What’s Next?

With free agency looming the Cleveland Cavaliers have a bunch of decisions to make. Majority of the Cavs players are scheduled to become free agents and the goal is to keep the team intact. The front office’s first priority is re-signing LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert, but what about the rest of the Cavalier bench?

First up, Matthew Dellavedova. The point guard rose to stardom in the NBA finals and may be seeking a premium deal. The Cavs intend to make an offer to the restricted free agent, but it shouldn’t be more than what a backup is worth. Dellavedova has limited value and he proved that in the playoffs.

Although he is a feisty player, he is also an undersized guard who can’t walk the ball up the court. His lack of court vision limits his ability to get teammates involved. This may be true, but that is not his best suited role on this team. There is no need to handle the ball and attack the rim when you have LeBron and Kyrie Irving on your team. Dellavedova fit into his role perfectly and had success as a three point shooter, finishing the year with a 40.7 shooting percentage.

Additionally, he plays hard on defense and even though his hustle-style of play is coveted, the Cavs can still upgrade at the point guard position. It wouldn’t come as a shock if Cleveland sought after a more offensive guard, but I still believe Cleveland will retain the Australian.

Another bench player that I expect the Cavs to bring back is James Jones. The forward appeared in 57 games and played above expectations with contributions on both ends of the court. Jones’ presence allowed the Cavs to stretch the floor as 87.1% of Jones’ field goal attempts were behind the arc at a conversion rate of 36%. The only setback for James Jones came on the defensive end. Despite decent defense, Jones became a liability when he defended the post or guarded a bigger player. Excluding that minor flaw, the veteran brought experience to this young team. Not to mention, the Miami native should come at a cheap price as he only costed $1.4 million last season.

James Jones’ contributions were vital when provided with the fact that Mike Miller performed below expectations. Miller was supposed to supply outside shooting in addition to guarding multiple positions, but reportedly arrived at camp out of shape. The shooter never adjusted to the role that Cleveland needed him to fill. He looked lost at times and became another defensive liability. Not to mention, he shot a career-low 32.7% from behind the arc.

Reports indicate that Miller will pick up his player option for next year, but one can’t help but wonder if there is anything left in the 35 year old’s tank. The guard/forward will bring veteran leadership and the enthusiasm we all witnessed on the sideline. Hopefully, Miller will show up to camp in shape and earn more playing time. Then he might be able to find a rhythm and really contribute to this team.

Ultimately, I expect Dellavedova, Jones, and Miller to return, but one player on the fence would be Joe Harris. Although he averaged just 2.7 minutes per game, he appeared in 51 games, taking a total of 120 shots. It wasn’t expected for the second round pick to get quality minutes on a championship caliber team. On a positive note, he got to experience the pressures of a championship run while taking tips from respectable veterans. Harris could return to the Cavs if they don’t use him as trade bait to land a veteran.

As a matter of fact, the Cleveland Cavaliers were reported to be dangling Brendan Haywood before the draft. Unfortunately, no one has taken the bait even though the Cavs tried to no avail. This move is obviously to clear cap space and appears to be the correct move. Another Cavalier that is unlikely to return is Kendrick Perkins. He is a hell of an enforcer and low post defender, but he doesn’t give you that much offensively. Finally, Shawn Marion announced his retirement and will not be returning next season. With Timofey Mozgov’s option being picked up and Anderson Varejao set to come back, Perkins and Haywood are surely goners.

-Max Gold

Image Credited to: www.experience.usatoday.com

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