The genius moves by the Cavaliers last week at the trading deadline have propelled Cleveland back into the NBA Finals hunt. LeBron is energized once again. Victories in Boston and OKC have been impressive.
But at what cost? According to Brian Windhorst, if Cleveland retains this improved roster in the offseason – re-signing restricted free agent Rodney Hood (an estimated $12 million) and LeBron James opt-ing ($35.6 million) – they’ll have a whopping luxury tax bill of $149 million.
Here’s where it gets interesting – if the Cavs win the title, I can’t imagine Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert caring about an enormous tax bill. The benefit of winning the title will make it worth it.
What if they fall short again, either in the East (unlikely as of today), or in the Finals against Golden State or whomever? This, from Windhorst, is the money question that nobody knows the answer to:
When evaluating the Cavs’ moves last week, some league executives believed they made them because the organization is preparing for James’ departure. Refreshing the roster with younger players while keeping the Nets pick lined up a rebuild in the event James leaves, some suggested. If the Cavs were hedging before, this was seen by some as a more elaborate hedge, where they can improve this year and send the message to James that they’re supporting him but still lay the foundation for change. Otherwise, executives said, it’s hard to fathom the team spending this much money.
Amazingly, Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman put the Cavs in a tremendous spot. They’re contenders, again. And if LeBron leaves … well, they’re not an awful team when you factor in the lottery pick from the Nets.