Why signing T.J. Warren would be the perfect FA move for the Cavs

T.J. Warren, Indiana Pacers. (Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
T.J. Warren, Indiana Pacers. (Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers exceeded expectations in 2021-22. They were expected to be at the bottom of the standings yet again, but they put themselves in great position to make the playoffs before flaming out in the play-in tournament. Even the most optimistic fans couldn’t have predicted the success the Cavs had for most of the season.

Simply put, the teams’ timeline to success has taken a sudden step forward. This could mean that they can be a little more aggressive in the offseason than they have been in recent years. With a newfound winning mentality, Cleveland could be the perfect landing spot for impending unrestricted free agent T.J. Warren.

Here’s why signing Warren would be the perfect free agency move this offseason for the Cavs.

In an interview with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com mentioned several players the Cavs could be interested in as the free agency period opens this offseason. While Fedor mentioned players like Tyus Jones and Delon Wright in his report as potential targets to fill the backup guard position, he also mentioned Warren as a potential target if the Cavs decide to go away from a point guard in free agency.

Warren hasn’t played since December of 2020. He played only four games in the 2020-21 season and missed the entire 2021-22 season with a fractured left foot. Considering this will likely hurt his value in free agency, the Cavaliers could take advantage of this discount and take a flyer on a player in Warren who has been a key starter for most of his career. Maybe Warren could possibly be acquired for part of the roughly $10 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception on a multi-year deal, for example.

While Warren lacks the defensive skill set that J.B. Bickerstaff might want in a wing player, he makes up for it with his ability to score from anywhere on the floor. The 28-year-old averaged 19.8 points per game on 53.6 percent shooting from the field and 40.6 percent from beyond the arc in 2019-20 with the Indiana Pacers. Isaac Okoro has shown signs of improvement on offense, but I don’t think he will ever compare to what Warren brings on that end. Okoro still has a ways to go on the offensive end.

Cleveland lacked a scoring punch to pair with Darius Garland in the starting lineup last season. This played a major part in the team trading for Caris LeVert, who played an interchangeable role as a starter and rotation piece as the season winded down. T.J. Warren could not only provide the Cavs with a scoring punch, but he could do it as a consistent starter if healthy.

The Cavaliers were the sixth-worst scoring team in the NBA in terms of points per game last season. And while they had the fifth-best defensive rating, they were just 20th in offensive rating. A scoring threat like Warren is something the Cavs desperately need if they plan on competing at a high level.

If you’re looking for more reasons to be excited for a potential acquisition of Warren, look no further than the NBA bubble. The 7-year vet showed brief signs of stardom for the Pacers, scoring 31 points per game over the course of six seeding games. This included a three-game stretch in which he scored 119 points on 65.3% shooting from the field and 60.9% from three.

Of course, these types of performances could never be sustained over an extended stretch of games, but it’s worth noting that he has this kind of scoring burst in him.

In the playoffs following the seeding games, Warren was one of the few bright spots for the Pacers. Despite being swept by the Miami Heat, Warren averaged 20 points per game on 47% shooting from the field. He proved that he can come up big when it matters. With little playoff experience on the roster, this is something the Cavaliers could use, even if it’s just four games of playoff experience.

Adding Warren would give Darius Garland and Collin Sexton more room to work with and open up driving lanes, and Warren could help others as well. This is something the Cavs haven’t really had on a consistent basis since the two guards, regarding Garland and Sexton, came into the league. With their exceptional playmaking abilities, especially with Garland, the addition of Warren could be the missing piece that Garland and Sexton need to make the offense a masterpiece.

Next. Pros and cons of rumored Cavs trade with Hornets for Hayward. dark

We all know Koby Altman will do everything he can to make this team better. I believe taking a chance on T.J. Warren could pay dividends to a Cavaliers team that desperately needs a consistent scoring threat on the wing.