As NBA free agency winds down, most teams have their rosters basically set going into the season. While there are some intriguing free agents available (Brandon Jennings, Nikola Pekovic), most of the players available will fit somewhere between the end of teams’ rotations and the end of their benches. In the case of the Cleveland Cavaliers, two roster spots remain available assuming C.J. Miles is not waived and Carrick Felix makes the final roster. The Cavaliers are known to be looking for the following types of players to fit these two spots; a big, a shooter or possibly a third point guard behind Kyrie Irving and Jarrett Jack. All of these players would probably fit at the end of the Cavaliers’ bench and receive only sporadic playing time. Today we will look at some players who could fill out the Cavaliers roster.
Jason Collins: While I admire Collins for his courage in becoming the first openly gay athlete in one of the four major sports, he is an excellent fit with the Cavaliers for strictly basketball reasons. Collins is a veteran who is respected throughout the league for his locker room presence, and has extensive playoff experience with both the Nets and Hawks. Collins also understands his role as a veteran who may only receive sporadic minutes and has handled that role with class and professionalism throughout the last several years of his career. Collins is also a true center, which the Cavaliers could use due to the extensive injury histories of Andrew Bynum and Anderson Varejao. Most importantly, Collins is an excellent defender who has had a significant impact on the points per possession that his team allows. Tom Haberstroh’s excellent article on Collins’ defense illustrates his value over the years. While the Cavaliers may have some justifiable concerns over the distractions from the media horde that will undoubtedly follow him this season, Collins could potentially be the perfect sixth big for the Cavaliers.
Cole Aldrich: Like Collins, Aldrich is a true center who would probably adjust well to an end of the bench role with the Cavaliers. While he is much younger than Collins (Aldrich is 24, Collins is 34), and may want a larger role with the team, that doesn’t seem to be available to Aldrich anywhere in the league at this time. Aldrich’s youth is also a positive in that he fits with the growth pattern of the core of the team and could be a bench big for the Cavaliers for years to come. Aldrich is an excellent rebounder and shot blocker at 7.5 and 2.4 per 36 minutes for his career. Unfortunately he also has a foul rate of 5.7 per 36 for his career as well, limiting his minutes. Under Mike Brown, Aldrich has the potential to be a very good defender in limited minutes off the bench.
Daniel Gibson: A familiar face to Cavaliers fans, Gibson seems unlikely to return to the team, but he may fit best in the role of shooter and third point guard at the end of the bench. While Byron Scott gave Gibson the opportunity for his largest role with the Cavaliers, Gibson’s three-point shooting has been in decline for the last three seasons as he has battled numerous injuries. Gibson may be best suited for the role he had with the team during Brown’s last season with the Cavaliers; a fifth guard who plays limited minutes, can spread the floor, play some defense and act as a third point guard when necessary.
Daequan Cook: A familiar name to Cavalier fans due to his time at Ohio State, Cook brings a similar skill set to Gibson, but with some crucial differences. While both are known for their three-point shooting, Cook’s shooting is arguably in more of a decline than Gibson’s and he was never as good to begin with. Cook is more durable than Gibson and brings more size to the perimeter, but has never has to fill the larger role that Gibson did with the Cavaliers the last few years. Cook is also a capable defender, but cannot play point guard even for limited minutes.
Kevin Jones: While the Cavaliers recently waived Jones and his agent has stated that he thinks it is time to move on, there is still a chance that Jones returns on a minimum deal. Jones is a hard worker who showed promise during his rookie year and began to take minutes from Marreese Speights as the season came to an end. Despite his desire for more playing time, Jones may still have loyalty to the team that gave him a chance as an undrafted rookie.
Other Options: Several members of the Cavaliers’ Summer League Team may be invited to camp with a chance to earn a roster spot. Justin Harper, Jermaine Taylor, Matthew Dellavedova, and Cory Higgins all had impressive moments in summer league and have gained Mike Brown’s attention.
The next few months may be the quiet time in the NBA calendar, but the final roster decisions the Cavaliers make regarding their open roster spots could have an important impact on the team’s season.