After the first few days of free agency, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ rotation has looked stronger. The Cavaliers had the third-worst bench production last season in terms of points per game, and they made efforts to improve that. Cleveland’s bench averaged 28.7 points per game last year, which was only ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors, both teams in the lottery.
The recent signings of Max Strus, Georges Niang, Ty Jerome, and the trade for Damian Jones from the Utah Jazz make for a tremendous offseason already for the Cavaliers. NBA Twitter has raved about the offseason that Koby Altman has pulled off, too.
Former Cavalier center and ESPN NBA analyst Kendrick Perkins had to say this about Cleveland’s offseason so far; this was before the Strus sign-and-trade ultimately was executed, also, to keep in mind.
Many NBA teams got better this offseason, and the Cavaliers didn’t want to fall behind the pack. Koby Altman made terrific moves, and they should make the Cavs a really successful NBA team, in the regular season and the playoffs.
With this successful free agency period for Cleveland, that means that there are quality rotation pieces headed to the Cavaliers. In that case, that will cut some players’ minutes and cut some players out of the rotation.
That’s just the life of the NBA; players get replaced. Life moves on. This situation is no different, and there are players on the Cavs’ roster that have been replaced and might not see a lot of minutes come regular season time. But until the regular season starts, we will not see what the rotation will look like until then.
With that being said, here are three Cavs players who are now expendable following their recent moves.
Expendable Cav No. 1: Ricky Rubio
This one is painful to write. Ricky Rubio has always been a fan favorite, and he’s been instrumental in helping the Cavaliers’ turnaround in recent seasons.
However, even with his popularity, his basketball skills have fallen off a bit. That’s nothing to blame him for. He tore his ACL back in late 2021, and didn’t return to the court until later on last season. He lost a bit of the limited quickness he had left, and was a bit slower on the court. Sure, Rubio has never been the fastest player in the league, but he was a bit slower than usual.
Also, outside of playmaking, Rubio’s never been a good offensive player. He’s a poor finisher around the rim, as he shot 34.3 percent from the field this season, and is a career 38.8 percent shooter from the floor. To add insult to injury, he shot 25.6 percent from distance last season, and is a career 32.4 percent shooter from beyond the three-point arc. Rubio’s always been a solid free throw shooter, but his limited offensive skill set outside of passing is a really big hindrance to himself and the team.
He did average 3.5 assists per game, which is by far a career-low, although because of him playing 17.2 minutes per night, another career-low. His 0.8 steals per night was, you guessed it, another career-low. Statistically speaking, last season was Rubio’s least productive season by far. This isn’t simply to be bashing Rubio, as his veteran leadership has been huge for Cleveland. That aside, being 32 years old and having that poor of a season isn’t promising.
Who could replace Rubio in the rotation? Ty Jerome is the obvious choice. He averaged 6.9 points and 3.0 assists, while also shooting great splits of 48.8/38.9/92.7 last season for Golden State. Another choice could be Sam Merrill. He’s not a great playmaker, but he’s a steady shooter and is still a good player who could provide shooting pop for Cleveland’s bench.