Robin Lopez would be nice bargain signing for Cavs in free agency

By the looks of it, the Cleveland Cavaliers do still look to have a hole when it comes to a de facto third 5, or quasi-backup 5, to some extent.

It’s reportedly likely that the Cavaliers will be giving rookie second-round draft selection Isaiah Mobley a two-way deal for next season, and Cleveland did not tender a qualifying offer to Moses Brown, per a report from Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype. Brown did show some positive things in fill-in time near the end of this past regular season, but with the Mobley developmental pick in tow, that move wasn’t shocking.

Brown was on a two-way contract near the end of last season after a pair of 10-day deals, and was then given a rest-of-season deal for depth purposes. He’s still only 22, and could be an intriguing option for other teams in free agency to look into, as Scotto noted.

Looking past that, from a Cavaliers’ perspective, rumored potential backup point guard targets such as Ricky Rubio and Tyus Jones would seem to be non-taxpayer mid-level exception (around $10.3 million) priorities, and/or Delon Wright, for Cleveland. Maybe for a deal for some of that Cleveland might consider Austin Rivers; that’s tough to say.

But with either some of non-taxpayer MLE, or more realistically, with via veteran’s minimum deal, a rotational 5 as a free agent target would look to be sensible as well for Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley insurance. Our own Gibson Lowenberg’s suggestion of Dwight Howard was interesting in that realm, as a side note.

Another, to that point, veteran rotational 5, more as a third 5 to target would seem to be Robin Lopez, who Cleveland would be wise to inquire about.

Lopez only played 36 games last season, though that was simply because of the Orlando Magic being fully in the tank, and Lopez in recent prior seasons still made his presence felt when he was in. This past season with Orlando, he had 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 17.0 minutes per game in those 36 appearances, for context.

For Cleveland, despite minutes being a relative uncertainty game-to-game for Lopez if he were to sign, he could do a solid job, and would be a great veteran presence to have, too.

Lopez would a nice bargain signing for the Cavs in free agency.

Lopez will be entering Year 15, and is a 34-year-old. He’s likely on the last few holes of his career, and is not a player that’s going to be receiving a ton of minutes from here, no matter where he goes.

He signed with Orlando on a one-year, $5 million deal last offseason, and frankly, looks to have the makings of a minimum player this offseason and looking onward, if he plays beyond next season. I do think he could have a few more years left as a veteran presence and rotational 5 for stretches for teams, though.

The gist is, with Lopez, while he’s not the player of his brother, Brook Lopez, when Brook is healthy, and he’s not the catch-and-shoot presence from three, Robin can still provide teams with quality interior play in rotational minutes.

He had 9.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per game with the Washington Wizards in 2020-21, and was active in 71 games that season. The year prior, while the role wasn’t as much for him, he did help the Milwaukee Bucks, to some extent, in reserve minutes, with 5.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game in 2019-20.

Lopez is an adept roller, does a nice job getting position for interior seals for low-post touches, and when he gets defenders on his back there, his hook shots are deadly, as our own Josh Cornelissen alluded to. The 7-footer can great touch in those situations, and in a play finisher role for stretches, could give the Cavaliers a lift in that regard.

On the defensive end, nobody’s confusing him with Allen there, but for a role with inherent minutes fluctation, he could be competent, and is a good communicator when in there. Lopez’s length and strength enables him to be capable on the interior, and he is some of a rim deterrent, even if he’s not necessarily a bonafide rim protecting presence at this stage.

On both ends, Lopez is a player that could help the Cavaliers on the glass as well, and in a few stretches defensively, that’d help out the Wine and Gold. That is an area Cleveland needs to be more consistent next season, too.

Overall, though, while Lopez is on the last few holes of his career, to me, for a depth 5 option, he’d be a welcomed addition, and to reiterate, would likely be a veteran minimum signing at this stage. Maybe that’d end up being via some of the aforementioned MLE.

And lastly, he’s always been a great locker room guy, has helped young players it seems, and while he’s been on a ton of teams, he’s been in a variety of situations, has legit postseason experience, and has been a solid rotational contributor.

I would imagine that Lopez could definitely consider the Cavs, if they were to contact him/his representation in free agency to come, too. We’ll see what happens.