Want to hear something scary about the Cavaliers roster that may have you dreading the opening night lineup? Omri Casspi, one of the more disappointing stories of the Cavaliers 2011-12 season, is slotted, as of right now, to start the season at small forward.
Although Luke Walton could come in and snatch that title away from Casspi (FYI: not likely at all), the Cavaliers have some problems that need worked out at the small forward position. With Alonzo Gee still yet to sign a qualifying offer from the Cavaliers for $2.7 million that would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer, Cleveland is very thin at the three.
There is not a doubt in my mind that Gee’s top priority in free agency is to resign with the Cavaliers, as told by this quote:
I want to be in Cleveland. This is where I want to be. I love the coaches and my teammates.
Gee reiterated in an interview that Cleveland is where he wants to be, but the exciting forward was hoping for a multi-year contract from the Cavs instead of a deal that might send him out the door if his play isn’t to Cleveland’s liking. A combination of that and him not drawing great interest from other teams due to the free agency frenzy that took place in the beginning weeks of July has Gee pondering whether he should take the Cavaliers’ offer or keep waiting it out for the deal he desires.
While Gee is stuck at a crossroads, the Cavaliers are pursuing another potential suitor for the gaping hole at the three on Cleveland’s roster. C.J. Miles, a seven-year veteran who has spent his entire NBA career with the Utah Jazz, visited with the Cavaliers for two days last week. Whether that means that the Cavaliers are looking for a replacement for Gee or just another asset to the team along with Gee is unknown, but I don’t think the Cavaliers will sign Miles and not Gee.
Let’s break down Gee’s career so far. With three years of NBA experience, spending one and part of another season with the Cavaliers, the former Alabama forward has career averages of 8.3 points and 4.1 rebounds. That’s with 130 games of NBA experience, 67 of those in which he started in.
He spent his first two seasons with the Washington Wizards (22 games), San Antonio Spurs (five games) and Cavaliers (40 games), averaging 6.1 points and 3.2 rebounds while shooting at a 46.1 percent clip. With a depleted roster last season, he saw favorable time off the bench. Somewhere at the midway point in the season, he took Casspi’s starting role and ran with it.
Gee was electrifying off the bench, and that’s where head coach Byron Scott liked him. Casspi just became too much of a liability as a starter because he couldn’t grasp the Cavaliers’ playbook, and Gee was a little ahead of the game after spending part of the 2010-11 season with the Cavs.
With experience, he also had confidence. He shot the ball on average 8.7 times per game, 287 more times than he did in the previous season. He averaged 10.6 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, averaging over 10 points for the first time in his career. It took Miles five seasons before he could eclipse a season averaging 10 points or more.
Although Miles is going into his eighth NBA season, he is still 25 years old, the same age as Gee. Miles averaged 9.1 points and 2.1 rebounds last season while shooting 38.1 percent from the field, all that were averages that decreased by a large sum from the previous season.
Gee is showing that he is progressing as a player, making the jump shot a part of his game. He shows a lot more upside than Miles, who still could thrive in a starting role on a team like Cleveland. The Jazz forward logged 20.4 minutes per game off the bench while Gee clocked in 29.0 minutes. So Miles, who played on the eighth seed in the Western Conference, would see a noticeable increase in his minutes if he were to wear the Wine and Gold next season.
I think that Gee will eventually sign the qualifying offer that the Cavaliers presented him with and that Miles will sign a deal with Cleveland. If by some chance this happens, it will be a very heated battle come September once training camp starts. Gee has the athleticism and talent to outplay Miles, but whether that aggressiveness shows up in Wine and Gold or in different colors is still yet to be decided.