“Congratulations, Koby. Here’s your new corner office with a view, meet your new executive assistant, and finally here are the keys to the Cavaliers franchise… oh, and by the way, Kyrie Irving wants to be traded. And LeBron James is a free agent next year. Good luck with all that, we’ll leave you to it.”
Since Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert inexplicably let go of David Griffin as the team’s general manager, assistant GM Kobe Altman has stepped into the lead role for the franchise. Now Gilbert is going to remove the interim tag from Altman’s title, according to multiple reports. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was first.
Now that he has the job, all he has to do is find a new home for Irving, who has demanded a trade… or he doesn’t have to. Irving may be traded this summer, but he has two years left on his deal so Altman could just bring him back with LeBron and Kevin Love and make another run at it. Or he could sit back and listen to trade offers from a lot of teams, and if he sees one he likes pounce — Irving (unlike Carmelo Anthony) doesn’t have a no-trade clause, so he can go anywhere. Altman has leverage.
Altman respected around the league, but he took over a team up against the cap and tax, a team that needed to find a way to get more athletic to compete with the Warriors. Instead, the Cavs re-signed Kyle Korver (age 35), signed Jose Calderon (age 36), and re-signed Richard Jefferson (age 37). The Cavs have essentially treaded water this offseason, while Warriors, Celtics, and Rockets all got better. That’s not all on Altman, he was thrown into the job and with the team well into the tax his options were limited. He was handed a near impossible task.
Now Altman gets to own that task. Enjoy.
The Cavaliers have had a dud of an offseason.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert ousted general manager David Griffin just before the draft and didn’t offer enough money to lure Chauncey Billups as a replacement. Cleveland still hasn’t named a long-term front-office leader.
In the meantime, the Cavaliers have made a few low-key moves – signing Jose Calderon, Jeff Green and Cedi Osman and re-signing Kyle Korver. They reportedly won’t re-sign James Jones. They didn’t get Jamal Crawford or trade for Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
LeBron James noticed.
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
LeBron James, the NBA’s most powerful player and biggest star who brought the Cleveland Cavaliers their first NBA championship, is concerned about the Cavaliers’ offseason, a person close to the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
Expecting an aggressive offseason approach that would close the gap on the champion Golden State Warriors, James soon found his anticipation and optimism diminished after Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert dismantled the front office, declining days before the draft and free agency to bring back general manager David Griffin and vice president of basketball operations Trent Redden.
Gilbert’s decision left the Cavs without the franchise’s top two front-office execs at a critical time, and it left James frustrated and concerned about the team’s ability to put together a roster that can better compete with Golden State, the person with direct knowledge of James’ thinking told USA TODAY Sports.
So, Los Angeles, huh?
LeBron is not shy about pressuring Gilbert. The Cavs’ payroll is high, but the roster lags well behind the Warriors. Cleveland hasn’t used its full mid-level exception, and without someone authorized to take long-term control of the front office, nobody has the vision to go after the league’s available stars like Butler and George. With the Cavaliers’ championship window still open, this was a terrible time to stall.
And, of course, LeBron can be a free agent next summer. There’s still time to make amends and/or hope the Lakers look less appealing than they do on paper now, though others suitors will race out of the woodwork if LeBron shows any inclination of leaving.
It seems the Cavs are doing a decent job of alienating their superstar and giving other teams hope.
The Cavaliers’ bench is ancient.
Richard Jefferson (37), Kyle Korver (36), Jose Calderon (35) and Channing Frye (34) are past their primes. The worry is they run out of gas, just as LeBron James‘ supporting cast did his final year with the Heat. (Is this LeBron’s final season in Cleveland?)
But the Cavs will inject youth onto their roster with Cedi Osman, the No. 31 pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
The most the Cavaliers can contribute toward Osman’s buyout is $675,000. They’ll use a portion of the taxpayer mid-level exception to pay his base salary.
This is a good price on Osman, even with the included luxury-tax pain. Osman is a reasonably athletic hustle player with solid court vision. The Cleveland needs more players like him, especially considering he’s just 22.
Young players provide energy and contribute to an environment of not becoming content. The only players the Cavaliers acquired and rostered from the last four drafts were Kay Felder and Joe Harris, a couple second-rounders. Osman, whom I rated as a low first-rounder and who continued to develop overseas the last couple years, is a welcome addition.
We apparently live in a world where we can’t trust Ice Cube’s word.
The Cavaliers offered Billups a job running their front office, but contrary to Cube’s claim, Billups isn’t going to Cleveland.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Cavs’ job is an intriguing one. They’re contending for a championship, and Gilbert is willing to spend big.
But Gilbert can also be a pain, and LeBron James reportedly isn’t recruiting free agents this summer (perhaps a sign he intends to leave in 2018). Fitting between those two can be difficult, and it’s definitely pressure-packed. The position came with an added complication for Billups, who’s close with Tyronn Lue and might not have wanted to oversee the coach.
The Cavaliers are still conducting business with Koby Altman as acting general manager, already agreeing to re-sign Kyle Korver. But they went through the draft and start of free agency without a long-term front-office leader. With such narrow margin to catch the Warriors, Cleveland hasn’t empowered anyone with the vision to narrow the gap.
With Billups out of the picture, where will the Cavs turn now? They might have dodged a bullet, as Billups lacks front-office experience. Though his playing career, intelligence and communication skills give him great promise as an executive, learning on the job isn’t ideal when a team has its championship-contention window open.
But the Cavaliers have already spent a key portion of the offseason without a long-term president or general manager. Whoever gets the job now might be too far behind the eight ball to make much of a difference this season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are bringing back at least one role player from their 2017 NBA Finals run. According to Yahoo! Sports, Kyle Korver agreed to a three-year, $22 million deal with Cleveland on Sunday.
There’s no report yet on whether there are player or team options on Korver’s deal, but if he completes all three years he will end that final season at age 39.
The Cavaliers traded for Korver in 2017 in preparation for their Finals run, sending Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams, cash, and a protected 2019 first round pick to the Atlanta Hawks.
While at times his impact seemed limited, Korver did shoot 48.5 percent from 3-point range for the Cavaliers. At an average of just a little over $7 million a season, that deal seems a little steep for the sharpshooting small forward, but the Cavaliers are in a sticky situation when it comes to their cap space. Re-signing their own players seemed like the most likely option.
Cleveland recently added point guard Jose Calderon on a minimum salary deal. The Cavaliers continue to go through free agency without a general manager after letting David Griffin go earlier in the month of June.
The Cavaliers are well above the salary cap and will likely need to make more moves if they want to bolster their roster while they try to revamp in a weakened Eastern Conference.