Hood will be free to sign an offer sheet with another team once free agency commences, though the Cavaliers retain the right to match any offer.
It will be fascinating to see what types of offers Hood receives on the market and what price the Cavaliers are willing to match. The 25-year-old wing struggled in Cleveland, averaging 10.8 points per game after being acquired midseason from the Utah Jazz. That production dropped to just 5.4 points in the postseason.
That said, teams around the league may take note that Hood was in the midst of a career year before the trade, averaging career highs in points (16.8) and three-point shooting (38.9 percent). According to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports, the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans are among the contenders for his services.
If the Cavaliers believe Hood will take strides with more time in the team's system, they may bank on his talent and upside to eventually translate. And if LeBron James signs elsewhere, they could be reluctant to lose any other potential scorers.
According to Vardon, a source said "the Cavs view him as a part of their future."
The Cavaliers will also be over the cap even if James departs, so outside of trades, the team doesn't have much flexibility to dramatically improve in free agency. They could be looking at a core group of Kevin Love, JR Smith, Tristan Thompson, Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Hood.
That group would likely struggle to reach the postseason—even in the weaker Eastern Conference—with a seventh or eighth seed as its upside.
An improved Hood could help those efforts, however, making the team's reported desire to keep him a logical mentality. And if James does return—and the front office is willing to wade through the depths of luxury-tax hell—keeping solid role players around him will be key.