Cleveland Cavaliers: 3 players that have something to prove next season

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland looks on. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland looks on. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dante Exum defends on the ball. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Dante Exum

Dante Exum has been up and down to this point for the Cavs, really since he was traded to Cleveland along with then-future Utah Jazz second-round picks in exchange for Jordan Clarkson.

More from King James Gospel

Throughout his career it’s been really tough for Exum to stay healthy, though, as he missed the entire 2015-16 with Utah due to an ACL tear, and last year, his season was cut short because of a partially torn patellar tendon and then surgery to repair that.

He was limited to just 42 games in 2018-19, and has unfortunately had knee and shoulder issues in his career, and leading into the season’s suspension, Exum had been sidelined for eight games due to a sprained left ankle. It was not certain, realistically, as to when Exum would be back, and hopefully he can get healthier.

When Exum was healthy for Cleveland, it was something of a mixed bag offensively. He had 5.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 16.8 minutes per outing in 24 appearances, which was alright, but he often seemed unsure of himself.

Defensively, Exum was pretty steady on the perimeter on-ball, and gets through off-ball screens fluidly, though, and next season, he could be a decent rotational piece for Bickerstaff and company if he can be healthy in most games.

I’d imagine he’d be put out there at mostly the 1/2 to relieve Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and/or fill in alongside one of them as a solid ball-mover that can playmake and get pieces such as Kevin Love, Sexton and Larry Nance Jr. and others the rock in their preferred spots.

If Exum can be mostly healthy, perhaps he could be a piece included in a potential deal for Cleveland near next season’s trade deadline that can help accumulate another few future picks.

If not, that’s not a huge deal I wouldn’t think, though, and Cleveland could let the rest of his contact expire (and he’s currently set to make $9.6 million next season), which could help in free agency. Or an expiration could keep the Cavs further from the luxury tax threshold and allow them to look elsewhere.

Either way, next season, the currently 24-year-old Exum has to prove he can stay reasonably healthy. That’s a massive question mark, however, and at least right now, Exum seems unlikely to be a real factor in next season’s perimeter player rotation, even factoring in guards and 3’s.

Could Exum be a nice defensive piece to put out there for stretches, though? I would think, yes.