What’s Next for the Cavs in Free Agency?

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have already won the offseason by winning the services of the best player in the NBA, LeBron James. The whole direction of the team has completely changed in the past week. James makes everyone on the team better and his unselfishness gets his teammates a lot of open shots. He is a physical freak, who can dominate on both sides of the ball. He will be the leader of a young team with a lot of potential. Kyrie Irving is already an All-Star caliber player, who can team up with James and be part of one of the best duos in the league. He is a talented scorer, who is a dual threat with his shooting and driving to the basket. We have already seen in the NBA All-Star Game that these two can make the Cavs an exciting team. James and Irving give the Cavs the makings of a top team in the NBA.

But, with these two stars, the Cavaliers will need to add a few more pieces in order to have a supporting cast that makes them a championship contender. The Cavs are very thin in terms of shooters on the team. Dion Waiters is a scorer, but is not a consistent enough perimeter shooter to spread the floor for James and Irving. Andrew Wiggins is a solid spot up shooter, but not good enough to scare defenders into playing close to him. Matthew Dellavedova is just a backup point with a solid shooting stroke, too. The only real perimeter shooter on the team is rookie Joe Harris. He has very good range and ability to stretch the defense. But, he is only a rookie and has not shown anything yet in the NBA. So the Cavs will try to fill this need in free agency. I have six free agents who could be good players for this role.

1) Ray Allen

Ray Allen, 38, is one of the best perimeter shooters in NBA history. He is reportedly deciding between retirement and joining the Cavaliers. Allen is a career 40% three-point shooter and last season for the Heat he shot 37.5% from three. From the field, he is a career 45.2% and last season, he shot 44.2%. He would give them someone who can spread the floor and open up lanes for drives to the basket. He has experience with playing with James and so he would be a great addition to fill this shooter role. He gives the Cavs a championship veteran shooting guard for at most two years. He is my number one target to fill this role.

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2) Mike Miller

Mike Miller, 34, is also rumored to be considering a Cavs offer. He is a career 40.9% three-point shooter and last season he shot 45.9%. He is a 46.2% shooter from the field in his career and 48.1% shooter last season. He also has experience playing with James. Miller can shoot off the dribble very well. He would be a player who can contribute for the next couple years, but not long term. He also is a veteran with championship success. He can play the shooting guard and small forward position.

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3) James Jones

James Jones, 33, has experience playing alongside James and also has interest from the Cavs. He is another older veteran with championship experience. In his career, he has shot 40.3% from three and last season shot 51.9% from three. He is a career 40.1% shooter from the field, but last shot 45.6% from the field. He is a good spot up shooter with the ability to play shooting guard and small forward. He would be one of the top targets on my list after Allen and Miller.

4) Francisco Garcia

Francisco Garcia, 32, is a player who could give the Cavs better spacing. He is a career 36.1% shooter from behind the arc and last season shot 35.8%. From the field, he is 43% shooter in his career and 40.1% shooter last season. He is a very good spot up shooter and would be a good shooting guard or small forward option off the bench for the Cavs. He is an older player and not as deadly a shooter as Allen and Miller. He would be an option if the Cavs could not sign one of the previous three players.

5) Jameer Nelson

Jameer Nelson, 32, is a very good shooter, but could cost more then the previous players. Nelson has played his whole career with the Orlando Magic. He is a career 37.4% from behind the arc and last season a 34.8% shooter from behind the arc. From the field, he is a 44.2% shooter, but last season only shot 39.4%. He also could be a backup point guard for the Cavs. He has not played without the ball a lot, so he could not translate as well as the other shooting options. He could be an interesting option for the Cavs and one I would look at after Allen and Miller.

6) Anthony Tolliver

The Cavs reportedly have interest in 28-year-old Anthony Tolliver. He is a not pure shooter like the previous two players. He is a career 35.2% three-point shooter, but last season shot 41.3%. He is a career 41.4% shooter from the field and 42% last season. He is more of a stretch four, who can open up the driving lanes because of his good jump shot. He is younger then Allen and Miller, but is not a perimeter shooter like them. He would not be my top choice to fill this role because of his lack of deep range on his jump shot.

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The Cavaliers are also in need of big men to fill in at center and power forward. They have Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao as their starters at the four and five spot. But there is not much depth behind them. Anthony Bennett is more of a stretch four, who hasn’t produced enough to really say for sure that he can be productive. Brendan Haywood could be a quality backup big off the bench. He is an older player, but has shot blocking and rebounding ability to be a solid role player. Dwight Powell is a rookie athletic power forward, who is not as physical as he needs to be to play in the NBA. This could be addressed with a trade for Kevin Love, but they will still need to add a big, who can defend, rebound, and give rest to the starters. I have six free agents who could fill this role for the Cavs.

1) Emeka Okafor

Emeka Okafor, 31, is a very good defensive center who can still be a productive player off the bench. In his career, he has averaged 12.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks a game. He is a very tough defender in the paint with the ability to block shots very well. He would give the Cavs a presence down low off the bench, both on offense and defense. He can still score down low and be a solid threat in the paint. He could play more minutes then the other players on the list and so he could be a little more expensive then other options. He is my top choice to fill this big man role.

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2) Jermaine O’Neal

Jermaine O’Neal, 35, is an aging veteran, but can give the team a big body to play defense off the bench. In his career, he has averaged 13.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a game. He can still play well on defense and get rebounds. He would be a player, who can play 15-20 minutes a game at center and give Varejao more rest to reduce his injury risk. He would give the team three legit defensive centers on the roster. O’Neal would be my second choice to fill the big man role.

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3) Kris Humphries

Kris Humphries, 29, is power forward with very good rebounding ability. In his career, he has averaged 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. He will be a player who can get after it on the boards and be a tough rebounder. He gets points mostly from the glass with offensive rebounds in the paint. He is not a very good defender, but he is physical enough to keep his ground in the paint. Humphries is an option to add depth at power forward and be part of the big men rotation.

4) Jason Maxiell

Jason Maxiell, 31, is a good rebounder and shot blocker. In his career, he has averaged 5.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks a game. He does not produce much on offense, but he does the dirty work and gets hustle points. He is an undersized power forward, but he is athletic and has a big wingspan to grab rebounds. He can produce 10-15 minutes a game and give a breather to the starters. Maxiell would be an option after the first three on this list.

5) Ed Davis

Ed Davis, 24, is an interesting young player who could be a player who can develop into a solid rotational big man. In his career, he has averaged 6.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks a game. He is a young player with very good athletic ability. He is a good rebounder and shot blocker because of his length and athleticism. He does not have much of an offensive game because of his lack of strength and shooting ability. Davis is a power forward who can give the Cavs a player to contribute in the big men rotation and also maybe develop into an even better player.

6) Nazr Mohammed

Nazr Mohammed, 36, is an old veteran, who can play for 5-10 minutes a game. In his career, he has averaged 5.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.6 blocks a game. He is a big body, who can play a few minutes a game to give some rest to the starters. He is a solid defender with not much offensive ability anymore. He would be an option if they added one of the previous options because he will not take up big minutes.

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Shooting and big men depth are the biggest needs to add alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Free agency is a good route to go to find players who can fit roles for a team. Look for the Cavs to add at least one player to fill both of these roles. The Cavs may also go the route of trade to find some of these needs, so they may not find the players in free agency. The Cavaliers already have accomplished the hard part of the offseason in getting LeBron James. They just need to finish the roster with players who can play well with James and Irving. It has already been a great offseason for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

(Photo by: Getty Images)

  • Pat Leonard

    I’m going to temper a negative statement by saying that I am extremely excited to have LeBron back on the Cavs and to know that we’re going to get to watch the Cavs in the playoffs again. Now that I’ve set my excitement level as extremely high, I can say that I do find it a tiny bit concerning that we aren’t hearing about ANY free agents who are pushing to play with the Cavs simply because LeBron is there. This was the supposed reality that David Griffin set in some of his interviews from summer league, but I don’t see any evidence of it. Ray Allen appears to be just as interested in retiring as playing with the Cavs. Mike Miller is apparently leaving the decision of Denver or Cleveland up to his wife (If true, I wonder which city she would choose?). And that’s it… I haven’t seen any buzz linking any other free agents to the Cavs. What up with that?

    http://media.tumblr.com/61c862f3ff37d85df9ac16d5b851e62f/tumblr_inline_mn425d76bO1qz4rgp.jpg

  • dwhit110

    I understand your point, but I think a main part of the problem is that we’re still so early on in free agency. We have our room exception and pretty much everyone else that we bring in is going to need to be a vet minimum guy. Typically, those types of guys don’t sign in the first week. If we’re having this conversation on August 15th, then I’m starting to get worried, but LBJ has been here since Friday. No worries yet.

  • woofersus

    True, but the Cavs spent most of their money already, so it’s tough to be in the discussion for some of the more significant FA’s available without complicated sign-and-trade deals. Allen is going to be 39, and Mike Miller would have to take less money to come to Cleveland. I think their indecision is pretty logical. At this point I think we have to step back and watch some of the bigger dominos fall post-decision while some quality veterans start to accept the reality of less money than they hoped. (i.e. Deng accepting $10M/yr for 2 years)

    In reality, even with LeBron Cleveland will never be a premier destination for a winter sport, but I think it’s about money more often than not. Heck, Love said he’d sign an extension if he got traded here. Of course that’s a move south for him…

  • boomhauertjs

    Is Okafor even healthy? He missed all of last year and I haven’t heard his name mentioned much in free agency.
    What about Audrey Blatche? He’s a questionable character guy, but maybe his time with all of those vets in Brooklyn (almost typed New Jersey) helped him grow up. His athleticism would fit with the rest of the Cavs.
    I prefer Miller over Allen, but would love to have both. Hoping they get at least one.

  • Adam Copeland

    What’s up with that (love the pic) is that the Cavs are now strapped for cash. My understanding is that they’ll be able to pay one guy over the veteran minimum (with the “room exception”) and then everyone else has to be paid the veteran minimum (which doesn’t count against the cap, but does count for luxury tax purposes). So if there’s more money out there for these guys, they’re going to explore those options. Where Cleveland may have the edge is for the guys that are going to end up taking the veteran minimum eventually.

  • Harv 21

    I’m looking at the ages of your shooters and feeling queasy, given how the legs go first. But then I’m remembering the slightly younger floor-spreaders we previously had who died a little in the moment from “I’m Too Open and Don’t Appreciate People Staring at Me” disease (Donyell, Mo, et al). So. freaky-deaky Ray, whaddya say? Even at 40 you’ll have the smoothest, perfectest trigger I ever saw.

    The center position is what should scare us silly once this LeBron glow fades. A healthy year for Andy is now about 60 games tops, plus they’ll have to start limiting his minutes soon. They need a rugged protector and enforcer, especially if they get Love or any other no-defense stretch 4. Tristan at center in a half-court set in a close, important game is not the answer. If we’re ok with shooters who carry Golden Buckeye cards, wonder what Mark West is up to.

  • mgbode

    for whatever reason, guys who spot-up and shoot seem to age pretty gracefully. even previous drivers like Jason Kidd were able to extend their careers by becoming spot-up threats. it seems that reason would be there is less wear during the season by sitting outside the 3pt line, but it could simply be that once you develop a shooting touch, it doesn’t really leave you.

  • Steve

    Which of these guys will actually take the veteran’s minimum of about $1.5M? Which do we have to splurge our $2.6M (still a paltry number) on?

    As much as better as Lebron makes us, there are still good opportunities out there, good teams, better paying opportunities, and teams that can guarantee more minutes. Agree with dwhit that we’ll have to sweat it out a bit still.

  • Pat Leonard

    I’ll reply to woofersus, Steve, and Adam here since all three of you made similar points: I agree, that does make a ton of sense. I keep seeing Miami sign free agent after free agent and it’s bugging me… I guess none of those guys were vet minimum deals though. It just seems like when LeBron was in Miami, players were more than willing to take less than they could make if they went elsewhere (read: vet minimum deals). It doesn’t seem like that same logic is applying to Cleveland, or at least not without mulling it over heavily.

    David Griffin had an interview with Fred McLeod where he said that free agents have been ringing the Cavs’ phones off the hook for once, which was a nice change from the norm. If that’s true, I just find it strange that none of those names have been leaked yet. Maybe Griffin is running an airtight ship.

  • mgbode

    some guys not mentioned:

    Jerryd Bayless – younger shooter (25yo) who may be too costly for us, but we should put in a call to find out.

    and Jimmer at least deserves a mention though he also will likely price himself out of our budget just based on his 3pt shooting and age.

    also, he’s been hurt the last couple of years, but Brandon Rush can knock down shots and is only 28yo (suprisingly to me). or Jordan Hamilton.

    and, if those fail, then we could just go and sign Beno Udrih who would likely work well in Blatt’s motion system too (Udrih & Delly would be a nice backup guard set).

    big guys are really tough. I guess we could see if Jason Smith can stay healthy or take a stab in the dark on Byron Mullens/Aaron Gray, but man the options there are really weak (I like the thought on Okafor).

  • Pat Leonard

    I’m cool with Ray-Ray and Mikey. Allen seemed to have more left in the tank during the Spurs series than any player not named “LeBron”. That fella just keeps himself in impeccable shape and Spoelstra was smart enough to know that he’s only a 25 minute per game guy at this stage of his career. I think both guys would be excellent fits if we can keep their minutes down.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’d also be interested in Udoh from Milwaukee to help at center.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If I had to choose between Allen and Miller I’d rather have Allen especially if it’s just one season.

  • mgbode

    I’m not a fan, but, given the options, we’d likely have to consider him too.

  • Pat Leonard

    Jeez yeah… the Cavs’ options at center are bleak. Here’s a crazy idea: Jan Vesely as a center. He’s the same size as Jason Smith, he’s a good defender, good rebounder, and he’s super athletic for his size.

  • mgbode

    with the options available, why not?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    And the other thing is the Cavaliers could keep Allen’s minutes low with all of the guards they have on the roster. Especially if Wiggins plays SG.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I kinda liked his athleticism plus he’s younger then those other guys which is a positive.

  • Anthony V.

    I am still beating the Greg Monroe drum, maybe a sing and trade involving Waiters??

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Great pick on Okafor, I think he’d be a very good fit. Plays D and rebounds, which is all they’d need him to do, and mostly against very big teams.

    Since I don’t expect the Cavs to be championship contenders this season, but rather next season, I’d rather not go with Allen who may not be worth anything by then. And truthfully, whomever we get would likely need to be someone who can defend opposing 3s or a stretch-4 (ironically, Hawes would have been a good fit for the Cavs in some ways), so that eliminates some of the others.

    That said, if the plan is to go after Love next offseason, getting Allen or Miller meanwhile to stretch the floor certainly isn’t a bad thing.

  • Pat Leonard

    I think they could probably offer Allen a 2 year deal with a team option on the second year at this point in his career. That gives both sides an out… the Cavs can get out if he declines and Allen can just retire if he doesn’t want to play anymore.

  • Harv 21

    Seeing Ray Allen in a Cavs uni would be surreal. Like Eddie Murray and Orel finishing careers at the Jake. Well, hope it would be like that, as opposed to more like Keith Hernandez at at Municipal Stadium.

  • Pat Leonard

    Definitely… I was also thinking about Ben Wallace in a Cavs uniform.

  • Pat Leonard

    What do you think about Elton Brand? He still rebounds and defends pretty well, and he’s not awful on offense either. Probably interested in vying for a title by now.

  • mgbode

    well, he has had to have his minutes drastically reduced due to all the injuries that keep hitting him and it has also slowed him down across the board when he does play.

    that being said, likely still better than Gray.

  • dwhit110

    We happy?! :)

  • Pat Leonard

    Agreed, I want nothing to do with Aaron Gray… classic example of a guy who looks the part, but gets outplayed by people much smaller than him.

  • Pat Leonard
  • mgbode

    Noone knows as far as I can tell on Okafor.

  • Bob Fusky

    Right now, without any other free agents, I would think that the cavs are the clear favorites in the Eastern Conference, right? LBJ, Irving and Wiggins? http://straighthoops.com/beast_of_the_east.html