With NBA Free Agency getting underway on Friday evening, there’s been plenty of Cleveland Cavaliers action already.
The Cavaliers and Caris LeVert/his representation reportedly agreed to terms on a two-year, $32 million deal, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. In doing so, Cleveland seems to be bullish on LeVert’s two-way play in coming years. He made a difference for the Cavaliers in that aspect as last season wore on, and he looked to have found his way as last season progressed.
Moving on from the LeVert re-signing, it was recently reported that the Cavaliers and Georges Niang/his representation agreed to terms on a three-year, $26 million deal. That was reported by Wojnarowski, and Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reported how Niang’s deal will be fully guaranteed. One would assume Niang will be compensated via some of Cleveland’s $12.4 million Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception.
Niang has long been a rumored possible target for the Cavaliers come free agency, and in recent seasons, he’s made his presence felt for the Philadelphia 76ers bench efforts. As a stretch forward, his catch-and-shoot play gave Philadelphia a quality shooter to have in rotational minutes.
In the past two seasons, Niang connected on 40.1 and 40.3 percent of his three-point shot attempts, which amounted to 4.9 and 5.1 deep tries per contest in the regular season. His overall splits were 8.2 points and 9.2 points in 19.4 and 22.8 minutes per game in that time, which, in playing off of Joel Embiid, James Harden and others, was not too shabby as an off-ball contributor.
Niang’s shooting and playoff experience are two crucial things that jump out as it pertains to this Cavs signing.
Most notably, Niang is a player who should give the Cavaliers a shooting lift in minutes off the bench as a spacer there.
Cleveland will have to find ways to get minutes for him as a stretch big, feasibly at the 4, but with his shooting capabilities, and sound off-ball play, he’s too valuable for them to not have out there for multiple stretches regularly. The 6-foot-7 Niang is a player who has been capable of playing both forward spots, too, albeit more at the 4.
To drive it home, though, dating back to his days alongside Cavs star guard Donovan Mitchell with the Utah Jazz, Niang has proven to be a shooter opponents cannot leave open for ball-swing threes.
He knocked in 42.5 and 40.0 percent of his three-point attempts in his last two seasons with Utah, and over the past four seasons, essentially when he’s been regularly involved in rotations, he’s cashed in on 40.7 percent of his 4.4 deep attempts per outing. In what’s been 18.2 minutes per game of action, Niang has been a very effective catch-and-shoot target for Philly and Utah, and for now a Kevin Love-less Cavs team that is mostly devoid of stretch bigs, Niang should easily find minutes.
Additionally, as we also hinted at a bit, the 30-year-old Niang’s playoff experience was something that should resonate to fans and has to have with the team.
It’s not as if he’s been a key offensive engine or anything in his playoff minutes, but Niang having 46 games of postseason experience with the Jazz and Sixers over the course of his seven NBA seasons, including each of the last five, should help Cleveland, too. As the aforementioned Fedor stated in his further write-up of the Niang deal, Niang has had more playoff experience than any player on the Cavs, including Mitchell, his longtime Jazz teammate.
It should be fun to watch Niang in coming seasons light it up from deep, and with his shooting abilities, along with him being active on the glass, he’s a player Cleveland could get create with throughout games as far as lineup construction. It should be great to see Mitchell and Niang reunited as teammates, too, and one would assume their connection should be on-point once again.
Looking onward, it also seems as if the Cavaliers aren’t done in free agency/the potential trade market, either. It seems reportedly likely that Cleveland will end up landing Max Strus via sign-and-trade from the Miami Heat, eventually at least, and one could foresee Cleveland feasibly signing a backup 5 to bolster their rim protection/rotational outlook.