With roughly a month until the start of training camps across the NBA, the rumor mill has once again slowly begun to churn. While this is typically not the time of year to hear about major acquisitions, we will hear about players that the Cleveland Cavaliers and other NBA teams may want to bring to training camp to compete for an open roster spot. With two open spots – assuming CJ Miles isn’t waived – the Cavaliers have been rumored to have workouts scheduled with over 40 players in the next few weeks. Today, we’ll take a look at three players whose names have come up in Cavalier rumors.
Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer first reported the Cavaliers’ interest in Sims on August 13. At 7’ with a 7’4” wingspan and a high skill level, Sims has the size and ability to play both the center and power forward positions. After spending his first three years at Georgetown coming off the bench, the big man had by far his best season as a senior, averaging 11.6 points, 6.0 rebound, 3.5 assists, 1.4 blocks per game, and a 21.7 PER. After finishing his career at Georgetown, Sims was not selected in the 2012 NBA Draft. This can be attributed to a variety of reasons including Sims’ age (22 on draft day), poor rebounding numbers for a man his size, relatively low .524 true shooting percentage (some of which can be attributed to Sims playing away from the basket as a jump shooter), and the perception that he wasn’t a great athlete. In fact, while John Hollinger pegged Sims as a sleeper in his 2012 draft rater, he wasn’t even invited to the draft combine. After spending training camp with the New York Knicks, Sims was waived at the end of the preseason and signed with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Developmental League. Sims made the most of his time with the BayHawks, averaging 14.3 points and 8.7 rebounds, and representing the BayHawks at the 2013 NBA D-League All-Star Game. This paid off for Sims as he was then signed by the then New Orleans Hornets to a 10-day contract. After being released by the Hornets due to the signing of Lou Amundson, Sims then returned to the BayHawks and finished the season with the Petron Blaze Boosters of the Philippines. While playing with the Charlotte Bobcats at this past Las Vegas Summer League, Sims drew praise from Bobcats coach Steve Clifford for his basketball I.Q., work ethic, and skill level despite playing limited minutes.
A far more familiar face to NBA fans than Sims, Childress’ agent Chris Emens told HoopsHype on August 27 that his client would be working out for the Cavaliers as well as the San Antonio Spurts over the next few weeks. At 30 years old, the swingman has nine years of professional basketball experience, including a well documented stint playing in Greece from 2008 to 2010. Originally taken sixth overall by the Atlanta Hawks (and their then assistant general manager Chris Grant) in the 2004 NBA Draft, Childress was an extremely efficient scorer and capable defender the first four years of his career, peaking with a 17.8 PER and .647 true shooting percentage while averaging 14.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per 36 minutes with the Hawks during the 2007-2008 season. Childress was also a favorite of John Hollinger’s Draft Rater, ranking third that year behind Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala After that season, he became a restricted free agent and signed with the Greek team Olympiacos, earning more money than he would have by resigning with the Hawks, who continued to hold his rights in the NBA. After two years, Childress returned to the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, but was not the same player. After averaging 12.8 points per 36 minutes with a 16.25 PER for the first four years of his career, Childress has averaged 7.8 points per 36 with a PER of 10.4 since his return to the NBA. Most alarmingly has been his lack of free throw attempts the past two years, with only four attempts in 591 minutes played. Childress was released by the Suns under the amnesty provision two years into his five year contract, and was waived by the Nets last December. While no longer a young player, his decline has been swift and startling.
Just reported yesterday by RealGM, former University of Miami power forward Kenny Kadji has turned down offers from European teams to sign a non-guaranteed contract and come to training camp with the Cavaliers this fall. The 6’10” Cameroonian brings athleticism and shooting ability to go along with his size. Kadji began his collegiate career at Florida as a role player in 2008. After suffering a herniated disk his sophomore year which limited him to eight games, Kadji decided to transfer to the University of Miami. Because of NCAA rules requiring him to sit out the following season, Kadji essentially missed two years of basketball before beginning his junior season in the fall of 2011. While at Miami, Kadji showed solid three point shooting, averaging .418 and .351 from three his junior and senior years to go along with a usable post game. The former Hurricane big man also showed himself to be a hard working and willing defender, who used his size well and had good timing for blocking shots, averaging 1.4 per game during his time at Miami. These facts, along with some impressive numbers at this year’s NBA Draft Combine, seem to project Kadji as a successful stretch four in the NBA. Unfortunately for him, age matters on draft night, and Kadji turned 25 years old on May 19. This is a huge strike against him as it is unlikely he can improve much physically, was playing against players three to six years younger than him, and while he was a very good player at Miami, Kadji was not a dominant one.
So Who Fits?
When looking at these three players, it seems that Sims would be the best fit for the Cavaliers’ final roster along with camp invitee Matthew Dellavedova. While many have focused on what Sims cannot do, he has had success wherever he has played and it is not uncommon for big men to develop later, with a perfect example being Sims’ fellow Georgetown alum Roy Hibbert. Sims can also play center, which would allow him to back up Tyler Zeller if Andrew Bynum and/or Anderson Varejao are injured (a distinct possibility). While Kadji possesses some intriguing skills, he may not be quite big enough to play center (although if he shows he can in training camp, that vaults him into the conversation). While this may seem cold, Childress simply does not appear to be an NBA-caliber player anymore. I have also heard the argument “he’s gotta be better than Alonzo Gee”, but the fact is he is not better than Gee. Or Earl Clark. Or C.J. Miles. The Cavaliers are best off filling the last two spots on the rosters with players who can contribute if called upon, particularly if the team truly wants to make the push for a coveted playoff spot.