Over the weekend, the Cleveland Cavaliers made their share of moves in the early days of 2023 NBA Free Agency.
To begin, Cleveland re-signed Caris LeVert via two-year, $32 million deal, and shortly thereafter, the Cavaliers signed Georges Niang by way of a three-year, $26 million deal.
As a follow-up, the Cavaliers were particularly on Day Two of the league’s free agency as well. The Wine and Gold would end up swinging a sign-and-trade deal to acquire Max Strus from the Miami Heat, in a deal with the San Antonio Spurs also. The second move of the day led to Cleveland trading for Damian Jones in a deal with the Utah Jazz, and then later on Saturday, the Cavaliers signed Ty Jerome to a two-year, $5 million contract.
It was imperative for Cleveland to add perimeter shooting this offseason, and while there are still some questions, and it will take some time to get the new guys acclimated, Cleveland does appear to be more dynamic offensively. Strus and Niang, in particular, look to be impactful guys for the Cavaliers to have in the fold.
Time will tell about how Cleveland’s new faces to shake out, but at least at the moment, the Wine and Gold should be better-equipped and Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley got more help.
Along those lines, with most of the free agency dust having settled, it’s natural for their to be plenty of reaction from various media outlets. In that realm, Sam Quinn of CBS Sports was really high on what Cleveland did, as the Cavs were one of four NBA clubs that received an “A” free agency grade thus far from him. The other teams that were in the same boat were the Indiana Pacers, Heat and Phoenix Suns.
CBS Sports gave the Cavs free agency moves a glowing endorsement.
Quinn alluded to how both Strus and Niang will “work wonders on an offense that took the seventh-fewest 3-pointers in the NBA last season.”
He did touch on how both are not known for their defense, by comparison, but the shooting versatility and spacing boost Cleveland got with those two should be crucial for the Cavaliers.
As for Quinn’s take on the LeVert re-signing, he was not a staunch supporter of the cap allocation to LeVert at face value. However, the structure, timing in relation to Evan Mobley’s eventual rookie extension and the deal being tradable all led to a win, in Quinn’s eyes.
"“Caris LeVert was overpaid slightly at $16 million per year. It’s hard to justify money beyond the mid-level exception for players who don’t shoot or defend, but on only a two-year deal, he’s extremely tradable and his contract will come off of the books right as Mobley’s rookie extension kicks in. That’s clever asset management for the Cavs in another stellar offseason.”"
LeVert’s deal was maybe a bit of an overpay in fairness, but to his credit, he did get more comfortable as last season progressed, and if he can remain healthy, he should add pop to Cleveland’s bench as he gets further acclimated to move of a sixth man role.
Additionally, whether or not LeVert’s three-point shooting splits do regress, which would seem likely, given his track record prior to last season, with more shooting around him and others, his slashing could be more impactful game-to-game. LeVert’s playmaking and much improved defense last season were keys to the Cavs’ success, too, and Quinn’s lack of acknowledgement of those things were things to keep in mind about the passage above.
For the most part, though, Quinn’s assessment was measured, and that includes the above comments about LeVert’s deal being tradable for the Cavaliers, if his inconsistencies are too detrimental. His take there wasn’t off-base.
Granted, time will tell how these moves do shake out for the Cavs. Cleveland could still use another depth forward signing that can be multi-positional defensively, and would add athleticism for their rotation.
We’ll have to see what transpires for Cleveland’s 14th roster spot, but at least for now, the Cavs offseason moves were about getting more dynamic offensively from a shooting and spacing perspective. And they look to have done so.
It’ll be up to Strus and Niang to knock down their looks and get more comfortable over the course of the regular season, and of course, in the playoffs.