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NBA Rookie Week: Sasha Kaun defines the Cavs' win now mentality

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Sasha Kaun is 30 years old and the Cavs' only rookie. He defines Cleveland's win-now mentality.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Sasha Kaun, at 30 years old, is the Cleveland Cavaliers' only rookie. He's played in just 16 games, averaging 0.8 points and 0.9 rebounds in a paltry 3.3 minutes per game. In a season that the Cavaliers hope ends in a championship, Kaun is a single footnote in the book.

This isn't by accident. These Cavaliers, with LeBron James past his 30th birthday and trying to win a championship right now, don't have time for rookies. The Cavs, in fact, have one of the oldest roster's in the league's with an average age of 29.1. Every player on the roster - from LeBron to Kaun - is here for the Cavs to win right now, to fill a role and succeed in that role.

Kaun's role is rather simple. He's insurance in case Timofey Mozgov gets hurt and the Cavs need another big body to play inside. He's also in Cleveland to play garbage minutes when games are out of hand in the fourth quarter and Mozgov, Tristan Thompson and others don't need to be on the floor.

This was probably to be expected. There's a reason the Cavs didn't make a major effort to bring him over this year and why Kaun went to Russia after being drafted in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft. Kaun, frankly, isn't very good and doesn't have a lot of upside. What he was coming out of Kansas - a big, burly center with decent hands but no semblance of a jump shot - is what he is now. When the Cavs signed him from CSKA Moscow and brought him over, they had to know this was the case and signed him to be that player. With Kaun, there couldn't (or perhaps shouldn't) have been an expectation that he'd spend this year on the bench, get better in practice and be ready to play a bigger role a year from now if/when Mozgov signs a deal with another team in free agency.

At the same time, it's fair and reasonable to critique the Cavs for having Kaun as the only rookie on the roster. He's 30 and played several years of professional basketball in Russia before signing with the Cavs. What he is now isn't likely to change. Kaun isn't a rotation player, and with the way the game is speeding up, there isn't really a place for a plodding, limited center. From the first time he played with the Cavs in preseason, his limitations were evident.

The Cavs, if they had wanted, could have signed a younger wing or guard they liked and had him spend most of his time playing regularly with the Canton Charge. It's not a move that matters now, but it's a move that offers the Cavs to develop a player in a roster spot that doesn't really doesn't impact in a major way barring unforeseen injuries. It's a move that has value beyond this season, one that could have paid off when LeBron's peak has fully passed and the team's reigns are fully turned over to Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Love.

But that type of signing wasn't the Cavs had in mind over the summer when they signed Kaun and slightly retooled their roster after last year's Finals loss to the Warriors. What they had in mind was a Kaun, a player who offered a known, quantifiable entity.