In hopes to address these concerns, Chris and I visited our not-so-round table (technically a line to anyone that follows geometrical principles) to discuss the roster flexibility.
We're almost through the excruciating stretch of months without basketball and the Cleveland Cavaliers are clearly gearing up for a title run. The latest rumor making its way around the Twitter-sphere is that the Cavaliers will trade for Roy Hibbert (presumably giving up Anderson Varejao in the process).
Some pundits are concerned that the Cavs will box themselves into a corner (too much salary, too quickly) and will be unable to maintain roster flexibility; the same fate that eventually befell the Miami Heat.
What do you think?
One more week! Seems like the offseason has flown by, aside from this last month of inactivity. Luckily the last two days have seen more action than Keith Bogans got on the court all last year! (Unfortunately it came at the cost of three second round picks)
The news of the past couple days is both promising and concerning at the same time. On one hand, the Cavs have essentially given up all their second round picks through 2018 for a trade exception worth about $5.3M, certainly nothing to scoff at. On the other hand, it sets the table for Griffin to make one more move to cap off a fairly spectacular offseason for any GM, much less a first-year. The rumors that the Cavs have a trade lined up for Hibbert don't concern me so much (in fact the opposite). It's the fact that they've given up so much already for a team that is almost 75% new.
Don't get me wrong here, if the Cavs manage to land Hibbert (in a trade most likely involving the Bogans exception and Andy), there's little to no doubt that they will be favored to win the championship. In fact, they probably will be favored for the next 3-5 years, depending on health and under the assumption that the team gels. The issue that has me weary is what the cost has been to get to this point.
The Cavs have been trading away draft picks like crazy. They now are missing their next 4 second round draft picks, as well as their 1st round pick in 2016. They do have their own 1st and Memphis' 1st for this upcoming year (assuming the protections restrictions are met), but I would bet that the Memphis pick would be going in a trade for Hibbert. This leaves the Cavs with what would likely be a 1st next year and a 1st in 2017 as the only picks that the Cavs have for the next 3 years. To be fair, they are also owed several 2nd round picks under specific restrictions, but many may never come to light. (You can check out all of the future picks that are owed here)
The question that I have to ask is, what if the team doesn't work in it's current incarnation? How do they improve after this year?
Those are valid concerns but I also think you're glazing over something fairly crucial here.
Kryie Irving is 22
Dion Waiters is 22
LeBron James is 29 (soon to be 30)
Kevin Love is 26
Roy Hibbert is 27
Even sans James, that core of guys is an Eastern Conference contender for the next 5-7 years and the Cavaliers will get a decade, minimum, out of Irving and Waiters barring trade or injury. Which means the real question is this---will the Cavs ability to replenish the bench/add young talent be diminished?
Currently the bench is impressive, if old:
Mike Miller is 34
Shawn Marion is 36
Tristan Thompson is 23
The Cavs also have Matthew Dellavedova and Joe Harris at the guard position (and James Jones) and Brendan Haywood at Center.
That's a solid bench unit. If Blatt utilizes them correctly, and I believe he will, then that's a Championship caliber basketball team. And they will be for many years. Vets who want to chase a championship will happily negotiate with this team. The Cavs are basically committing to a roster of 20-somethings that they can surround with quality veterans. Last I checked, that's a recipe for dynasties.
While I do agree with you that, on paper, it looks incredibly impressive and young, I think you're overlooking something crucial: cap space.
I'm not a salary cap whiz, but I do know that there are some very strict rules you must follow in regards to being over the cap.With just the starting lineup alone, the Cavs will be pushing the luxury tax this year, and that doesn't even consider the upcoming extensions for Love, LeBron, Kyrie (kicks in during the '15-'16 season), and possibly Waiters and Thompson. This means that not only is Dan Gilbert shelling out $4 for every $1 that he'll be spending above the luxury tax, but they will be severely limited in ways to add additional players.
Also bare in mind that Delly and Joe Harris are only under contract for two years each. I'll bet that Delly will get a deal in the $4-5M range, while Harris may be easy to retain, since he won't see much playing time early on. That really only leaves draft picks as the only ways to continue depth, which we're currently trading away simply for future trade bait.
All I'm trying to say is that, unless Gilbert feels like he has endlessly deep pockets to keep this team afloat, or the salary cap rises to un-measurable levels, it won't be possible to sustain a team with this many players making $15M+ a year, even if you do retain their rights.
Cap is a potential hang-up.
Until you remember that the new TV deal will kick-in soon (which will significantly increase the Association's annual revenue and therefore the salary floor and cap). Irving's contract is significant now (as is LeBron's and Love's) but the new CBA/new cap will offer a lot of breathing room for the team. If the Cavaliers manage to sign Love to a long-term deal (something that's been rumored for awhile now) then the Cavs will actually be in a pretty good position for the next five years or so.
LBJ has indicated that he wants a short-term deal now so that he can extend it after the new TV revenue. That gives the Cavs one long-term max player. They'll be in a good position moving forward.
PLUS, they're winning a ring. That roster will win at least one ring. I'm calling that fucking shot.
Maybe I'm just greedy, but I want a DYNASTY. I feel like Cleveland deserves it. They're set up right now to become the next Spurs if Blatt works out and they draft well. I don't want it to be wasted away simply because they got too greedy in the immediate future.
This roster will be absolutely amazing, and probably will win the championship next year. I just think making these moves this second may not be the best possible move. I'd rather see how well the team clicks and find out where the holes really are, instead of looking where they are in theory.
There's always the possibility of trading away a Waiters or Thompson for good young pieces if they seem over the top of what's necessary to win, but I'd like to avoid having to do that if at all possible.
There's really only one way to see how this all plays out though, and that involves waiting until the first tip of the season: October 30th vs. the Knicks.
I think what they're doing IS constructing a DYNASTY.
But I also agree with you. We won't know what holes this team has until that orange ball is thrown towards the rafters in late October.
Here's hoping that God has finally decided he doesn't hate Cleveland. He hates Bill Simmons. (Sorry about your ESPN suspension Bill).