The Cleveland Cavaliers have two open roster spots and could be in line to nab Steve Novak and Joe Johnson.
Novak, who was dealt to the Denver Nuggets at the trade deadline Thursday, was waived by the team today along with J.J. Hickson, Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports recently reported.
Novak came over to the Nuggets along with point guard D.J. Augustin from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for guard Randy Foye. Novak is earning $3.75 million this year and will be a free agent this summer. The 32-year-old is known as a three-point shooter and is very good off the catch, which is why he is a prime candidate to join the Cavs according to the Northeast Ohio Group.
Novak appeared in just seven games for the Thunder, seeing just an average of 3.4 minutes of action per game, averaging 2.4 points while making six of his 12 shots (50 percent) and 5-of-9 from beyond the arc (55.6 percent). He hasn’t seen meaningful minutes since the 2012-13 season due to the fact he is a weak defender and poor rebounder. For his career, Novak has produced 4.7 points a game and knocked down 43.2 percent on his three-point attempts.
Update: Marc Stein of ESPN is reporting that the Milwaukee Bucks plan to sign Novak once he clears waivers either Sunday or Monday. The Bucks will waive forward Chris Copeland to make room for Novak.
Novak played college basketball at Marquette. Copeland signed a $1.1MM deal with the Bucks last offseason, but hasn’t seen the court much during his time in Milwaukee. The 31-year-old is averaging 2.1 points and 0.5 assists in 6.5 minutes per game this season.
Johnson has a relationship with Cavaliers general manager David Griffin but is still currently with the Brooklyn Nets, and there is no certainty the 34-year old will be able to work out a buyout. Johnson is making nearly $24.895 million this year in the last year of his contract and is said not to be overly concerned whether a buyout occurs rather he is focused on playing.
Johnson is in the midst of his worst campaign since the 2002-03 season as he averages 11.5 points, 4.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds a game while shooting 40.0 percent from the field. Johnson, who recently had his streak of 937 consecutive games with a made field goal snapped on Feb. 10, is still a proficient three-point shooter and a big-time shot maker though he is struggling on defense this season. Miami would also be interested in the 15-year veteran if he becomes a free agent.
Cleveland has two open roster spots after dealing Anderson Varejao and Jared Cunningham to Portland and Orlando, respectively, in the Channing Frye trade. The Cavs also trimmed about $10 million in salary and pre-tax penalties.
Kevin Martin, Hickson and David Lee could also be possibilities if Johnson doesn’t become available. Martin has not been bought out but is similar to the player that Johnson is and like Johnson has struggled this season. Martin also missed nine games prior to the All-Star break for Minnesota with a wrist injury.
Hickson and Lee would help the Cavs interior defense and give them some rebounding help. Dallas is also believed to be interested in Lee and Martin.
If Cleveland does ultimately sign anyone, they must do so prior to March 1 in order for them to be eligible for the playoffs.
Cleveland (39-14) has won four straight and is coming off a 106-95 victory over the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena as LeBron James barely missed recording his second triple-double of the season. James posted 25, nine rebounds, and nine assists as he made 11-of-19 shots from the field. Kevin Love did pick up his 24th double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds. The victory was the Cavs’ first over the Bulls and improved their record to 15-11 against teams with a winning record.
Frye wasn’t available for the game against Chicago since he was just acquired by the team that afternoon, and ESPN reported the 32-year old didn’t practice Friday as he had not finished the team’s on-board procedures yet. He is expected to participate in practice Saturday and will play Sunday against Oklahoma City. However, Iman Shumpert did not practice Friday and is listed as day-to-day after spraining his left shoulder against the Bulls.
Cleveland, now 9-3 under Tyronn Lue, has a tough stretch coming up, starting with the Thunder. The Cavs then host two teams that improved themselves prior the trade deadline in Detroit and Charlotte. They then travel to Toronto and Washington before closing out the month at home versus Indiana on Feb. 29.
[photo by Rick Bowmer/Associated Press]