Cavaliers’ signings about making others’ lives ‘easier’ on floor

Georges Niang, Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Georges Niang, Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

For the Cleveland Cavaliers, going into this offseason and this free agency period, it’s been widely known that they needed to add shooting.

Cleveland did not have nearly enough consistency in that area last season outside of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, and that played into Cleveland’s ugly first-round loss to the New York Knicks in five games. The core guys for the Cavaliers did not perform up to standard, but it still has long been evident Cleveland would have to bring in more perimeter shooting this offseason.

To their credit, the Cavs have done that.

Cleveland would bring in two guys that should be impact shooters and floor spacers in Max Strus, via sign-and-trade from the Miami Heat, and Georges Niang. Niang was last with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Strus and Niang hit 197 and 154 three-pointers in the 2022-23 regular season, and they have been able to make their presences felt in recent seasons in the playoffs, also. Strus was way off in the NBA Finals for the Heat, but that was far from the norm for him, to say the least.

For Cleveland, one would expect those two players to be valuable deep ball threats for Garland, Mitchell and others to go to throughout games, and to space the floor in their minutes.

Along those lines, in his media availability on Friday afternoon, prior to the Cavaliers’ first game of the 2023 Las Vegas Summer League last night, Koby Altman touched on how Strus, Niang and recent signing Ty Jerome should ease some pressure on guys like Garland, Mitchell and Evan Mobley. This from Altman came via reporter Evan Dammarell of Right Down Euclid.

The Cavaliers’ signings should alleviate some pressure on Garland, Mitchell and others, theoretically.

Garland and Mitchell did not play up to standard in that Knicks series, and the Cavaliers as a team offense struggled in several of those games against New York, who was the No. 5 seed to Cleveland’s No. 4 seed. Garland and Mitchell themselves needed to play better, also, and Mitchell, especially.

With Mitchell’s ample playoff experience and with what he showed then over his time with the Utah Jazz, one would’ve expected better from him, particularly in the last three games of the series. In those, he shot just 20.8 percent from three, and his scoring then was 20.3 points per contest; he had 15 assists then, but 15 turnovers as well.

As Altman alluded to in his recent media availability, though, Cleveland adding the likes of Strus and Niang should help the likes of Garland and Mitchell in how those players should be impactful shooters off-ball, and floor spacers.

Cleveland will have to figure out the rotational aspect for players’ minutes-shares, but it was imperative for the Wine and Gold to alleviate some pressure on their star backcourt, and these additions should aid in doing so. In the same realm, while it could take some time to find ways to get Jerome minutes consistently, his shooting and combo guard capabilities could result in him proving to be a savvy signing as well.

Of course, Ricky Rubio is still on the roster, and if he can bounce back from a forgettable 2022-23 season and looks to be much more comfortable compared to last year, when he was still working his way into rhythm coming off his ACL injury, then Jerome’s opportunities could be limited. Time will tell there; either way, at this stage, at least having Jerome as a combo guard option is meaningful.

Overall, Cleveland’s signings should, in theory, at minimum, make others’ lives “easier,” to echo Altman’s points.

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For Cleveland’s 14th roster spot to come, it would behoove them to add a rotational forward defensive option that can defend multiple positions, but we’ll see what shakes out there.