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Cleveland Cavaliers Free Agency: LeBron James and the Top Five Targets
As the clock struck midnight, the beginning of one of the biggest offseasons in the history of the Cleveland Cavaliers organization began. After landing Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, David Griffin and the Cavaliers front office will look to use their large amount of cap space to surround All-Star Kyrie Irving with a talented cast to help the franchise return to the playoffs.
Before all of that happens, though, it appears the Cavaliers locked up Irving to a long-term contract of his own. According to reports, the Cavaliers contingent was headed to New Jersey—Irving’s home—to offer Irving his first max extension as soon as they could on July 1st. The former No. 1 overall pick agreed to the likely five-year, $90 million deal, which gives the Cavaliers more leverage when it comes to negotiations with potential free agents.
Speaking of potential free agents, with so many rumors out there it is pretty tough to sift through the realistic options for this team. Obviously the biggest target available is LeBron James, but nobody knows if he is really looking at making a return to the franchise he once revived and turned into a major playoff contender year in and year out.
Though the likes of James and Carmelo Anthony are the biggest prizes, there are plenty of players who could make an impact out there on the open market. For a Cavaliers team which has a lot of youth on the roster, locking up one or two of the following five players on this list would make for a huge first offseason for Griffin and new head coach, David Blatt.
LeBron James, SF, Miami Heat
If you honestly thought I would leave James off this list, you are sadly mistaken. James is the best player in the NBA, and just so happens to play a position that the Cavaliers have had little to no impact at since he left for Miami back in 2010. With rumors swirling that James would actually consider a return to Cleveland, he has to be No. 1 on this list.
But will he actually return to Cleveland? That is the question to be answered, as it looks like James desires a real max contract this time around—and unlike a lot of teams, the Cavaliers can offer him that. Add in the fact that Irving is a 22-year old All-Star, the Cavaliers just drafted a highly touted young player in Wiggins and the team has a cast of other young players with untapped potential, and you may have a case to make. If that isn’t enough, the Cavaliers have plenty of assets to make available to another team to bring in a guy like Kevin Love, if that is what James desires.
Marcin Gortat, C, Washington Wizards
Standing 6’11” and 240 pounds, Gortat is the center this Cavaliers roster desperately needs. Coming off a season in which he averaged 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds, Gortat has the ability to alter the way offenses attack the rim thanks to his excellent shot-blocking skills. He really flourished playing with the likes of John Wall and Bradley Beal in Washington last season, which means that playing with another athletic guard like Irving could be very appealing.
At 30-years old, Gortat will likely be looking to cash in on his season for one last decent contract, though. After making just north of $7 million last season, it would surprise me if his agent was seeking anything less than a four-year deal worth $40 million. If the Cavaliers miss out on a guy like James, Gortat could be one of a couple players this team targets.
Greg Monroe, C, Detroit Pistons
Though Monroe is a restricted free agent, the Cavaliers should highly consider making a run at a player who is blossoming into one of the best centers in the league. At 6’11” and 250 pounds, the product of Georgetown averaged 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds for the Pistons last season.
Just 24-years of age, the Pistons would be idiots to not match any offer on the table for their big man. Which is why the Cavaliers should make a substantial offer for him, because the Cavaliers could drive up the price tag and force the Pistons to pay more than they want to. And if the Pistons do not match, then the Cavaliers have one of the league’s best duos in Irving and Monroe for the next five years.
Chandler Parsons, SF, Houston
After drafting Wiggins, the Cavaliers still have a need for a small forward who will be able to space the floor. Many expect Wiggins to contribute immediately on the defensive end, but feel he will have to develop his outside shot more at the NBA level. For these reasons, adding a shooter like Parsons would be perfect and allow Wiggins and the other young players on this roster to not be forced into being something they are not until they are ready.
Parsons averaged 16.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season, which is why he will get a major pay increase this offseason. The 6’9” small forward made under $1 million last year, and at 25 years of age will be looking for his first decent contract of his NBA career.
Spencer Hawes, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
Coming over to the team in a mid-season trade, Hawes is coming off his best season as a pro. At just 26-years old, the 7’1” and 240-pound big man proved to be an important part in the team’s late season push. Hawes averaged 13.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season, and really had nice chemistry with the young players on the team’s roster.
So why isn’t he higher up on this list? After making $6.5 million a year last season, Hawes is likely going to get a major pay increase with so many teams seeking stretch post players who can run the floor. Likely to command a figure in the $10-12 million range, if he is willing to take something around $8-9 million, he could be in play for the Cavaliers.
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