On Saturday Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Marreese Speights made the move that most thought he would, especially after the Cavs selected Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall on Thursday night, and declined his $4.5 million player option to test the free agency market. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports! first reported this, and Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal later reported that Cleveland would not make an attempt at going after Speights in free agency.
Although Speights had many bright moments with the Cavaliers – including a 10-of-10 shooting first half against the New York Knicks when he had to fill in at center for the injured Tyler Zeller – he doesn’t really have a niche on this team and was just nice as a filler for the time being in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies that made general manager Chris Grant look like a genius. Toward the end of last season it seemed that Speights was not putting forth full effort on both sides of the ball, and his lack of care on defense makes Speights decision to not return not that detrimental to the core of Cleveland’s bench. Having a young and budding frontcourt consisting of Tristan Thompson, Zeller and now Bennett – three players selected over the last three drafts respectively – makes the absence of Speights not that much of a problem.
Speights, a five-year NBA veteran, averaged 10.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 39 games (one start) with the Cavaliers last season, while shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 80.6 percent from the free throw line. He scored a season-high 23 points with the Cavs twice – against the Knicks (in his stellar start) and the Atlanta Hawks – and grabbed 10 boards three times in what were his best rebounding performances. Again, he was not a great defensive asset for this team at all. If the Cavaliers want to go after another power forward in free agency, which I think isn’t anywhere near the top of their priority list, then a more affordable option in a guy like Earl Clark would be a much better investment for the Wine and Gold.