When the Cavaliers signed Jose Calderon, the assumption was that he would be the Cavs’ backup point guard to start the 2017-18 season. While that may ultimately happen, it’s not a sure thing.
In an interview with cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said the better of the two will backup Kyrie Irving.
"Whoever plays the best will play," Lue, who is currently in Las Vegas observing Felder and the rest of the Cavs’ summer league team, said. "It's not like Kay is out of it. He's just got to continue to grow, get better, and he's going to continue to get better."
It’s possible the Cavs went with Calderon over retaining Deron Williams in part because they have faith in Felder. Williams likely would have wanted assurance he would be the team’s only backup point guard, whereas it would in theory be easy to add Calderon with no guarantees of a set role. Williams also likely would seek more than the minimum, something the Cavs were not willing to offer for Jamal Crawford as they try to maintain the necessary financial flexibility to bring Cedi Osman over from Turkey.
The best case scenario may be for Felder, who the Cavs selected in the second round of last year’s draft after buying a pick from the Hawks, to win the backup point guard spot. He’s younger and has more upside than the 35-year-old Calderon. But, in three games in the Las Vegas Summer League, Felder has struggled. He’s only shooting 25.6 percent from the field while averaging 12.7 points and 3.3 assists per game. Last year with the Cavs, he shot 39.2 percent from the field while averaging four points and 1.4 assists per game in 41 appearances. But in 11 appearances with the Canton Charge, the Cavs’ G-League affiliate, he averaged 29.9 points and six assists per game while shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three.
Lue also said this of Calderon: “Calderon can make a shot, run pick and roll, doesn't turn the basketball over, so as of right now he's our backup point guard." So, while he has a shot, Felder will likely have to win the job and prove he’s up to the task.