The Cleveland Cavaliers are rolling at the moment. They have won fifteen of their last seventeen games after Friday night's blowout win over the Washington Wizards and look to be showing a championship caliber of play. But like most things in life, if you aren't being proactive and looking for ways to improve, you're often moving backwards. The Cavs still lack depth at a couple positions and could benefit from a buyout pickup in order to add some insurance.
While the free agent market is bare (I'm sorry, Ray Allen doesn't do a lot for me), there are a few buyout candidates that would be able to bring something to the Cavs in a limited role. As well as provide some much needed injury insurance. Here is my thoughts on players likely to be bought out and the remaining free agents.
This... this is weird. It's 2015, the Cavs are a contender and I covet Kendrick Perkins. The sour faced center is incredibly limited on the offensive end of the court, but still capable of making an impact on defense for brief stretches of time. He's the kind of player that would be able to give the Cavs five good minutes in the playoffs or fill in against a larger center if Mozgov were to get in foul trouble. If Blatt were to resist any Scott Brooks urges that may lay deep within his subconscious and avoid giving Perkins post-up possessions or heavy minutes, it's a match made in weird-heaven.
Perkins may also be the player the Cavs are most likely to sign on this list, as Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cavs the frontrunners to sign Perkins once he completes his buyout with the Utah Jazz.
The most important thing to note with Gary Neal is that he is not the same player we saw in the finals with the San Antonio Spurs. His shooting has regressed and he is not capable of running an offense to the same degree that he did with the Spurs. He's a shooting guard that can perform some point guard duties in limited stretches, similar to the role of Matthew Dellavedova. While the Cavs have pretty great point guards in Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, Neal could be an upgrade over Dellavedova and an insurance policy in the event that Delly plummets into another month-long shooting slump.
I'm sorry, we have enough former Knicks. Plus, the Cavs cannot afford his mental errors. Ideally when you look to pick up an insurance policy, you want one that is able to stay on the floor as well.
Ray Allen (free agent)
As stated above, the Cavaliers do have two players capable of playing point guard at a high level. So if you chose to ignore the backup point guard position and there isn't a center available, there isn't any harm with giving Allen a chance. I don't know how much he has left in the tank, or how hard his time off will hit him. Mike Miller was one of the best shooters in the NBA last season and another year on his body appears to have destroyed his ability to be productive. It's not crazy to wonder if the same might be true for Allen, but it's worth a shot if nothing else is available.
Williams had a very productive start to the season with Miami, but the play of the 6-10" forward tailed off and the emergence of Hassan Whiteside ate away at his minutes as well. He's not very good, but he's better than Brendan Haywood and does have a little bit of upside.
If you're like me, you're a big believer in a championship team needing a weirdo to keep everything balanced. There needs to be somebody that everybody keeps an eye on and babysits to make sure they aren't losing it. It's a team bonding experience and it gives people an outlet for their frustration. This player does need to have upside however, and that's what Blatche could bring. He appeared to have matured a fair bit during his stint with Brooklyn and could provide life offensively for a few minutes a game. I like weirdos. Sue me.
Again, I like weirdos, and I have a tendency to be petty at times. This is an excerpt from Bill Simmons 2012 draft diary:
Note that’s too important for a footnote: I thought the Cavs should have taken Thomas Robinson, but they obviously passed after spending last year’s no. 4 overall pick on Tristan Thompson — same position as Robinson, not as good — so instead of stashing potential stud Jonas Valanciunas abroad in 2011 and picking Robinson this year, they spent two top-five picks on the poor man’s Robinson and Syracuse’s sixth man. The lesson, as always: God hates Cleveland.
Robinson is now on his fourth team in three years and is almost a certainty to be bought out. He's an alright defender at times that is capable of spacing the floor. If the Cavs are unable to sign any of the more proven big men above, he might be worth a flier.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst speculated Friday morning that Jeremy Lin could wind up being a surprise buyout candidate due to his unhappiness in Los Angles and the team's desire to lose as many games as possible. This is from Friday's edition of "Hey Windy":
"Every year there is a surprise buyout. I think this year, that could be jeremy Lin. I don’t think he’s happy in LA. They are pretty much tanking. They’ve taken him out of the staring lineup…and so I’m not saying I know this for sure, but I suspect, that Jeremy Lin will seek a buyout here…that would be a guy I think the Cavs would have interest in."
Lin would obviously be the Cadillac of buyout pickups. He would be able to solidify the backup point guard position and he has experience playing off ball, which would suit him well on this team. Like everybody on this list, he is not without his own deficiencies (defense, streaky shooter, turnovers, etc.), but he has far more upside than anybody else on here and would be a steal should this situation occur.
While none of these moves are necessary, they would help provide some insurance without costing any of the Cavs future assets. With the core of this team set for the future, prudent decisions on the buyout and free agent markets will help determine how large of a window the Cavs have, and how long it will remain open for.