The Cleveland Cavaliers have some very important — and potentially very expensive — decisions to make this offseason. LeBron James will likely opt out of his current contract and sign another two-year deal, which will allow him to opt out again after the 2015-2016 season and sign a huge extension when the salary cap increases. Kevin Love will probably opt out, too, but will he stick around?
(Cavs VP of basketball operations David Griffin) has repeatedly said the Cavs plan to keep Love, but plugged-in executives around the league continue to predict the Cavs will sign-and-trade Love after advancing so far without him. That would unclutter the power forward spot, and if the Cavs can recoup rotation players and picks, they’d have to at least consider it. Love needs the ball to live up to a max contract, and even Griffin has told me that watching LeBron carry a misfit cast within two wins of the title taught him a lot about the kind of supporting cast he wants around his centerpiece.
The Cavs are obviously keeping LeBron, so signing both Love (assuming he opts out) and Thompson to max or near-max contracts would likely push Cleveland’s payroll near $200 million, which would be the largest figure in NBA history. Is that something Dan Gilbert wants to risk in the event that the team doesn’t mesh?
Realistically, the best option for the Cavs would be to choose between Love and Thompson. Love is more of a scorer, so Thompson might be the better option. Between LeBron and Kyrie Irving, Cleveland has enough guys who work well with the ball in their hands.