NBA Free Agents 2012: 5 Players Cleveland Cavaliers Should Target
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As of right now the Cavs have a total committed team salary of $9.1 million for the 2013-2014 season. That $9.1 million is the combined 2013-2014 salaries of Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Omri Casspi and Kyrie Irving.
That’s four players they have on the books for the 2013-2014 season. That figure ranks 30th among all NBA franchises. That number will indubitably increase after this years upcoming draft where the Cavs will have four picks and will consequently add four more salaries, but nonetheless, the team will still be in a extremely good position.
Since the events that occurred in the summer of 2010, the Cavs have unloaded and rebuilt.
By professional sports franchise standards, they’ve done it in a incredibly short time span too. It turns out that kind of stuff isn't all that hard to do when you're allowed to amnesty Baron Davis at the expense of being able to draft Kyrie Irving.
So yes, over the next two seasons the Cavs will have a ton of cap room.
What's interesting about that is: 1) their owner is Dan Gilbert—the same guy who paid so many luxury taxes in the 2009-2010 season that he was 30 percent of the reason the lockout happened (and lasted so long) in the first place; and 2) Gilbert hasn't found himself under the cap since the Larry Hughes signing, so there's no telling what he might do this summer or next (not sure if that's a good or bad thing though).
So here are five players they could be targeting in the next two year’s.
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I was never a fan of the Cavs potentially going after a shooting guard in the early part of the draft. That's only because there are a slew of them to be had in free agency or later in the draft.
For instance—Jamal Crawford, Kirk Hinrich, Randy Foye, O.J. Mayo and Eric Gordon are all potential options for Cleveland this summer.
After watching a significant amount of Florida's Bradley Beal, I changed my stance on the whole "don't take a SG in the lottery." But be that as it may, it's possible that Beal is off the board when the Cavs make their first selection, and if that is the case, then Eric Gordon is the best option.
Of all the top free agents this season, Gordon, according to one ESPN Insider article, would be the Cavs biggest target. With Kyrie Irving at the point, Gordon would make the Cavs starting backcourt one of the more dangerous duos in the NBA. He's been injured for nearly the entire 2012 season, but he is still only 23 years of age.
Last year in his third NBA season he averaged 22.3 points with Clippers.
When it comes to signing Gordon it might be a wait and see game, though. That's because with the new CBA no one is really sure what his market value is, or should be. In my estimation I would say it is possible he gets a max deal (or something really close) this summer.
If you're a Cavs fan though, you don't want your team to be that team granting him that deal. Not after you just spent the past two years clearing cap. Not after your owner was basically the reason the Chris Paul trade was vetoed. Not after that veto led to Gordon being traded to New Orleans (and will now become a free agent because of it). Not after we just had a lockout to fix the whole "crappy teams" with cap space splurging on (relatively) unproven players with an injury history.
(Thinking about it)
But heck, even I have to admit that a backcourt of Irving and Gordon would look really, really good.
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If they can't get Gordon they probably make a run at Mayo. It's vice versa too, if they make Mayo their first priority and lose out they probably look to Gordon. But again, the only way either one of these scenarios happen is if they walk away from the draft without Bradley Beal.
Unlike the Hornets' situation, where they simply can't afford to resign Gordon because the franchise is losing money, the Grizzlies might not be able to afford to keep Mayo around because they lack the cap room.
Mayo is a restricted free agent who is set to make $7 million from Memphis next season, but it's possible he leaves that on the table to go somewhere else. It's possible Memphis retains him, but it would require Mayo to take less money (in the long term) and remain the sixth man coming off the bench.
In most circles (fan circles) Mayo is a bit underrated.
A typical person might hear the name O.J. Mayo and think, "Paid to play at USC, Tim Floyd scandal, hyped high schooler, screwed USC's basketball program, etc." With that, they assume Mayo is more trouble than he is worth. That's not the case at all.
In his first two seasons when he was in the starting role for the up-and-coming Grizzlies, he was averaging 18 points per game. Since being relegated to the bench the past two seasons, that average has dipped down to 12 points per game. Despite that, Mayo is still a great player who has improved every year.
Like Gordon he is still a very young talent at 24 years of age and whether relevant or not, he's from Ohio (Cincinnati). He's a huge reason why the Grizzlies are considered sleepers to win it all this year.
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With the loss of Ramon Sessions the Cavs are going to have to find another viable backup PG to play behind Kyrie Irving.
Other than his name, there is nothing sexy about Dragic. With that said, he's actually a really good player. When given the minutes, he's played very well. With Kyle Lowry sidelined with an injury, he's put up some very impressive number averaging 18 points and 8.7 assists in his last 10 games.
It's possible, though, that another team makes a run at Dragic to fill their starting role. So with that said the Cavs are likely going to use the back end of the draft in the next year or two to shore up the backup point guard problem. And yes, if Manny Harris and/or Donald Sloan are on your NBA roster you have a backup point guard problem.
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Hibbert is a restricted free agent this summer meaning Indiana can match any teams offer with an offer of their own. It looks as if Indiana has the inside edge on Hibbert, but the checkbook of another team might have something to say about that. Maybe that team is the Cavs?
True centers are a valuable commodity that not a lot of teams have.
This season Hibbert has shown he can be one of the top 5-10 centers in the league for years to come. The entire reason no one knows where Andrew Drummond will be drafted is because we simply don't know which team is willing to risk their top lottery pick on a position that is so hard to project at the next level.
Anytime you can get an already-proven center, you've got to be intrigued. If the Cavs are to ever trade Anderson Varejao, Hibbert could be a nice long term replacement. A front court of Hibbert and Thompson would be a nice duo for the future.
Marcus Camby is another possibility, but he's getting up there in age. Realistically, the Cavs are most likely to go up for Chris Kaman.
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As mentioned in the opening slide, the way things stand right now the Cavs will probably have the most cap room in the league in the summer of 2013. That's only if they stand pat this offseason. So for all those Cavs fans who wouldn't mind seeing LeBron James make a return to Cleveland, how about this scenario...
The Cavs stay quiet this offseason in free agency, they grab Bradley Beal in the draft, Dwight Howard re-ups another year with the Magic (like he said he would at the deadline) and then he signs with Cleveland in 2013.
Why does he sign with Cleveland? Because he knows LeBron will decline his player option in Miami in 2014-2015 and come back to Cleveland. Why does he know this? Because LeBron is so desperate to get out of Miami and win a championship that he tells him. LeBron tells him because he knows the only way he can ever come back to Cleveland is if he came with someone like Dwight Howard.
Sorry, I'm just saying...