Finding Fits

Whether they try to contend for a playoff spot or tear down their team in a complete rebuild, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a state of transition. When the best player in the game leaves your team, that’s bound to happen, and that’s exactly what happened to the Cavaliers with LeBron James now a Los Angeles Laker. Besides James, Jeff Green and Jose Calderon have both left for new teams, and Kendrick Perkins was waived last week. With the return of Channing Frye, the Cavs’ roster now stands at 11 players with guaranteed contracts, Okaro White and his non-guaranteed deal, and a pair of two-way contracts belonging to John Holland and Billy Preston.

This leaves somewhere between two and four roster spots that the Cavaliers will need to fill by the start of this season. They can fill just two by guaranteeing White’s contract and leaving the final roster spot open, three by guaranteeing White’s contract and filling the other roster spots, and four by waiving White and then signing four new players. How they will do this remains to be seen.

When looking at the Cavaliers’ roster, it becomes apparent the the most glaring needs are at the forward spots. Collin Sexton is the point guard of the present and future, and George Hill and Jordan Clarkson are his likely backups. JR Smith and (possibly) Kyle Korver are returning at shooting guard, and Hill and Clarkson will likely get minutes there as well. Meanwhile, Tristan Thompson, Ante Zizic, Larry Nance Jr., Kevin Love, and Frye can all play center, but only Love, Nance, and White are really able to play power forward at this point. Even then, Nance’s lack of shooting makes him a poor fit alongside Thompson and Zizic, and the jury is still out on White as an NBA player. The small forward spot is even thinner, with Cedi Osman the only true three on the roster right now. Re-signing Rodney Hood would help here, but not as much as one would think. At 6’8″, Hood has the height of a small forward, but his slight frame hinders him defensively, making him a more natural fit at shooting guard. How much Hood actually helps on the court is another concern, but a discussion for another time.

With that in mind, here are a few unrestricted free agents who are relatively young, affordable, have shown some potential at the NBA level, and fit the Cavaliers’ positions of need.

David Nwaba

With the Brooklyn Nets signing Treveon Graham, Nwaba becomes the best affordable wing on the board, and has been linked to the Cavaliers by Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. An athletic 25 year old who runs the floor and plays hard on defense, Nwaba also shot a respectable 34.6% last season, albeit on less than one attempt per game. Undrafted out of California Polytechnic State University in 2016, Nwaba made the D-League All-Defensive and All-Rookie teams with the Los Angeles D-Fenders before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers and appearing in 20 games with them. Averaging six points and three rebounds one 58% shooting in just under 20 minutes per game with the Lakers, Nwaba caught the eye of some with his constant energy on the court. While he was waived by the Lakers, Nwaba was claimed by the Chicago Bulls, and played in 70 games for them last season, making 21 starts and averaging 23.5 minutes per game while improving both his passing and outside shooting. It seemed as though Nwaba had found a home with the Bulls until they rescinded his qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent so that they could sign Jabari Parker. Nwaba still doesn’t have much of a handle, and at 6’4″ he’s a bit on the short side for a small forward, but his 7’0″ wingspan and high level of athleticism would allow him to be a solid backup to Osman for years to come.

JaKarr Sampson

A Cleveland native who played his first three years of high school basketball at St. Vincent-St. Mary before transferring to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, a homecoming may make some sense for Sampson. The 25 year old has bounced between the NBA and G-League with various teams for the last four seasons, spending last season on a two-way contract with the Sacramento Kings. A long 6’9″, Sampson has the ideal physical profile for a small forward, if not necessarily the game of one. That isn’t to say Sampson can’t play, he can. Sampson has steadily improved his game over the past few seasons. Like Nwaba, Sampson does a great job of using his athleticism in transition and on defense. He’s a very good rebounder for his position as well, but has absolutely no shooting or ball handling skills. Sampson is a sub 30% three point shooter for his career in both the NBA and G-League, and averaged less than an assist per game at both levels last season. That’s the biggest problem in terms of Sampson fitting in with the Cavaliers. He’s a small forward with the game of a rim running, defense-oriented power forward. On a team that already has Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr., a wing that cannot shoot is a poor fit. Still, Sampson is young and athletic, and has at least proven that he is an NBA player.

Troy Williams

It’s hard to get excited about a player who was just waived by the New York Knicks, but Williams deserves at least another look in the NBA. Like Nwaba and Sampson, Williams is an athletic wing who uses that athleticism to make make plays on both ends of the court. Williams’s three-point shooting has been inconsistent at both the NBA and G-League levels, but it has improved a bit, and at 23 years old, time is still on his side. To his credit, Williams mostly sticks to scoring on threes and shots at the rim, which certainly fits the analytics-friendly style of today’s NBA. Williams is also an aggressive defender, and fits the basic template for a 3-and-D player. Now if he can just improve that handle. Williams has averaged more assists than turnovers during his professional career, and has little ability to create for himself or others. Still, he is the kind of young player a team should take a look at.

Anthony Brown

Brown isn’t the kind of player who should be penciled into the rotation, but he does have enough upside that he should be considered for one of the last roster spots. A G-League All-Star in each of the past two seasons, Brown spent last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves on a two-way contract. He only played one game with the T-Wolves despite them having a need on the wing, but coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t exactly known for expanding his rotation to give young guys chances. What makes the 25 year old interesting is the fact that he has shot above 40% from three in each of his last two seasons in the G-League on over five attempts per game. He’s also averaged over three assists per game during this time, and at 6’7″ with a 6’11” wingspan, Brown at least fits the physical profile of a wing defender. Still, Brown was at Stanford for five years due to redshirting his junior season, meaning that he is no spring chicken by NBA standards. If soon-to-be 26 year old is going to establish himself in the NBA after playing just 762 minutes at that level over the last three years, it will have to be soon.

Noah Vonleh

The lone power forward on this list, it’s hard to believe Vonleh won’t be 23 for another month. It seems like he’s been around forever. Compared to the likes of Chris Bosh and LaMarcus Aldridge after a solid freshman season at Indiana, Vonleh hasn’t come close to living up to that billing. A solid enough defender who’s actually quite good on the glass, Vonleh has been a pretty poor offensive player throughout his career. He’s athletic and can finish at the rim, but simply isn’t very aggressive on that end. What’s worse, he has just just under 30% from three for his career on exactly two attempts per 100 possessions, pretty disappointing for a player who looked like a versatile stretch big coming out of college. Still, Vonleh has the combination of youth, size, athleticism, and shooting potential to warrant a spot on a young team. The flashes are there.

Other Options

There isn’t really a lot else left on the unrestricted free agent market for potential forwards. Richard Jefferson and Joe Johnson are at the end of good careers. Shabazz Muhammad is a name, but has never been able to actually help his team on the court, and seems to think of himself as a star that he clearly isn’t. Corey Brewer was solid for the Thunder in the second half of last season, and had good chemistry with Love during their time together in Minnesota. That said,  Brewer has always been a bit overrated defensively, and is no spring chicken at 32 years old. Trevor Booker isn’t nearly the shooter (or player) that some make him out to be, and would seem a bit redundant in Cleveland, although the team has shown interest. Luke Babbitt, another rumored Cavs target, is a good outside shooter, but brings absolutely nothing else to the game.

On the trade front, there are a few useful, if not intriguing, players that could be available. Kent Bazemore is a bit small for a three, but is still a solid (if overpaid) player. Would the Hawks be willing to take on JR Smith’s semi-expiring deal for Bazemore’s longer one? The Nets have a glut of average-ish wings. Would they be willing to trade one of DeMarre Carroll or Allen Crabbe for Smith’s contract and a highly protected second round pick? Would the Hornets be willing to take Smith’s shorter contract and better shooting for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, despite MKG’s youth and superior defense? With the addition of Kawhi Leonard and a playoff showdown with the Celtics looming, would the Raptors want to trade Norman Powell and CJ Miles for Tristan Thompson, a Toronto native and noted Horford stopper? Would the Heat attach Justise Winslow to get off Tyler Johnson‘s contract for George Hill‘s expiring? While none of these players are stars—and some of these trades are stretches, to say the least—they all could combine with Osman to make a solid, if unspectacular, duo at small forward, and in the cases of Winslow and MKG, it could be much more than that.

With up to four open roster spots, there’s no doubt that the Cleveland Cavaliers will be making several moves before training camp. However, with a team in transition, a somewhat imbalanced roster, and a lack of high-end free agent options, it’s impossible to know what those moves will be. Still, if they play their cards right, the Cavaliers can add some players who could have a real impact both next season and beyond.

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EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 23 days ago

Love news piece up…

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 23 days ago

Starting lineup that I hope they role with:

Sexton
Hill or Korver
Cedi
Love
Nance

Bench:

Clarkson or Hill
Korver or J.R.
Nwaba (if signed)
Frye
Zizik

newnomad
Guest
newnomad
4 months 23 days ago

going to go celebrate with NEW BELGIUMS NEW IPA —-“HEMPEROR “—–YES HOPS AND COLORADO HEMP——(DON’T KNOW IF A “CERTAIN OLD CTB BLOGGER FROM COLORADO —CAN’T MENTION HIS NAME HERE )— IS INVOLVED WITH THE ” BREWING OF THIS BEER

newnomad
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newnomad
4 months 23 days ago

if love remains a cav for the remainder of his contract / stays healthy / performs like he has ——definitely TOP 5 ( OR HIGHER )—–like the signing —shows kevin WANTS TO BE HERE —-with his personality / professionalism / skill / etc.—-reminds me of what MARK PRICE brought to the cavs ——-think kevin wants to prove NOT PLAYING UNDER LEBRON’S SHADOW / BEING THE MAIN MAN –he can put up numbers close to those in his timberwolves days —-truly think kevin has fallen in “LOVE ” with —-“THE LAND”– AND ALL IT’S GREAT FANS ‘—-and also he really does NOT welcome change ( aka: his anxiety issues ) —-GO KEVIN / CAVS / —–GOOD JOB KOLBY AND UNCLE DAN ——-wonder if LeBron will give him a tweet / congrats

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
4 months 23 days ago

JWhodey69
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JWhodey69
4 months 23 days ago

Anyone in the NBA with the last name “Drugs”? Or maybe Josh Gordon counts ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

West coast cav
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West coast cav
4 months 23 days ago

That’s brilliant

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
4 months 23 days ago

Raoul
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Gordon
Guest
Gordon
4 months 23 days ago
I read about 50%, skimmed the rest – is this story different than the narrative all along? Seems the same to me, but maybe I missed something. I truly believe Leonard is being taken advantage of by his “group.” He’s a soft-spoken guy, everyone has always said he’s a hard worker, the right kind of player, etc. And suddenly, he forces his way out of arguably the best NBA franchise of the last two decades and only wants to go to LA? Sounds to me like the people in his “group” want him to go to a larger market where they can take advantage of him to create opportunities for themselves. And if he’s so soft-spoken, probably easy for someone (i.e., his uncle, who I believe is the guy “advising” him, right?) to manipulate him into believing the Spurs wronged him. The entire thing is absolutely weird. I can’t say I can remember a situation in professional sports that is similar to this one. A weird injury that nobody believes is serious that keeps a guy out for like a year? I think it’s inevitable he ends up with the Lakers alongside LeBron and whoever else the Lakers can sign/trade… Read more »
Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
4 months 23 days ago

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
4 months 23 days ago

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
4 months 23 days ago

Vintage
Guest
Vintage
4 months 24 days ago

Wonder where KLove will end up on the list of all time Cavs greats when it’s all said and done.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 23 days ago

Top 3 maybe?

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

I feel like they’re less likely to make any trades now.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 23 days ago

Really? Feel the opposite. Have a direction. Not in limbo.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 23 days ago

I feel like they really want to make the playoffs, and not rebuild, taking on draft picks/projects/etc. I’m just not sure who they could trade for an upgrade?

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 23 days ago

An upgrade for now, not the future, is what I meant.

running jumper
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running jumper
4 months 24 days ago

Thank you Kevin Love.

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

Gordon
Guest
Gordon
4 months 24 days ago

Kyrie returns next summer? Sexton develops into a star? Osman becomes one of the better players in the league? Zizic becomes a very good center?

Championships?

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

I highly doubt Kyrie would leave Boston, but if he were I imagine he would end up with the Knicks.

Gordon
Guest
Gordon
4 months 23 days ago

Yeah it’s a long shot, but if he does become a FA and is looking, I think there would be a great than 0% chance he comes back. Not likely, though.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

If I were to purchase a Cleveland Jersey, it would have to be a KLOVE jersey.

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 23 days ago

Pure class

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

Just heard Love signed a 4 year deal with the Cavs! Checking on the facts here.

Gordon
Guest
Gordon
4 months 24 days ago

It’s official – Love extension 4/$120M. Wow! Good for all parties.

newnomad
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newnomad
4 months 24 days ago

agree with you arch– (on boston still having all those picks )—borderline criminal !!

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

You’d think that opposing GM’s would know by know that Danny is going to try and fleece them and stand pat. Maybe that’s why San Antonio didn’t make a deal with Boston. IDK why Boston didn’t use a couple of those picks to make a run at Leonard? You have an opportunity to win a championship!

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 months 24 days ago

OK, so moving forward (past this year):
PG: Sexton
Combo G: Clarkson
Wing: Osman, Hood
Combo F: Preston
4/5: Love, Nance
5: Zizic, TT

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

How the heck does Boston still have all these first round draft picks? They have potentially 4 first round picks next year.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 months 24 days ago

Nets deal for Garnett & the deal where Philly moved up to get Fultz were steals.

Ainge is a great GM.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 months 24 days ago

The Love deal would increase his trade value. But also establish a floor for the team. At least we will have 1 all-star level player. You hope Sexton is #2, and that with cap space or high picks in the next year (or two if we lose this year’s pick) to nab #3.

Plus you hope Cedi, Nance, Zizic, Clarkson, & Hood turn into useful rotation pieces, or at least most of them do. Throw in guys like Preston & some of the developmental guys (Smith, Colson?) and a couple mid level FAs and we are back in business pretty quick.

It is a plan. Not saying it is the best plan, but it is one. Preston could act as a de facto 1st next year if things go well.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

I think they could probably get a late first for one of Hill, J.R., or Korver at the trade deadline. Some team is going to be looking for shooting and/or backup veteran PG’s. I think Toronto and the Rockets seem like reasonable targets.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

I would say Boston could be a target, but you know ‘draft pick hoarder’ Danny Ainge is not going to give up another first to the Cavs.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 months 24 days ago

Yep. An injury on a contender that leads to them needing shooting or D or just a smart vet.

I would wait to move them in season unless someone offers a late first.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 months 24 days ago

Oops, on Love, his game is not built on quickness or athleticism. Shooting & rebounding both age pretty well and he has a high BB IQ.

newnomad
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newnomad
4 months 24 days ago

if the rumors are true about Love ‘s contract —I would say they had talks with him (Love ) and he is ” ALL IN FOR BEING A CAV / PART OF THE REBUILD ‘—-would love to see this —we already know he is a true professional / and although maybe not the most athletic—he has desired skills / basketball I.Q. that make him a valuable player on your team

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

Howard says the Wizards are going to have a beautiful season and shock a lot of people. He’s also been practicing 3s.

EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 24 days ago

He must have read DRose’s book…

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

I give it 20 games before he completely alienates his teammates.

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
4 months 24 days ago

I will take the under.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
4 months 24 days ago

A guy on Reddit says a Love extension at 4/ $120 million is forthcoming. I have no idea if it’s true or not, but the same guy has called some other deals in advance recently.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 24 days ago

that would make love a cavalier for the next six seasons because he would have to opt-in to the year after this one. or might include that one

JOHN B
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JOHN B
4 months 24 days ago
That could be a horrific contract in four to five years in terms of cap hit versus returned value and if the team needs space to try to sign younger pieces. They won’t be able to attract stars, but great younger role players aren’t cheap. His window for being a viable third option on a modern eastern conference finals contender is probably only 2-3 more years. Basing that off his current lateral movement on d. Love could play a role on another great team, but I think that team needs to be built first with two franchise cornerstones to go along with him plus a wealth of great perimeter defenders. I like love a lot but I am unsure about shelling out massive long long term cap hits at this point in a rebuild. It is a rebuild too. Or it should be. No desire to do what Miami tried to do after LBJ left. Forget the maintain and spending on teams that can’t at least contend for a top three seed in the east. However, I may have a different philosophy than most b/c I don’t want to hover in the 8th through 10th seed in the east over… Read more »
JMay
Editor
4 months 24 days ago

I hate tanking, I love Kevin Love. He’s my favorite player. If the worst thing to happen to the Cavs over the next 5 years is that I just get to watch Kevin Love play, I’m not going to be too upset. Also, Love’s game isn’t predicated on athleticism and he can shoot from the outside. Love should remain effective entering the late stages of his career so long as he stays healthy. Could be a big if, but again, I like him.

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
4 months 24 days ago

We all hate to tank, but you have to if you want to have a chance to contend.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
4 months 24 days ago

Really any all star outside the top 3 is a success for any FO/ownership , but especially this one because the track record of drafting great pieces outside the top three just isn’t there in my opinion going all the way back to the first LBJ era.

JoeyB
Guest
JoeyB
4 months 24 days ago

Does that make him more or less tradeable?

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

That would be cool!

EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 24 days ago

If so that’s…

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
4 months 24 days ago

If he is really offered this, he’d be nuts not to take it. I sort of think it’s going to happen.

newnomad
Guest
newnomad
4 months 24 days ago

PER AMICO HOOPS—–OAKAFOR IS SAID TO BE ON CAVS RADAR——THOUGHTS / OPINIONS ?

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

No!

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
4 months 24 days ago

Bleh.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 24 days ago

He’d be great for tanking.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

Then we should also grab MCW!

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 24 days ago

Too late! Already a rocket!

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

Trade Love and Sexton for him.

newnomad
Guest
newnomad
4 months 24 days ago

on another subject——with the VANDALISM of another LEBRON mural—- do you think this bothers the King or not —–I mean LeBron “IS COMING TO LA —-NOT LEAVING “——I don’t think you would ever see this “IN THE LAND ” IF THE KING WAS COMING HERE —–just saying —–

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 24 days ago

I couldn’t care less as to what bothers LeBron.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 24 days ago

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 24 days ago

LMAO… that’s a good one Nate!!!

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 24 days ago

I would do Winslow/Johnson/pick for Hill in a heartbeat. I’d even maybe package TT and JR for Whiteside. But it’d take another pick or prospect.

http://www.espn.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=y9uxcbrq

It’s going to be nuts how valuable JR, Hill, and even Korver’s contracts will be to teams looking to get under the tax and shed salary for next summer.

Raoul
Guest
JRL
Guest
JRL
4 months 25 days ago

How so?
I can’t correlate the two.

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
4 months 24 days ago

“The coach is Jerome Allen, who led the Penn program for six years and is now an assistant coach of the Boston Celtics”. He took bribes to manipulate stuff at Penn. You think that will fly under the radar? Post Sandusky?

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
4 months 24 days ago

Correction: Sandusky was Penn State. But rigging enrollment at an Ivy League school is a big deal.

JRL
Guest
JRL
4 months 24 days ago

If the Cavs fired Damon Jones, would it matter?

newnomad
Guest
newnomad
4 months 25 days ago

ANY DEAL THAT INVOLVES T.T. / J.R. —AM IN FAVOR OF DOING ——–LIKED VONLEY COMING OUT OF COLLEGE –BUT APPEARS HE IS JUST ANOTHER / YOUNGER T.T. —-MAYBE BETTER OFFFENSIVELY THAN T.T.—WORTH THE GAMBLE —MAYBE ?

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 months 25 days ago

Nice piece on some forward options.

I think Hood has to be a 3. He is too slow to guard two’s who can dribble. But agree he is a weak 3. But if the other guy is 3 & D we can get away with it. Or if you pair him with another high motor wing (Cedi).

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