Cavs should keep shopping, with FA Kris Dunn worth a look, among others

Atlanta Hawks guard Kris Dunn drives. (Photo by Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Atlanta Hawks guard Kris Dunn drives. (Photo by Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports) /

Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman and the rest of the front office wasted no time in finding a serviceable replacement for Ricky Rubio. Trading for Rajon Rondo was an outstanding move, especially considering that all Cleveland had to give up was Denzel Valentine.

Replacing Rubio’s value was going to be a tall task. While the Rondo move should help patch up the hole, I’m not sure Koby Altman should kick up his feet and relax.

Rondo will turn 36 years old in February. While he still has the necessary skill set to provide similar production to what Rubio provided, I’m not sure he can handle the workload that Rubio did.

Rubio played 28.5 minutes per game this season. Rondo hasn’t played that many minutes since the 2018-19 season. His average minutes per game over the last three seasons have been a mere 18 minutes.

Rondo should be expected the play the usual 16 to 20 minutes per game that he’s played since 2019, but that leaves more minutes that need to be accounted for if the goal is to fill the Ricky Rubio-sized hole in the roster.

If the Cavs are serious about this season and serious about their resurgence, they won’t settle for Kevin Pangos, who has mightily struggled in regular rotation minutes, to be the only true guard behind Garland and Rondo.

With the extra minutes left over, the Cavs have options as to how they can go about filling them.

The 10-day signing of Brandon Goodwin is interesting and he could carve out some minutes for himself in the future, but I don’t see him as a long-term fix, or for him to stick around. He’s too young, combined with other young guys in the mix, and not a good enough defender to make the fully-healthy rotation.

I don’t think there are any trades left for the Cavs to make after moving Valentine, unless they want to move a player like Osman or Windler.

Free agency is probably the best bet for Cleveland, considering the low-risk, high-reward aspect of snagging a player with something to prove without giving up assets.

Kris Dunn is an interesting prospect the front office could look into, seemingly via rest-of-season deal; in that case, the likes of Lamar Stevens or Ed Davis would have to be waived, though.

Kicking the tires on Kris Dun, or other potential targets such as Quinn Coo or Jeff Teagu, would make sense for the Cavs.

Dunn was only able to play four games last season due to an ankle injury he suffered in the 2020 preseason, but he seems to be healthy and ready to get back on the floor. After getting waived by the Memphis Grizzlies following a trade from the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics, Dunn is a free agent. One could only assume that the 27-year-old guard has something to prove.

Before his stint with the Hawks, Dunn was a high-caliber defensive player with the Chicago Bulls who many thought was snubbed from an All-Defensive team in the 2019-20 season. Dunn received four All-Defensive First team votes and 23 Second Team votes, in addition to being the only player to receive votes while not being on a playoff team that season.

Maybe I’m a little too optimistic, but I think Dunn has enough left in the tank to still contribute at a fairly high level.

In 2020, Kris Dunn ranked first in the NBA in steals percentage, per Basketball Reference. During the same season, Dunn ranked second in the steals per game and second in defensive box plus/minus.

If Dunn could step into a role similar to what Lamar Stevens plays, I think it would pay dividends to the depth of the team. At the same time, whether or not Stevens were to be cut in that scenario, Dunn could help more as a playmaking presence as well, for what it’s worth.

The former Hawks guard would not bring much of a scoring skill set to Cleveland, but he wouldn’t be asked to do much scoring anyways. It’s the playmaking and defensive presence that would make Dunn a valued piece.

If not Dunn, free agents like Quinn Cook or Jeff Teague via rest-of-season team-friendly deal (similarly to Dunn) could prove to be more reliable than the current reserves on the roster.

I don’t think the Cavaliers need to swing for the fences, but I do think they need to continue to shop around and improve the roster.

Next. Best and worst-case scenario for Cavs trade acquisition Rajon Rondo. dark

In the postseason, it’s the little things that make or break a season. If the Cavs are forced to give Kevin Pangos real minutes, it could prove to break what has been such a special campaign.