CLEVELAND — Cavaliers general manager David Griffin threw down the gauntlet shortly after making Andrew Wiggins the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
“Andrew is just the first (piece) of what I hope is a monumental offseason,” he said.
The second phase of Griffin’s plan began when the clock struck midnight, officially opening the NBA’s free agency period.
Cleveland has more than $15 million in salary cap room available, but that could rise when the league finalizes the 2014-2015 cap with revenues from the just completed season. The NBA estimated the figure at $63.2 million during the spring.
While the Cavaliers are expected to make pitches to Heat small forward LeBron James, Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons and Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward, their first move was to reach out to the face of their franchise.
All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving — already under Cleveland’s control through 2015-16 — is expected to receive a maximum contract extension this morning, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
Griffin plans to hand deliver a five-year, $90 million offer to Irving in his home state of New Jersey, which the three-year veteran is likely to accept. No NBA first-round pick has ever turned down a max offer at this stage of his career.
Following the Cavaliers’ meeting with Irving, they are likely to renounce the rights to unrestricted free agents Luol Deng, Spencer Hawes and C.J. Miles in order to remove their “cap holds” from the financial ledger.
Center Hawes and shooting guard Miles are solid candidates to re-sign with Cleveland after being exposed to the open market, but small forward Deng and the club have mutually agreed to part ways.
Other unrestricted free agents that could pique the Cavaliers’ interest are Wizards center Marcin Gortat, Warriors shooting guard Jordan Crawford and Grizzlies small forward Mike Miller.
Cleveland’s roster — including the players it will formally acquire from Charlotte in exchange for Alonzo Gee on July 10 — can be broken down into four categories, in order of salaries.
Under contract for next season (8): Irving, point guard Jarrett Jack, power forward Anthony Bennett, power forward Tristan Thompson, shooting guard Dion Waiters, center Brendan Haywood, center Tyler Zeller, small forward Sergey Karasev.
Under partially-guaranteed contracts for next season (4): Center Anderson Varejao, shooting guard Scotty Hopson, shooting guard Carrick Felix, point guard Matthew Dellavedova.
Rookies acquired through draft (3): Wiggins, shooting guard Joe Harris, center Dwight Powell.
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