Offseason Report Card: Cavaliers get an A, three Bs and two Ds for summer moves

Max Strus, Miami Heat and Georges Niang, Philadelphia 76ers. Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Max Strus, Miami Heat and Georges Niang, Philadelphia 76ers. Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images /
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have dug themselves out of the rebuilding pit step by step over the past few years. Drafting Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, trading for Jarrett Allen and hiring J.B. Bickerstaff gave them a solid foundation. Last offseason they made the blockbuster deal to bring in Donovan Mitchell. That resulted in 51 wins and the team’s first trip to the playoffs since 2018, and their first trip without LeBron James since the 1990s.

Despite one of the league’s best records last year, and its second-best point differential, the Cavs were easily defeated by the New York Knicks in five games. To take the next step, from regular season success to legitimate playoff threat, Cleveland needed to add the right support pieces this offseason.

The difficulty was that most of their bullets were already spent in the Mitchell trade. They entered the summer with the No. 49 pick in the draft, no first-round picks available to trade, and a pair of salary cap extensions to try and take their big swing.

How did the Cavaliers do this offseason?

Those limitations didn’t stop them from making a number of moves to reshape the roster. How did they do? Let’s take the Cavs back to grade school and give them a report card on the offseason; instead of P.E. and Social Studies, we’ll grade them on each move they made this summer.

Grades in the ‘A’ range excellently brought together the team’s needs, the value of the pick and took advantage of the opportunity (for example, the Cavs never had the scratch to trade for Jaylen Brown or the money to sign Khris Middleton). A grade in the ‘B’ range was worth making, a ‘C’ was questionable, a ‘D’ looks like a mistake and a ‘F’ was clearly a disaster, a “Lakers trading for Russell Westbrook” type of trainwreck.

Let’s walk through every move and see if the Cavaliers passed the summer, or if they’re going to repeat sixth grade. We start with the biggest signing they made.