Crafting a starting 5 of former All-Stars you might not remember played for the Cavs

Shaquille O'Neal, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Shaquille O'Neal, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Surely, NBA fans remember Tony Parker’s final season in Buzz City with the Charlotte Hornets, right? How about Tracy McGrady chasing a ring at the end of the San Antonio Spurs bench? Was Allen Iverson really still The Answer, or was he The Question when he played three late-career games for the Memphis Grizzlies?

Don’t forget, Hakeem Olajuwon’s “dream shake” didn’t end with the Houston Rockets. The Hall of Famer dusted off his signature move from time to time in his final season as a…..Toronto Raptor!

For a variety of reasons, former All-Stars often find themselves playing portions of their careers (usually the backend) with teams other than those for which they achieved All-Star recognition. The Cleveland Cavaliers, not unlike most teams, have an impressive list of former All-Stars you may not realize once wore the wine and gold.

Take a look at what a roster of former Cavs- selected as All-Stars prior to their time in Cleveland – would look like. Much like Olajuwon in a Raptors jersey, it’s not always pretty….

Here, we’ll highlight a hypothetical starting lineup of Cavs that’d fit that criteria.

Manning the post at center would be an easy choice.

At the Cavs starting 5 in this case: Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal, maybe the greatest center of all-time, spent the 2009-10 season with the Cavs. Upon arriving in Cleveland to partner with LeBron James, Shaq wanted to win a title with James/for Cleveland, but O’Neal was in less-than-ideal shape and was injured early in the season.

He played just 53 games in the regular season and averaged 12 points a game (the second-lowest of his historic career). The Cavs ultimately bowed out in the second round of the playoffs and the King would have to go elsewhere to win a ring.

At the Cavs starting 4 in this case: Shawn Kemp

The power forward spot would be occupied by The Reign Man himself – Shawn Kemp. Then a five-time All-Star, Kemp was traded to Cleveland a few weeks prior to the 1997-98 season after a contract squabble with the Seattle SuperSonics.

Kemp spent three seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, including another All-Star appearance and a season (1998-99) in which he averaged a career high in points per game (20.5). Eventually, Kemp’s conditioning got out of control, though and he was sent packing, albeit he was objectively still very good, as KJG’s Dan Gilinsky emphasized. But Kemp was not nearly what he was on the Sonics and would be dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers eventually.

At the Cavs starting 3 in this case: Wally Szczerbiak

At the 3 spot is Wally Szczerbiak. Yes, that Wally Szczerbiak! The Miami of Ohio graduate – who had previously made an All-Rookie team and All-Star game in the early stages of his career, joined the Cavaliers via trade midway through the 2008 season. He’d spend the final season and a half of his career in Cleveland, playing around 20 minutes a game. He never regained his All-Star form – averaging less than 9 points a game during this time.

At the Cavs starting 2 in this case: Dwyane Wade

Shooting guard duties are handled by Dwyane Wade. Flash isn’t just Wade’s nickname; it could also be used to describe how quickly he came and left The Land. A no-brainer Hall of Famer, Wade signed with the Cavaliers in late September of 2017.

Wade had aspirations of winning another championship alongside good friend LeBron James (the duo had won two titles together in Miami). As father time crept up, Wade was relegated to a bench role with the Cavs.

Wade did make an impact off the bench, but he clearly wasn’t nearly the same player, as was somewhat expected, and he was sent eventually back to Miami (where he spent the vast majority of his career) at the trade deadline. He spent less than 50 games with the Cavaliers.

Lastly, we’ll move to the 1.

At the Cavs starting 1 in this case: Derrick Rose

Rounding out our They Played for the Cleveland Cavaliers? starting five is the youngest MVP in league history – Derrick Rose. The point guard, much like D-Wade, joined Cleveland prior to the 2017-18 season, and didn’t stay long. Injuries and frustration mounted for the former Rookie of the Year and he eventually took time away from the team to reevaluate his playing future.

He was traded just hours apart from Wade at the trade deadline as the Cavaliers attempted a second half, on-the-fly rebuild for what would be LeBron’s last run with the Cavs. All told, Rose played 16 games for the Cavaliers and was mostly a non-factor.

Moving on from there, we’ll hit on the bench mob.

The Cavs bigs in this case:

Andrew Bynum – The former NBA champ’s most memorable moment with the Cavaliers was his final practice (before a suspension, then trade): Bynum reportedly shot the ball every time he touched it, regardless of where he was on the court.

Ben Wallace – Wallace never reached an All-Star game once acquired by Cleveland but did significantly improve the team’s defense.

The Cavs wings in this case:

Luol Deng – acquired as part of trade that sent Andrew Bynum to Chicago, Deng contributed 14 points and 5 rebounds per game over 40 games in the 2013-14 season.

“Thunder” Dan Majerle – more light rain or slight breeze than thunder, Majerle started 15 of 82 games in the 1995-96 campaign.

The Cavs floor generals in this case:

Baron Davis – wearing a Tight End’s number (85), with the body to match- Davis’ time in Cleveland would’ve been better spent with the Browns.

Isaiah Thomas – The other Isaiah Thomas was limited to 15 games as a Cav thanks to a cranky hip.

Deron Williams – For a large stretch of his career, it was debated whether he or Chris Paul was the NBA’s best PG. By the time he made his way to the Cleveland Cavaliers (after a contract buyout) this discussion would’ve been laughable.

Next. Cleveland Cavaliers: 10 greatest guards in franchise history. dark

Check those rosters carefully. You never know if there’s a former All-Star lurking on your team’s bench.