The Cleveland Cavaliers are signing Sam Merrill to a multi-year deal. Sources tell Fear the Sword, years two and three of Merrill’s deal are not guaranteed. This deal is expected to be similar to the one Lamar Stevens signed back in 2021.
Merrill has the potential to provide the shooting the Cavs desperately need. In 35 games with the Charge this season, Merrill averaged 16.4 points per game while shooting 43.2% from three on 8.2 attempts per game. His quick release and ability to shoot on the move allows him to attempt a high volume of threes.
Merrill hasn’t gotten the opportunity to show whether or not this skill translates to the Cavs yet this season. During his recent ten-day contract, he has only received minutes one game which was garbage time minutes against the Detroit Pistons.
Merrill was originally drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans back in 2020 before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. He spent the 2020-21 season with the Bucks but was dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies before the 2021-22 season. Merrill split time with the Grizzlies and their G League affiliate before having his season cut short due to an ankle injury. He received a training camp invitee with the Sacramento Kings prior to this season before being one of the last cuts. The Charge selected him first overall in the G League draft a few days after he was cut.
It’s unlikely that Merrill will be given a chance to earn minutes this late into the season. Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff has not extended the Cavs’ beyond nine guys at the most during this stretch run. Most games, the rotation has only been eight. Sometimes, only seven players play in the second half.
This move is more about what Merrill could bring to future teams. This team needs a movement shooter to pair alongside their core four. With their current salary cap situation, their only hopes of finding one in the free agency market is with their midlevel exception. Given the other holes on the roster and how competitive the market is for those types of players, locking up someone in a non-guaranteed deal who could fill that role makes sense. It’s also something Cavs president of basketball operations Koby Altman has done before with Dean Wade and Lamar Stevens.