Everyone knows James can be a free agent this summer. Some of you may remember he has until June 29 to let the Cavs know if he'll pick up the $35.6 million option on his contract for next season. If he doesn't, he can still come back, and with as much as a five-year, roughly $209 million deal to boot.
If he leaves, well, the Cavs' franchise (worth north of $1.3 billion, according to Forbes, with an increase of 10 percent over last year), stands to take a hit.
There are a bunch of trade questions related to James, too, depending on what he does and which direction the organization wants to go from there. Because the Cavs will be over the $101 million cap, even if James walks, they can't make a splash in free agency.
But there are at least two decisions to make with players currently on their roster that are not related to trades and probably only tangentially related to James, and one must come by June 29.
On that date is when Cleveland must offer Rodney Hood a qualifying offer of $3.4 million to make him a restricted free agent, which means the Cavs could match any offer sheet Hood receives from another team.
Starting July 1, the Cavs can negotiate with Larry Nance Jr. on a lucrative contract extension, because he is entering the final year of his rookie contract (and is due about $2.3 million next season).
Multiple league sources told cleveland.com there is "a ton" of interest on both sides to discuss an extension for Nance, who is 25 and is the son of former Cavs great Larry Nance Sr. The son grew up here, went to Revere High School, and the Cavs traded a No. 1 pick to acquire him and Jordan Clarkson.
The Cavs have expressed to Nance that they view him as a foundational piece, sources said. Nance, who is 6-9 and the runner-up in the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest, averaged 8.9 points and 7.0 rebounds after he was traded by the Lakers Feb. 8. He gave the Cavs 4.8 points and 4.5 boards in his first playoff run as he floated in and out of the rotation.
Nance has played three seasons, and the Cavs can offer him a four-year extension to the final year of his existing contract. Technically, the first year of the extension could be worth about $25 million — a max salary — but that's not the number Nance will reach.
Inking Nance to an extension isn't a pressing matter — the Cavs will want to see what happens with James and what other roster reshaping moves develop before they turn their attention to him, sources said. If they never reach an agreement, the Cavs would still have Nance's rights and could make him a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019.
Hood is more of an enigma. Like Nance, he is 25. He came to Cleveland Feb. 8 in a three-team trade from Utah, and was averaging 16.8 points at the time of the deal.
Hood averaged 10.8 points off the bench for the Cavs during the regular season, and then evaporated during the playoffs, re-appearing only in Games 3 and 4 of the Finals with decent efforts off the bench.
Most NBA insiders say Hood cost himself lots of money with his postseason struggles, limiting the contract offers he might get this summer (he averaged 5.4 points, shot .167 from 3, and his plus-minus of minus-93 was the worst of the playoffs).
The Cavs could still sign him to a long-term contract in July without first making a qualifying offer. Team sources say they like Hood and his future on the team, but no one's tipped a hand as to what's next for him.
On Monday, Hood tweeted: "This season was filled with blessings and lessons. I'm thankful for it all. In order to get to something, you have to go through something."
Potapenko leaves Cavaliers for Grizzlies
CLEVELAND — Vitaly Potapenko is leaving the Cavaliers' organization to be an assistant coach for J.B. Bickerstaff on the Memphis Grizzlies, a source confirmed to cleveland.com.
Potapenko, 43, worked on the Cavs' player development staff (step below assistant coach) since 2013. He worked with bigs, and his primary project this season was rookie Ante Zizic.
Fans remember him as a first-round pick by the Cavaliers in 1996, when he was a 6-foot-10, 280-pound bruiser coming out of Wright State. He averaged 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds over 11 NBA seasons, including two-plus seasons in Cleveland.