The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have mostly completed their summer roster maneuvering, barring a late surprise or two. Out are Timofey Mozgov, Matthew Dellavedova, Sasha Kaun, and Dahntay Jones. In are Kay Felder, Mike Dunleavy, and Chris Andersen. LeBron James and J.R. Smith are the last remaining major pieces to deal with, but it's nearly a guarantee that both will be back.
Lost in this shuffle was Cedi Osman, the 31st pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. The Turkish wing was not brought over this year, instead planning to spend another year at his home club, Anadolu Efes. The 21-year old was thought of as a potential replacement for Richard Jefferson or James Jones on the wing prior to Dunleavy's arrival, but the two sides never really seemed to gain significant traction on a deal. Here are five quick things to know about Osman's status with the team.
1. The Cavs Still Hold Osman’s Rights
Osman staying in Turkey doesn’t affect his draft rights status in any way, which is an important distinction to make. If Osman wants to come over to the NBA at any point, he still has to do so as a Cavalier, due to the NBA’s stash rules, which state that any player who is drafted but plays professionally for another team has their rights retained by the NBA team that picked him. That player does not count towards the salary cap, however. Basically, this means that Osman stays under the Cavs’ control for the future, and there’s no salary cap burden attached. Neat!
These rights also don’t have an expiration date. Draft rights are retained for up to a year after the player no longer is under a contract overseas, so there’s no expiration date for a possible Osman immigration. This is nice, because it allows the Cavs to keep Osman as an option if he decides to stay in Turkey long-term. Unfortunately it means we could be doing this dance with him again in 2017. And 2018. And 2019, etc.
Derek Bodner of Liberty Ballers broke down the ins and outs of how complex this can all get two years ago in regards to Osman’s teammate, Dario Saric. Read here if you want more specifics on how this all works.
2. Osman Makes for an Interesting Trade Option
While Osman is still in Turkey, the Cavs can trade his rights to another NBA team, who would then assume this same control if Osman comes over. This was a reactionary concern when the Dunleavy trade was announced, although Chris Haynes was quick to calm those fears. Still, though, Osman could make an attractive addition to a trade for the Cavs if they look to use the $9.6 million trade exception from the Anderson Varejao trade at the deadline.
Stashed players are dealt as trade chips all the time in the NBA. In fact, the Cavs just received a new one, Spanish power forward Albert Miralles, from the Bucks in the Delly sign-and-trade, and then shipped him to Chicago as part of the Dunleavy deal. But it’s rare that Eurostash players are traded when they are still seeking to come to the NBA. Lucas Nogueira was the last one to actually come over after being traded after their 1st post-draft season, when the Atlanta Hawks traded the stashed Bebe to the Toronto Raptors. It’s possible that the Cavs could look to deal Osman as a carrot at the deadline to add a missing piece with the trade exception, similarly to how they used Miralles in the Dunleavy deal. That is a move that could push the needle for a team that may be debating letting go of a high-priced veteran who could fit the Cavs.
The issue here is that this is tricky water to navigate through. European agents aren’t exactly fans of their players being used as free trade tokens, and many players who find solid footing in Europe (As Osman has at Efes) and subsequently have their rights dealt lose interest in the NBA. However, there are instances where that’s actually beneficial for creating a path to the NBA - the best recent example is Bogdan Bogdanovic, who had a small falling out with the Phoenix Suns, but should see a path to the NBA after being traded to the Sacramento Kings on draft night. Osman could have an easier path to the NBA if traded as well, most likely due to there being a more likely open spot in the rotation for a young player on a team not competing for a title.
3. A 2017 Osman Arrival is Likely
Osman said recently that he’d like to come over after this season, alongside Efes teammate Furkan Korkmaz. While there was speculation that he’d come over this summer, he’s been reportedly targeting a 2017 crossover since last year. That he didn’t sign this summer isn’t that much of a surprise, then, especially due to the Dunleavy trade taking away a rotation spot he could have slid into.
This isn’t a bad thing for either side, either. Osman staying in Europe gives them a more enticing trade chip than a minimum contract rookie who (likely) wouldn’t be playing, and he will come to the NBA in 2017 a more seasoned and mature player, which fits what the team is looking for. For Osman, he gets to stay in Turkey and mentor Korkmaz, and because he was a 2nd-round pick, staying vs. going doesn’t affect his salary like it has 1st-round international prospects in the past (Nikola Mirotic and Ricky Rubio are the most famous examples of players affected by the NBA’s Three-Year Rule). The option for flexibility with a target for 2017 is a good thing for both the Cavs and Cedi.
4. Let’s Talk Olympics
Unfortunately, Osman won’t be headed to the Olympics, after Turkey was eliminated from their FIBA Qualifying Tournament by France in the semifinal. This is a bummer to those who wanted to watch Osman on a bigger stage against NBA competition. His play was hit or miss in the tournament, as he overcame some characteristic poor shooting (26.7 percent from the field) to average 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game. But he also got hurt late in his first game, rolling his ankle against Canada, which caused him to miss the win against Senegal and look like a shell of himself against France. Luckily, the injury was not a serious one, and not something that should be an issue long-term. But still, this was likely our last chance to see Osman against an NBA-like level of competition prior to him coming over.
5. Osman can Still Improve
The biggest benefit to Osman staying at Efes is that he can continue to work on areas of his game that are lacking. Osman’s a solid slasher and defender at this point, but his shooting and playmaking have been questionable. Osman did hit at a solid clip from three last year (39.6 percent), but he’s really struggled with consistency from there throughout his career, and needs to continue working on his shot. Doing so at Efes, with their wide-open spacing offense, is probably more beneficial than trying to do so in the NBA, simply because he’ll face more live competition.
Osman will also get a chance to move into more of a primary role this year, which is good. Coming up through the Efes system, Osman has not shouldered a very heavy load to this point. But with Saric and former Ohio State guard Jon Diebler departing from the club this summer, Osman should get more of a chance to showcase himself this year next to Korkmaz and French Olympian Thomas Huertel. Expect Osman to get more chances to operate with the ball in his hands this year, and perhaps more importantly, to take on more primary defensive responsibilities. Both of these experiences will better prepare Osman for the jump to the NBA. We’ll get more chances to watch Osman in the Euroleague this year, for which there will be regular updates here.