The first season of the second post-LeBron James era didn’t go well for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers finished tied for the second-worst record in the NBA with 19 wins and 63 losses. They will draft fifth in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft. The Cavaliers have a lot of salary cap maneuvering to do in the coming weeks to even have the ability to sign any of their free agent targets.
Free Agent Targets for the Cleveland Cavaliers
Salary Cap Situation
The Cavaliers’ salary cap situation is dreadful heading into the 2019 offseason. As things currently stand, they are more than $25 million over the salary cap for the 2019-2020 season. Barring any trades, the Cavaliers’ options are very limited. They will either have to bring players back or use their taxpayer Mid-Level Exception to sign a veteran backup.
The first course of action for the Cavaliers is re-signing David Nwaba. Nwaba was the best defender for Cleveland last season. He dealt with injuries in 2018-19 but was great defensively in the 51 games he appeared in. The Cavaliers should make him a priority free agent target due to lack of cap room and Nwaba’s defensive ability.
Nwaba is a player that isn’t going to give you a ton offensively. However, he can be effective as a cutter and finisher. He has excellent athleticism and a motor that’s always on. Nwaba doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective. He only averaged 6.5 points per game last season, but he did so on 48 percent shooting.
The Cavaliers acquired Nik Stauskas via free agency after he was waived by the Indiana Pacers. Another uneventful signing for Cleveland. But that’s the situation they are in. Stauskas was a lottery selection coming out of the University of Michigan but has been a bust so far.
The one skill he does have is shooting. He has shown, on a rare occasion, he can get hot and put points up in a hurry. The Cleveland roster is barren of players who have an above average skill. Nik Stauskas has above average perimeter shooting.
In the event that the Brooklyn Nets let Rondae Hollis-Jefferson go in free agency, the Cavaliers would be wise to make some moves to free up some cap space to make a run at him. Hollis-Jefferson has his warts, but he is a great defender, a good rebounder, and his motor is always revving. He would be an excellent fit for Cleveland as a small-ball four in their lineup.
The Cavaliers would have to open up some salary cap room in order to sign Hollis-Jefferson away from Brooklyn. The Nets are expected to be major players in free agency this offseason, so they may indeed let Hollis-Jefferson walk if they deem he is too expensive.
Outlook for the Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers don’t have the cap space to make any flashy moves, and, barring a miracle turn-around, they will again be picking at the top of the 2020 NBA Draft. However, retaining David Nwaba and Nik Stauskas, and adding Rondae Hollis-Jefferson would be solid roster-building moves. Each guy has a specific trait or two that is above average in the NBA. In order to build a winner, you need to have specialized role players that you can place around your stars. After adding these three, the Cavaliers need to do the hard part – add stars.
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