The Cleveland Cavaliers will be active leading up to the NBA Trade Deadline on February 8th, canvassing the league to evaluate which players may be available to upgrade the team. Any good team would do the same, and the Cavs have played well enough recently that they are reasonably loading up for a playoff run.
The options on the trade market are limited, however, and will be in high demand. The Cavaliers are not wholly without assets, but they don't have a single first-round pick to deal and will almost certainly be keeping their most talented (and therefore most valuable) players.
How the Cavaliers can upgrade this season
Thankfully, the trade deadline is not the only path to upgrading the roster this season. The buyout market is the term for veteran players who become free agents prior to the March 1st deadline, allowing them to be eligible to play in the postseason. These veterans often find themselves on non-contending teams and negotiate a reduced contract amount to entice their teams to waive them and let them sign with a new team.
The buyout market could be unusually robust this season, with a number of talented players rumored to be in play if they are not traded to playoff teams. Additionally, a new rule introduced in the Collective Bargaining Agreement prevents teams above either of the tax aprons (i.e. those with very high team salaries) from signing players on the buyout market who made more than $12.4 million this season. The Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, LA Clippers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns are all over a tax apron and therefore out of the running on many buyout candidates.
The Cavaliers are a good team with open roster spots and the salary flexibility to pursue any of the available free agents on the buyout market. Who could be available? Let's examine three former All-Stars who bring plenty of playoff experience and could be available to sign after the trade deadline.
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