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Scouting the Summer

Some Dates to Keep an Eye On as the Cavaliers Reload for Next Year
by Joe Gabriele Beat Writer

Scouting the Summer

Some Dates to Keep an Eye On as the Cavaliers Reload for Next Year

The young Cavaliers just completed one of the most surprising, elating seasons in recent memory this past year. But as the team’s top man, Koby Altman, said just last week: the work is just getting started.

The Wine & Gold were eliminated from the postseason in this year’s Play-In Tournament after a rash of injuries took their toll on the team down the stretch. So, heading into Wednesday night’s action, 14 teams are still alive – (though a couple are hanging by a thread) – with Cleveland’s Play-In foes, Atlanta and Brooklyn, taking early ousters.

The Cavs wrapped up their successful season without a lot of question marks. In many ways, it’s a matter of their key pieces simply growing up and getting better. They’ve got two first time All-Stars in the starting lineup and a third who’s well on his way. The second unit is led by a Sixth Man candidate and a group of tenacious young vets.

Does the team have needs? Yes. Do they have the means to address them? Affirmative.

So as the Wine & Gold head into what could be another busy offseason that promises even more change, here are a few key dates that’ll shape what J.B. Bickerstaff’s squad looks like when they next appear in October …

The Wine & Gold reshaped the franchise when they tabbed Evan Mobley with the No. 3 pick one season ago.
Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE Getty Images

MAY 17 – Draft Lottery -- Another thing Koby Altman talked about last Tuesday afternoon in Independence was the “silver lining” that came with the disappointment of not reaching this year’s Playoffs – keeping their first round Draft pick that might’ve gone to Indiana in the February deal that landed Caris LeVert.

Altman knows how a Lottery win can re-shape a franchise. Landing the No. 3 overall pick last year gave him the opportunity to draft USC’s Evan Mobley, a California-cool seven-footer with stratospheric two-way talent. The 20-year-old was more than anyone could’ve hoped for and, as much as anyone, embodied the team’s dramatic turnaround.

As a franchise, the Cavaliers have had plenty of luck on Lottery night – taking top prize in 2003, ’14 and ’15.

If the Wine & Gold win the top pick this year, the team representatives should run to the nearest convenience store on Michigan Avenue and buy an actual lottery ticket, because Cleveland has a 0.5 percent chance of winning it this season. The Cavs do, however, have a 97.6 percent chance of landing the 14th pick, which is still not bad.

If they stay at No. 14, some past selections from that spot over the past decade include Michael Porter Jr., Bam Adebayo and T.J. Warren – along with a trio of former Cavaliers: Denzel Valentine, Cameron Payne and John Henson.

JUNE 23 - NBA Draft -- While the NBA’s Combine (May 16-22) and Lottery will take place in Chicago this year, the Draft will go down once again at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday night, June 23.

The top pick could shake out any which way based on what happens on May 17, but the teams with the top five odds are Houston, Orland, Detroit and Oklahoma City. The Thunder will also receive the Clippers Lottery pick and have the final pick of the First Round (from Phoenix).

Along with their first rounder, the Cavs have two picks in the second round – No. 39 and 56 overall, from San Antonio and Miami via trades, respectively.

Both are longshot picks, but it can be done. Jerami Grant (2014) and Khris Middleton (2012) both went No. 39 overall. Former 13-year vet Amir Johnson and former Cavalier Ramon Sessions were both No. 56 picks.

JULY 7-17 - Las Vegas Summer League -- After splitting Summer Leagues between Salt Lake City and Vegas three years ago and a summer off during the pandemic, the Wine & Gold returned exclusively to Sin City last season – bringing home a 2-3 record and showing glimpses of things to come.

Evan Mobley was outstanding in his first two starts, Isaac Okoro led the team in scoring and showed a newfound confidence while Lamar Stevens was strong the entire week – netting double-figures in all five games.

The Cavaliers have been making the trek to Vegas Summer League almost every year since its inception in 2004.

Free Agency -- The new league year begins on July 1st, which will include the Free Agency Moratorium period where teams can begin to negotiate deals with free agents. Those players, however, cannot officially sign until that period ends (exact dates TBD).

Some big names could be on the move, with many of the pending unrestricted free agents – including Zach LaVine and DeAndre Ayton – still competing with their current clubs in the Playoffs.

The Cavaliers won’t be swinging for the fences on names like that, but they’ll be active and aggressive for the right fit. And, of course, they have big decisions on players already in the gym.

Veterans Ed Davis and Rajon Rondo are the team’s only unrestricted free agents.

Moses Brown is a restricted free agent, as is the Young Bull, Collin Sexton, who was limited to just 11 games last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Through his first three seasons in the NBA, the 8th overall pick of the 2018 Draft averaged 20.2 points per game and proved to be one of the most explosive offensive weapons in the East. Brown, who signed a two-way in March, started five games late this season, averaging 12.4 points and 11.8 boards over that stretch.

The Cavaliers have two-way deals with both Brandon Goodwin and R.J. Nembhard along with a team option on dependable 3rd-year man Dean Wade, who posted 11 double-digit scoring performances in 28 starts this year before having his season cut short by a knee injury in mid-March.


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