The Cleveland Cavaliers didn't just lose LeBron James in the last free agency period: the team lost its raison d'etre. Now, as the team sets to rebuild around top draft picks Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, it must decide where the needs are and how to address the relics of an era gone by.
Here's a look at the Cavs' salary cap levels over the past six seasons.
Clearly, once LeBron took his championship contention to South Beach, there was little reason to spend big in Cleveland. The Cavs still have a few high-priced players on the roster, but it trimmed down really, really quickly, all told.
Heading into free agency, the Cavs have a cap figure of $55 million with the leaguewide team salary cap set at $58 million and the luxury tax line at $70 million.
The Cavs' sole free agent is veteran wing Anthony Parker. Surprisingly, Cleveland seems like a lock to keep Parker, as the club appreciates his strong leadership and ability to present a good role model for young players. (I know, I know, I thought Baron Davis would fill that role, too.) Either way, Parker won't make a huge difference in the salary cap sheets.
The questions in Cleveland revolved around the highest-salaried players. Baron Davis, acquired in the Mo Williams trade in February that ended up landing the Cavs Irving (seriously!), could be one of the few players waived under the amnesty clause, especially if Cleveland likes having Ramon Sessions as Irving's primary back-up. (This assumes that Irving is ready to start from Day 1.) If Davis is waived, Cleveland can really become a player in free agency and the trade game, with small forward standing out as the biggest need position.
Antawn Jamison is a veteran who could be moved for an asset, but that might have to wait until the trade deadline as his cap hit will soak up a huge chunk of space for any acquiring team. Anderson Varejao is a favorite of the Cavs' organization, but it seems that he always finds his name in the rumor mill.
If the Cavs elect to keep Davis around for another season, the team could peddle Sessions, who ought to have suitors.
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