Free Agent No. 1: Caris LeVert
The one marquee free agent for the Cavaliers is also the largest dilemma for the team. This front office spent a lot to trade for Caris LeVert and J.B. Bickerstaff thought highly enough of him and his impact to move him into the starting lineup for most of the playoffs. That happened in large part because of LeVert’s play, but also because the Cavs didn’t have a lot of options.
LeVert isn’t a good fit with this roster; it’s the unassailable truth. He is a really good ball-handler and playmaker who can generate a good shot for himself. The problem is that the Cavs already have two guards who excel in those areas, and at least one of them will be on the court at all times. LeVert’s playmaking and scoring would be great complements in an off-ball role, but he doesn’t possess the shooting to make that viable in large minutes.
The flip side of the coin, however, is that if LeVert walks the Cavs can’t really replace him. They can’t get to appreciable cap space, and their options with the Full MLE are going to be limited. Re-signing LeVert to “preserve the asset” and then looking to trade him down the line could make sense, but (1) LeVert could take advantage of that situation to leverage a big-money contract, and (2) to further preserve his trade value they will need to play LeVert a lot, which is easier said than done considering the fit concerns.
It’s not a great situation to be in, but it’s the bed the front office made when they traded a first and a second for LeVert. The hope is that a trade for LeVert materializes soon, perhaps even a sign-and-trade option for this summer. If not, the Trade Deadline could be the time to move him on. For now, they almost have to bring him back.
Verdict: Return (for now)