The Cavaliers exceeded expectations this year, especially once both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were lost at different points in the playoffs with season-ending injuries.
Theoretically, if the team had remained fully healthy, there’s no telling how things may have played out. There’s hope in Cleveland to see about that next year, but there’s a lot of uncertainty with regard to the future of the roster.
LeBron James and Kevin Love have player options for next season, and can both choose to become unrestricted free agents. Cavaliers GM David Griffin says he expects them to do exactly that — before ultimately re-signing.
From Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com:
Griffin said Thursday he expects both James and Kevin Love to become free agents later this month and expects both to return next season. Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova will receive qualifying offers, making them restricted free agents that will allow the Cavs to match any offers they receive in free agency. Griffin would like to keep all three, essentially maintaining the core of a team that won 53 games and advanced to the Finals for the second time in team history.
“We very much intend to keep this group together,” Griffin said. “You look at that as a group that has the potential to be special, special good.”
The most likely outcome for James is for him to opt out to get a raise of a few million dollars for next season on a max deal under the increased salary cap, while once again keeping a player option on a deal for the following season. This type of structure will continue to give James a maximum amount of earning potential, while keeping the pressure on the Cavaliers franchise to continue to make improvements to the roster at the very same time.
Things are far less clear where Love is concerned. He could structure his next contract in similar fashion, and that may make the most sense. But if he were to want to lock down some financial security for the future with something approaching a five-year contract worth the max, the franchise would have a difficult decision on its hands.
There are role-players like J.R. Smith who will more than likely opt out as well, and there are restricted free agents Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova who the Cavaliers have the right to retain, but may choose not to if the market dictates a higher-than-expected value for their services.
There’s work to be done with this Cavaliers roster, in order to bulletproof it for the rigors of next season. It all starts with LeBron and Love, however, and how they choose to structure their next deals will be extremely interesting to watch.