Step 2. Deal or buyout your expiring contracts for assets next season and draft well.
While much has been said about the Cavs’ poor salary cap situation, most of the bad deals are gone by next season. After next season, George Hill is only guaranteed one million of his 20 M contract. JR Smith has a 3.8 million buyout clause that would take his 15 million off the books. If these expiring contracts cannot be dealt for draft picks or young players, only five M of a potential 35 M would hit the cap in 2019-2020, after which Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson would become free agents. The Cavs would have tons of cap space to sign a big name free agent in the Summer of 2020 or deal remaining assets to sign another star to accompany Kevin Love and a hopefully rising star in Collin Sexton to make a new Big 3.
The Celtics have done this exact same thing. Although it was not an identical situation, they built their team not through tanking, but instead through good trades and acquiring Gordon Hayward in free agency.
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