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Cavs expected to pursue Derrick Jones Jr. in free agency

The 23-year-old Heat forward is an interesting option.

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Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images

Per a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Cleveland Cavaliers — along with the Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks — are expected to be interested in to-be unrestricted free agent Derrick Jones Jr.

Jones Jr., 23, has been with the Miami Heat since the 2017-18 season after starting his career with the Phoenix Suns. He’s perhaps best known for his dunk contest appearances, including a win this year. For his career, he’s averaging 6.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 51.1% from the field.

Jones would be an interesting signing for the Cavs. It’s be rumored for a while, per league sources, that Cleveland would be interested in trying to sign him. Heat lineups with him on the floor last season were close to even and he’s long enough to defend multiple spots. His role overall is a little funky — he doesn’t shoot threes, so he functions more as vertical spacing big on offense while being a versatile defender on defense. It’s also unclear what he’d look like outside of Miami and on a worse team such as the Cavs, Hornets or Hawks.

Were to come to Cleveland, he definitely could start at the three with Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Kevin Love and, assuming he picks up his player option/isn’t traded, Andre Drummond. That lineup is a little cramped, but better defensively than what the Cavs have had in years past. The bench would then include Larry Nance Jr., Kevin Porter Jr., Dylan Windler, Cedi Osman, plus whomever Cleveland drafts.

Financially, it’s a little less clear if the Cavs could get him. Of the three listed teams, they have the least amount of projected cap space by a wide margin. The most they could offer him would be the full mid-level exception, worth $9.75 million. The Hawks and Hornets could both beat that.

Will this happen? Who knows! But it’s at least interesting to consider.