The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a pretty eventful offseason, and they are not likely done adding players.
Cleveland, as expected, had to replenish their roster after winning the NBA title for the first time in franchise history, and the Cavs have done a pretty good job. Since the end of the regular season, the Cavaliers have made 10 roster moves — the most important transaction, of course, was the re-signing of LeBron James to a three-year pact worth nearly $100 million. The Cavs also exercised their option on Jordan McRae, traded for Mike Dunleavy and rookie Kay Felder, traded Sasha Kaun (Philadelphia) along with Mathew Dellavedova (Milwaukee) and signed or re-signed three players – Richard Jefferson, James Jones, and DeAndre Liggins.
Cleveland is expected to re-sign J.R. Smith eventually, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the 33-year-old recently balked at Cleveland’s multi-year offer for $10 per season. Smith is reportedly looking for a slightly higher deal – it was previously believed he wanted a yearly salary around $15 million.
Cleveland currently has 14 players under contract, Smith would be No.15 if he ultimately signs. The Cavs do have some wriggle room on their roster as the contracts of DeAndre Liggins and Jordan McRae are not fully guaranteed – Liggins has a small guarantee of $25,000 while McRae has no guarantee.
Cleveland’s biggest need is shot-blocking, as well as frontcourt depth, and offensive rebounding. The Cavs only frontcourt players are Kevin Love, Tristian Thompson Channing Frye, Chris Anderson, and James. Frye is the only one of the five players 6-foot-11 or taller and Anderson is the only shot-blocker of the group. Which is why Fansided’s Aaron Ferguson believes that the Cavaliers should trade for a center.
DeMarcus Cousins, Marcin Gortat, Gorgui Dieng, and Nerlens Noel are four centers that Ferguson mentioned Cleveland should inquire about. The Cavs don’t have the assets to acquire Cousins and they won’t trade Love right now. Gortat would fit with the Cavaliers, but a trade for the Polish big man is unlikely. Okafor and Dieng makes the most since as the Cavaliers are very limited what they can do, since they are above the luxury tax threshold.
Philadelphia has been dangling Noel and Jahlil Okafor for months. Noel would be a really good fit as he for the Cavs as he is an athletic shot-blocker and excellent rebounder. The 22-year-old also improved his production in every category from his rookie-to-sophomore year. The problem is that Cleveland doesn’t have any asset that would be enticing for the 76ers to make a deal. Ferguson said it is possible that Smith could be included in a trade but in that case, no deal involving Smith can occur until Dec. 15.
Noel recorded 15 double-doubles in 2015-16. The 6-foot-11 power forward-center averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 caroms and 1.5 blocked shots while shooting 52.1 percent from the floor.
Dieng is the most acquirable player of the four players mentioned. The 26-year-old possesses everything the Cavs desire in a big man, athleticism, shot-blocking and rebounding. He is more offensive oriented than Noel, and he also has an excellent mid-range jumper. In addition, Dieng is a good passer out of the high post.
Dieng produced 15 double-doubles and had a career-high 1.428 scoring efficiency along with a career-best 53.7 shooting efficiency. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 10.1 points, 7.1 caroms along with 1.2 assists while shooting 53.2 percent from the field.
Minnesota has a plethora of frontcourt players with Dieng, Kevin Garnett, Nemanja Bjelica, Adreian Payne, Nikola Pekovic, and Karl-Anthony Towns. The Wolves also added Cole Aldrich and Jordan Hill to their frontcourt collection this summer. Minnesota, which has plenty of cap space available, could use a wing and three-point shooting. Frye, Dunleavy, and Shumpert would fit the bill for Wolves.
If Cleveland is unable to make a trade or decides to wait until around the trade deadline, the Cavs do have other options. One possibility is signing veteran free agent Larry Sanders, according to Jamyeson Frierson of Hoops Habit.
Sanders hinted at a comeback a month or so and in a poll on his Twitter account, the Boston Celtics were picked as the team that fits his skills the best. The Cavs were selected as the next best team, followed by the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors.
Sanders has not played in the NBA since the 2014-15 season when he appeared in 27 games for the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 7.3 points along with 6.1 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field in 21.7 minutes of action. The 27-year-old is athletic and an excellent rebounder who has the ability to protect the rim. He left the NBA due to depression and he has emotional issues – Sanders has been whistled for 31 technicals, called for five flagrant fouls, fouled out 11 times and ejected on eight occasions.
[Photo by Steve Dykes/AP Images]