2 realistic offseason moves Cavaliers should make to become title contenders

The Cleveland Cavaliers must build around Donovan Mitchell and the core four this summer.
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have secured a long-term future with franchise superstar Donovan Mitchell, but their work is not done to build a true contender around him.

Year by year, the Cavaliers have grown and found greater success in the end. Once Mitchell joined, though, their rebuild timeline quickly accelerated back to postseason - and Finals - contention. With Cleveland, Mitchell achieved his first All-NBA Team selection after his first season and has continued his ongoing All-Star streak. With two seasons before the Mitchell extension saga reemerges, the Cavaliers must use this offseason to find the right complementary role players to open a path to the next stage of contention in Cleveland.

After an initial report from The Athletic detailed troubled waters in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Cavaliers have remained resolute in their core four's potential together. With new head coach Kenny Atkinson building a new culture and offensive philosophy, Cleveland is seemingly planning to run it back with their foundation one more time to test their resolve and discover their ceiling.

Now the Cavs' focus turns to the supporting cast. Last season, Cleveland's bench produced an average of 16.7 points per game, ranking 14th among the Association. In the playoffs, though, their scoring grew to 20.6 but recorded the fifth-worst field goal percentage at 38.5 percent. The Cavaliers' depth can make or break a deep playoff run, and some glaring needs must be resolved this summer before the Cavs can compete for anything real.

The Cavaliers are not done building a contender

The Cavaliers' pillars are set. They will likely enter the next season with an identical starting five, relying on Max Strus' hustle and two-way impact to fill their starting wing spot. Still, their bench lineup lacks a big wing and a reliable backup center. The Cavs experimented with Damian Jones at the backup five spot, viewing him as a third choice behind Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Soon, Tristan Thompson overtook his spot at 32 years old before a 25-game suspension halted his momentum.

If Cleveland intends on making a splash in the playoffs, the front office must find a veteran wing with size and shooting prowess to cover for Strus. There's Dean Wade in the reserves, but his injury history and the frontcourt's need for a stretch four will pull him away from playing behind Strus at the three. Additionally, the Cavs must give Mobley and Allen a trustworthy reserve. In Atkinson's introductory press conference, he stated an intention to limit the time he plays his stars on the court to keep them healthy and rested for the playoffs. As the roster currently stands, they could not afford to play without one of Mobley or Allen on the floor at any given time.

With the stars staying put, Cleveland's offseason resources are limited. They are still navigating Isaac Okoro's restricted free agency and only hold roughly $5 million of the Mid-Level Exception to offer free agents. Unless the Cavs backtrack on their public promises, the best path forward will likely include finding a sign-and-trade partner for Okoro and signing an overlooked veteran to fill out the rotation.