If you were worried about the Cleveland Cavaliers lacking a league-wide despised white player frequently accused of being dirty with the departure of Matthew Dellavedova, your worries can be put to rest. The Cavalier absorbed Chicago Bulls small forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. into their traded player exception in order to help the Bulls clear the necessary cap space to sign Dwyane Wade. While many had hoped the Cavs would find a way to land Wade, getting a knockdown shooter and capable defender while helping Wade leave Pat Riley and the Heat is a solid consolation prize. As Heat twitter would say, #TeamPetty #HeGone.
But beyond the rivalry, the addition of Dunleavy is a savvy move from Cavs general manager David Griffin. Even as Dunleavy has aged, he's managed to maintain his ability as a shooter, averaging 39.2 percent shooting from behind the arc the last three seasons. While he has dealt with back injuries that limited his effectiveness overall last season, he has long been an intelligent defender with great size at 6'9".
Dunleavy signed a three year deal worth $15 million at the start of last season, making him an incredibly valuable asset to the Cavs if he can stay healthy and maintain any level of productivity.
Positional fluidity is becoming more and more important in today's NBA, having a strong shooter at 6'9" that historically has been able to play good defense to place next to LeBron will be a major asset in small ball lineups. The Warriors were able to stifle the Cavs offense at times with a lot of switching and defenders that can guard multiple positions and moves like this will help the Cavs mimic those defensive rotations.
By bringing in Dunleavy and re-signing Richard Jefferson to a two-year deal, the Cavs have shored up their wing depth and will have more depth than last season, assuming that they also re-sign J.R. Smith. In the Finals both Kyrie Irving and LeBron James functioned as the team's two point guards with the play of Dellavedova falling off a cliff. If Tyronn Lue is going to stagger minutes and have those two essentially play point guard, having plenty of wing options off the bench like Iman Shumpert, Jefferson and Dunleavy is an absolute necessity. Plus, we've seen how much easier it is for both James and Irving to operate when they are surrounded by competent shooters. When you cannot bring the double team and need to stay glued to your man on the perimeter, it's pretty hard to stop the Cavs dynamic duo.
I did not expect the Cavs to bring in a player as good as Dunleavy with the TPE, but like the Channing Frye trade that helped make this possible, David Griffin continues to find creative ways to position himself to take advantage of situations that come up and add depth to a Cavs team without a lot of easy paths towards improving.