With the preseason for the Cleveland Cavaliers concluding on Friday night in a 114-108 loss to the Orlando Magic on the road, it was natural that some players were going to be waived with the 2022-23 regular season around the corner. That will begin on Wednesday, when the Cavaliers, a new-look club that looks ready to contend, will play at the Toronto Raptors.
With Cleveland needing to trim roster numbers down with the regular season soon to begin, as we alluded to, there were going to be some decisions having to be made.
In these instances, most training camp invitees are going to be waived, but usually at least some of those players were going to be set to play for Cleveland’s G League affiliate, the Cleveland (formerly Canton) Charge. That will be the case.
With that caveat, it was hardly surprising that the Cavaliers waived their four training camp guys, in Sharife Cooper, Jamorko Pickett, Nate Hinton and Mamadi Diakite on Saturday. Cleveland ended up waiving one of their two-way players from before in RJ Nembhard Jr. as well. These were according to reports from Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who reported how “the expectation” is Hinton, Cooper and Pickett will be with the Charge, and he added that Cleveland will seemingly likely keep its 15th roster spot open.
As for Diakite, given what he displayed in preseason action, it was nice to see that he signed a two-way deal with the Cavaliers, per a team release on Monday.
Diakite has spent time in his first two NBA seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and Oklahoma City Thunder. With Milwaukee, he was originally on a two-way deal, following him going undrafted in 2020 out of Virginia, and he eventually won a title with them that season. With the Thunder, Diakite was on multiple 10-day contracts last season.
Diakite has gotten some time with those NBA clubs, and in the G League, the Lakeland Magic, the aforementioned Orlando Magic’s G League affiliate. He had 18.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per contest in 12 games with Lakeland in 2020-21, and won a G League title with that squad.
So, what could the Cavs be looking into with this Diakite two-way signing?
With Diakite, he’s going to be playing the vast majority of his meaningful minutes with the Charge, one would assume, and for a developmental forward/big, that’s fine. Even with that being the case, there were promising signs from him in the Cavaliers preseason games.
In those four appearances, he had 9.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals in 16.8 minutes per contest, and in Cleveland’s third preseason outing in a win over the Atlanta Hawks last Wednesday, he even had a double-double. Then, he had 13 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and a block in 29 minutes, and was a plus-17. He also connected on two three-point looks out of four attempts in that game.
As far as the potential outlook for Diakite with the Cavs, it’s tough to forecast if he could end up receiving legitimate minutes at some point. However, what he demonstrated in preseason in some meaningful stretches was encouraging, and I thought his flashes of catch-and-shoot play was very much so as well.
He only attempted seven threes in preseason, but did hit four of those, and perhaps with more developmental time with the Charge, he could be a player that’d give Cleveland some more depth at the 4, and to some degree, the 3 position. I did think his effort, and attention to detail as a helper on defense jumped out in preseason, also, and he did show flashes with the Thunder at times.
I’d think that if notable injuries were to arise, or Cleveland’s thin here and there, we could see Diakite get some stretches of forward minutes with the Cavs.
All things considered, this was a sensible two-way move by the Wine and Gold, particularly with possible 3-and-D qualities being the key here looking onward with the 6-foot-9 Diakite.