Do NBA Players See Cleveland as a Desirable Free Agent Destination?

Do NBA Players See Cleveland as a Desirable Free Agent Destination?
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

The Cleveland Cavaliers were back in the playoffs this past season for the first time in the post-LeBron era with a dynamic and versatile young core led by Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Donovan Mitchell.

That was good news for Ohio sportsbooks, as mobile wagering became legal in the Buckeye State to start 2023.

Besides Mitchell, acquired via trade, the Cavaliers’ front office has excelled in attaining valuable assets through the draft.  However, this is a blueprint that Cleveland needs to rely upon on heavily.

Following the departure of their beloved hometown hero in 2018, the Cavaliers have been unsuccessful in attracting coveted free agents to ‘The Land.’ Even when Mitchell expressed his desire to be traded, he was confident about joining his childhood team, the New York Knicks, until the Cavaliers fulfilled the Utah’s draft capital demands.

And make no mistake: Mitchell did deliver in his first season with the Cavs, particularly with a Cleveland record 71-point explosion.

Do Players Seek Out Cleveland?

Portland star Damian Lillard has submitted his trade request with the intention of targeting only Miami as his next NBA destination, sparking a conversation about which cities have become more appealing than others and how larger NBA markets have better leverage than smaller ones., your best source for Ohio sports betting promo codes, used a series of metrics to compile a system to determine the most desirable free agent destinations within the league.

This included compiling data on state tax burdens (data from WalletHub), media market ranking (data from, via Nielsen’s 2022-2023 DMA rankings), city popularity (World', via Resonance Consultancy), as well as attendance rankings since the 2018-19 season (, winning percentage since the 2019-20 season ( and 2024 NBA Championship Odds ( to construct an aggregate ranking.

Toronto was not included on the list as we utilized U.S. data only. We did not include attendance data from the 2020-21 NBA season, as COVID protocols varied across the league. For Washington D.C.’s state tax income, we utilized data from nearby Virginia. 2024 NBA championship odds are up to date as of July 5.

Teams Most Desirable for Free Agents

Here is analysis you won’t find on Ohio betting apps.

RankCityCity Aggregate RankTeam Aggregate RankTotal Aggregate Rank
4LA (Lakers)1099.5
5LA (Clippers)109.339.67
8San Francisco13.678.3311
9New York1014.6712.33
17Salt Lake City201316.5
20Washington DC11.3323.6717.5
22Oklahoma City2011.6718.67
23San Antonio19.671919.33
26New Orleans20.3319.3319.83


Cleveland is the 21st on’s list of most desirable cities for NBA players, scoring a lower-half ranking among all American cities.

However, these results show that the Cavaliers have had one of the best home attendances since the 2019 season. This achievement is noteworthy for a city classified in the lower tier of medium-sized markets in the NBA.

The Cavaliers are hopeful of replicating the success of the Denver Nuggets, another medium-sized market that now boasts the defending NBA champions.

Ohio oddsmakers don’t see it right away, though. FanDuel Ohio, for instance, has the Cavs as the fifth-best pick to win the Eastern Conference at +900. Not bad, but still a long way from Denver, which is favored to win the West at +240.

On the court, the Cavs are implementing a similar winning formula as to the Nuggets. Draft young assets and develop a championship-contending core with great chemistry.

When it comes to marketability, brands will persist in promoting their star athletes as the face of their company, much as Adidas does in its partnership with Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell has reached his fourth signature shoe with the renowned three-stripe brand. Similarly, during LeBron’s era, he was marketed as the “King,” which led to one of Nike’s most memorable basketball campaigns. Heck, the iconic LeBron James banner in downtown Cleveland proved to be a resounding success, drawing tourists to the city.

Should the Cleveland Cavaliers improve upon their 51-31 record and bounce back from their disappointing first-round exit in the playoffs, their young core has the potential to present a serious challenge in the East.

If Cleveland manages to reach the Eastern Conference finals, it would emerge as a more highly sought destination for NBA free agents in 2024. If they do, this can elevate the team to the upper tier of the NBA’s most desirable cities.

Keep tabs on the Cavaliers at, where you also can find info on Ohio sports betting kiosks.



Felix Veletanga is an experienced reporter who has covered local news, politics, and sports in Northern New Jersey, and now lends his expertise to the Ohio sports betting market. He previously covered the Saint Peter’s men’s basketball team’s 2022 NCAA Cinderella run for HudPost. Felix specializes in combat fighting and soccer betting analysis with a focus on the Premier League.

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