Cavaliers Exercise Contract Options on Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Two Others

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Cavaliers Exercise Contract Options on Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Two Others
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers are keeping the band together.

Cleveland announced it has officially exercised fourth-year team options on Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, and third-year options on Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller, for 2014-15.

This isn't at all unexpected, but it is further evidence that Cleveland's future is trending in the right direction.

Together, these four combined for 13.4 of Cleveland's 24 wins last season, or 55.8 percent. That was with Irving and Waiters missing 20-plus games apiece, too.

With all four slated to earn under $7.1 million each in 2014-15, the Cavs weren't going to find cheaper or more talented help elsewhere.

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Irving is the star Cleveland will need to land other stars.

Irving is already a star. ESPN ranked him as the league's eighth-best player heading into 2013-14 and he made his first All-Star Game appearance as a sophomore.

His arrival injected life into the franchise less than one year after LeBron James spurned Cleveland for the Miami Heat. Retaining him has always been imperative, as he'll also be the focal point of any pitch the Cavs make to LeBron this summer.

Waiters instantly became the team's No. 2 scoring option after leaving Syracuse.

His 14.7 points per game last season ranked second on the team and his usage rate (26.1) came in at third.

Shot selection and general efficiency remain the keys to his development. He connected on just 41.2 percent of his field-goal attempts overall (ninth on the team) and failed to spread defenses with his sub-par three-point shooting (31 percent).

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Thompson's future with the Cavs came under siege after they selected Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick in last summer's draft. Bennett, a tweener, projected as an undersized power forward, the same position Thompson plays.

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Health being a question for Bennett—he had shoulder surgery during the offseason—proves that Thompson isn't expendable, especially when you consider how injury-prone Andrew Bynum and Anderson Varejao are.

Bennett's ability to shoot the three and put the ball on the floor also allows him to play small forward, and ultimately share the floor with Thompson.

Zeller is a crucial piece to the puzzle as well. He was standoffish for most of his rookie campaign, but hit the glass hard while on the floor, bringing down 7.8 boards per 36 minutes of action. 

Future trades cannot be accounted for, but this is a core the Cavs weren't about to break up or leave to chance. Not when they all represent the changing of the tide Cleveland has been building toward since 2010.

 

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