The top need for the Cleveland Cavaliers this free agency period and this offseason is perimeter shooting. Everybody knows that, and it’s not surprising that the Cavaliers have been linked to numerous targets, either by way of trade or free agency.
Names such as Tim Hardaway Jr., Doug McDermott, Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale are trade targets to watch it seems for the Cavaliers, and regarding free agency, Max Strus, Grant Williams, and Jalen McDaniels, among others, have been mentioned.
It’s crucial for the Cavaliers to add a few meaningful veterans this offseason, and obviously, the Wine and Gold helping their wing/small forward outlook would go a long way. Bringing in a stretch 4 presence could make a difference, too. Overall, the Cavs have to give their key offensive threats more space to operate and the bench has to have more pop offensively.
So, piggybacking off those points, we’ll examine three floor spacers that’d be impact shooters the Cavaliers should consider pursuing in free agency.
First up is a wing who has benefited from more recent opportunities.
Yuta Watanabe, Brooklyn Nets
Yuta Watanabe has been a possible free agency target who has been linked to the Cavaliers as well, for good reason.
Watanabe is probably not the surefire starter of his recent Brooklyn Nets teammate in Dorian Finney-Smith, a potential Cleveland trade target, but Watanabe has improved drastically into being an impact shooter in recent seasons.
Now, Watanabe’s splits haven’t been gaudy in a general sense in that time, as he had 5.6 points per outing in 2022-23 with Brooklyn and over two years with the Toronto Raptors prior to that, had 4.3 and 4.4 points per game. It took time for Watanabe to consistently get minutes with Toronto, though, and with them, he had 13.3 minutes of run on average, and in 58 appearances with Brooklyn during this now-past season, played 16.0 minutes per outing.
As we mentioned, Watanabe has sharpened up his catch-and-shoot play in his minutes, however, and for Cleveland, that’s the key here with his possible signing.
With Toronto, while it was somewhat limited action and the volume was 1.9 attempts over the two years, he did connect on 37.3 percent of those deep looks, and with Brooklyn, he shot 44.4 percent from downtown.
It was on 2.3 attempts per game as an off-ball shooter, but with Watanabe’s strides made with his shooting form, transition shooting capabilities and with his improved cutting feel over the years, he could definitely be a quality value forward signing. The 6-foot-8 Watanabe, who turns 29 in October, could feasibly be acquired by way of Cleveland’s Bi-Annual Exception for roughly $4.5 million for 2023-24.