Cleveland Cavaliers: Lamar Stevens’ new deal/structure of it is right call

Cleveland Cavaliers wing/forward Lamar Stevens looks to pass. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers wing/forward Lamar Stevens looks to pass. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers have gotten solid play out of two-way wing/forward Lamar Stevens this season. Now, on the surface, 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in 13.1 minutes per outing in 37 appearances doesn’t necessarily pop out.

But Stevens, who was previously undrafted and signed to a two-way deal shortly after the 2020 NBA Draft by the Cavs, has done a nice job in rotational burn defensively.

Stevens, who has gotten his share of reserve run for Cleveland, has filled in some at the 3, for one. And he has helped out at the 4 even with injuries to Kevin Love (for most of the season, though he’s been back) and Larry Nance Jr. at different points this season. Stevens has played 52 percent of his minutes-share at the 4, for further context.

With Lamar, the key contributions again have come on the defensive end of the floor, where he’s more than held his own on-ball, and defended a number of different positions. Though some fouling issues have been there at times, Stevens has often slid well to deter drives and has bothered pull-up threats, and his rotational/team defensive feel has jumped out.

That’s played into him having averaged a respectable 1.3 steals per-36 minutes, and with his timing as a helper, he’s had a healthy 2.4 percent block rate for a reserve wing/forward.

The offense, and perimeter shooting, in particular, needs work, but the Cavaliers made a smart move in signing Stevens, 23, to a multi-year deal on Wednesday.

That was per a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, and per Chris Fedor of, and the deal is reportedly the same non-guaranteed structure following the rest of 2020-21 as Dean Wade‘s.

Wade’s this past offseason was a multiyear deal with each said year following this past season/through the end of last season being non-guaranteed through 2022-23 with the final being a team option year, via essentially the minimum. The deal was then for three years and roughly $3.7 million in total. That’s the same format, seemingly via the minimum and a four-year deal, for Stevens, per Fedor’s report.

Fedor from there then also reported (subscription required) how this move opens up a second two-way spot for the Cavs, of which they’re “expected to fill soon.” Brodric Thomas is the other current two-way player.

This Stevens new deal/the structure of it is the right call by the Cavs.

Stevens is not a three-point shooting presence at this point; that’s apparent. He’s hit just 4-of-25 (16.0 percent) from deep on the season, and knocked in just 27.6 percent of his career deep ball attempts in a four-year collegiate career at Penn State.

Needless to say, that’s an area where he’ll need to improve over the upcoming offseason/coming years, but while we’ll have to see if that can come around for him looking onward, Stevens’ defensive capabilities and ball pressure have been meaningful this season. And as undrafted rookie two-way contributor to this point, that’s been a boost in itself, from my perspective.

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That said, Stevens has shown solid finishing abilities with both body control and has thrown down some dunks as a cutter/driver with power, and he has shown some mid-range pull-up shooting capability.

Perhaps looking onward, the Cavaliers could look to get him some occasional mid-post feeds, as he is a solid 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds and has nice feel for initiating contact and has generated a respectable 3.6 free throw attempts per-36 minutes.

Stevens’ defensive contributions in his burn have been the key thing that’s jumped out from him this season, though, and a silver lining to Cleveland’s tough injury luck with their 4s has been Lamar getting his share of run.

He’s again, shown he can defend multiple positions, and in some lineups moving forward, I’d expect him to be a truly viable small-ball 4, of which he’s flashed this season. Stevens having had 7.0 rebounds per-36 minutes has also played into that sort of viability as well.

Albeit the offensive shooting/playmaking limitations have capped that to an extent, objectively.

Nonetheless, even with the current offensive limitations, this team-friendly, multi-year deal for Stevens, which is mostly non-guaranteed, is the right call by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Stevens, for realistically an end-of-bench situational piece at the moment, has frankly done pretty well for an undrafted rookie two-way contributor in burn this season, and he has flashed some nice shot creation potential.

And, when you factor in how Dean Wade has emerged after having mostly burn with the Cavs’ G League Affiliate, the Canton Charge, as a rookie, although he is more of an offensive player/a floor spacer by comparison, he’s exceeded expectations. I could very well foresee Stevens showing real strides next season, for instance, too, if he is able to have his share of burn.

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Either way, however, the contract structure, though Stevens will have a bump in salary for this season, ensures there’s essentially no risk to this move if not and/or if a potential meaningful trade could come for an established player down the road.