Examining the fit of Josh Richardson with the Cleveland Cavaliers

Josh Richardson, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Josh Richardson, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

This offseason, it’s evident that the Cleveland Cavaliers have to find ways to give their wing and perimeter shooting situation a boost, and generally, their bench offense.

Fittingly, the Cavaliers have long been linked to possible trade targets such as Bojan Bogdanovic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Royce O’Neale, Dorian Finney-Smith and Doug McDermott, among others. In a similar light, Cleveland has been linked to the likes of Max Strus, Joe Ingles and Jalen McDaniels as free agency targets, to name just a few.

The Cavaliers have to give their talented quartet of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen more help, and as we mentioned, the bench offense has to be given a jolt. Whether it’s by way of possible trades, and/or free agency with their roughly $12.4 million Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception, most notably, Cleveland has to bring in more shooting this offseason.

It’s also meaningful for the Cavaliers to add a few veteran players who have had their share of experience, whether that’s been as starters or in meaningful bench roles. With all of those things in mind, it’d be sensible for the Wine and Gold to maybe sign a capable three-and-D player in Josh Richardson, who has seemingly long been a rumored potential target Cleveland could end up signing this offseason. He was previously a player who was linked to Cleveland as a potential trade target as well.

So, how could Richardson fit with the Cavaliers?

Richardson is a player who could fit in seamlessly with the Wine and Gold.

Whether or not Richardson were to start or more realistically, be a key rotational contributor off the bench, he’d bring needed shooting when he’s out there. Despite him bouncing around in recent seasons via trade, aside from his odd stint with the Boston Celtics, he’s found ways to contribute.

Last year with the San Antonio Spurs and then New Orleans Pelicans, the club he acquired near the past deadline, Richardson averaged 10.1 points in 23.5 minutes per contest, mostly as a bench guy. In the past three seasons, he’s posted 10.8 points in 26.0 minutes per game, and he’s made his presence felt as a perimeter shooter that has often given his clubs some meaningful shot creation as well.

Within the Cavaliers’ framework, Richardson fits the mold of a no-maintenance player who’d help Cleveland’s floor spacing, and could play well for stretches off of players such as Garland, Mitchell, Mobley and/or Caris LeVert, if he is back. Richardson isn’t a knockdown guy, per se, but he’s connected on 36.8 percent of his 4.3 triple attempts per game in the past three seasons, and he could provide his share of pop off the bench.

This isn’t to suggest Richardson couldn’t create for his own off the bounce for spurts, too, in instances where either Garland or Mitchell aren’t in, especially. Richardson can create space and his shot release has improved over the years, so that, combined with a solid handle could make a difference for Cleveland.

For the most part, however, at face value, Richardson is a more than respectable catch-and-shoot player who could feasibly be an impactful bargain signing on the wing, perhaps by way of the Cavaliers’ Bi-Annual Exception worth roughly $4.5 million. Maybe some of Cleveland’s MLE, with either being two-year deals could be in the realm for him, also, for what it’s worth.

Along with the potential shooting lift, the 6-foot-6 Richardson in this situation should be pretty reliable on defense. He’s capable there laterally on the perimeter, and with his 6-foot-10 wingspan and active hands in passing lanes when he’s locked in, he can be an impactful player on that end, particularly with others such as Mobley, Allen and/or LeVert on the floor with him.

All things considered, Richardson would be a nice free agency pickup for the Cavaliers this offseason, and could give their bench a much needed lift on offense. He’ll be in his age-30 season in 2023-24, and there are younger options, but Richardson could fill a role well with Cleveland, and playing off their stars, he could still fit right in in no-time if given the chances.

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Although he did make $12.2 million this past season, at this stage, Richardson could seemingly be signed for less, and from here, he might be a veteran who is looking to head to a team on the rise and/or on the verge of contention, like the Cavs.