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Five vs Five: Making sense of the Cavaliers roster construction

The Fear the Sword staff answers questions about the makeup of the Cavs roster.

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Welcome to Five vs Five, where the the Fear the Sword staff takes on the Cavaliers roster construction.

Kyrie Irving played 35 minutes per game last season. Assuming Irving starts the season on the Cavaliers roster, that would only leave 13 minutes per game for Derrick Rose at the point guard slot. Will Tyronn Lue try to play Rose and Irving at the same time, and should he?

Carter Rodriguez (@Carter_Shade): I think if Irving returns, they’re going to have to play some minutes together, because Rose won’t be happy with that minutes load. Whether it would work is an entirely different question. Rose and Irving are two of the worst point guard defenders in the league, so the idea of throwing them both out there at the same time probably wouldn’t go well.

Chris Manning (@cwmwrites): He should not, but they might have to. Irving gets forced off ball here and, while he’s good in that role, it gives Rose the reins to the offense. And neither player is good defensively; teams with competent backcourts would dice this duo up. So, they may have to use it, but it’s not the best idea.

David Zavac (@DavidZavac): Well, I think the ship has sailed on Irving coming back. It’s just not likely to happen. Irving’s shooting ability would allow these two to co-exist offensively, but it’d be a real struggle on the other end. I do think you’d be able to get away with it in the playoffs when both would theoretically be exerting more energy defensively, but I think it’d be a challenge in the regular season.

Zack Geoghegan (@ZackGeoghegan): I think it’s inevitable that their minutes overlap and we see both of them running the backcourt. Now the question of “should Lue do this?” is more complex. They both have similar styles of play and both command the ball to be effective, so it’s hard to tell until they actually get some run together. I think the duo might actually be more effective with LeBron off the court, allowing Rose and Irving to hopefully play off of each other and create the offense rather than let LeBron create it for them while they play off-ball. I wouldn’t expect to see them play together all that often and it will probably be for the best.

Alex Raulli (@EVR1022): I see no issue with Rose and Irving playing together. Rose would have to be on ball the majority of these minutes, as he lacks any notable off-ball skills. However, he’s still an effective rim-attacker, and Kyrie can space the floor alongside him for a few minutes per game. I’d be okay with a two or three minute stint with them playing together in each half.

The Cavaliers now employ J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver, Richard Jefferson, Cedi Osman and Jeff Green on the wing, with the chance another rotational wing arrives in a Kyrie Irving deal. Who’s the odd man out in the wing rotation?

CR: It feels like Cedi Osman will only earn minutes if he immediately proves that he can contribute to the Cavaliers this season. This is a title contender with depth at his position, so they don’t need to play him. With that said, James, Jefferson and Green all could be racking up minutes at the power forward spot, so that could help with the logjam.

CM: Osman makes the most sense. He’s young and may be best served playing in the G-League, at least to start. Green will probably eventually lose minutes as well, unless the team wants to limit how much Richard Jefferson plays in the regular season.

DZ: I think the easy answer is Cedi Osman. Is LeBron James going to want to spend time teaching Osman to play while Richard Jefferson hangs out on the bench? I think Osman, and eventually Green, will struggle to find minutes.

ZG: Richard Jefferson will probably see his minutes cut throughout the season as the Cavaliers try to incorporate Cedi Osman into the rotation early. Depending on how Osman performs during the regular season will probably determine who gets the playoff minutes between him and Jefferson. Green’s size/athleticism and Korver’s shooting give them a niche that will likely require them to stock some minutes and Shumpert seems to get the same amount of minutes no matter how good or bad he’s playing.

AR: I think Richard Jefferson will be out of the rotation for most of the regular season. He doesn’t have much left in the tank, and it doesn’t make sense to waste what he has left in games that don’t matter. He still has the potential to make an impact in small doses during the postseason, so let him save his energy for the spring.

Cleveland decided to punt on adding a 4th big to go alongside Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and Channing Frye. Should they have instead of adding two point guards alongside wing depth?

CR: It only makes sense that the team should’ve gotten a traditional power forward/center hybrid to help ease the physical burden on the Cavaliers three playable bigs. The team has several 3-4 hybrids like RJ and Jeff Green, but somebody like Willie Reed (legal issues nonwithstanding) would have been really helpful instead of a journeyman like Jose Calderon.

CM: Yes, and it’s still a market they can tap into. A versatile big who can run (cough Maurice Ndour cough) would have made a lot sense. Also, Edy Tavares exists and he can play some minutes.

DZ: Yes. Tristan Thompson had an uneven performance in the playoffs, and you have to wonder how much it had to do with carrying such a large role throughout the season. He played hurt, and it was his first season as a starting center. Finding ways to reduce his workload should have been a priority. If his best asset is energy, you should be looking for ways to maximize that in May and June.

ZG: There wasn’t much the Cavs could go after that would fit their needs as far as big men go. Going after guards and wings was the right move, they just went and signed the wrong players.

AR: Depends whether they think Edy Tavares can handle the fourth big role or not. If so, then the rotation is fine. If he’s not ready for consistent minutes, though, the Cavaliers will be very light on rebounding yet again. Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and LeBron James are great on the boards, but the dropoff after those three is precipitous.

Do the Cavaliers need to get a starting quality point guard back in any potential Kyrie Irving trade?

CR: I might be in the minority here, but I think it’s a disaster if the Cavaliers try to go to war in the playoffs with Derrick Rose as their starting point guard. You don’t need a “star” in return, but you at the very least need a positive, reliable contributor that can remove some of the burden on James. Even if you don’t get Eric Bledsoe, getting someone like, say, Malcolm Brogdon could go a long way.

CM: No, but it’d be ideal to do so. Derrick Rose isn’t “starter on a title winner” quality and going from Irving to Rose is a huge dropoff. So, yes, getting a player like Eric Bledsoe or Goran Dragic would be ideal. But when you have LeBron James, not all of the normal roster building rules apply.

DZ: I would say they certainly need one by spring time. Eric Bledsoe is a nice piece, but it’s hard to find point guards who can spot up off ball consistently. How do we get Matthew Dellavedova back, because he’s sort of the bare minimum for what I think you need.

ZG: They don’t need to, but it would obviously be a huge plus. If they want to continue to contend and try to keep LeBron around, they’ll need someone who can come in and be an immediate contributor ready to run an offense (and no, that player is not Derrick Rose). Acquiring a young talented asset along with draft picks should be the main priority, but I don’t envision a trade where the Cavaliers don’t get a player as talented as let’s say a Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe in return for Irving.

AR: No. With LeBron James as the primary offensive initiator and Derrick Rose as a usage sponge off the bench the Cavaliers are in a position to entertain offers that don’t include a nominal point guard. While it makes sense to include Phoenix or Brooklyn as a third party in order to get a starting point guard it’s not a necessity, especially if the asking price is too high.

Which young player in Kay Felder, Cedi Osman or Edy Tavares has the best chance to be a rotational contributor for the Cavaliers in the regular season?

CR: I think it’s going to be Osman, because he’s got the pedigree and the organizational buy-in. Felder and Tavares are both on non-guaranteed deals and fairly expendable. On the other hand, Osman has guaranteed money on his deal and term. Tavares could find minutes if he earns them though, given a lack of a fourth big on the roster.

CM: Osman, if only because he plays the biggest position of need. Tavares could if the Cvs decide they want to limit Tristan Thompson’s minutes than they did last year, but Osman actually has a versatile role he can play if given the room to make mistakes. Felder, for what it’s worth, could very easily be cut in training camp and perhaps brought back on a two-way contract. I still think he’s better than Jose Calderon for what that’s worth.

DZ: I’ll go with Edy Tavares. He’s spent more time in the D-League and is acclimated to the culture and playing style of the United States, and he’s spent time with the Cavs organization and coaches. It seems like the organization really likes him. Add to that the lack of depth that the Cavs have in the frontcourt, and I think he’s the safest bet.

ZG: Cedi has the best chance to consistently play and I’d say he’s the best of the three to begin with. Tavares has yet to show he can be anything but a giant frame of a body and Felder’s first year left a lot to be desired. Osman has been on the Cavs radar for awhile and they finally brought him over for a nice chunk of money. I think Osman is who they plan to play and he’ll get plenty of reps to start the season.

AR: I think Cedi will crack the rotation this year. He’s known for being a player that does the little things that help teams win, and with two or three stars on the team his job description will be very simple. I also think Edy has a chance to get 10-12 minutes per game off the bench, but that’s merely something I think could happen rather than something I expect. I don’t think Kay will be on the roster for opening night.