Oct 30, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2), center Anderson Varejao (17) and shooting guard Dion Waiters (3) celebrate in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

For once, the Cleveland Cavaliers have flexibility

For the Cleveland Cavaliers, the roster has never had the flexibility that it has now. The signings of Earl Clark, Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bynum have amped up the roster and given it depth that it has never had. A year ago, even after a solid draft, the roster was thin after the starters and a few reserves. But now, with another solid draft and the previously mentioned signings, the Cavaliers have flexibility that they may have never had before.

This flexibility comes in two different ways. First off, if Bynum works out, three players – Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller – could become available to net the Cavaliers other assets. Secondly – and this is the big one – coach Mike Brown and his staff are going to have options with their lineups.

For the first time in a long time there are going to a near limitless number of lineup possibilities.

These lineup possibilities begin with Jack. His ability to play both point guard and shooting guard means that the Cavaliers will be able to adjust to the different styles of their opponents. Against a team like the Golden State Warriors or New York Knicks who like to push the pace with a smaller lineup, Brown could go with a three-guard set of Kyrie Irving, Jack and either Dion Waiters or C.J. Miles. It allows Brown to move Irving off the ball at times (a la the Warriors with Stephan Curry last season). Depending on whom the Cavaliers face, these lineups could come into play.

To a lesser extent, Clark and Bynum also give the Cavaliers some interesting options. Even though he stands at 6-10, Clark should be the starter at small forward, but he also could play minutes at power forward if the Cavaliers decide to go small.[1] With Bynum – assuming he actually plays a large number of games – this could create something interesting lineups. The most exciting of these is a pairing of Varejao and Bynum.[2] With their height, it’s feasible that the Cavaliers could field a lineup that dominates the boards on both ends. A lineup of Bynum and Thompson would do the same thing, albeit without the size advantage.

Anyway, these are the five lineups I’m most interested in seeing come the start of the season.

  1. Kyrie Irving (PG), Dion Waiters (SG), Earl Clark (SF), Anderson Varejao (PF), Andrew Bynum (C)
  2. Kyrie Irving (PG), Jarrett Jack (SG), C.J. Miles (SF), Anthony Bennett (PF), Anderson Varejao (C)
  3. Kyrie Irving (PG), Dion Waiters (SG), Earl Clark (SF), Anthony Bennett (PF), Andrew Bynum (C)
  4. Jarrett Jack (PG), Kyrie Irving (SG), C.J. Miles (SF), Anthony Bennett (PF), Tyler Zeller (C)
  5. Jarrett Jack (PG), Dion Waiters (SG), C.J. Miles (SF), Anthony Bennett (PF), Andrew Bynum (C)

The other side of this is that the Cavaliers have a lot of young assets on this team. Thompson, Zeller, Varejao, Alonzo Gee and maybe even Miles could be available at the right price. As it stands now, there are 11 players that could get playing time. Unless Brown and his staff are going to severely monitor minutes, there is no way 11 Cavaliers will be part of the rotation.[3] That number will be cut down by two or three, and maybe the excess parts in that situation get flipped.[4]

As it stands now, this is how I expect the rotation to be set early in the season – if no one is traded. For the record, the position most likely to change is center. It all depends on Bynum’s knees.[5]

Starters: Kyrie Irving (PG), Dion Waiters (SG), Earl Clark (SF), Tristan Thompson (PF), Anderson Varejao (C)

Key Reserve: Jarrett Jack (sixth man), C.J. Miles, Alonzo Gee, Sergey Karasev, Anthony Bennett, Tyler Zeller, Andrew Bynum

Even with those excess parts, the Cavaliers truly have a lot of flexibility with their roster. They will have a deep roster that benefits them in more ways than one. If the front office wants to stand pat, they can do so. If they want to move pieces, they can do it and it won’t cause a major disruption in the flow of the team. This sudden roster dexterity really is not a bad problem to have.

[1] Granted, I think this is going to be a limited option. Bennett, Thompson and even Varejao should get more minutes at this position. At best, Clark is going to be injury insurance at the four.

[2] I’m just waiting for the basketball God in charge of injuries to kill this lineup before it even gets off the floor.

[3] Take the Los Angeles Clippers for example. Vinny del Negro could never settle in on a finite group of players, and it hurt the Clippers come playoff time when the benches get shortened.

[4] Unless that player is Karasev or another young player like Carrick Felix. Gee and Miles are the names most likely to be shopped.

[5] That’s one reason to keep 11 guys. After last year, it might not hurt to have a little extra depth this season.

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Tags: Anderson Varejao Cleveland Cavaliers Dion Waiters Earl Clark Kyrie Irving Tristan Thompson

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