Cavaliers Add Samardo Samuels to Their Stable of Potential

The Cavaliers may not have had a draft pick this past June, but that has not stopped them from adding a rookie with some upside.  Reportedly agreeing to terms with Samardo Samuels, an undrafted 6-foot-9-inch, 240-pound power forward out of Louisville, the Cavs have managed to provide themselves with a potential frontcourt presence while not guaranteeing any compensation beyond the 2010-11 season.

The 21-year-old Samuels has provided mixed results over the past few years at the collegiate level.  He was a consensus top recruit out of high school ahead of guys like Tyreke Evans and DeMar DeRozan, but he seemingly failed to live up to expectations through two seasons with the Cardinals.  Apparently feeling like he was ready to move on to the next level, the wide-bodied big man opted to take a shot at the NBA where he would ultimately go undrafted.

Hitching on with the Chicago Bulls for the Las Vegas Summer League, Samuels managed to impress some coaches – apparently at least one from Northeastern Ohio – due to his length and back-to-the-basket offense.  Samuels lead the Bulls in scoring twice in the five-game span, putting in 19 during their matchup with the Cavs; also known as the “Pooh Jeter game.”

In an interview with NBATV, Bulls newly hired head coach Tom Thibodeau had nothing but high remarks for Samuels.

“He knows how to carve out his space in there,” said Thibodeau.  “He’s a multiple-effort guy that’s played extremely well out here.”

Potentially undersized for a big man, Samuels played both power forward and center for Rick Pitino.  His draft capsule was understandably mixed given the high expectations for the New Jersey product coupled with he did not exactly meet the mark over his two seasons within the NCAA.  For comparison purposes, it would not be far-fetched to consider Samuels a JJ Hickson with less athleticism but a considerably wider body.  He averaged 15.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and managed to block over one shot per game despite only being 6’9″.

When facing high-profile rookie DeMarcus Cousins in the Summer League, Samuels put up one of his better performances with 17 points and seven rebounds to go with a handful of poster-like dunks on the new Sacramento Kings addition.  On the defensive end, Samuels held Cousins to 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting for the game.

The downside to Samuels’ game reportedly comes from the fact that he does not venture outside of the paint very often.  Though able to use his size in pick-and-roll situations, over 90 percent of Samuels’ half-court possessions occur near the basket.  Despite these apparent limitations, Samuels feels that he could be used in an uptempo style offense due to the fact that he is a bit smaller than most of the player he would be facing at the NBA level.

“I like the NBA style more than the college game,” said Samuels following a recent Summer League game.  “There’s more spacing for a big man like me that’s strong and physical.  The defense can’t be in a certain position to wait for me and get the ball.  There’s a lot of one-on-one coverage and I like that.” 

“I like to run as a big man and try to be other big men down the court. I think my game will translate well.”

In a move that signals that the team is playing more for the future than marginal wins in 2010-11, the Cavaliers have reportedly inked Samuels to a two-year deal with only a portion of the first year being guaranteed.  Given his high profile entering college, it would be a very big disappointment for Samuels to not be able to contribute at the next level. 

He was anticipated to go anywhere from the late-first to deep-second round just weeks ago due to strong private workouts.  His failure to latch on to a team in the Draft may have been just what the Cavaliers needed to get a young presence for the future.  If it does not work out, the team has provided itself with financial flexibility.

“I know I had good workouts and I know the talent I have as a player,” said Samuels. “I definitely have to keep pushing and I want to be in the NBA. [Not being drafted] will not stop me.”

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  • swig

    FIRST!! … new player added to the team. Woohoo!

  • mike

    im not familiar with him. is paul millsap a fair comparison / potential upside?

  • Stinkfist

    PF: Hickson, Varejao, Jamison, Powe, Samuels
    SF: Moon and… oh.
    C: Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

  • Scott

    Some are saying he’s further along in his development than a raw player like Eyenga, which makes sense based on everything we’ve seen and heard about last year’s first-rounder.

    He was a member of the LBJ Skills Academy back in 2007 – his comparisons back then were Al Horford and Carlos Boozer. While that may have varied since then, best takeaway was that Nike had to add 300 lbs of weight on to the base of the baskets because Samuels’ dunks kept disrupting play.

  • ben

    I think this is a very strong signing and shows that the front office is doing their job well.

  • Scott

    Stinkfist: your starting center as of right now is Anderson Varejao. It appears that it’ll be a three-man rotation at the five between Varejao, Hickson and Samuels – undersized to say the least, but could ideally run the opposition out of the gym.

    I still anticipate the Cavs to add a big man to allow for more focus. Also, Jamison will get time at the three.

  • MattyFos

    Any idea who the SF’s are that Windy is tweeting about? He said the Cavs are pursuing trades DWest for a small forward.

  • Thunder Dan

    Love this move. I’d rather find an “undersized” guy that boxes out and crashes the boards and scoop him off the trash heap than spend a high pick and mad money on a delicate 7-footer. Low-risk, high reward.

    On the potential glut of PF: Worry about who plays where later; this team just needs to add talent anywhere it can find it right now. They’ll figure something out.

    Also, his name is awesome.

  • MattyFos

    @ Thunder Dan

    “spend a high pick and mad money on a delicate 7-footer”

    /Hasheem Thabeet is seen whimpering in the corner with his head buried in his hands.

  • MattyFos

    Now let’s get this ball rolling.

    Seriously, it’s nice to see the front office doing something. This kid, from what I’ve read, does remind me of a Boozer/Millsap. Undersized, but plays big. Hopefully we play him in the NBADL, so he can get consistent reps and isn’t stuck on the bench wasting away.

  • mike

    based on delonte west’s contract, the only real SF i could tell that seemed to make sense and could/would be available is Wilson Chandler. honestly, the ONLY other one that seemed could fit and would be “moveable” is Carlos Delfino (i hope not!).

  • MattyFos

    Well, I hear from that Rudy Fernandez is on the market. I know he’s listed as a SG, but he’s big enough to play SF at 6’6″. He may fit well with the run and gun. I wish he was a better shooter. Career 40% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. Again, this is just speculation. I liked the idea of trading West for Sessions and Koufos. Mostly because I think we need a 7’0 Center and because Koufos is a Canton native. But he may be a project and he’ll get good minutes on the Cavs to help him develop.
    Fernandez’ contract wouldn’t match with DWest, Fernandez makes about 1.2 and DWest’s contract is worth 4. Both expire after this season.

    I would love to get Wilson Chandler, but I think the Knicks would want more than DWest.

  • joe

    i’m confused did we just draft leon powe?

  • bobby

    So at PF theres JJ (6’9″), Powe (6’8″), and now Samuels (6’9″). Could we get anyone smaller maybe?

  • mike

    i would love for the sessions/koufos trade to go through. Sessions would be a steal at PG. may as well take a low risk/high reward shot with Koufos too.
    i would not be disappointed with Rudy Fernandez but not overly ecstatic either. FWIW – Rudy was drafted with the Cavs pick that was sent to Phoenix for Milt Palacio (i think?)

  • 5KMD
  • MattyFos

    Fernandez may want to play in Europe. But the Euro is worth only 77 cents of the Dollar. Money talks.

  • Hot Toluene

    Just a thought about the height:
    David West – another 6’9″ PF who’s done pretty well for himself in Scott’s system (granted that he has an awesome mid-range game).

    I agree with Thunder Dan, I’ll take undersized / undervalued over tall / overhyped any day.

  • Harv 21

    So Grant is mining for sleepers that might be able to play, regardless of position logjams. Not a bad strategy for 2010-11. If he hits on one guy, if we lose enough to net a decent draft pick next year, JJ develops and we clear cap space, not a bad start to the rebuild.

    Only thing I don’t like is the run-run-run talk. It’s ultimately a dead end in the East. Unless Boston and Orlando suddenly crumble, advancing in the playoffs will require good execution of half court offense and withering defense. Scott must know that.

  • 5KMD

    Hey Matty,

    I heard something about no taxes over there or something. Like if you sign for 10 million, you get 10 million. Teams buy you cars, houses, etc.

    I thought that’s why second tier guys like Childress went over there to play. Add in that Spain is his home and I think he is serious.

    Who knows though

  • Stinkfist

    @5KMD – “Teams buy you cars, houses, etc.”

    Oh, so its kinda like college sports?

  • MattyFos

    Childress went over because at the time the Euro was stronger than the Dollar. That is why there was speculation of a bunch on NBA players jumping over there. Remember when ESPN was positive LBJ would sign with the Greek team for 50 million Euro?
    I seriously doubt any European nation has no taxes. They have a nanny-type government structure. Health Care, 30 hour work weeks, more paid holidays. They are in such dire financial situation that they will probably be raising taxes to attempt to eliminate their debt.

    I would imagine that they have nice perks like houses and cars though.

  • BW

    Being an alumnus of Marquette University, we faced him in Big East play a number of times and he’s a solid player. He does have some nice moves with his back to the basket, but I personally think it’s a bit of a shot in the dark. He never really dominated or showed much intensity from what I saw, but hey at this point it’s a good move for the Cavs because it’s low risk potentially high pay off.

    On a random note… I’ve thought he looks just like Kendrick Perkins for years now… anyone else think so?!

  • BW

    @22: Your basically right. Europe is attractive from a basketball contract situation because the teams are allowed to offer the individual players certain “perks” along with salary… it is common for teams to purchase mansions for their players and yachts as well. In the U.S. teams can only offer salary and that’s it. Also, their taxes are more favorable than here in the US, and the Euro, despite it’s recent struggles is still stronger than the USD.

  • Lyon

    It’s not that they don’t have taxes, I think the salaries that are offered are the after tax amount. So when they sign you for 10 mil, it’s actually 10 mil.

    That’s my understanding of it, and of course, it depends on where you sign too.

  • MattyFos

    Greece is bankrupt and Spain is on the verge of bankruptcy. Both are affecting the Euro immensely. Seems like it’ll only get worse for the Euro

  • 5KMD

    Awesome guys, thanks. So I was right…and wrong. Pretty standard.

  • BW

    It’s the PIIGS, not just Spain and Greece, but the thing is that that will likely be more government interventions to save the Euro from a drastic collapse in the future (drastic as in it becoming non-existent, which some believe is a possibility still).

  • BW

    and just so we’re all clear… the Euro is still stronger than the dollar right now even after huge drops due to the debt crisis over there…

  • MattyFos

    BW- I don’t think there is a consensus.
    Even going through this recession now and likely a double dip recession at the beginning of the New Year. I still have faith in America and Capitalism. So, I believe the Dollar will always be stronger and safer.

  • mike

    definitely not tax free in europe. some of the teams offer to pay the players’ taxes and/or housing and/or cars. not every team does that and certainly not every player gets those perks. as an aside, dont AMerican players that are playing in Europe still have to pay Uncle Sam? if so, do the Euro teams pick up that tax bill too?

  • Mike D

    “as an aside, dont AMerican players that are playing in Europe still have to pay Uncle Sam? if so, do the Euro teams pick up that tax bill too?”

    Only if they live part of the year in the US still.

  • BW

    @MattyFos: Yes, no consensus on the future of the Euro and plenty of other things. At the end of the day, yes I’d probably trust the USD more than the Euro, but I openly admit that this could always just be because it’s my currency and the historical significance of the USD. But, we’ve been wrong for about 10 years now or so on that one as the Euro has dominated basically since it’s inception.