Hours before the 2017 NBA Draft, news broke that the Cleveland Cavaliers had given up on their efforts to acquire star talent in order to compete with the Golden State Warriors. This was mainly done because the Cavs learned that the trade value of Kevin Love was not as expected, as the Pacers and Bulls would want other established starters in order to give Paul George or Jimmy Butler to the Cavaliers. Now, Cleveland’s options are very limited as to what they can do in order to become 2018 NBA champions.
With both the Pacers and Bulls wanting two legitimate starters, including Love, it shows that both the Bulls and the Pacers want to compete now with the stars they already have. This also shows that since, according to reports, Paul George is ‘very unlikely’ to be a Pacer this upcoming season, Indiana probably prefers a package of draft picks and young players from a team like the Lakers. This is instead of lesser players than George, who have already achieved their full potential.
As far as what is next for the Cavaliers, they are locked into paying more than 125 million dollars to their players next year, which is about 26 million dollars over the projected salary cap of about 99 million dollars. Because these contracts are fully guaranteed, it will be incredibly difficult for Cleveland to acquire talent that can give them a good chance to be NBA champions come next year.
This, along with letting former GM David Griffin walk, is a very bad sign for both the present situation of the Cavaliers, as well as looking two or three more years down the road, as the team from the Bay Area enjoys their champagne-filled parades.
Cleveland thought that Paul George and Jimmy Butler were easily available, but quickly learned that in order to get them they would have to give up their third best player and then some. Once a trade deal seems to hurt a team more than help a team, that’s when a team should pull out of trade talks. That is exactly what Cleveland did.
In the end, the Cavaliers are still title contenders and the best team in the East, but at this moment very much regret the 10+ million dollar per year contracts awarded to JR Smith, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert. These players are vastly overpaid, given that they combined for 18.3% of their teams’ points in the Finals, while occupying nearly 30% of their team’s payroll. On top of that, these three bad contracts are all locked in through at least next season.
The Cavaliers have completely blown it while trying to take some of the load off of LeBron, as they have completely out-kicked their coverage. While their hopes were that the argument would become: “Which team will win?”, the conversation remains: “How many games can the Warriors win on their way to an inevitable repeat?”