Grade the Trade: Cavaliers dump worst salary in cost-saving idea

Koby Altman, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Koby Altman, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /
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The Cleveland Cavaliers are no stranger to the burden of overpaying players. While there are contextual factors often involved, a team’s ability to improve the roster is severely hampered when a player’s value is brought down by a negative contract.

The Cavs dealt with that most recently with Kevin Love, whose contract extension looked like an overpay at the time it was signed and all the more so after injuries sapped his playing ability. A rebuilding Cavaliers team was never able to move off of Love for assets, nor did they flip him to bring back another player by the time they were ready to compete.

The Cavs are in a much better place right now in terms of contracts. Their four stars are all young and on value contracts. Evan Mobley is making just $8.8 million on his rookie deal, Jarrett Allen is a bargain at $20 million, and Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are providing value that at least meets their deals in the $32-34 million range.

Do the Cavaliers have a bad contract on their books?

The search for a bad contract on the books finds more traction in the middle of the roster, specifically with the players signed to new deals this summer. Max Strus could help the Cavs address their shooting woes, or he could continue to display streaky shooting and prove too small to adequately play the 3. In that case, his contract (averaging $15.75 million over four seasons) could prove to be an overpay.

How could the Cavs move off of Max Strus and his contract if they deemed it an overpay? Let’s look at one deal that was recently suggested to see that path forward and then grade it from the Cavaliers’ point of view.