7 players the Cleveland Cavaliers gave up on too soon

Kevin Porter Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Kevin Porter Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Joe Harris, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Rocky Widner/Getty Images /

6. The Cleveland Cavaliers gave up on Joe Harris too soon

Long before they were known for being on the wrong side of NCAA Tournament upsets, Joe Harris played college basketball for the Virginia Cavaliers. When he entered the NBA Draft he went 33rd overall to another Cavaliers team, this one in Cleveland.

Harris entered the league with a reputation as a sharpshooter in college, but his shot was shaky to start his NBA career. In 56 games with the Cavs Harris shot just 36.4 percent from deep and 39.5 percent overall from the field, and without stout defensive shops the contending Cavs concluded Harris didn’t have enough to offer to remain on the roster. Harris was dumped on the Orlando Magic ahead of the 2016 NBA Trade Deadline and was promptly waived.

Harris caught on with the Brooklyn Nets and his career took off. That very next season he shot 38.5 percent from 3-point range, then 41.9 percent, and then proceeded to lead the league in 3-point shooting in 2018-19 and 2020-21, hitting 47.5 percent of his 3-pointers (on robust volume) in 2020-21. Harris’ shot came around and he became an absolute sniper.

The defense improved for Harris, as did the rebounding and a little bit of playmaking. That was enough for his red-hot shooting to make him a very valuable NBA role player, and he signed a large contract with the Nets and was a starter on multiple playoff teams. If the Cavs had simply kept Harris around and not given up on him, they could have had a very helpful role player for the end of the LeBron years and then a valuable trade chip during the rebuild.