The Cleveland Cavaliers broke the bank this summer, re-signing Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert to long-term deals, as well as LeBron James‘ latest two-year deal with the second year a player option. Their total payroll for this season is upwards of $175 million, including a $65 million luxury tax bill. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert told reporters on Friday that he’s happy to pay this heavy cost to put the best team out there.
“We’re committed; we’re all-in … When you invest in something like a sports franchise and you’re in for so much … if you at the margins start pulling back, I think that may be foolish on a lot of fronts,” Gilbert said before the Cavs beat the Miami Heat 102-92. “We’re investing for the future as well as the current.”
With the exception of James, who can be a free agent next summer, the Cavs now have their entire core locked up for the next four seasons, as Kyrie Irving is at the start of a new extension he signed last year. Gilbert said that was a driving force behind all the spending in the offseason.
“These guys who are under these large contracts, that’s a core for four or five years,” Gilbert said. “That’s an eternity in this league. As we’ve seen with NBA franchises, that formula can work.”
Even with the salary cap going up next summer, the Cavs’ tax bill likely isn’t going to go down anytime soon. James can opt out and will probably do so in order to sign a long-term deal that could be worth as much as $200 million. Timofey Mozgov will also be a free agent, and he’s due for a major raise that the Cavs will have no choice but to give him. This is the price of James’ decision to come home — his window as the best player in the league is closing, and Gilbert has to do everything he can to make this team title-ready before that happens. That includes breaking out the checkbook.