NBA 2021 offseason review: Cleveland Cavaliers


Hoops Rumors breaks down the 2021 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting summer free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll assess each team’s offseason moves, look at what remains to be done before Opening Night, and look at what the 2021/22 season has in store for the 30 franchises. Today we focus on The Cleveland Cavaliers.

Designation of free agents:

Note: Offers in Annex 10 are not included here.

  • Jarrett allen: Five years, $ 100 million. Re-signed as a restricted free agent using Bird rights.
  • Lauri Markkanen: Four years, $ 67.47 million. Fourth year partially guaranteed. Acquired via sign-and-trade.
  • Kevin Pangos: Two years, $ 3.42 million. Second year not guaranteed. Signed using a mid-level exception.
  • Denzel Valentin: Two years, minimum wage. First year partially guaranteed. Second year not guaranteed. Signed using the minimum wage exception.
  • Brodric Thomas: Two-part contract. Bidirectional qualification offer accepted as restricted free agent.


  • Acquired Ricky rubio Timberwolves in exchange for Prince Taurus, the Wizards’ second-round pick in 2022 and money ($ 2.5 million).
  • Acquired Lauri Markkanen (sign-and-trade; from Bulls) in a three-team trade in exchange for Larry Nance Jr. (to the Trail Blazers) and the 2023 Nuggets’ second-round pick (top-46 protected; to the Bulls).

Draft picks:

  • 1-3: Evan mobley
    • Signing of a recruit-wide contract (four years, $ 36,664,177).

Contract extensions:

Outgoing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Hiring Sidney lowe and Nate reinking as assistant coaches; assistant coach lost Lindsay Gottlieb.
  • Relocated G League affiliate from Canton to Cleveland, renaming team Cleveland Charge.

Salary ceiling situation:

  • Remained above the cap and below the tax line.
  • Wearing approx $ 133.4 billion in salary.
  • $ 7,866,822 mid-level exception for non-taxpayers still available ($ 1,669,178 used on Kevin Pangos).
  • Full semi-annual exception ($ 3,732,000) still available.
  • Two traded player exceptions available, including one worth $ 4.2 million.

Persistent preseason issues:

  • The Cavaliers have 11 players with guaranteed contracts and a 12th with partial guarantees, so they have several options with their last spots on the roster.
  • The Cavaliers have an open two-way contract window. Guests at camp Tacko’s fall, Mitch ballock, RJ Nembhard, and Kyle guy are among the candidates to fill it.
  • Collin sexton is eligible for a rookie-wide contract extension through October 18.
  • Kevin Amour is eligible for a veteran contract extension until October 18.
  • Ricky rubio is eligible for an all-season veteran contract extension (extension and trade limitations are in place until December).

The Cavaliers offseason:

After winning the draft lottery in 2011, 2014 and 2015, the Cavaliers’ luck has changed in recent years, as they lost three places in the lottery in 2019 and 2020.

In 2021, Cleveland hasn’t exactly returned to its previous lottery magic, but the team hasn’t need to win choice n ° 1. By moving up a few places to n ° 3, the Cavs are able to land Evan mobley, a prospect with star potential who could have been the first player off the board had he been eligible for the 2020 draft.

Mobley’s draft wasn’t the only major move the Cavs made during the 2021 offseason, but it is perhaps the most impactful in the long run. When I previewed the club’s summer in June, I noted that the Cleveland front office had done a decent job of amassing young talent during its current rebuild, but lacked a franchise-caliber player who could. be its centerpiece for the next decade.

Mobley isn’t a lock to be that player, but he’s the best candidate the Cavs have had since. James lebron‘ Departure. The former USC big man is a versatile and athletic defenseman who can protect the rim and shouldn’t be kicked out of the field by smaller lineups. And while it remains to be seen if he can be a go-to offensive option at the NBA level, he can certainly have an impact on play from that end of that field, having shown an ability to finish on the edge, take down. jump shots, and find open teammates as a passer.

Whether Mobley’s best NBA-level fit will ultimately be the four or the five is an open question. But the Cavaliers signaled they believed he was perfectly capable of playing alongside another great man when they re-signed restricted free agent Jarrett allen to a five-year, $ 100 million contract.

Cleveland probably would have preferred to take a look at Allen and Mobley on the pitch together before making that kind of investment, but Allen was ready for a new deal, and after relinquishing a first-round pick for him in January. , there was no way the Cavs would let him walk as a free agent. While Allen’s contract may end up being a slight overpayment, he shouldn’t become an albatross – he’ll only be 28 when it expires, and the NBA salary cap will have increased significantly by then. .

The Cavs’ other big change on the front line saw them trade Larry Nance Jr. for Lauri Markkanen, who was awarded a contract for $ 67 million and more over four years as part of a sign-and-swap deal. I’m not convinced Markkanen is a better all-rounder than Nance, but he’s probably a better fit for this roster. With Allen and Mobley in the front and Kevin Amour not in Cleveland’s long-range plans, a tall man who stretches to the ground like Markkanen will help balance the frontcourt and prevent gap issues. The hope is that the center with which he shares the pitch can help cover his defensive gaps.

Finally, the Cavaliers have made it a priority this offseason to bring a veteran point guard after Matthew Dellavedova missed most of the 2020/21 season due to health issues. The club was linked with free agents like Alex Caruso and TJ McConnell at the start of the offseason, but eventually found its answer in the commercial market, sending Prince Taurus in Minnesota as part of an agreement to Ricky rubio.

The trade could leave Cleveland a bit understaffed on the wing, but I like what Rubio can bring to the team. Anthony edwards praises Rubio’s leadership in Minnesota, and he is expected to have a similar positive influence on Darius garland and Collin sexton. Plus, if things don’t work out, his expiring contract could be a useful business chip on the deadline.

Speaking of trades, Sexton’s name popped up in trade rumors this summer, and while it appears those whispers have died down with the regular season looming, it will be interesting to see how extension negotiations at the end of the day. The rookie ladder between him and the team is taking place this month. . Sexton’s camp can point to his scoring numbers as proof he’s worth a maximum contract, but I doubt the Cavs are convinced. They might prefer to keep their options open and try their luck with Sexton in restricted free agency next summer.

The next season of the Cavaliers:

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for the Cavaliers rebuilding, but I’m not sure it’s as close as the team would like. Despite their playoff aspirations, the Cavs still have no plans to finish in the Eastern Conference top 10 early in the 2021/22 season – it would take a lot for them to earn a playoff berth.

Still, there is room for Cleveland to take steps forward over the next six months. Even a modest 26-56 record this season would be the Cavs’ best score since 2017/18, and I think they can do better than that. The play-in format will keep them in the hunt for a bit longer than they otherwise would, giving their young nucleus the opportunity to play meaningful games in the second half of the season.

The safe money is on Cleveland to miss the play-in and claim another lottery pick in 2022, but this list has more talent than any Cavs team since the franchise’s last appearance in the Finals. If the front office can find a way to add a reliable wing or two, the pieces for the playoff discord are there.

Salary Information Basketball initiates and Spotrac was used in the creation of this post.