2020 Offseason Outlook - Cleveland Cavaliers



Overview


At the suspension of the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a record of 19-46 which placed them at 15th in the Eastern Conference and 29th in the league. The main focus on the Cavaliers this offseason is whether or not Andre Drummond will opt into his player option, with seemingly all of Cleveland’s decisions depending on him. Despite the extremely disappointing record, there are some positives that Cleveland can take out of this season. They have further developed their young trio, Darius Garland, Colin Sexton and Kevin Porter Jr who they hope to lead them to the playoffs in the future. Additionally, they traded for a top ten center in Andre Drummond who they hope to give some leadership alongside Kevin Love in their frontcourt and lift the team’s defence. This offseason, the Cavaliers will look to draft well and will out there bench with a good combination of young players who can develop with the team and experienced veterans to mentor the team as they continue the early stages of their rebuild.


Salary Cap


Currently, the Cleveland Cavaliers have 9 players with guaranteed contracts for the 2020-21 season. They only have one player with an option, but it will determine their offseason goals. Andre Drummond has a $28.7 million player option for next season which he has not yet opted into. If he opted out, Drummond would be one of the top free agents in this weak free agency class but due to his lack of impact on team success in recent years as well as his recent injury history, it is not expected that he would be offered a contract anywhere near the value of his option, especially as few teams have salary cap space available this offseason. If his does opt in, as expected, this would force the Cavaliers over the salary cap and take them out of the running to sign any top free agents this year. Dean Wade is entering free agency as a restricted free agent. Their unrestricted free agents are Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, Ante Zizic, Channing Frye and Nik Stauskas. Cleveland have a $9.2 million mid-level exception, a $3.6 million bi-annual exception and a $3.8 million trade exception which expires in December all available to them.


Depth Chart –

Free Agency


The Cleveland Cavaliers are still early in the rebuilding process, and with Andre Drummond expected to opt into his large player option as well as the weak free agency class, they are not going to be in a position to go after any star free agents this offseason. Their main focus will be to bring back some of their free agents as well as signing a backup power forward with their mid-level exception. Their main free agent this year is Tristan Thompson who was a part of their championship side and has been on a negative value contract as a result of that since then. Since trading for Drummond, the Cavs have struggled with their over-abundance of centers and with Nance coming off the bench, they do not need to bring back Thompson and can instead look to sign a cheaper option to come off the bench at the power forward position. The Cavs can look to take a chance on young power forward from Minnesota, Noah Vonleh, who has bounced around the league since being drafted in 2014. Vonleh has played for seven teams since being drafted and has not had the chance to settle in and develop. Vonleh would come off the bench for Kevin Love and provide some size and rim protection alongside Larry Nance. In addition to Vonleh, the Cavs should look to bring back veterans, Matthew Dellavedova and Channing Frye to come of the bench and provide some veteran leadership as well as young player Ante Zizic to fill out their young 15-man roster.


2020 Draft


The Cleveland Cavaliers have the 2nd projected pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. The Cavaliers will look to draft with this pick to continue to build young assets to continue their rebuild in the post-LeBron era. As there is no distinct order at the top of this draft class, teams are expected to draft based on team need rather than talent. With the 2nd projected pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Cavaliers should look to draft Anthony Edwards, a 6’5” shooting guard out of Georgia. Edwards is one of the top prospects in this draft and the Cavs would be crazy not to take him with the 2nd pick if he is available. Edwards has the potential to become a strong playmaker and elite two-way wing player as a top option on a championship team. The biggest question with Edwards is whether he will put in the effort required on defence in order to contribute on that end of the floor. Cleveland can look to adopt a three-guard line-up like OKC with Garland, Sexton and Edwards and if Edwards brings the effort on defence, he has an opportunity to become the new face of this rebuilding franchise.


Summary


The Cleveland Cavaliers will enter the 2020 offseason looking to build assets in preparation for the 2021 offseason that they can use to help trade away large negative-value contracts like Kevin Love in order to sign a star free agent next year. I expect them to let Tristan Thompson walk in free agency and bring back cheaper veterans to provide some leadership to their young core as they continue to rebuild. They should also look to draft top prospect, Anthony Edwards, to hopefully develop into their next star player in the post-LeBron era. If key players can develop and if they can avoid off-court drama that they suffered this season, then the Cavaliers can look to be competitive for the 8th seed next season.


Projected Depth Chart 2020/21 Season –