4 radioactive free agents the Cavaliers could sign at a discount

Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets. Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images
Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets. Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images /
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The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t have max cap space this summer. They don’t have a stack of first-round picks to trade. They don’t have young players to pass out in a deal that are both valuable to other teams and not vital to the Cavs’ rotation. In other words, they can’t go big-game hunting unless they get really creative.

One way to try to upgrade the team with such limited assets is to try to “buy low” on players who have tarnished their own value. Some teams will choose to avoid the PR nightmare or fan backlash it would be to sign these players, for a variety of reasons. Could the Cavs strike gold by buying low on these radioactive free agents? Let’s take a look.

Radioactive Free Agent No. 4: Meyers Leonard, Milwaukee Bucks

Meyers Leonard was never the high-end starter that his draft position suggested, going No. 11 in the 2012 NBA Draft and carving out a niche as a bench big with the Portland Trail Blazers, spacing the floor with his 3-point shot but never bringing enough defensively to make the starting lineup. That changed with the Miami Heat in 2019-20, when he started 49 games and was on the team that made the NBA Finals in the Bubble.

Then Leonard began battling injuries, and while he was sidelined he used an anti-Semitic slur on a Twitch video game live stream. What that sparked for Leonard was a two-year process of stepping away from the league and spending time educating himself, getting to know Jewish leaders and apologizing for his words and actions.

Whether or not you believe him, he seems sincere and has taken the steps you would reasonably expect someone to take in that situation (contrast Leonard’s path with that of Kyrie Irving and you see what on-court talent and star power can bring you). The Cavs need a stretch big, and Leonard would be an interesting flier on the minimum to see if he can fill a small but valuable role for the team.