The Cleveland Cavaliers recently signed then-free agent big Mfiondu Kabengele to a 10-day deal, in which his game during that deal was on April 10, in what was a blowout loss versus the Toronto Raptors then.
This was, given that the Cavaliers were very banged up in relation to their bigs, a sensible signing I thought.
Jarrett Allen, for example, returned in Cleveland’s win at the Charlotte Hornets last Wednesday from an eight-game absence because of a concussion/the league’s concussion protocol. Also in that realm was Larry Nance Jr. having been out for seven games unfortunately due to an extremely awful bout of illness.
So what did the Cavs get from Kabengele in that 10-day, then? There wasn’t a whole lot, but with him having been an end-of-bench depth piece more so if needed, that wasn’t a surprise. That’s with how Isaiah Hartenstein had been and has been playing, to go with Dean Wade, to a large extent, in relation to 4/5 minutes.
That said, still for potential big man depth need, Cleveland is set to sign Kabengele to a second 10-day deal on Wednesday, per a recent report from Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
We’ll have to see if Kabengele will receive meaningful burn for the Cavs to come here, but one shouldn’t expect much, if any.
Kabengele only appeared in three outings so far during that first 10-day, and averaged 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds in 7.0 minutes per appearance. Also, with Allen back, and Nance additionally, as his Monday absence at the Detroit Pistons had a personal designation and he’s set to be active on Wednesday versus the Chicago Bulls, it’s difficult to foresee Kabengele getting meaningful minutes to come.
Nonetheless, regarding the to-be second 10-day big man, Kabengele did show some promise in his rookie season with the LA Clippers’ (the team that drafted him) G League Affiliate club, the Agua Caliente Clippers last season.
With them, where he received essentially all of his meaningful burn as a rookie, he had 18.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.2 steals per outing. He did show nice capability as a roller, and was an active putback guy, and did demonstrate rim protection abilities, which was a plus.
And while he didn’t light it up from range, he did flash some promise as a catch-and-shoot/at times pick-and-pop presence and hit 32.3 percent of his 6.1 three-point attempts per outing in G League run in 2019-20.
We’ll have to see if the catch-and-shoot potential does end up materializing in the NBA perhaps in the near future, though.
Clearly, we didn’t see that with LA, as he only appeared in 35 games with them, and in 4.5 minutes per game, and was traded to the Sacramento Kings near this season’s March 25 deadline. Shortly thereafter, the Kings waived Kabengele.
In relation to the aforementioned rim protection abilities, that still could be the case with him, and I believe it’s something to build on for a selling point for the former Florida State Seminole. But Kabengele has had recurring fouling issues still, also in the G League, and when he did receive some NBA burn with LA Clippers in his first 1.5 seasons.
I still do believe that the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Kabengele could have untapped potential on both ends at the NBA level, though, as particularly a smaller 5.
So, what will we see from the 23-year-old big in this second 10-day with the Cavaliers, then? It’s tough to say at the moment with Cleveland’s bigs much healthier and them, at least currently, having an outside shot at a play-in, and in theory, postseason appearance.
We’ll have to see if he’s from there able to receive a rest-of-season deal with then a few weeks left, and/or perhaps a minimum and mostly non-guaranteed, maybe multi-year contract as a developmental player from there. I can’t say I’d bet on that, though.