Nik Stauskas is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and although he does provide some value as a rotational floor-spacer, the Cleveland Cavaliers should not try to bring him back.
The Cleveland Cavaliers originally acquired Nik Stauskas in the previously reported Rodney Hood trade with the Portland Trail Blazers back near the week of the 2019 NBA trade deadline, and after Cleveland traded Stauskas shortly thereafter to the Houston Rockets in the previously reported three-team Alec Burks trade also involving the Sacramento Kings, Stauskas’ deadline coaster still wasn’t done.
From there, he was also reportedly traded to the Indiana Pacers by Houston, where he was waived shortly after, and because of that, as Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor initially reported at the time, Stauskas eventually signed with Cleveland, who had one open roster spot, for the remainder of the 2018-19 season (which was for just over $540,000, per Spotrac).
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Stauskas had some bright spots last year overall, including a career-high 24 point-game with Portland on opening night of 2018-19.
In 24 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 25-year-old proved to be a quality catch-and-shoot scorer, while knocking in 42.9% of his 2.6 three-point attempts per contest (per Basketball Reference).
For his career, he’s shot 35.3% on triples, for the record, as a rotational guy, while playing 19.9 minutes per game (again, per Basketball Reference).
He’s proven to be a solid cutter in the halfcourt, too, which would occasionally lead to him getting a nice back-door layup at times after deliveries from Jordan Clarkson, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova, and Stauskas is a solid off-screen shooter, too.
That being said, with the Cavaliers set to already have 11 players under contract for next season (according to Fedor in essentially a Twitter mailbag set of responses), I don’t see Stauskas sticking around making much sense.
He’s a decent rotational shooter off the catch, but Stauskas’ defensive value and versatility is pretty limited, as he’s best-suited to defend spot-up 2’s and some 3’s, which other pieces can do effectively, and along with that, Stauskas has not proven to be much of a secondary playmaker in his career.
Though he’s shot 81.4% for his career from the free throw line, he’s only averaged 1.3 free throw attempts per game and 2.3 free throw attempts per 36 minutes lifetime, which does not showcase much of a skill set off the bounce.
Just 2.8 assists per 36 minutes for his career (per Basketball Reference) demonstrates he has limited playmaking upside for a Cleveland squad that desperately needs more playmaking across the board, too, as only the New York Knicks averaged a lower assist rate last year than the Cavs (per NBA.com).
To add to that, Fedor said that the two rookies that the Cleveland Cavaliers will be adding in this year’s draft will also be “taking two spots.”
From there, Fedor also detailed how of those Cavs’ players whose contracts are set to be up this summer (Marquese Chriss, Deng Adel, Stauskas and David Nwaba), Nwaba, who could become a restricted free agent that Cleveland could extend a qualifying offer to this summer, has the “best chance to stick.”
That would leave just one roster spot open, which I could see the Cavaliers wanting to leave open.
With that being the case, and with one of this year’s draft picks feasibly being a primary ball-handler, such as Murray State’s Ja Morant or a combo guard/wing in Duke’s R.J. Barrett, (based on the Cavs’ lottery odds, which we’ve often touched on) along with potentially Matthew Dellavedova, Osman, Collin Sexton and Clarkson (though he could definitely be traded by next year), it’s hard to see where Stauskas would fit into the rotation.
Do you think the Cleveland Cavaliers should try to bring back Stauskas this summer?