Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin has used the word "fit" a lot in the past few weeks. He used it in interviews regarding new head coach David Blatt. He used it several times in the build up the NBA Draft. And most recently, he used it several times at Andrew Wiggins’ introductory press conference. And it wouldn’t be surprising for Griffin to use the word again and again when the Cavs acquire a player through free agency or a trade.
This makes sense. As he noted not too long ago, there are pieces on this roster that don’t fit. While he didn’t name any names, there are likely suspects. For instance, Jarrett Jack and Dion Waiters don’t seem to compliment Kyrie Irving well. It would be different if the Cavs had two guards who are at their best with the ball in their hands, but three makes for a crowded backcourt. The Cavs also have two power forwards (Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett) whose different skillsets, in theory, give the Cavs a blurred offensive identity.
Cleveland also doesn’t have a rim protector to help mask Irving, Waiters and Jack’s defensive flaws. The team lacks shooters, ideally three-and-d types, to help make up for the lack of rim protection. All of this brought together helps explain why the Cavs last year failed to meet their own expectations and ultimately ended up picking in the lottery.
But, if Griffin’s repeated use of the word "fit" is any indication, this is going to change very soon, maybe sometime this week with the beginning of free agency. In a way, however, the ball has already started rolling. When the Cavs took Wiggins at No. 1 over Duke’s Jabari Parker, it was a pick for fit. Parker, while a more polished player right now, would have created some roster problems. Parker isn’t the same player as Bennett, but they are both tweeners who will likely always struggle to defend wings. Sure, the Cavs would have picked a nice pick and roll partner for Irving who can spot up off the ball, but he wouldn’t have worked with the Cavs roster as currently assembled.
As for Wiggins, he comes in as a raw player on both ends. But that’s okay. He can’t score off the dribble or handle the ball right now, but the Cavs have three guards (four if you include Matthew Dellavedova) who already do that. He can play the two and the three spots, the kind of positional flexibility the Cavs actually do need. As a rookie, Wiggins can be a three-and-d player who also happens to be a potential terror in transition.
Wiggins also makes Griffin’s job now a little easier. Heading into free agency, the Cavaliers still have some holes to fill. But with one player already in place, Griffin won’t be burdened with trying to plug all the holes at once. For example, Griffin can head into free agency by first re-signing both Spencer Hawes and C.J. Miles and then pursuing a player like Cartier Martin for depth. Rim protection would still be an issue, but Cleveland would be better off with their perimeter defense while bring back a player in Miles who seems to mesh really well with the entire Cavs locker room.
Griffin could also pursue a free agent in the tier below LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony (i.e. Chandler Parsons, or Gordon Hayward, both of whom are restricted free agents, or Trevor Ariza, who is unrestricted) as a long-term building block with Irving and Wiggins. This is the more expensive option, and not particularly likely, but it’s possible, assuming the Cavaliers move to get Luol Deng’s cap hold off the books early and they move fast before another team makes an offer.
There are countless more scenarios to run through, ranging from the likely to the not so likely. And it’s not realistic for the Cavs to fit perfectly by next season, especially with Jack still under contact for at least two more years. The free agent center crop isn’t particularly strong and the trade market is shallow as well. But with next years draft likely loaded with centers, they can wait to get their man and use a player like Hawes as a stopgap.
But it’s still reasonable to expect the Cavs to improve this summer by pursuing and acquiring fit. Even if it’s a small step, it can help Cleveland make the playoffs as they have repeatedly publicly said is the goal. In started with Wiggins and it seems like Griffin is committed to continuing to pursue fit. And barring deviation for this plan, it’s hard see how the Cavaliers aren’t poised to head into next season better off than they are right now.
Chris Manning is a journalism student at Ohio University with specializations in English and Political Science. He is the Sports Editor for Backdrop Magazine at Ohio. His fandom is more like Zach Lowe’s than Bill Simmons’.