The Cleveland Cavaliers are among 13 teams who still need to figure out their roster according to Basketball Insiders.
Cleveland, the defending NBA Champions, have just 11 players under contract, though LeBron James has committed to re-signing with the team, and 2016 second round selection Kay Felder will also eventually sign. That leaves J.R. Smith and James Jones as the Cavs remaining free agents and while both are ultimately expected back in Cleveland, both player’s have offers from other teams.
The Inquisitr previously reported that the Cavaliers would likely bring in just 16 players to training camp as they likely would only have one roster spot – assuming Jones and Smith re-sign — with DeAndre Liggins the player to receive an invitation, however, Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops is now reporting that the Cavs have offered a training camp spot to Kenny Gabriel.
Gabriel, who has spent his entire professional career in Europe, played for the Cavs’ Las Vegas summer league team this year. The 27-year-old averaged 7.4 points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting 39.2 percent from the field and 27 percent from beyond the arc in seven. He produced four double-figure scoring games and one double-double, which came against the Brooklyn Nets (July 16) where he tallied 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The 6-foot-8 combo forward also played with the Miami Heat summer league squad in Orlando. Gabriel appeared in two games with the Heat, averaging 12.0 points and 3.0 rebounds a contest while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from long distance.
Gabriel once known for his high-flying acrobatics, winning slam dunk competitions in two different countries, has altered his game in recent years. According to Fansided, he is now known for his high basketball IQ, shooting ability and length along with his athleticism
Gabriel played for Pinar Karsiyaka (Turkey) last year, compiling 11.41 points and 5.67 rebounds over 51 games last season. He posted seven double-doubles and shot 47.1 percent from the floor as well as 39.9 percent on his three-point attempts.
Stroggylakis believes that Gabriel, a free agent, will likely land with Russian club Lokomotiv Kuban, if he does not accept Cleveland’s offer. Stroggylakis added that Gabriel does have other suitors such as Unicaja Malaga, Olympiacos and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The 2012 Auburn University product began his career with Israeli club Maccabi Ashdod. But he only appeared in five games for Ashdod before finishing the 2012-13 campaign with two New Zealand teams. He then played the 2013-2014 season with Rethymno Aegan in the Greek League before moving to Pinar Karsiyaka.
If Gabriel does land in Cleveland, he will likely battle Dahntay Jones, Jordan McRae and Liggins for the Cavaliers’ final roster spot –again assuming Smith and James Jones are on the team as well. Jones and McRae both have non-guaranteed deals for this upcoming campaign.
Cleveland’s roster currently has several holes, though James will make up for most of the shortcomings when he officially signs. The Cavs biggest area of concern is at shooting guard and three-point shooting if Smith does not re-sign. Right now, Jones and McRae are the only two players listed on the depth chart at the 2. Iman Shumpert, Mike Dunleavy and Richard Jefferson are listed at small forward, but all three are capable of moving to shooting guard.
Kyrie Irving will obviously man the point once again. Mo Williams will likely be Irving’s main backup with Felder being the third-stringer. There are a couple of concerns with Williams or Felder being Irving’s main backup, which is why Fear The Sword has suggested using Shumpert at the 1. Shumpert is a versatile defensive player who is very good in transition. While he is not a point guard by trade, he has the ability to effectively guard opposing point guards.
Cleveland could also use another big with Kevin Love, Channing Frye, Tristan Thompson and Chris Andersen along with James as the only player’s capable of playing in the frontcourt. James Jones could fill-in at power forward, if necessary.
Despite the fact that Cleveland’s roster is not finalized, ESPN has projected that the Cavaliers will once again finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference. ESPN has the Cavs finishing the 2016-17 season with the exact record that they had last year (57-25), which is predicted to be six games better than the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors — both of whom are slated to finish with a 51-31 record.
The Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves are the other teams that have roster decisions to make.
[Photo by John Locher/Associated Press]