The Cleveland Cavaliers have had quite the offseason.
They brought back LeBron James and added Kevin Love via trade. These two will pair with Kyrie Irving to form a new “Big Three” in Cleveland, instantly making them one of the favorites to make the NBA Finals.
Regardless of the star power present, teams need role players. As Cleveland looks to round out their roster, here are some free agent role players the team should pursue.
Kidding. Sorry, I had to.
5. Jordan Hamilton
Although he’s only 23, Hamilton has struggled to find a home. He’s a talented offensive player who could be useful in Blatt’s offense.
At 6’7″, he has enough size to be useful defensively. If other wing options don’t work out, he could be a cheap option.
4. Elton Brand
Yes, I know he’s old. Whatever.
This would be an addition with an eye on the postseason. Brand probably shouldn’t be relied on for heavy minutes throughout the course of the regular season, but he’d be awfully nice to have on the bench in the playoffs.
The value of Brand is his post defense. I’m sure David Blatt would like to have a veteran like Brand who could check the likes of Pau Gasol or David West for 10 minutes a night.
3. Chris Douglas-Roberts
I think there is a better wing option still on the market, but if that deal falls apart, CDR could be a nice addition.
While he’s nothing special offensively, CDR is good enough in the right role. He was a nice three-point shooter last season, and he could provide athleticism off the bench, which the likes of Miller and Jones can not do.
2. Shawn Marion
It looks like Marion to the Cavs will happen, but nothing is final just yet.
With Wiggins and Bennett gone, the Cavs are suddenly a little thin on the wing. Behind LeBron and Dion Waiters is the likes of Mike Miller and James Jones, neither of whom should be relied on for heavy minutes over the course of the year.
He’s no longer “The Matrix” as he was with the Phoenix Suns, but Marion is a versatile player that would bring a lot to a contender. He can play either forward position, and could take on the opponent’s best player for stretches on the defensive end, which would take pressure off LeBron.
1. Emeka Okafor
Okafor didn’t play at all last season due to injury, so there is certainly some risk involved. However, the Cavs need a backup big man adequate enough defensively to protect the rim and rebound when Anderson Varejao is on the bench or injured.
He has averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 1 block over the course of his career. His defensive mentality would be welcomed, and perhaps more importantly, he doesn’t need the ball on offense to be productive.
1. Name one big winner and one big loser in free agency.
Andy Flint (@AndySportsKings): This question could be interpreted a couple of different ways. I’ll opt to talk about which teams won and lost. My winner? The Cleveland Cavaliers. They managed to bring the world’s best player back to Cleveland. They’ll receive a much more polished LeBron James. A Champion who has already been through the motions in Miami. They’re also on the verge of signing Mike Miller (one of LeBron’s boys in Miami), and could also land Kevin Love. But even if they add nothing else, aside from The King, they’ve already won this year’s free agency… hands down.
As for my loser, I’ve decided on the Houston Rockets. Not because I believe they’ll just all of a sudden suck, but because it seems like Kevin McHale was standing at home plate, with the world’s largest bat, swinging at beach balls, and still hitting nothing but air. Obviously, it’s not necessarily McHale’s fault, but that is the analogy that plays in my head. They missed out on Chris Bosh, even after the dominoes fell in Houston’s favor. They also missed on Carmelo Anthony, and then still managed to not match a three-year, $46 million for Chandler Parsons. I feel like they added talent back in Trevor Ariza, but it still just feels like Houston fell VERY short in free agency. Maybe that will all change, but for now, they’re looking like the 2008 Detroit Lions
Cameron Wilkosz (@cavaliercam13): My winner is the city of Cleveland. A city that hasn’t seen a championship in any sport since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964 has a chance to get a ring in the near future. They finally have some hope back in their Cavaliers, with their home grown hero returning, along drafting a quality player in Andrew Wiggins, Kyrie signing a massive extension, it all seems to be clicking for the Cavs. That also bring more attention and revenue to a city that truly needs it. I hope the Cavs and the city of Cleveland can really cash in on all of this.
The obvious loser is the Houston Rockets, but lets try a different angle.
The Detroit Pistons. Players have stated they want Josh Smith and his giant contract gone, he’s still there, they signed Jodie Meeks to a contract that he really isn’t worth, and they may now be in the toughest division in basketball. They Central division in the East is going to be one hell of a division with LeBron and Kyrie’s Cavs, Paul George’s Pacers and a now stacked Bulls team. And they’re answer was signing Caron Butler?
Mark Pace (@THEMarkPace): The obvious winner is Cleveland, but I’ll add Charlotte and Phoenix. While the Hornets didn’t add any major pieces and lost some minor ones, they solidified their team with the additions of Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams, and Brian Roberts. Stephenson will give the Hornets a much needed offensive spark. While he is widely known for his distasteful antics, he is still a solid player who can help a team that had a surprisingly good 2013-2014 season compared to expectations. Roberts will add depth to the backcourt after last season in which he was thrust into the starter’s role for the Pelicans after Jrue Holiday suffered a season ending injury. That experience will help Roberts as he transfers back to a backup role that is more suited for him. My other winner is Phoenix assuming they bring back Eric Bledsoe. The Suns were the biggest surprise of last season and were able to add Isaiah Thomas and Anthony Tolliver to an already young and talented team. The addition of Thomas could be enough to push them into the Playoffs next season.
My losers are Houston and Indiana. The Rockets have to be disappointed with how free agency unfolded. They were all-in on a number of top free agents, but they didn’t land any of them. They traded away Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to free cap space, but ended up not adding any players to fill that space. While other teams in the East got better, the Pacers took a step back. Not only did they lose Lance Stephenson but they didn’t add any additional pieces other than Rodney Stuckey. While Stuckey is a nice player, he is not going to take the team to the next level. For a team that seems to just be a piece away from making The Finals, the Pacers have been quiet this off-season.
Mark Evans (@JrMarkyMark): The Cavs gained LeBron, and the Heat lost him. So that’s obvious.
I’ll move outside the LeBron sphere a bit. I love what Charlotte has done. They brought in Lance Stephenson on a fair deal, and if things go well, it’s not crazy to believe he could be the team’s next star. Charlotte made some leaps last year, and although I never thought they could win the series, I thought they could have given Miami some headaches if Big Al was healthy. In a wide open East, you can talk me into a core of Al Jefferson, Lance, and an improved Kemba Walker having a fighter’s chance to make a run. Why not?
The Houston Rockets have been huge losers, but they will be passed by the Phoenix Suns if Bledsoe isn’t re-signed. I like Isaiah Thomas, but I lose faith in the two guard system if he replaces Dragic. Bledsoe’s ability to defend bigger guards is a major reason why the system can function, and I don’t have faith that Thomas can replace Bledsoe in that aspect. To make things worse, the market has dried up significantly; just bring back EB.
Frank Santos (@SKLordSantos): I mean, the Cavs signed the best player in the world, and they didn’t make the playoffs in the East last year. So… safe to say they’re the big winner.
Honestly, I haven’t liked what many teams have done. The Phoenix Suns have the potential to become a huge winner if they can grab Greg Monroe, in my opinion. However, the team that really impressed me was the Los Angeles Clippers. I really like the Spencer Hawes deal, and believe it or not, I think Jordan Farmar is a great pickup to back up CP3.
As far as losers, the Heat are the obvious choice, but an even bigger loser to me was the Houston Rockets. The team took a huge gamble by renouncing Chandler Parsons’s rights, and it backfired big time. Instead of having Parsons on a rookie deal, they paid eight times more for Trevor Ariza, who isn’t nearly as good as Parsons. They struck out on all of the big free agents, and GM Daryl Morey was played big time by the Bosh camp as leverage for a Miami max deal.
All around, just a complete fail. Throw the Nets in the big loser column as well.
2. What will happen with Eric Bledsoe?
Andy Flint (@AndySportsKings): I’m thinking Phoenix. Why ruin a good thing that seems to have gotten better? The Suns can potentially come back next season with their anchors (Bledsoe and Dragic), and the big transaction of Isaiah Thomas, who will certainly add firepower to their already dynamic backcourt. I’m also hearing rumors of a possible Greg Monroe offer sheet. The Suns look to be in good shape, moving forward. Keeping Bledsoe in tow should be their most important goal right now.
Mark Pace (@THEMarkPace): I’m assuming he goes back to Phoenix. I was counting on it when I chose Phoenix as a winner in free agency.
Mark Evans (@JrMarkyMark): I think, and hope, he returns to Phoenix. I had a feeling that the Miami Heat might throw a bunch of money at him after they lost LeBron, but I think that feeling faded after they signed Luol Deng.
Frank Santos (@SKLordSantos): I feel like there will be a team out there that offers Bledsoe the max before its all said and done, and I feel like the Suns match unless something drastic happens. I think the Lakers or Bucks are possible suitors to offer him the max, but at the end of the day, I don’t think he leaves the Suns.
Cameron Wilkosz (@cavaliercam13): Reports are that Bledsoe and the Suns are about $32 million away from each other, and it’s hard to see how they’ll come together in the end if they’re that far apart. Although I would like to see him return to Phoenix, I can see the Lakers making a pitch somehow.
3. Give a few role players still on the market who will provide nice value.
Andy Flint (@AndySportsKings): Shawn Marion and Jameer Nelson are the two best, in my opinion. Marion is a solid vet, who provides experience, defense, and the ability to score when needed. Marion has really found a nice way of extending his career as a member of the Mavericks. Marion can help any playoff squad improve their bench minutes.
Jameer Nelson still has plenty of game in his 5-10 frame. Heart and experience are his greatest attributes. Being able to run an NBA offense full-time, while knocking down shots is always an asset in this league. Nelson has appeared in 44 playoff games with the Orlando Magic, nothing 15.0 points, 4.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game. Not eye-popping numbers, but very serviceable for a guy looking to ride out the end of his career, playing winning basketball. Nelson could start and be an upgrade for Houston or Indiana.
Mark Pace (@THEMarkPace): Mike Miller or Ray Allen will be a nice value if one of them ends up in Cleveland, but I also think Chris Douglas-Roberts could be a very good addition for a team. He may end up going back to Charlotte, and he would be another good piece for that team. Douglas-Roberts has shown flashes of what he could be, and he would fit in nicely next to Lance Stephenson and Kemba Walker.
Mark Evans (@JrMarkyMark): Shawn Marion is still unsigned, and it looks like the Mavs won’t bring him back after they brought in Chandler Parsons. He can defend and rebound while still being a positive offensively, and it seems like contenders always want a guy like that.
Andray Blatche and Jameer Nelson are two more cheap veterans who would be great backups on a contender. This part of the market is surprisingly still kind of deep; Marion, Nelson, Blatche, Ray Allen, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Mo Williams, and Ramon Sessions are all guys that could be had for cheap.
Frank Santos (@SKLordSantos): I think Shawn Marion is the best veteran role player available, and Mo Williams is a quality runner-up. Both guys could easily be inserted into the rotation of a playoff team and make a difference. I expect both guys to get deals with contenders sooner rather than later.
Cameron Wilkosz (@cavaliercam13): Mo Williams and Jameer Nelson could be fantastic back ups for any contending team, and I kind of hope we see a return of Mo Williams to Cleveland. But I’m not counting out Emeka Okafor. He didn’t play last season because of a serious injury, but he’s still a big, strong body that could come in and contribute. He has career averages of 12.3 ppg, 9.9 rpg and 1.7 bpg, and half of that is a contributor on a good team.
4. Favorite signing thus far?
Andy Flint (@AndySportsKings): I’m going to skip saying LeBron James, because we all know that is the correct answer. I think, aside from Bron Bron, it was Kyle Lowry. Lowry was a highly coveted player, heading into free agency, yet the Raptors, of all people, were able to retain his services. I think that is huge for the city of Toronto and for the Raptors as a team. Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are one of the league’s premier backcourts to look out for next season.
Mark Pace (@THEMarkPace): LeBron. Say what you want about him or the city of Cleveland, but this is the storybook ending that could one of the greatest in the history of sports. It’s hard not to read the article that he published with Lee Jenkins and be excited about the future of the NBA. Yes, Cleveland didn’t handle him leaving well, but not many fan bases would have handled it any better. The prodigal son returns and could bring Cleveland their first championship in a long, long time.
Mark Evans (@JrMarkyMark): I love Shaun Livingston to the Warriors. He can run the offense at times, which will take some work off of Steph Curry’s ankles. His length should be useful defensively, particularly when he’s on the floor with Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut. Not to mention, he can play minutes at both guard positions. This was a great signing.
Also, Spencer Hawes gives the Clippers an NBA level backup big man, so that helps.
Frank Santos (@SKLordSantos): I think I still have to go with Shaun Livingston, especially if the Warriors lay off the crack pipes and finally decide to part ways with Klay Thompson for Kevin Love. Not only is Livingston a great fit, but Golden State got him at a great price. And he has a great story to go with it, so hats off to Livingston and the Warriors.
Cameron Wilkosz (@cavaliercam13): It’s the easy answer, but the right one: LeBron James to Cleveland. Even after all the hate he got from that same city when he took his talents to South Beach, he returns to the city he’s from to deliver his promise; to bring a championship to the city of Cleveland. It’s not just a great moment for Cleveland, but equally as great for the NBA. A big time superstar returning to home to play in one of the smallest market teams there is, props to you King James.
But I’m also gonna include Ed Davis’ deal with the Lakers, a guy that in the right system can really contribute, and for $1 million a season? Steal.
5. Least favorite signing thus far?
Andy Flint (@AndySportsKings): Chris Bosh. Look, I like Chris Bosh as a player, but I didn’t like him staying in Miami, nor did I like the fact that Miami paid him that much cash to essentially be their best player. I think keeping him in South Beach was great, but not for $118 million. I also believe that choosing to stay was dumb on Bosh’s part, because he had a four-year, $88 million deal waiting for him in Houston, where he could have been the third option, and played meaningful basketball.
Welcome to the Stealing Money Yacht Club. Carmelo Anthony, Al Jefferson and Steve Nash are hanging out by the bar. Grab your complimentary Margarita and take a seat out by the dock. He may as well toss a few lines in the water, because Bosh will be fishing sooner than he’s accustomed to next season.
Mark Pace (@THEMarkPace): Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. I think New York would have been better off starting over. Let Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher build a team their way. Sure, Anthony is a very good player and the Knicks will be better with him now, but this is about the big picture. I don’t think Anthony will ever win a championship as the main piece of a team. He would have been better off in Chicago with a star-studded roster, and New York would have been better off in the long run without him.
Mark Evans (@JrMarkyMark): Avery Bradley for $8 million per season is a lot when you’re supposedly committed to Rajon Rondo and when you just drafted Marcus Smart. Just saying.
Frank Santos (@SKLordSantos): Ugh. There’s so many I don’t like. Avery Bradley, Jodie Meeks, Ben Gordon, Channing Frye. The list goes on. I don’t like Chris Bosh at the five year max, or Carmelo Anthony for that matter (yeah yeah, he left five million on the table, I know.)
Of them all, I would probably go with Bradley. I don’t see how he works into their long term plans at that money, especially with Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart on the roster.
Cameron Wilkosz (@cavaliercam13) Well, almost every deal has been horrible hasn’t it? Melo and Bosh’s max deals, Ben Gordon and Channing Frye’s ridiculous deals, but Avery Bradley stands out. What has he done to really warrant that much money? There is so much money poured into Rondo and Bradley, which means you have to give them the court time to prove their worth. They also have to find time for the kid they just drafted with the 6th overall pick who plays the same position, another head scratching deal to add to the pile in 2014.
Delonte West and LeBron James were teammates with the Cleveland Cavaliers a while back. Delonte has been out of the league for a few years, probably for a few reasons, but it seems like he’s still trying to make a comeback.
There have been tons of rumors about the Delonte/LeBron relationship, many of which include LeBron’s mom. We won’t get into too much detail here, but if you’ve never heard about them, you can do a quick google search.
Well, along that note, Delonte posted a weird tweet earlier today.
Lebron is wack
— Delonte West (@CharleeRedz) July 13, 2014
In case it’s deleted, here’s a screenshot:
I have no idea what Delonte is getting at here, but it’s certainly strange.
With the free agency dominos finally beginning to fall, Pau Gasol is one of the big names still left on the market.
There have been a variety of teams interested in Pau’s services, including the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, and New York Knicks.
It looks like we may finally know where Pau will end up.
Pau Gasol, Chicago working to complete an agreement, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 12, 2014
This would appear to be a sign that the Bulls no longer believe they’re getting Carmelo Anthony.
Anyway, imagine how much fun a Noah/Gasol front court would be and how many amazing passes we’d witness? Sign me up.
The Memphis Grizzlies were in the market from some wing scoring, and they may have found some nice help.
Vince Carter, who is coming off of a strong season with the Dallas Mavericks, has agreed to a deal with the Grizzlies.
Vince Carter has agreed to a three-year, $12M deal with Memphis, league source tells Yahoo Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 12, 2014
The third year of Carter’s deal is partially guaranteed, league source tells Yahoo Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 12, 2014
Carter will provide a change of pace from starting shooting guard Tony Allen off the bench, and he’ll likely get his fair share of shots. The Grizzlies have already lost James Johnson to the Toronto Raptors, and they very well may lose Mike Miller as well.
The Grizzlies got a quality player for a pretty good price.
LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers today. You probably already knew that, unless you’ve been living under a rock.
Shaquille O’Neal, an ex-teammate, took to social media to support LeBron. And he did so in a pretty funny manner.
Many have unfairly criticized LeBron for hopping around a little-to the Miami Heat, and now back to Cleveland. So, Shaq made a bit of a point to show how ridiculous this is:
As he’s pointing out, Shaq played for quite a few teams, and seems to not get any criticism.
Plenty of NBA players switch teams; it’s not a big deal, and it’s nice to see Shaq point it out.
Earlier today, restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas was sent to the Phoenix Suns in a sign-and-trade. The Sacramento Kings clearly wanted to move on after they overpaid for Darren Collison.
Thomas will join Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, assuming Bledsoe returns next season. The Suns will have three very good point guards, and it will be fun to see them operate.
For whatever reason, the Kings didn’t seem interested in bringing back Thomas. After leaving, Isaiah said that he only wanted to feel wanted.
Isaiah Thomas confirms that he’s heading to the Phoenix Suns once sign-and-trade is complete. Thomas: “I feel wanted. That’s all I wanted.”
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 11, 2014
I can’t blame him for not feeling wanted in Sacramento. Despite his quality play, it never seemed like the Kings thought he was part of their future.