Return or Burn: How should the Cavaliers handle each free agent?

Robin Lopez and Caris LeVert, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Robin Lopez and Caris LeVert, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Robin Lopez, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images /

Free Agent No. 4: Raul Neto

The Cleveland Cavaliers signed Raul Neto last summer to serve as the backup to Darius Garland while Ricky Rubio was rehabbing from his ACL injury, and then at some point in the season slide back to the third point guard role. That’s essentially what Neto did, and he had a solid season filling the role asked of him.

With Garland and Donovan Mitchell playing nearly all of the available point guard minutes, and Rubio presumably fully healthy and ready for a larger role next season, retaining Neto seems like a luxury the Cavs don’t need, and a bench placement Neto might not want. The Cavaliers would be better off using his roster spot on a young developmental guard.

Verdict: Burn

Free Agent No. 3: Robin Lopez

While Neto served fine when called upon as the emergency point guard, Robin Lopez was less reliable as the emergency third center. Occasionally pressed into service with the absence of Jarrett Allen or Evan Mobley in the rotation, Lopez was too ground-bound on defense to properly defend the rim or guard in space.

He still has some tricks on offense, and his rebounding was solid, but the Cavs probably need to find a defensive facsimile to fill in for Allen when he misses time, a stretch big, or both. Lopez doesn’t check either box, although his demeanor seemed to be a boon for the team.

One tiny wrinkle: if the Cavs end up trading Jarrett Allen, they could be a landing spot for Brook Lopez in free agency…and then keeping Robin could help entice Brook to sign in Cleveland.

Verdict: Burn (probably)