The Cavaliers are currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings and with the recent acquisition of Channing Frye, they have what is most likely a solid nine or ten man rotation when Iman Shumpert returns from a shoulder injury. Matthew Dellavedova and Shumpert will play and I’m guessing that two out of three or all three of Frye, Richard Jefferson and Timofey Mozgov will be in the rotation depending on matchups on a given night.
Because of the move to obtain the aforementioned Frye, the Cavaliers parted ways with the much beloved Anderson Varejao and little used reserve Jared Cunningham, leaving the team with 13 players, giving them two open roster spots (Yes, they added one player and lost two but Joe Harris was moved to Orlando earlier in the season and the team never filled the 15th spot.) I wanted to take a look at some guys who the Cavaliers could potentially pick up; free agents or guys who could be waived/bought out. Most likely, bringing in one of these guys will be a move on the margins, an insurance/depth move, and if they’re relying on most of these guys to play meaningful minutes, something probably went wrong.
Wings: This is the position I would most expect the Cavs to add. Shumpert is currently injured, leaving Jefferson as basically the only wing on the bench.
Joe Johnson: Out of the names being floated as potential waiver guys, Johnson is far and away the biggest name out there. There have been some conflicting reports on whether Johnson will be bought out, and the recent rumblings are that he is looking to stay with the Nets. But Cleveland.com’s Chris Haynes recently reported that if Johnson were bought out, he would look to sign with the Cavs. Johnson, a seven-time All-Star, is far past his prime but he could still help. While Johnson’s stats are almost all the lowest they’ve been since 2004, he’s still right at his career average of 37 percent on three-pointers, including a respectable 39 percent on catch and shoot threes which he’d likely get more of as a Cavalier. The Net can also help facilitate, averaging six assists per 100 possessions. Defensively, Johnson has lost a couple of steps and could be a liability, but if he were to become available, he’d be worth picking up to play spot minutes here and there.
John Jenkins: The Mavericks waived Jenkins this week to make room for David Lee. Jenkins, a former first round pick, was drafted by the Hawks in 2012 as a sharpshooter, but after playing 61 games his rookie year, he’s never been able to find consistent minutes. Jenkins would be purely an insurance/depth signing for the Cavs, but can hit an occasional three-pointer when called upon.
Kevin Martin: Martin is another guy known for his offense/shooting and has never been considered a great defensive player. The Ohio native reportedly wanted to find a new home at the trade deadline but the Timberwolves were unable to accommodate him. With Minnesota going towards a youth movement, Martin doesn’t seem to be a big part of their future and the career 38.5 percent 3-point shooter could become available.
Dorell Wright: If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re correct. Wright is another guy known for his play on the offensive side of the ball, and he’s a career 36.5 percent three-point shooter. While it’d be nice to find a guy who can contribute on both sides of the ball, those guys aren’t available on the scrap heap for a reason (they’re on NBA rosters already). Even though there were reportedly NBA offers available, Wright decided to play in China this year and the season has now come to an end. The 11-year NBA veteran is still only 30 years old.
Caron Butler: Butler is currently under contract with Sacramento but could be bought out in order to sign with a contender. He’s 35 years old and well past his prime, but he has tons of playoff experience and would be a nice veteran presence to have around the locker room.
Point Guard: With Mo Williams reportedly visiting Dr. James Andrews this week to have his knee checked out, the Cavs may want to add another third point guard if Mo is out for a significant period of time.
Tony Wroten: The slashing guard was released by Philadelphia earlier this year after returning from ACL surgery last February. Historically, it usually takes guys a full season or so to get back to where they were before tearing their ACL. Wroten can’t shoot but he did post career highs of 17 points and 5.2 assists per game last year, albeit with a very high 33.6 percent USG rate and poor efficiency. Because of his lack of shooting, he isn’t a great fit here, but he can distribute a bit and get to the rim if he’s fully healthy.
Quinn Cook: The Duke product almost made the Cavaliers roster out of training camp after a very solid summer league showing. Cook has lit the D-League on fire recently, averaging 22 points, six assists and six rebounds over his last 10 games with 45/39/88 shooting splits. Cook makes up for his smaller stature and lack of athleticism with rugged defensive effort and is known for being a good decision maker that can attack the basket in transition and knock down outside shots.
Other options: Former NBAer Bobby Brown just finished his season in China, same with former Raptor and Laker Dwight Buycks amongst others.
Bigs: The Cavs could also bring in a big man as insurance and these guys may be upgrades over current Cavalier Sasha Kaun.
Jason Thompson: Thompson was recently waived by Golden State to make room for Andy Varejao. Thompson was never able to crack the rotation in the Bay Area after spending the first seven years of his career as a staple of the Sacramento Kings starting lineup. Thompson is a solid rebounder, with a career average of nine rebounds per 100 possessions and a 14.9 percent rebound percentage. He’s also a solid defender around the paint and might be able to give the Cavs a pointer or two about some of Golden State’s schemes after spending the first half of the season in Oakland.
Andrea Bargnani: Just kidding. No thanks.
DeJuan Blair: The undersized Blair was just released by Phoenix after being traded there by Washington in a deadline deal to acquire the mercurial Markieff Morris. Blair didn’t play much in his two years in the capital, but he has had NBA success, posting a player efficiency rating above 17 in three of his four years in San Antonio and in his one year in Dallas. Despite being a 6’7" big man, Blair is an even better rebounder than Jason Thompson, with a career 17.7 percent rebounding rate. He’s also a decent finisher around the basket.
Others: Chris Copeland, recently waived by Milwaukee, is more of a stretch four, former Cavalier and 76er Henry Sims is currently in the D-League, along with NBA vet Jeff Ayres who just finished two 10-day contracts with the Clippers.
If I were running the Cavs, and Johnson doesn't become available, I’d probably sign Wright and Thompson. Wright can be used as a wing or stretch four and Thompson can still play. If the Cavs have some unforeseen injuries, both veterans know the NBA game well and could give the Cavs a few decent minutes.
(Writer's update: shortly after this article was published, John Jenkins was claimed off of waivers by the Phoenix Suns and 7-time All-Star Joe Johnson was bought out by the Brooklyn Nets)