In the famous words of Kurtis Blow in his 1984 hit Basketball, he says it best in the opening verse:
Basketball is my favorite sport
I like the way they dribble up and down the court
Just like I’m the king on the microphone
So is Dr. J and Moses Malone
I like slam dunks, take me to the hoop
My favorite play is the alley-oop
I like the pick-and-roll, I like the give-and-go
‘Cause it’s basketball, uh, Mister Kurtis Blow
Guess what? Basketball is my favorite sport and I too love alley-oops, pick-and rolls, and give-and-goes. The problem is the Cavs are lacking in the ability to do any of those things on a consistent basis. Out of all the needs we’ve highlighted for the Cavs at Fear the Sword, and boy howdy, there are a lot of them, playmaking is one of the biggest ones other than perimeter defense or player versatility.
Sure, Darius Garland and Collin Sexton have potential to be the playmaker of the future for the Cavs, but they still need time in order to prove themselves. That means head coach J.B. Bickerstaff needs a security blanket to throw on the floor whenever Garland or Sexton spontaneously combust. It was supposed to be Dante Exum, who the Cavs acquired from the Jazz in the Jordan Clarkson trade, but so far he’s been an enigma. Much like the entirety of his career, Exum has been sidelined with an ankle injury since joining the Cavaliers. We did get an idea of the player Exum could be for the Cavs when he had a career-best outing against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.
With Exum’s health being unreliable next season, the Cavs will have to find someone to back up Garland and Sexton. There’s always the draft, with players like LaMelo Ball or Tre Jones both as options, but there’s also the reliable avenue of free agency. As always, the Cavs will be strapped for cash this year and at the moment can only offer a $9.8 million mid-level exception and minimum contract deals in free agency. The reason the Cavs are so strapped for cash is Andre Drummond is planning on picking up his $28.7 million player option for the 2020-21 season. So, the options are limited but there are some players the Cavs could shoot for.
Thankfully, the Cavs may not have to search far for a veteran guard that can serve as a security blanket. They currently have one on their payroll that’s set to become a free agent this offseason in Matthew Dellavedova. Dellavedova, who is in his second stint with the Cavs, has averaged 3.2 assists per game this season in just 14.4 minutes per game. The problem with Dellavedova is that his shot has abandoned him after he tried correcting his form. Last season the Australian guard only connected on 23.1% of his three-point attempts, which is putrid. But, there is a bit of a silver lining as that percentage jumped to a 42.6% completion rate in the month of February and March combined.
So, while he may not be able to score effectively, he isn’t a total lost cause on that side of the court. Dellavedova also provides the luxury of giving Bickerstaff a veteran point guard that he already has an established reputation with. That will allow Bickerstaff, Dellavedova, Garland, Sext and the rest of the Cavs to hit the ground running next year and not have to set time aside to establish familiarity. The other nice thing is since Dellavedova will likely only cost the Cavs a minimum contract, allowing them to use their mid-level exception on wing depth.
If for some reason Dellavedova isn’t the answer, the Cavs could pursue veteran point guard D.J. Augustin with their mid-level exception. Currently with the Orlando Magic, Augustin has averaged 10.5 points and 4.6 assists largely off the bench this season. At 32-years-old, Augustin will also be looking for money comparable to what the Cavs can offer with their exception. That, and since the Magic have Markelle Fultz and Michael Carter-Williams on their roster, Augustin’s presence in Orlando seems redundant.
So, bringing in Augustin to Cleveland makes a ton of sense for the Cavaliers since he can provide everything Dellavedova does along with the ability to provide reliable scoring off the bench as well. That, and he can serve as a mentor to Garland, someone who Augustin draws a lot of comparisons to at his most basic level. The only major problem with bringing Augustin in is that the Cavs don’t have established chemistry with him like they do Dellavedova. Thankfully, the Cavs aren’t going to be a playoff team next year so they can figure that out as the season goes.
As mentioned at the top, playmaking should be a top priority for the Cavs this offseason. They aren’t very good at it currently but thankfully there are avenues where they can improve upon it. If they do that, they’ll be able to perform alley-oops, pick-and rolls, and give-and-goes with relative ease.