The Cleveland Cavaliers have made some progress in cutting down the 20-man training camp roster. However, the roster still has 17 names on it and Byron Scott must get that down to 15 players by October 30th. It may be foolish to try to predict the final cuts (since it seems like Coach Scott himself hardly knows), but it's worth a shot.
Despite the overall youth and inexperience of this Cavs team, there aren't all that many players still competing for roster spots. We can reasonably determine that five players are trying to make the team and that two of them will be let go.
Michael Eric, center:
Michael Eric is one of the guys that most people probably expect to get cut. We have hardly gotten to see him in preseason games at all. What we have seen was pretty raw, but he hasn't gotten any shorter or less athletic. The things that the Cavs liked about him initially are still there. Obviously, Byron gets a much closer look at what Eric can do in practice. Still, he's a good bet to be cut.
Kevin Jones, power forward:
The Cavs signed Kevin Jones as an undrafted free agent after the 2012 NBA draft. He brings some nice things to the table as far as rebounding and midrange shooter go. The problem is that he's a bit undersized for his position in the NBA. Furthermore, the Cavs signed him before they had Jon Leuer on the team. The addition of Leuer makes Jones a likely candidate to miss the final roster.
Luke Harangody, ?????:
Everybody knows about The Gody. There must be something that the Cavs like about Luke, because they keep paying him. He accepted a $1.1 million qualifying offer and will be guaranteed that money this year. However, the guaranteed money does not make him immune to being waived. Dan Gilbert has deep pockets and is barely paying the salary floor this year. I assume he'd be willing to eat that contract if Byron and Chris Grant thought it was worth keeping a better player. If Harangody is cut, I assume he'd just collect his million dollar paycheck and play the season for the Canton Charge.
Donald Sloan, point guard:
Donald Sloan finished the season with the Cavs last year and Byron Scott seems pretty confident in his ability. He's a pretty terrible shooter, but as Kyrie Irving's backup, all Sloan is asked to do is manage the offense for roughly 10 minutes. He's shown a decent feel for running an offense. Sloan is virtually a lock to make the final roster, in my opinion.
Jeremy Pargo, point guard:
Pargo was acquired when the Cavs traded D.J. Kennedy to the Memphis Grizzlies. If I'm not mistaken, Pargo does have a guaranteed contract worth roughly the same as Harangody's. Despite his shaky performances in preseason games, Scott has talked highly of Pargo's ability to create.
The Question of Three Point Guards:
Byron Scott mentioned early in preseason that he would like to keep three point guards on the roster. If that's his goal, then Pargo and Sloan are both safe. Looking back at Scott's coaching history, he does have a tendency to keep three point guards on the roster. When he was in New Orleans, he even coached Jeremy Pargo's brother, Janerro Pargo for a year or so. In a recent interview, reporters were asking him about the final two cuts and he said something about Harangody, Eric, and Jones really needing to come to practice to compete everyday. The reporter noted that one of those guys would need to be cut. Scott replied that two of them needed to be cut. The reporter then reminded Scott that he could keep two of them if he cut a backup point guard. This little exchange seemed to imply that he hasn't really seriously considered the idea that Pargo or Sloan will be waived. If I had to bet, I'd say that Pargo and Sloan are both safe.
Who's The Odd Man Out?
If we assume that both backup PGs are safe, that leaves Jones, Eric, and Harangody. Two of those guys have got to go. Which two? Each guy has their own unique claim to make the team. Eric brings size and athleticism that the Cavs lack outside of Tristan Thompson. The downside, of course, is that he's incredibly raw and doesn't bring much else. Kevin Jones has a bit better overall game, but his rebounding and midrange shooting have become somewhat redundant with what Jon Leuer and the new-look Samardo Samuels can do. Luke Harangody is the one with the guaranteed contract and even though they've said that money isn't an issue, I think it could act as a tiebreaker. Furthermore, since Harangody has been with the team before, Scott may be more confident keeping him, simply because he knows the system better and could be easily inserted into a lineup.
I've already issued the disclaimer that I'm probably going to be wrong about this, right? Okay good. Anyway, I think you have to listen to what Coach Scott has been saying for the entire preseason -- what has his emphasis been? He's confident that the team will have enough scoring. His two main concerns are rebounding and defense. Kevin Jones is probably the best rebounder of the bunch, but he's undersized defensively. Eric could be a good rebounder with his size and he could be a solid shot-blocking big. It all really depends on how teachable Scott thinks Eric can be. Harangody is Harangody.
Ultimately, I think Scott's want/need for more defense wins out. With an apparent lack of front court athleticism, Michael Eric survives the final wave of roster cuts and makes the team. With Harangody and Jones getting waived, the Cavs successfully get the roster to 15 players. Regardless of who is cut, I'd expect the organization to make an effort to keep the two players in Canton with the Charge.
What do you think? Will Harangody's hypnotic powers be enough to keep him on the team?