As the Cleveland Cavaliers move forward they will get progressively more expensive in the years to come. That’s how it works when you build a core of good players and need to re-sign them; bargain contracts expire and good players become properly paid. Darius Garland begins his maximum rookie extension this season, Evan Mobley is eligible for one of his own next summer, and if Donovan Mitchell sticks around he will sign a veteran maximum deal to start in 2025-26.
Part of what will help Cleveland handle that payroll is that other role players will come off the books. Isaac Okoro is on an expiring contract, while Ricky Rubio’s deal is only partially guaranteed for 2024-25. Jarrett Allen is a bargain at only $20 million per season for the next three years.
The financially fiscal approach to sustaining this team would be to allow role players like Okoro and Rubio to fall off the books, replacing them with second-round picks and players signed to minimum contracts.
The bold approach, neglecting future luxury tax payments, would be to use their current contracts to trade for players who will help the Cavaliers win now and later, even if that means paying more in the long run. There are team-building difficulties to having too high of a payroll, but until you reach the second apron, most of the penalty is simply cash out of the owner’s pocket.
If Dan Gilbert is willing to pay, can the Cavaliers pull off such a trade? Let’s look at a deal that was recently pitched and discuss whether it’s worth the cost.