Last month RDE talked about how the Cleveland Cavaliers will need to rebuild their bench this offseason with how many of their current players aren’t under contract for the 2013-14 season. The way they would need to do this is by via the draft and free agency – which signing free agents isn’t something Chris Grant is know for. The draft is wrapped up now, and the Cavs selected two players who Grant views as bench players right now in Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev, and free agency officially began on Wednesday. What we know is the Cavs have agreed to terms with former Los Angeles Lakers forward Earl Clark, as well as former Golden State Warriors guard Jarrett Jack and most recently, the Cavs have agreed to terms with the big man Andrew Bynum on an incentive-based contract with a team option in year two.
Below is some rough numbers of the money leaving and the money coming in (via Hoopsworld).
Departures — Wayne Ellington ($2 million), Marreese Speights ($4.2 million), Shaun Livingston ($774,000), Omri Casspi ($2.27 million), Daniel Gibson ($4.8 million)*, Luke Walton* ($6.1 million), C.J. Miles* ($2.25 million): TOTAL— $22.35 million
Arrivals — Anthony Bennett ($5 million), Andrew Bynum ($6-12 million), Earl Clark ($4.5 million), Jarrett Jack ($6 million), Sergey Karasev ($1.5 million): TOTAL—$23-29 million
*Gibson, Walton, Miles — As of now, they remain free agents. But the team may be open to bringing them back. Gibson has experience under Mike Brown, Miles would be a bargain at $2.25 million and Walton, as crazy as it sounds, could be brought back because he is a crafty veteran who could help keep Bynum’s head straight after they spent time together in Los Angeles.
Grant has reconstructed the team’s bench with bargain shopping. He has been ridiculed in the past about not signing free agents, but every contract a player has accepted has been in the team’s favor. Every deal he has offered either is incentive based (Bynum’s new deal) or has a team option in the final year. These contracts have aligned the team to be in perfect shape in 2014.
Cleveland was the third-youngest team in the NBA last season, only behind the New Orleans Hornets (Pelicans) and the Houston Rockets. The Cavs blew four 20-point leads last year against the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns. It doesn’t matter how young your team is, these losses are unacceptable. Obviously the team needed to gain more veteran experience, and they brought in two guys – Bynum and Jack – who have had their ups and downs in this league who can help this team off the court, just as much as on the court.
The Cavs’ bench was a big factor in the team’s wins and losses. The team lost so many key players to injuries that their bench got smaller and smaller as the year went on. But midway through the season, Grant came across the deal of his lifetime, sending Jon Leuer and some cash to Memphis for Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first-round draft pick. The addition of Speights and Ellington brought life to the bench, as they became reliable options.
Below is what the Cavs’ roster is starting to look like:
Starters: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Earl Clark, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Bynum
Bench: Jarrett Jack, C.J. Miles*, Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev, Tyler Zeller, Anderson Varejao, Alonzo Gee, Daniel Gibson*, Luke Walton*.
That brings the roster total to 14; they still have room for one more player. It appears the Cavs could be in pursuit of another swingman. Reports are saying the Cavs could pursue former Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andre Kirilenko.
The success of this offseason depends on how Bynum’s knees can hold up. The over/under for games played for Bynum is 45 – which is slightly more than half of the regular season games. Whether the Bynum signing works out or not, it was worth a roll of the dice to get a double-double, paint-protecting center. Other than Bynum, you have to applaud the dealings that Grant has pulled off, as well as the drafting. This is a team with nothing to lose next season, and that is exactly the way they should play.