The NBA playoffs have started over the past weekend and for the first time in five seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers are not participants.
That’s not really a surprise to many who figured the wine and gold’s contending days ended when LeBron James departed for Los Angeles.
As expected, Larry Drew and the Cleveland front office parted ways. Drew would like to catch on with a contending team as an assistant, while GM Koby Altman’s preference for head coach would be a younger man with a background in player development.
We have already talked about who would be our core group heading into the 2019-20 campaign, the 50th season for the Cavs.
We would build around Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman, and David Nwaba. Collin Sexton showed enough in the second half of the season to be here as well, although if Cleveland happened to draft Ja Morant, we could see pursuing a deal for the rookie guard. (Notice we didn’t say point guard).
And our preference would be for Ante Zizic to be on the roster too, although we question whether or not we will ever be a solid interior defender. You can learn to position yourself properly to minimize your lack of quickness with experience.
We all are aware of J.R. Smith’s situation, his contract, because it is not fully guaranteed is a much better asset for teams if he is moved prior to the end of June. Because of that, he will likely be moved prior to the NBA Draft.
Notice we have not mentioned two key members of this year’s roster, including someone who was a key piece of the championship team.
We would bet Tristan Thompson will be moved before the next season begins. Thompson’s contract expires after the ’19-’20 schedule ends, which makes him a valuable piece.
Plus, his skills fit much better with a team contending for a title. He’s a solid defender inside, a tireless rebounder, particularly at the offensive end, and he has a lot of playoff experience.
Besides, the Cavs have Love, Nance, and Zizic who we are sure they would rather give more minutes to going forward, and don’t forget John Henson as well. And we would bring Marquese Chriss back on a smaller contract if he is amenable.
The other member who received a lot of playing time this season is Jordan Clarkson.
Clarkson provided scoring (16.8 PPG) for a team that at times needed it badly. But we still don’t know if he is anything more than a guy who can score points for bad teams.
He’s been in the association for six years, and made one playoff appearance, last season with the Cavs, where he was frankly, terrible.
His shooting numbers this season weren’t anything out of his norm, and he’s not a great passer or defender.
His contract also expires at the end of next season.
Our guess is Altman would be willing to move either and take back a bad contract with perhaps two years remaining if first round draft picks were included.
Nick Stauskas is also a free agent, but we believe the organization picked him up after he was waived to fill a roster spot, and they don’t have plans for him next season.
We believe the Cavs will be very active before the draft and when the free agency period kicks off, looking to make more moves like they did in getting Brandon Knight.
And of course, they will have a high draft choice as well. The floor is all yours, Koby Altman.