With the Cleveland Cavaliers looking like they’re just about finished making moves in free agency, it’s important to recap both what was gained and lost in their transactions. They dished some long-time familiar faces in the hopes of addressing their biggest issues from last season. Will it be enough to elevate this team to the top of the east, or was Cleveland making cavalier moves in free agency?
In exchange for forwards Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens and a slew of second round picks, the Cavs acquired Max Strus from the Miami Heat. Averaging 11.5 points per game with two assists and three rebounds a game in the 2022-2023 season, he’s known as a high volume shooter who regularly hits the three. He did post his lowest field goal percentage last season at 41 percent, but that’s a high floor to have for a shooting specialist.
After trading for Strus, the Cavaliers signed Georges Niang. Niang, like Strus, is a high volume three shooter averaging a 43.8 career field goal percentage while hitting just above 40 percent of his shots from behind the arc.
Ty Jerome is another Cavs signing with a similar theme. He put up a lackluster stat line last season consisting of six point nine points per game, three assists and almost two rebounds. He did, however, shoot 48.8 percent from the field and just a shave under 40 percent from three.
To finish off the signings the Cavs acquired Damian Jones from Utah for cash. Jones, at center, averaged a respectable 64 percent and three boards to go with three and a half points. He also hit 58.8 percent of his three pointers. This means that, while not exactly an exciting scorer, he is the rare player who’s shots fall more often than they miss. He does have an essentially average defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) at 112.8, with the league average last season around 114, but considering his potential role will be a backup to Jarrett Allen and/or Evan Mobley, he’s in a good position to improve that.
What Cleveland lost
Along with a multitude of second round picks, the Cavaliers sent away forwards Osman and Stevens in the acquisition of these new assets. Osman and Stevens, shooting 42.7 percent and 46.7 percent from the field respectively, will be missed by Cleveland fans for the energy and effort they brought to every minute of their playing time. Their inconsistency on the court, however, will not be as missed. While both guys could, and did, have memorable moments that fueled part of last year’s success they both also have had long, unimpressive stretches across their time with the Cavs. And while both saw solid playing time, neither of them made a starting role and neither were reliable enough to turn to on a nightly basis for what they offered.
What this means for Cleveland
The addition of these new pieces has some interesting implications for how this team will operate going forward. While fans can still expect to see the same massive scoring outbursts and lock-down defense from Cleveland’s core, there are some new opportunities that will open up due to the new crop of players. For example guys like Caris Lavert and Isaac Okoro, both skilled slashers, will see more opportunities to drive with the defense now having to focus more on the outside shooting peppered throughout the lineup. Okoro, particularly, has struggled with the three ball so this could be a chance for him to blossom offensively.
It also means that, with Cleveland’s lineup now filled with consistently strong shooters, there will be much less of an impact when one goes cold for a night or week.
While the Cavaliers did have to give up some familiar faces, they were players who were decent role players at best. In return they filled their lineup with guys who are proven shooters.
These moves show a clear intent from Cleveland as well. Jones is a player who the Cavaliers previously attempted to acquire around the time of last season’s trade deadline. Niang has experience playing with Donovan Mitchell in Utah. Jerome knows Mitchell from childhood and Jones is also coming from Utah. Through these transactions we can see the Cavaliers addressing their issues from last season as well as attempting to build upon the culture they’ve established over the last few years by adding guys who are already familiar with the big names currently on the roster.
If this off-season is kind to Cleveland and these new players can fit into the system, build good relationships and help to fix the problems this team faced last season, the Cavs have a chance to take their championship aspirations to the next level.
Featured photo courtesy of NBA.com
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