When free agency first began, there was a lot of talk about what the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to do in regards to their wing spot. From Max Strus to Kelly Oubre Jr. to Miles Bridges, there were a lot of names that were connected to the Cavs. However, Koby Altman’s first priority was to take care of the Cavs’ own, as in the opening moments of free agency kicking off last Friday, he and the team inked Caris LeVert to a two-year, $32 million deal, bringing him back to Cleveland.
LeVert’s tenure in Cleveland has been a rollercoaster to say the least. He was brought in at the 2022 trade deadline from the Indiana Pacers and his role was to alleviate the offensive burden on Darius Garland. In 19 games with the Cavs in the 2021-22 season, LeVert averaged 14 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds, a far cry from the 19/4/4 he averaged with the Pacers.
After the Cavaliers missed the playoffs, they swung a big trade for Donovan Mitchell and LeVert’s role with the team was questioned. Would he accept a lesser role as long as it meant the team won?
LeVert’s attitude never wavered and he kept up his hard work, earning the starting small forward job right out of training camp. He was then moved to the bench in order for the team to mesh better and he did not disappoint. He improved his defense, going back to his Brooklyn days where he was a defensive stopper. He shot a career-high from three-point range by a wide margin at 39 percent. In the playoffs, LeVert was one of the Cavs’ only players with a pulse as he averaged 15 points per game on 42 percent from the field and 36 percent from three.
He was vital to Cleveland’s success this season despite all of his inconsistencies at times. Losing him would have been a devastating blow and the fact that the Cavs got him to re-sign at this price is a huge win.
Since being traded to Cleveland, LeVert has been very clear about his desire to stay with the team. He said after the season ended in late April that he wants to be “a part of this culture” and he believes that the Cavs have a “super special group.”
LeVert sounded genuine when he said these things, but as we all know NBA players tend to say the right thing and do the complete opposite (see Kyrie Irving). Fortunately, LeVert stayed true to his word and then some.
He was eligible for a four-year, $101 million deal, and could have seeked out more lucrative deals on the market. He instead returned on a team-friendly deal that gave the Cavs more flexibility to improve the roster.
He wants to continue to grow with this group and build on last season’s success. He will now join a revamped wing rotation that will feature him, Isaac Okoro, Max Strus, and Georges Niang.
Lets grade the deal now.
Cavs Grade for this LeVert deal: A
This was a great deal that was structured to give the Cavaliers more flexibility to sign Strus and Niang. It is not costly and keeps the Cavs below the luxury tax.
LeVert stayed true to his word about wanting to remain with the team. Let’s hope that desire leads to even more success next season and onward.