The Cleveland Cavaliers won 97 games between the 2010-2011 and 2013-2014 seasons. This was one of the worst records in the NBA over that span. We saw some truly deplorable basketball over this span, and there was very little to be positive about, outside of the drafting and play of Kyrie Irving.
With LeBron James and Kevin Love aboard now, we shouldn't have to see much, if any, basketball like that over the next few years. The Cavs should completely shift from lottery contender to playoff contender quite seamlessly, and we can definitely leave that terrible period of the franchise's history behind.
However, before we completely bury the past four seasons, let's remember those brave souls who ventured into Cavaliers games to be a part of the misery, and investigate where they are now. Some are still around in productive roles in the league; some have taken their talents to Europe; and some are out of the league completely. They all contributed to the mess the last four seasons have been, but they also helped set the stage for the Cavs to build this super team, so we should be thanking the Luke Harangody's and Donald Sloan's just as much as we thank Dan Gilbert and David Griffin for allowing this to happen.
That's why we're giving them one last chance at recognition. Here are some of the most memorable players from the LeBron-less Cavs' rosters, and what they're up to now.
Perhaps no player more perfectly encapulates the 2011-2014 Cavs than Alonzo Gee. Gee's play is still fresh in our minds after last season, where he averaged four points per game and posted a PER of 8.6, and still started 24 games. Gee, a 6'6" undrafted shooting guard with average length, led the Cavs in minutes in 2012-2013, and was pegged as a "three and D" wing -- who shoots 32.9 percent career from three and has a career defensive rating of 109.
Where is he now? Gee's departure from the Cavaliers was a little bit confusing. Gee was initially announced as a departing piece in the Brendan Haywood trade on draft night with the Hornets, but was later replaced with Scottie Hopson in that deal, then was dealt instead to the New Orleans Pelicans as a salary filler for the Omer Asik trade. So if you're scoring at home, Gee has been a member of the Cavs, Pelicans, Rockets, Kings and almost the Hornets this offseason.
Gee is actually on the Rockets now, where he is deep on the bench behind Francisco Garcia and Trevor Ariza, and potentially even Troy Daniels. The Rockets could also waive Gee's unguaranteed contract still to create more cap space.* If they do, it wouldn't be surprising to see Gee head to Europe or spend time in the D-League. Quite the change from playing 31 minutes per game for the 2013 Cavs.
*EDIT: Gee was traded to the Kings today, because he's decided to play for every team in the league this offseason.
Slamardo. Who could forget that 10-11 year, where in 37 games he averaged 15/8 per 36 minutes. Samuels was like a mini-Shaq, in that most of his offense was based on dunks, he couldn't shoot free throws, and he was woefully out of shape. Samuels was jettisoned after 18 games in 12-13.
Where is he now? After being released by the Cavs, Samuels finished out 12-13 with the Reno Bighorns in the D-League. Last season, Samuels split time in Europe with Hapoel Jerusalem and EA7 Armani in Italy, where he averaged 9.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in Serie A. Samuels also played on the Pelicans' Summer League team this summer, but did not play a minute of game action.
Thrust into a role he never should have been asked to play after the first Anderson Varejao injury, Hollins was a nightmare as the Cavs' backup center in 10-11. In 16 minutes per game, the fairly immobile center averaged 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, and his foul rate was absurdly high. He was even worse in 11-12, and was waived after 24 games even though he was playing 15 minutes per game.
Where is he now? After a little-used season in Boston, Hollins has actually found a pretty nice role as the fourth big for the Clippers. He's only playing about 10 minutes per game, but he's been very reliable for the Clippers when he's playing, hitting 74 percent from the field and playing solid central defense behind DeAndre Jordan. He is currently unsigned, but someone will likely pick up Hollins before the season starts, and he'll probably give whatever team he joins a lot more than he gave Cleveland in 10-11.
The Cavs traded J.J. Hickson for Casspi in the 2011 offseason, and he immediately became a player worthy of this list for the Cavs. In 11-12, Casspi shot 40.3 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from three, as the Cavs attempted to employ him and Gee as their primary small forwards. This did not go well for the Cavaliers, obviously, as the forward quartet of Gee, Casspi, Antawn Jamison and Tristan Thompson got shredded defensively without Varejao behind them. In 12-13, Casspi shot 39.4 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from three, and was almost completely a non-factor. Casspi ruptured his appendix in February, and between January 14th and April 1st, Casspi played in just 10 games, with the following stats over the stretch: four points, eleven rebounds, three assists, and one steal. That was his total stat accumulation for nearly three months.
Where is he now? Casspi actually had a reasonably productive season last year with the Houston Rockets, averaging 6.9 points per game, shooting 34.7 percent from three, and thriving in Houston's small-ball lineups as a stretch four. He was not an ideal fit for the role, but this role, one he did not play with frequency with the Cavs, seemed to help him. He was traded as a part of the Omer Asik trade this offseason, and promptly released by the Pelicans. He then signed with the Kings again, in what will likely be his last chance to stick in the NBA.
Walton was one of the more fun bad players the Cavs rolled out during the LeBronless years, due to his very uninspiring physique and weirdly effective passing game. While he didn't play consistent minutes due to injury for the Cavs, Walton had his moments of impact, both positive and negative. There was the game against the Knicks in 12-13 where he somehow posted 12 assists, and there was the game where he barely registered as present in 20 minutes of game time against the Pistons.Both were equally likely whenever he stepped on the floor.
Where is he now? Walton left professional play after the 2013 season, and since has entered the coaching ranks. Walton spent the 13-14 season as a member of the Los Angeles D-Fenders coaching staff, and after a brief foray into the rumor mill for the Lakers head coaching job, joined Steve Kerr's coaching staff in Golden State. It's probably likely that Walton is an NBA head coach someday.
Speights was actually a huge impact player for the 12-13 Cavs, which says more about that Cavs team than Speights. Speights chucked a ton of mid-range jumpers and is a decent rebounder, and when his jumper was on, like the Cavs' win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, he was very effective. However, when he wasn't hitting, he was also a horrible post defender, and that killed the team's frontcourt play. This wild inconsistency was very bad for the team's overall play, especially on defense.
Where is he now? Walton now coaches Speights in Golden State, which is strange to consider. He was a worse shooter last year than he was with Cleveland, and while he was more consistent, that meant less random outbursts of scoring and more non-impact games. He's morphed into a bit player for Golden State, which is probably a much better role for him.
The Cavs paid Earl Clark more than they paid Dion Waiters last season, which is hilarious. Clark basically picked up where Casspi left off in 13-14, shooting 37.5 percent from the field and really not doing much besides standing on the perimeter and shooting whenever he touched the ball. Clark both took minutes away from Anthony Bennett and ruined plenty of potential Irving assists, and his highest value was that the Cavs were somehow able to deal him for Spencer Hawes.
Where is he now? After the Hawes trade, Clark was waived and signed with the Knicks, where he played 9 games and was somehow worse than he was with the Cavs. Clark has yet to re-sign anywhere, and it's uncertain whether he will; it is certain though, that after last season, if he does sign, it will likely be for very little money.
I definitely don't need to remind anyone of how bad Bynum was for this team on and off the court last season. It's safe to say that the Cavs' locker room was one of the most toxic environments in the league last season, and Bynum certainly contributed to killing not only the Cavs' season, but arguably the Pacers' season as well.
Where is he now? Bynum remains unsigned, which is of no surprise. However, he's had workouts reported with the Lakers, Clippers, Bulls, and Heat over the last month or so, meaning that there is some interest in Bynum, for some reason. I really hope he ends up signing with the Lakers, mainly because that would be another feather in the cap of a very broken offseason for them, but also because I really, really don't want Bynum potentially affecting the playoff race with his simple presence again.
The Cavs have employed plenty of players who aren't quite NBA-roster quality over the past four years. This is just a small sample of these players and there are plenty more, like Semih Erden and Donald Sloan, to choose from. The hope is that this coming season, the Cavs will be good enough to make it worth having to watch all of these guys for the past four years. However, just in case you want to find some of these players and re-live the torture, hopefully this has been an acceptable guide for where to look for them.