Potential Cavs Offseason No. 2: Split their exceptions and retain Caris LeVert
Going into free agency, the Cavaliers seem to intend on keeping Caris LeVert going into the 2023-2024 season, per a report from Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. LeVert’s inconsistent production is a cause for concern, but he took on the role as Cleveland’s sixth man and improved his court vision and passing over the season. The progression of LeVert as a playmaker went alongside his long range shooting and impressive perimeter defense.
Alongside re-signing LeVert, the Cavaliers will still have their two exceptions available to offer free agents. Some astonishing wing talent is rumored to be possibly available on the Mid-Level Exception this summer in Grant Williams and Max Strus. Ideally, the Cavaliers would bring in Boston’s Grant Williams with their full MLE as their backup 3/4 (assuming he can make both of his free throws for the Cavs). However, the Cavaliers could be outbid for each of these players.
Over his years in Boston, Williams has competed in the NBA Playoffs every season thus far, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2022. The struggle the Cavs would have in securing Williams is his status as a Restricted Free Agent, meaning the Celtics would be able to match any offer sheet Altman hands to the Boston wing. The route to Williams requires the Celtics to lose interest in keeping him in order to save money on their growing salary commitments.
If Williams is unavailable, the Cavs should target Philadelphia’s Jalen McDaniels, a 6-foot-9 forward drafted in 2019 by Charlotte. McDaniels has been unable to earn a steady spot on Philadelphia’s rotation, as they already have both Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris consuming the majority of the minutes at the post position.
The 25-year-old wing has a career 34.5% three-point percentage and shot a career-high 40% this past season. Defensively, McDaniels is an above average threat but is far from being on an All-Defense team.
Though talented, McDaniels would likely be possible to sign without the full MLE, saving the Cavaliers some breathing room on the cap sheet with the new restrictive Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Coming to Cleveland could be a chance to bet on himself and assure his career in the NBA and earn a bulk of the Cavaliers’ secondary wing minutes.
After signing Williams or McDaniels, Cleveland should bring in more veteran leadership.
Secondly, the Cavs should target their $4.4 million Bi-Annual Exception on NBA journeyman Josh Richardson on a short-term deal. After playing in both San Antonio and New Orleans last season, the eight-year veteran is a proven shooter and wing defender. Richardson would be a veteran presence with postseason experience to guide the younger talents.
At 29 years old, Richardson would still be more than a player coach watching from the bench. He is still a useful player that could serve a steady role on a team with its eyes set on the NBA Finals, especially a team such as Cleveland who needs his talents as a 3-and-D wing.
In total, then, the Cavaliers would have a 10-man rotation of their core four with Kispert in the starting five. Off the bench, LeVert, Richardson, Osman, McDaniels/Williams, and Gafford set the Cavaliers up to go toe-to-toe with any of the league’s current powerhouses.
This build of the Cavs would never be counted out of any matchup with an honest chance to beat anybody in a seven-game series.