It came as a bit of a surprise Wednesday night when news broke that the Cleveland Cavaliers were cutting ties with Larry Sanders less than a month after signing him in order to sign Walter Tavares. The team also added guard Dahntay Jones. Tavares and Jones are the 21st and 22nd players the Cavs have signed this season.
According to Cavs GM David Griffin, the team decided to move on from Sanders because they came to understand that Sanders wasn’t going to be ready to play anytime soon.
“I think Larry did everything we asked him to. He worked incredibly hard,” Griffin said before Wednesday’s game. “Our coaches in the D-League and Mike Gansey, who runs our D-League team did a good job of getting him minutes and getting him to a position where he had his legs under him and felt comfortable.”
The Cavs’ GM, who previously called Sanders a ‘long-term’ play, indicated that the Cavs’ need for players who can play right now played a part in the team’s decision.
“I think we just got to the point where he realized he wasn’t close to playing meaningful NBA games and if we knew we weren’t going to play him at all, it’s difficult to feel good about holding onto him heading into a year where he’s non-guaranteed. It’s not fair to him either. I think we just made a decision to do something now instead rather than play it out and know he wouldn’t play.”
As for Tavares, Griffin praised Raptors 905, the Raptors’ D-League team, and their coach, former NBA player Jerry Stackhouse, for his improvement over the past year. Griffin also noted that Tavares is signed for two years after this one and that team wanted to add a center even if teams do not need them as often anymore.
“He’s radically improved in terms of his comfort with the speed of the game,” Griffin said. He also called Tavares a ‘totally different kind of player’ than Sanders because of his size, Tavares is listed at 7’3” and 260 pounds, while Sanders is listed at 6’11” and 235 pounds.
“Larry was someone we saw more of as a Tristan Thompson-type in terms of his ability to switch and get out and move defensive,” he said. “That takes a lot more work and athleticism than he was ready to do. Walter’s been doing what he’s going to. He’s just more game ready.”
As for Jones, who the team coincidentally signed on the last day of the season last year, Griffin said that he isn’t in game shape. But he noted how much the team misses his presence. Within an hour of Jones being around the team, Griffin said the team was more vocal than it had been in a while.
“No matter who you are, Dahntay is going to make it clear that you aren’t holding up your end of the bargain,” Griffin said. “We missed that.”