they would also get out from under Zeller's $15.4 million for 2020-21. The Cavs, in turn, would save about $4 million in 2019-20 salary. Lather/rinse/repeat that same process with Clarkson/Knight/Henson, etc., and they'll be below the tax line.

The bottom line is that a year from now, I want the Cavs to have a growing core, a bunch of vets whose contracts expire in 2021, and a metric shit-ton of picks in future drafts. Two years from now, I want them to have a clean cap and the ability to (a) sign a big-name FA, (b) trade for a disgruntled superstar using some of that MST of picks, or (c) both. Three years from now, I want to be back to late-May/June basketball.

Agree, disagree, don't care?
 

Out of the Rafters at the Q

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Option #2 is the way to go, but you make sure that you get under the luxury tax to start resetting the repeater tax.

You're in asset accumulation mode. If teams are willing to give you assets in exchange for renting your cap space, you do it. You're not ready to use cap space as an asset yet (Free Agency).

Once you have the talent on this team to decide your direction towards contention, then you can dip into free agency to put you over the top. Right now, it shouldn't be a thought in Koby's mind.

Accumulate assets, build coaching and culture. Don't get impatient.
 

thedarkness2332

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I think this offseason will continue to provide opportunities to trade Kevin Love, especially after the first week or two of free agency and teams miss out.

I keep looking at New Orleans, who clearly wants a veteran stretch four to pair with Zion, and Griffin basically put the Kevin Love bat symbol in the sky...

I keep looking at Indiana, who now has Turner, Sabonis, and Bitadze as NBA centers. They have plenty of cap space and could use a legit star to complement Oladipo. They’re a team to watch with the league wide open...

I keep looking at Portland, believing they have a chance in the open West, and deciding to bring Love home...

I keep looking at Charlotte, a team on the cusp of extending Kemba Walker and about to make a flurry of win-now moves...

The reason I say this is that moving Love to a team with some space (like Indiana or New Orleans) would also greatly change our 2019/2020 cap situation.

All of the sudden, we might have more flexibility to use more of our expiring contracts at the deadline to bring back bad money and assets.
 

sailfish

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First, I think you have to get under the luxury tax, even if that means waiving JR Smith and Brandon Knight, the latter via the stretch provision.

Second, I think it’s important to be flexible. I don’t think you necessarily have to commit to one strategy or the other. Since the Cavs are in asset accumulation mode, it’s all going to depend on the quality of the incoming asset.

Ideally, you have cap space, which gives you tons of options, as we’ve seen with cap-absorbing deals for Allen Crabbe, Jonathan Simmons, TJ Warren, and Aron Baynes. However, I can’t see the Cavs allowing all of those expiring contracts go without making a few trades. There’s just too much value in expiring contracts nowadays. Besides, you’re basically waving JR Smith, so you can use some of those expiring contracts to take back salaries in trades.

So, in the end, I think we’ll see a combination, rather than one extreme or the other. I think the Cavaliers will waive JR Smith and they very well may waive Brandon Knight, via the stretch provision. That should get them below the luxury tax and give them some much needed financial flexibility. I agree they aren’t ready to attack free agency and try to add some free agents just yet.

I look for them to trade some of those expiring contracts for deals with multiple years remaining, along with an asset. In essence, deals similar to the ones we saw for George Hill and Alec Burks. Since we aren’t ready to compete and won’t be for another 2 to 3 years then I would absolutely trade Kevin Love now. Otherwise, he hurts our chances in the draft lottery and just becomes a depreciating asset.
 
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AllforOne

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The reason I say this is that moving Love to a team with some space (like Indiana or New Orleans) would also greatly change our 2019/2020 cap situation.

All of the sudden, we might have more flexibility to use more of our expiring contracts at the deadline to bring back bad money and assets.
All of that is very true. If Love does get traded, especially to a team that can absorb at least some of his contract into cap space, then the Cavs' salary situation looks quite different.

But it doesn't change the fundamental issue for me, which is: I want the Cavs to take one more year to collect assets (picks), using salaries above the cap and up to the tax line. I don't want to see them let the JR contract lapse simply because it could cause tax issues this season absent other moves. I don't want to see Clarkson, Thompson, etc. all stay here the entire season, and have their contracts expire, without getting anything for those assets.

Possibly the Cavs' #1 organizational strength is Dan Gilbert's checkbook. Let's continue using it to rebuild this team.
 

thedarkness2332

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All of that is very true. If Love does get traded, especially to a team that can absorb at least some of his contract into cap space, then the Cavs' salary situation looks quite different.

But it doesn't change the fundamental issue for me, which is: I want the Cavs to take one more year to collect assets (picks), using salaries above the cap and up to the tax line. I don't want to see them let the JR contract lapse simply because it could cause tax issues this season absent other moves. I don't want to see Clarkson, Thompson, etc. all stay here the entire season, and have their contracts expire, without getting anything for those assets.

Possibly the Cavs' #1 organizational strength is Dan Gilbert's checkbook. Let's continue using it to rebuild this team.
I don’t think anyone disagrees with the notion of continuing to use expirings and space to acquire assets.

Even when we are ready to compete, we aren’t a destination to top difference makers. Our free agency in the future will be to pursue complementary pieces to our drafted and developed core.
 

AllforOne

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I don’t think anyone disagrees with the notion of continuing to use expirings and space to acquire assets.

Even when we are ready to compete, we aren’t a destination to top difference makers. Our free agency in the future will be to pursue complementary pieces to our drafted and developed core.
Actually, I think some do. That's the reason I started this thread. Some people have expressed the opinion that the Cavs should hang onto all their expiring veterans, then take that cap space next summer and go hunting for FAs.

I think that's a risky plan for a team in a cold, smaller-market Rust Belt city to take (to agree with your second paragraph). Unless there is some other GOAT-type who originally hails from this area and wants to return home ... and I think we already fished that lake dry. I'd rather see them continue to use the entire salary cap, and up to the tax line, to continue churning bad contracts and getting picks/young players in return.
 

thedarkness2332

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Actually, I think some do. That's the reason I started this thread. Some people have expressed the opinion that the Cavs should hang onto all their expiring veterans, then take that cap space next summer and go hunting for FAs.

I think that's a risky plan for a team in a cold, smaller-market Rust Belt city to take (to agree with your second paragraph). Unless there is some other GOAT-type who originally hails from this area and wants to return home ... and I think we already fished that lake dry. I'd rather see them continue to use the entire salary cap, and up to the tax line, to continue churning bad contracts and getting picks/young players in return.
I think the smart play is to keep a degree of cap space beyond next season, but then absorb player(s) into that space for a tax payer on a 1-year deal so you easily get it back the following year. Similar for teams looking to open up space on the cusp of free agency—what we saw Atlanta do for Brooklyn.

This is kind of a way to maintain flexibility at all times. Turning 1-year expirings into two year deals for assets becomes unsustainable at a certain point as it removes instant flexibility. Cap to one year deals opens the books fresh every single year.
 

AllforOne

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I think the smart play is to keep a degree of cap space beyond next season, but then absorb player(s) into that space for a tax payer on a 1-year deal so you easily get it back the following year. Similar for teams looking to open up space on the cusp of free agency—what we saw Atlanta do for Brooklyn.

This is kind of a way to maintain flexibility at all times. Turning 1-year expirings into two year deals for assets becomes unsustainable at a certain point as it removes instant flexibility. Cap to one year deals opens the books fresh every single year.
It's a good approach, but it comes with the downside that you can only absorb bad contracts up to the cap limit. On the other hand, if you're trading expiring contracts for longer deals, you really don't have that limit. The only constraint is the desire to be below the luxury tax line, which (a) gives you about $25 million more to play this game with (as compared to the salary cap line), and (b) can be exceeded as needed, as long as you are below the tax line by the last day of the regular season, when the taxes are determined.
 

thedarkness2332

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It's a good approach, but it comes with the downside that you can only absorb bad contracts up to the cap limit. On the other hand, if you're trading expiring contracts for longer deals, you really don't have that limit. The only constraint is the desire to be below the luxury tax line, which (a) gives you about $25 million more to play this game with (as compared to the salary cap line), and (b) can be exceeded as needed, as long as you are below the tax line by the last day of the regular season, when the taxes are determined.
I’m all for flipping expirings for two-year deals this upcoming season as we aren’t near our window yet.

I just think beyond next season, it would be wise to get yourself under the cap for flexibility.
 

inliner311

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First, I think you have to get under the luxury tax, even if that means waiving JR Smith and Brandon Knight, the latter via the stretch provision.

Second, I think it’s important to be flexible. I don’t think you necessarily have to commit to one strategy or the other. Since the Cavs are in asset accumulation mode, it’s all going to depend on the quality of the incoming asset.

Ideally, you have cap space, which gives you tons of options, as we’ve seen with cap-absorbing deals for Allen Crabbe, Jonathan Simmons, TJ Warren, and Aron Baynes. However, I can’t see the Cavs allowing all of those expiring contracts go without making a few trades. There’s just too much value in expiring contracts nowadays. Besides, you’re basically waving JR Smith, so you can use some of those expiring contracts to take back salaries in trades.

So, in the end, I think we’ll see a combination, rather than one extreme or the other. I think the Cavaliers will waive JR Smith and they very well may waive Brandon Knight, via the stretch provision. That should get them below the luxury tax and give them some much needed financial flexibility. I agree they aren’t ready to attack free agency and try to add some free agents just yet.

I look for them to trade some of those expiring contracts for deals with multiple years remaining, along with an asset. In essence, deals similar to the ones we saw for George Hill and Alec Burks. Since we aren’t ready to compete and won’t be for another 2 to 3 years then I would absolutely trade Kevin Love now. Otherwise, he hurts our chances in the draft lottery and just becomes a depreciating asset.
I really doubt the Cavs would stretch anyone on the roster. That's just something cheap owners or teams that need cap space for a free agent move do. It makes zero sense for the Cavs to kill Knight as an asset and the future cap space.

Remember luxury tax isn't calculated till the end of the year. Koby can target trades that reduce our overall cap number to stay under the luxury tax. Just waiving JR should give enough room to work with. Really even a bigger trade that brings back less in total of JRs fully guaranteed contract with whoever goes out with him will help to stay out of the luxury tax.
 

AllforOne

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I’m all for flipping expirings for two-year deals this upcoming season as we aren’t near our window yet.

I just think beyond next season, it would be wise to get yourself under the cap for flexibility.
I agree.

One other thing to keep in mind: the strategy works best 2-3 years after a cap spike. That's when you have the largest inventory of bad contracts that teams are willing to buy their way out of. That's where we are right now. The same strategy might not be as viable 2-3 years down the line. So let's strike while the iron is hot.
 

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The situation with K-Love is a tricky one.

It seems to make the most sense to trade him now while he's at peak value, especially considering we're in asset accumulation mode.

..But at the same time, he's our best player. Wouldn't our rookies benefit greater by playing alongside Kevin Love and learning his habits?

How much better of professionals will Darius, Collin, KPJ, Dylan, etc become playing with Kevin as opposed to his replacement? That's the question. That's where Kevin's value lies within our team for the next few years since chances are we won't be contending. How well can Kevin Love coach?

Let's play the what if game for a minute...
What if Coach Beilein is the best coach in the league?
What if we just hit on all 3 picks, and we're competitive sooner than we thought?
What if Garland's a star?
What if Collin goes out and gets 25 a night, steps up his defense, and makes the all star team?
What if JR, TT, and/or Clarkson fetches us a piece to the puzzle, and suddenly Kevin Love is part of the core reason our team is coming together and winning ball games?

Is this all a huge stretch based on what we saw last season? Fuck yeah. But I think all of those ideas have some life to them.

What if Garland and Beilein are the next Baker and Freddie though? Ok, now I'm really jumping the gun.

Optimism Man out.
 

BrutX15

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If we are to get good again, we will have to get lucky and hit gold through the draft. Your 2 years from now, "sign a big FA" just isn't a real scenario for Cleveland. We have never in our teams history signed a big FA, excluding LeBron for obvious reasons. (unless you consider Bynum a big signing) No big name will sign here. It's just a reality for markets like ours.
 

AllforOne

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If we are to get good again, we will have to get lucky and hit gold through the draft. Your 2 years from now, "sign a big FA" just isn't a real scenario for Cleveland. We have never in our teams history signed a big FA, excluding LeBron for obvious reasons. (unless you consider Bynum a big signing) No big name will sign here. It's just a reality for markets like ours.
Which is why I also said that they should collect the assets so that they can trade for a superstar should one become available (and they do; Kawhi being the most recent and successful example).
 

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