After two long months, we can finally see what improvements the Cleveland Cavaliers will make to their roster this offseason. On Friday, the NBA Free Agency moratorium period officially begins. Teams can start negotiations with free agents, and we’ll get to see which players get bargain deals and which ones get contracts like the one Nicholas Batum got in 2016.
On the Cavs’ side, this is a crucial offseason for them. After crumbling like a crumbl cookie under the brighter than expected lights of the playoffs, the Cavs have some work to do this offseason. There are weaknesses that need to be addressed if this team wants to take the next step. Luckily for them, their most direct avenue to improvement is their $12.4 million dollar non-taxpayer mid-level exception.
This should allow them to acquire a quality depth piece that can instantly fit the roster and help the Cavaliers as they look to rise in the Eastern Conference next season. Here are the top three players the Cavs should target with their MLE. We will start with a playoff-tested veteran from Sacramento.
No. 1: Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is expected to have a robust market as contenders look for a championship-caliber role player, but he would fit this Cavaliers team perfectly. Barnes was a huge reason why the Sacramento Kings ended their playoff drought and almost knocked off the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs.
Barnes averaged 15 points per game, shot 47 percent from the field, and 37 percent from three-point range, while also providing solid defense as well at the 3/4 spot. Another great thing about Barnes is his durability, as he played all 82 games this season. In addition to that, Barnes is a great locker room guy, who young guys look up to and would bring a much needed veteran voice to the Cavs locker room.
Finally, Barnes brings a wealth of postseason experience to the table, as not only is he an NBA champion, but he has played in 71 playoff games. Barnes has all the basketball ability, and intangibles that the Cavaliers are lacking on the wing right now.
The wing spot is the most glaring weakness on the roster right now, and adding a versatile wing in Barnes would fix it almost immediately. He should be their top target with the mid-level exception.
Granted, being able to sign Barnes with the MLE might be wishful thinking, but playing alongside Cleveland’s great young core could be a huge selling point for Barnes at this stage in his career.