For the fourth consecutive season, the Cleveland Cavaliers participated in the NBA Finals and, most of the time, that indicates a franchise that has some level of stability. However, the Cavs can’t claim that kind of level ground in advance of the 2018 off-season, as LeBron James is set to weigh different options in free agency.
James is, of course, the Alpha and Omega in Cleveland, to the point that it would be very aggressive to project the Cavaliers as even a fringe playoff contender if he elects to spend the 2018-19 season elsewhere. Dan Gilbert and company could certainly choose to pursue a playoff run by adding veteran talent elsewhere but, in the event that James exits stage left, the Cavaliers will have a myriad of long-term decisions to make and one of them arrives even before the best player on the planet officially reaches free agency on July 1.
The Cavs hold the No. 8 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, formally held by the Boston Celtics (via the Brooklyn Nets), by virtue of the deal that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston. While that particular transaction has been litigated from every angle, the reality is that Cleveland must decide its choice well before any tangible information on James will be available, providing considerations from “best player available in a vacuum” to “best player next to LeBron” and even “best option should James vacate the premises” — as well as the possibility they trade the pick.
At this early juncture, it is difficult to gauge Cleveland’s actions through any prism rather than simply taking the best player that falls into their lap at No. 8 overall and, in this space, we’ll do just that. Here are five players that could make sense for the Cavaliers, and their one and only draft pick, on June 21.