The Cleveland Cavaliers finalized their regular season roster yesterday by cutting veteran Dahntay Jones.
Cleveland will enter the season with 15 players on its official roster. There are no real roster surprises as the Cavaliers, with the re-signing of J.R. Smith, have 13 players with guaranteed contracts. Jordan McRae and DeAndre Liggins were the two players with non-guaranteed deals to make the team.
McRae earned his spot by playing extremely well throughout the summer and training camp. The six-foot-five combo guard is a pure scorer, who averaged 14.0 points along with 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists this preseason. He likely won’t see a lot of action this year unless there are injuries.
Liggins earned the last roster spot over Jones due to his stellar play during the summer and training camp per SBNation. The six-foot-six combo guard is known for his defense, earning NBA D-League Defensive Player of the Year honors on two separate occasions (2014 and 2016). He is not a great shooter, but he has shown the ability to be a good distributor and solid rebounder.
Jones played a valuable role last year after joining the team late in the season. The grizzled vet didn’t see much action in the preseason as it was apparent that Liggins was such a big upgrade.
Cleveland opens the regular season against the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena on October 25. Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson are expected to be the starters. Kay Felder, Mike Dunleavy, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and Chris Anderson will likely be part of the Cavs’ second unit. Richard Jefferson along with James Jones join McRae and Liggins at the end of the roster.
While evaluating the roster, the Cavaliers seem set at every position except for backup point guard. Felder is slated to be Irving’s primary backup though there are concerns whether the five-foot-nine rookie is ready to handle such a big role. Felder had an uneven training camp as he came up with some big time plays, but he didn’t shoot particularly well and turned the ball over way too much.
Jared Greenberg of NBA TV reported that Felder will miss the season opener due to a concussion that he suffered last week in practice.
With Felder out, Shumpert will be Irving’ primary backup. Shumpert is a shutdown defender who can guard multiple positions. He is not someone that is capable of running an offense, however. When Shumpert is in the game expect James or Dunleavy to be the primary ballhandlers.
Cleveland would like to upgrade its backup point guard situation. The Cavaliers currently don’t have a roster spot available as Mo Williams is still on the roster as he has not officially retired. They owe Williams, who recently had surgery on his left knee, $2.19 million this year if a settlement can’t be reached. The Cavs reportedly would like to trade Williams rather than just waive him to reduce their luxury tax.
Whether the Cavaliers ultimately trade Williams or end up waiving him, they will likely do something before the end of the year. There are several veteran point guards that could fit coach Tyronn Lue’s style, including Mario Chalmers and Andre Miller.
There have been rumors circulating that the Cavaliers will go after Chalmers once he is fully recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon that prematurely ended his season last year. The 30-year-old is arguably coming off his best season of his eight-year career, averaging a career-high 10.8 points and 3.8 assists combined with Memphis and Miami. However, he has struggled with his shot the past two years though he is still a solid 35.8 percent career shooter from beyond the arc.
A better option may be Miller. The 40-year-old recently told Marc Stein of ESPN that he still wants to play, and is hoping to sign with “a playoff-caliber team.” The six-foot-three point guard split time with Minnesota and San Antonio last year, averaging 3.7 points and 2.2 assists in 11.8 minutes per contest over 39 games. He is not a threat from the perimeter, but he is excellent at getting to the basket, and in pick-n-roll situations. In addition, Miller is a physical defender that will compete on that end.
Jarrett Jack, Toney Douglas, Jorge Gutierrez, Pablo Prigioni and Ray McCallum are among other available veteran point guards.
[Featured Image by Tony Gutierrez/AP Images]