Why the Cleveland Cavaliers will be buy-out market winners this season

San Antonio Spurs v Cleveland Cavaliers
San Antonio Spurs v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

While the Cleveland Cavaliers' lack of tradeable draft picks severely limits their trade options, they are in a uniquely perfect position to improve post-trade deadline.

In Bobby Marks' ESPN+ comprehensive Eastern Conference trade guide (subscription required), he suggested that the Cavaliers may remain quiet at the trade deadline for the second consecutive season due to their depleted draft compensation to offer. The Cavs have reported interest in a shortlist of 3-and-D forwards, but they have yet to close any deal. If Cleveland cannot add another player in a trade, their avenues to mid-season improvement are far from over.

Last season, Cleveland agreed to a buyout with Kevin Love following the deadline. Love signed with the Miami Heat and reached the NBA Finals once again. Oftentimes, the buyout market functions as a path to contention for veteran players who could not find their way to a new team before the deadline for one reason or another. These players still hold significant win-now value, making them premier options for teams on the verge of contention.

Bleacher Report released their top potential buyout players after the trade deadline. With a plethora of veteran 3-and-D forwards on the list such as Doug McDermott, Gordon Hayward and Joe Harris, the Cavs may find the answer to their questions without giving up anything. While these players will have plenty of competing suitors, the Cavaliers are in the best position to succeed in the buyout market after Ricky Rubio's retirement.

How the Cavaliers can win the buyout market

Following Cleveland's buyout agreement with Ricky Rubio, they dropped to 13 active players. All teams are required to have at least 14 active players under contract by the start of the NBA season. If a franchise dips below this number in the regular season, they have fourteen days to add another player to their roster. After the two-week exception ended for Cleveland, they signed Pete Nance to a 10-day contract, effectively giving them another week-and-a-half grace period.

Additionally, Tristan Thompson's 25-game suspension will place him on the team's suspended list five games into his suspension, meaning the Cavs will hold another empty roster space less than a week before the deadline. While they will be forced to sign somebody before the deadline, their remaining open fourteenth and fifteenth spaces will be available to add two buyout players after the trade buzzer.

Rubio also gave the Cavaliers roughly half of his remaining salary back in his buyout, putting the Cavs safely beneath the NBA's luxury tax threshold. Under the new CBA, any team above the luxury tax apron will be unable to sign any player who was making more than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($12.4 million) at the time of their buyout. This excludes all of the aforementioned players from joining the league's most expensive teams.

With the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns among the list of teams unable to sign these forwards, Cleveland could quickly emerge as the best landing spot for any veteran forward looking for a new home. The Cavs have a clear need for another veteran stretch forward (or two) regardless of any trade deadline deals. A calculated approach to the deadline will maintain Cleveland's cap flexibility and allow them to take advantage of their open roster spots.

The Cavaliers targeted floor spacing and wing depth this offseason, adding Max Strus and Georges Niang to the ranks. While they have shown stark improvement at that position, another dependable option would help elevate the Cavs for the final stretch of the regular season.

Admittedly, any player found in the buyout market is not going to be the final game-changing piece for a Cleveland title run. Still, another veteran leader with remaining on-court talent is worth the chance for the Cavaliers.

Cavs make their bid for contention in bold deadline proposal. Cavs make their bid for contention in bold deadline proposal. dark. Next