It is a big off-season for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they look to prove to LeBron James they can build a long-term contender around him. While it starts with the draft, it is unclear how much the Cavs draft picks will impact James decision either way. Cleveland entered the draft with the No. 8 pick, and the chance to add a real difference maker to their team. The Cavs also had a glaring hole at point guard, and looked to have filled that with Alabama’s Collin Sexton.
Here’s a look at the current Cavs roster, and projected starting lineup. We will continue to update this as Cleveland selects more players. Free agents are listed in italics. TO stands for team option, FA means unrestricted free agent and RFA means restricted free agent.
Cavs Roster & Projected Starting Lineup for 2018
C- Kevin Love, Ante Zizic, Kendrick Perkins (TO)
PF- Tristan Thompson, Larry Nance Jr., Jeff Green (FA), Okaro White
SF- LeBron James (TO), Cedi Osman,
SG- J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, Rodney Hood (RFA), John Holland
PG- Collin Sexton, George Hill, Jordan Clarkson
Cleveland has little options with no cap space, and a fair amount of bad contracts making the trade market difficult. Aside from Sexton, Kevin Love is likely their most tradeable asset, but even his value has gone down since they first acquired him. Part of this is a result of his play, but a large part has to do with the decreasing value of big men around the league. Here’s a look at the Cavs cap situation.
Cavs Cap Space Projection 2018: -$58 Million
You’re reading that right, the Cavs are nearly $60 million over the cap, per Real GM’s Keith Smith’s projections. The Cavs are projected to be $58.19 million over the cap. This number obviously goes down if James opts to sign elsewhere, but even without James the Cavs will not have space.
The reason for this is the amount of bad contracts on the Cavs roster. George Hill will make $19 million, Tristan Thompson is at $17.4 million and J.R. Smith will earn $14.7 million.
Cavs GM Koby Altman made a few last-minute trades at the deadline to try to entice James to stay. ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz spoke to Cleveland.com about the Cavs outlook heading into the draft.
“For the Cavs it depends on where Porter goes,” Schmitz explained to Cleveland.com. “I think (Knox) is a guy who’s really helped him in this pre-draft process. I think Kentucky guys, you kind of want to see them away from that setting at times. I think you’ve seen it with Devin Booker, who’s really popped with freedom in the NBA. He played such a specific role with Kentucky, and I think with Kevin, people are seeing an 18-year-old, 6-foot-9 kid who has length and can score in a variety of ways. I do think he’s another guy (Knox) who will probably get a long look there.”