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Summer agenda: Cleveland Cavaliers

Bobby Marks
·The Vertical
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The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, offers his thoughts on the offseason plans of NBA teams whose seasons have ended.

THE PLAN GOING FORWARD
The LeBron James contract
With an NBA championship with Cleveland under his belt, the LeBron James contract situation will become magnified on July 1.

LeBron James has a couple of options this summer. (AP)
LeBron James has a couple of options this summer. (AP)

James, will have two options if he were to opt out of his $24 million contract: sign a one-year contract with Cleveland or another team with a focus on 2017-18 or sign a four-year max contract with Cleveland or another team.

Signing the one-year contract would see James fall short of the $30 million max salary slot because non-Bird rights would need to be used. Although James qualifies for early Bird rights, rules state that a player must sign for a minimum of two years (not including options) to take advantage of the exception.

Going the one-year route means James could take advantage of the projected $107 million salary cap next summer.

Here’s a look at James’ contract options:

One-year deal with focus on 2017-18
Cleveland                           Another team
2016-17: $27.5 million        $31.0 million
2017-18: $35.7 million        $35.7 million
2018-19: $38.4 million        $37.4 million
2019-20: $41.3 million        $39 million
2020-21: $43.8 million        $40.6 million
2021-22: $46.5 million
Total: $233.1 million            $183.1 million

Signing long term this summer
Cleveland                            Another team
2016-17: $31 million            $31 million
2017-18: $33.2 million         $32.4 million
2018-19: $35.7 million         $33.8 million
2019-20: $38 million           $35.2 million
Total: $138 million               $132.4 million

The bench and Bird rights
Cleveland will need to weigh the value of its own free agents against those on the open market.

Because the Cavaliers have $99 million in guaranteed contracts, allowing Timofey Mozgov, Matthew Dellavedova and J.R. Smith to leave in free agency will not offer any cap relief for suitable replacements.

All three players have full Bird rights, and Cleveland can exceed the cap to bring back each player. However, the three players combined for $11 million in salary this past season and that figure could double in free agency.

Cleveland does not have Bird rights with reserve Richard Jefferson, who said he was planning to retire after the Cavs’ Game 7 win in the NBA Finals.

Jefferson proved to be the Cavaliers’ best option off the bench during the championship run. If he changes his mind and decides to play, Cleveland can only sign him for the $3.4 million tax mid-level.

Cleveland, without a first- or second-round pick, will only have the tax mid-level exception and minimum contracts to use if its free agents were to sign elsewhere.

The value of Kevin Love
Player A is a 28-year-old power forward who averaged 17 points and shot 42.7 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from three-point range. Player B is a 27-year-old power forward who averaged 16 points, shot 41.9 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range while averaging close to 10 rebounds per game.

Put Kevin Love (Player B) on the open market as a free agent and one would expect him to entertain better offers than the Hornets’ Ryan Anderson (Player A).

Fortunately, Cleveland has Love under contract for the next four seasons.

What Cleveland management will need to decide is if Love, who struggled in the Finals, fits into the philosophy of the franchise going forward.

With the rising salary cap, Love’s value will only grow based on how salaries will skyrocket in the future.

Team needs
The Cavaliers are limited when it comes to addressing their roster.

The options for Cleveland: bringing back its own free agents or exploring the free-agent market with limited resources.

Either option will have the Cavaliers looking for a backup point guard, small forward and center, and possibly a starting shooting guard.

SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN

Guaranteed

  2016-17

     Insider info

1. LeBron James

  $24,004,173

     Player option

2. Kevin Love

  $21,165,675

     None

3. Kyrie Irving

  $17,638,063

     Trade bonus

4. Tristan Thompson

  $15,330,435

     None

5. Iman Shumpert

  $9,662,922

     None

6. Channing Frye

  $7,808,971

     None

7. Mo Williams

  $2,194,500

     Player option

8. Sasha Kaun

  $1,333,420

     None

Non/partial

  2016-17

     Guarantee date

9. Jordan McRae

  $874,636

     June 29

10. Dahntay Jones

  $1,551,659

     Aug. 1

FA cap holds

  2016-17

     Free-agent status

11. J.R. Smith

  $9,500,000

     Full Bird rights

12. Timofey Mozgov

  $9,405,000

     Full Bird rights

13. Matthew Dellavedova

  $2,179,824

     Restricted/Full Bird rights

14. James Jones

  $980,431

     Early Bird rights

15. Richard Jefferson

  $980,431

     Non-Bird rights

CAP PICTURE

Guaranteed

   $99,138,159

Non/partial

   $2,426,295

FA cap holds

   $23,045,686

First-round holds

   $0

Minimum holds

   $0

Dead money

   $0

Total

   $124,610,140

Salary cap

   $94,000,000

Cap space

   None ($30,610,140 over)

PROJECTED CAP SPACE
With a projected cap of $94 million, Cleveland is one of the few teams that will focus on the luxury tax and not projected cap space.

The Cavaliers, with $99 million in guaranteed salaries, will see that number grow if they bring back their free agents.

Cleveland will have the tax mid-level exception of $3.4 million and minimum salaries to use if it wants to sign players outside of its core free agents.

JUNE DRAFT PICKS
First round: To Phoenix

Second round: To Boston

FUTURE PICKS
First round
2017: Own

2018: To Portland (Pick Nos. 11-30)

2019: To Portland (Pick Nos. 11-30)

Cavs own their first-round picks beginning in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Key rights to: Dom Pointer (Round 2, No. 53, 2015); Cedi Osman (Round 2, No. 31, 2015)

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