If you think of the Cleveland Cavaliers, you’re most likely thinking of LeBron James. Love it or hate it, you just can’t deny the fact that he’s by far the most important name in this franchise’s history.
But, as he’s been able to pretty much build success from scratch at the Q, he’s also been extremely destructive, leaving the franchise empty-handed when he decided to leave the first time, having coach David Blatt fired and having a pretty rough relationship with everybody on the team’s front office.
So, there have been a lot of rumors pointing towards LeBron getting tired of that environment and keen to take his talents elsewhere once again when this season comes to an end, opting out of the last year of his contract.
Nobody knows what he’s actually going to do, but the Cavs obviously need to be prepared for the worst-case-scenario. That’s why today, we’re going to let you know about the top 5 things this franchise should do if LeBron decides to leave again.
5. Clear Cap Space
Taking LeBron James’ contract off the books would be a huge financial relief for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they would still have to pay a lot of money to Tristan Thompson and JR Smith, a couple of ballers that aren’t worth even half of what the team’s paying them.
The Cavs owe a combined 66 million dollars to Smith and Thompson through the 2019-20 season, so they should either discuss a buyout or just try to deal them away in order to clear some cap space for the 2018-19 offseason.
4. Trade Kevin Love
On that same notice, the team owes Kevin Love 24.1 million for the upcoming season and 25.6 for the 2019-20 if he decides to pick up his player option, and with him being the team’s lone All-Star, it’s pretty unlikely that he decides to extend his stay.
So, they should try and get as much as they can out of him while he still has some value, and several teams should be more than interested in acquiring his services. Love should be worthy of several draft picks, gold for rebuilding teams as this hypothetical Cavs.
The Draft lottery rules are about to change in order to avoid tanking, but losing teams are still most likely to be favored in the Draft, so they have no incentive whatsoever in focusing on winning, and should only consider developing young talents as Hood, Clarkson and Nance Jr.
Also, they’re a lock to have a top 10 prospect this year with the Brooklyn Nets pick, so they should try and build around him for the future and just let him play through his mistakes during his rookie campaign.
2. Sign Julius Randle
The Los Angeles Lakers had Julius Randle on the trade block for over a season, but that has given him the motivation to pretty much outplay everybody and has been showing glimpses of greatness over the last passage of the year.
Randle’s a lock to leave the Lakers if they manage to land LeBron or George, and he’s proving that he can be a dominant big man in both ends of the hardwood given the right opportunity. Also, he already knows what is like to play with Clarkson and Nance, and the three of them showed a lot of chemistry in the productive Lakers’ second unit.
1. Pursue Butler, Thompson or Leonard
The 2019 free agent class features some quite interesting names of the likes of Klay Thompson, while Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard may also be available via trade as they face the last year of their contracts.
So, with the young core the team is building, a top 10 pick this season and several pick acquired with the Love trade, as well as tons of cap space after taking Tristan Thompson and JR Smith off their books, they’d be on a prime position to land one or two top-notch talents away from the Western Conference, offering them an easier path to the NBA Finals in the East.