Larry Nance Jr. was one of the players the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers before the February NBA trade deadline. Upon joining the Cavaliers, Nance Jr. immediately became a fan favorite in Cleveland, not only because he’s a son of a former Cavalier but also with the way he plays inside the court.
Despite mostly coming off the bench, Larry Nance Jr. established an impressive performance in his first 24 regular season games with the Cavaliers, averaging 8.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.2 steals on 55.0 percent shooting from the field. Days before the start of the 2018-19 NBA season, the Cavaliers rewarded Nance Jr. with a four-year contract extension worth $44.8 million.
In a press release (via Chris Fedor of Cleveland Plain Dealer), Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman said that they are “extremely excited” to have Larry Nance Jr. long-term in Cleveland. Altman expects Nance Jr. to continue improving his performance on both ends of the floor and become a special player in the league.
“We are extremely excited to have Larry in a Cavaliers uniform long-term,” Altman said. “His athleticism is off the charts and his positive attitude, work ethic and most importantly, his desire to be in Cleveland embodies all that we want out of our players both on and off the court. We look forward to watching his continued development and feel strongly that Larry can be a special player in this league for many years to come.”
Yahoo Sources: Story on Larry Nance Jr. and Cleveland Cavaliers reaching agreement on a four-year, $45 million extension. https://t.co/GMseWKcdmR— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 15, 2018
When LeBron James left in the recent free agency, most people expected the Cavaliers to take a different route and undergo a full-scale rebuild. However, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman said that they are still aiming to defend their title as Eastern Conference champions in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. Before Larry Nance Jr., the Cavaliers first gave Kevin Love a massive contract extension and officially declared him the new face of the franchise. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer noted, the Cavaliers wanted to solidify their new core with players that are really committed to the team.
Regarding Nance’s extension, the 25-year-old center/power forward reportedly asked the Cavaliers to structure his contract in a way that can help them maintain their salary cap flexibility. Nance Jr. is set to earn $12.7 million in the first year of his contract and approximately $9.6 million in the final year. With their goal to return to title contention, the Cavaliers obviously need more star power on their roster.
As of now, the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers are expected to rule the Eastern Conference in the next couple of years. However, if the Cavaliers’ young core continues to develop and they succeed to add quality players, Cleveland could return from being a significant NBA team in the post-LeBron era.