Cavaliers: Grading 5 free agent wings from ‘no way’ to ‘yes please’

Kelly Oubre Jr., Charlotte Hornets. Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images
Kelly Oubre Jr., Charlotte Hornets. Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images /
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Rumors are swirling around the Cleveland Cavaliers like mosquitos around my legs anytime I go outside in the summer. For a team that is almost certainly looking to upgrade on the wing this offseason, they have been connected to all sorts of potential options. Which ones actually make sense for the team?

Specifically in free agency, the Cavs will be shopping with their Full Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (MLE), which will start around $12.2 million. That means there are certainly some pipe dream free agents out there that the Cavs can’t afford; players such as Kyle Kuzma, Khris Middleton and Gary Trent Jr., and likely Harrison Barnes too.

That leaves quite a few players, so let’s try to rank them. Which wings (defined as players who can reasonably play small forward, rather than those locked into the 2 or smaller or the 4 or larger) should the Cavs look to sign, and which should they stay away from?

Kelly Oubre Jr. – No way!

Kelly Oubre Jr. had a breakout season in 2019-20, averaging 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Phoenix Suns. That Suns team was bad, but went 8-0 in the NBA Bubble at the end of the year – but all without Kelly Oubre, who didn’t appear in any game in the Bubble. The next season he joined the Golden State Warriors and was a clog in their free-flowing offense, displaying a complete lack of instincts on where to be and what to do in their motion offense.

Then he signed with the Charlotte Hornets and is coming off of a career year scoring the basketball, averaging 20.3 points per game. The catch? He did so because of a massive boost in volume on a team missing LaMelo Ball for most of the season and Miles Bridges for all of it. He shot just 31.9 from deep and 43.1 from the field overall, with more turnovers than assists.

Oubre is talented and athletic, and he can score if you give him enough chances. What he doesn’t do is help a team win, at least not at a high level. He is a shaky shooter despite his willingness to chuck up shots, he is an inconsistent defender, and he has very poor basketball instincts.

Oubre is likely looking for a bigger payday than the MLE anyway, but if he is available, the Cavs should say “No way!” and look elsewhere.