The Cavaliers have a lot of decisions to make this off-season. Who do they draft? What key free agents do they target? And finally, the point of this series, who from this current squad to they bring back? Today we tackle a player who went from perennial D-League call-up to starting SF. Of course, we're talking about Alonzo Gee.
In a short three years in the league, Alonzo Gee has certainly made the rounds. He's gone through two non-consecutive stints with the Wizards, had a brief layover with the Spurs, spent his time in basketball purgatory in the D-League and then, finally, landed with the Cavaliers which has been his team since. With the disappointing play of Omri Casspi and the unexpectedly awful regression of Christian Eyenga, Alonzo Gee was the sole bright spot in the Cavaliers SF rotation, starting off as a sixth man off the bench and ending the season as the preferred starter of choice.
Unfortunately the for Cavs, Alonzo's contract is up this summer. Fortunately, he's a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavs can match any deal to keep him on board. Unfortunately, rumor has it that Alonzo's being scouted pretty heavily by other teams in the league, namely Phoenix. And with Phoenix reportedly being willing to offer up to $4M a year for his services, Alonzo might quickly become an expensive player to keep around.
Personally, I find this to the be hardest decision the Cavaliers have to make this offseason that doesn't involve draft picks or trades. As such, I think it's important to ask ourselves some questions first to make sure we're all on the same page about Alonzo.
What is Alonzo's Role? The answer to this question is crucial for determining if it's worth keeping Alonzo around. Is Alonzo Gee a starting SF on a championship contending team? Absolutely not. Could he be the sixth man on that kind of team? Even then, I think that's a bit of a stretch. But could he be a solid role player coming off the bench? Probably. But would you pay $4M a year for that?
This is of course, assuming he remains at the level he is today. That may not be the best assumption to make.
Will Alonzo continue to improve? While he lost steam at the end of the season, Alonzo Gee looked like a totally different player on the court this year. After his season started with an embarrassing tumble off the rim during a dunk during the season opener against Toronto, Alonzo's game improved almost across the board. Unfortunately, though, he did hit a wall mid-season and wound up regressing significantly to end the year with a stat line that looked pretty similar to the previous season. That begs the question, why the regression? Was it due to nagging injuries? He did wind up sitting a few games towards the end of the year, so there's no telling how long he was hurting. Was it the stress of the shortened schedule? The Cavs got off easy to start the season, but had one of the most grueling schedules through the last month and a half of the season. Could it be the competition he was playing against? After all the Cavaliers schedule was pretty backloaded.
Or maybe, just maybe, could it be because he was playing for a contract? I mean, there's never been any examples of NBA players temporarily playing out of their minds in contract years, right? Wait a minute... yikes...
Could the Cavs do better in the draft or free agency? The Cavaliers are in the running for a guy like Harrison Barnes of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, so, yeah, there's a good chance the Cavaliers look to fill out their SF rotation with a rookie. Then again, they could also get some kid with a unibrow named Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal or Andre Drummond. What about free agents? There's Nicolas Batum and that's about it without breaking the bank. Then again, there's also those perpetual OJ Mayo to the Cavs rumors...
There's a lot of questions regarding Alonzo Gee. And honestly, I'm not sure I can really even begin to pretend that I know the answers. That's where you Fear the Sword readers come in. What do you think? Do the Cavs shell out $4M on the hopes that Alonzo continues to develop and becomes a solid rotation guy? Or is the risk too great?