The Cleveland Cavaliers’ to-do list this offseason is reaching Santa Clausian levels.
Extend Collin Sexton?
(Finally) Move Kevin Love?
Find an upgrade on the wing?
But one decision has the chance to ignite a ripple-effect for the rest of the Cavs’ offseason: to extend or not extend Caris LeVert.
The forward arrived in Cleveland by way of Indiana, coming over in a midseason trade for Ricky Rubio and draft picks.
Prior to that, LeVert was part of the James Harden-Nets trade, which also brought Jarrett Allen to the Land.
This offseason, LeVert, who is a Columbus-native, is eligible for a roughly $18.8 million extension, per Spotrac.
LeVert’s talent has never been an issue.
A few years ago, LeVert, Allen, and Spencer Dinwiddie were part of an upstart Nets team, one that brought Brooklyn a level of legitimacy and helped lure Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to the New York side.
In 19 games with the Cavs, LeVert averaged 13.6 points on 43.5% from the field, as well as nearly 4 assists, and 3.4 rebounds.
He’s also a versatile player who fits well with this young Cavaliers team.
What’s The Hold Up?
The 27-year-old doesn’t always stick to the system, branching out and making his own decisions with the play.
And that’s not to say that the Cavs haven’t done enough to get LeVert in his comfort zone.
LeVert has come off the bench, started, and served as a primary ball-handler.
And yet there’s still something that just doesn’t feel right.
Perhaps it’s because the team had to give up a clear contributor in Ricky Rubio (injured) to get LeVert.
Perhaps it’s his unnecessary freelancing that has the danger of causing more harm than good for a young and learning Cavs team.
For LeVert’s part, he’s saying all the right things.
Caris LeVert on the importance of a contract extension with #Cavs: "Yeah, this is where I want to be. They know that. The front office knows that, my teammates know that. So I don't know what's gonna happen with that contract extension, but I know where my heart is."
— Kelsey Russo (@kelseyyrusso) April 16, 2022
The Path Forward
Frankly, it’s starting to look like the Cavs are a three-for-one team.
By that, I mean that the Cavs have a number of assets and semi-assets (Sexton, LeVert, Isaac Okoro, Love, Lauri Markkanen) that could either be part of the long-term future or not.
Packaging some combination of those players for a bona fide star or well-established player might be the next move for this team.
Would the Mavs be interested in a sign-and-trade for Jalen Brunson and some combination of those players?
What about the Trailblazers for Anfernee Simons?
Moving three of those assets for one bigger piece could be the best way to unlock this Cavs team’s full potential, with Garland and Mobley already serving as franchise cornerstones.
That’s right, we’re talking “Big 3” possibilities for the first time since LeBron, Kyrie, and Love (or Matthew Dellavedova?) wore the red and gold.
There’s no harm in going into the season on LeVert’s last contract year and seeing what they have in him.
If he plays well, maybe the Cavs offer him an extension (and still leave open the possibility of a trade).
If he’s average or below-average, then his expiring contract is also probably enough to a rebuilding team able to take on his salary in exchange for draft stock.
Although if history is any indication, maybe the Cavs should hold onto LeVert?
Seeing Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen reunited on the Cavs and remembering what happened the last time two former New York teammates joined a Cleveland team with an All-Star lead guard and Kevin Love. pic.twitter.com/gEFZjG5FA7
— Farmer Jones (@thefarmerjones) February 6, 2022
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