Taste of Playoffs for Cleveland
The 2022 offseason was massive for the Cleveland Cavaliers, making an important trade to acquire Donovan Mitchell. The trade would boost the team’s NBA playoff odds, which they would cash in on, having the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.
On offense, the backcourt pairing of Mitchell and Darius Garland would prove crucial, with Clelvand having the ninth-best offensive rating. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen were a big duo to anchor the best-rated defense in the league. The combination made the Cavaliers great for NBA picks.
However, the team’s shortcomings were on full display in the playoffs. The Cavaliers lost to the fifth-seeded New York Knicks in the first round. What ended up headlining NBA news was how the Cavaliers lost, only winning one game in a series that most people thought was evenly matched.
It was clear that the Cavaliers are a few moves away from having legit NBA title odds. While this offseason may not have the same splash moves as the last, it is more about getting Cleveland the right pieces to break into that next tier of teams in the East.
That may make NBA predictions easier because it will focus on specific roles that the Cavaliers need to fill.
2022-23 Season Record
Status of Coach: J.B. Bickerstaff. His job is safe, but he has a tough start to the 2023-24 season.
Positions Of Need For the Cavaliers
- Starting Small Forward
- Third Offensive Threat
- Wings That Can Shoot
- Championship Level Depth
Possible Free Agency Plan
There are two obvious glaring issues that this Clelvand roster has and will need to address this offseason. One is that there is no reliable starting small forward, which can also be the third scoring option. Next, the roster lacks consistent 3-and-D players or wingers that are floor spacers.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) May 9, 2023
Two players would almost seamlessly fit and change the team’s future in the eyes of sportsbooks: Jerami Grant and Kyle Kuzma. Both are two of the best small forwards on the market, good floor spacers and have shown the talent to be elite scoring options. There is also a bonus that they can play power forward, allowing the Cavaliers to play small ball with Mobley or Allen as a lone big. Grant would be the best fit, given that he is a much better defender and would only elevate the league’s best defense.
However, the only problem is that Grant and Kuzma will look for big deals. While the Cavaliers’ cap space situation isn’t horrible, Mitchell and Garland are both max players, making $33 million, with Allen adding an extra $20 million. On top of that, Mobley will be in the third year of his rookie deal, meaning he is up for a sizable extension soon. That makes signing Grant and Kuzma, while the best option, likely impossible without some significant cap space moves.
Kelly Oubre Jr. would be an exciting backup option, possibly for less money. His offensive game has a lot of upside, averaging 20.3 points per game last season. The only issue is that Oubre has not shown much growth on the defensive end. The Cavaliers might be fine sacrificing some defense to gain more scoring.
The exact opposite of Oubre would be to sign Dillon Brooks. However, that would put the Cavaliers in the same position with Isaac Okoro starting at small forward, which happened most of the last season. Both are solid to elite defenders who struggling on offense.
If the prior options fail, Josh Richardson, Lonnie Walker IV and Jae Crowder could fill in. They are all decent floor spacers and, outside of Walker, are solid defenders. The only issue with this plan is Clelvand would likely have to sign two of them to add some depth.
First-Round Lottery Odds
The Cavaliers do not have a pick in the first round, having traded it to the Indiana Pacers.
Possible Draft Plan
Whatever plans the Cavaliers have on improving the roster will have to happen through free agency. This draft’s first-round pick was traded to the Pacers to acquire Caris LeVert, who might leave in the offseason. Cleveland also has no future draft picks valuable enough to get back into the first round.
Cleveland does have a second-round pick at No. 49. While second-round picks have had more value in recent years, it is still challenging for a player selected late in the draft to have an immediate impact.