3 Cavaliers players who might hardly see court time next season

Ricky Rubio, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Ricky Rubio, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) /
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It was encouraging to see the Cleveland Cavaliers make strides to improve their perimeter shooting this offseason.

Cleveland added the likes of Georges Niang and Max Strus (via sign-and-trade) in free agency, both of whom should give the Cavaliers plenty of shooting pop. The Cavaliers needed to have more viable deep shooters to open up some room for Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, and both Niang and Strus should provide that in their time on the floor.

So, clearly, Strus and Niang should be regulars in Cleveland’s rotation, for what they both can provide on the offensive end. Additionally, the Cavs re-signed Caris LeVert, who will have a key bench role.

That does lead to wonder, though. Conversely, who are at least a few players who might have a really tough time getting meaningful minutes for Cleveland, then?

Here, we’ll touch on three Cavs players who might hardly see court time in 2023-24.

Let’s begin with a late-season add from last year.

Sam Merrill is hard-pressed for regular minutes

Sam Merrill was originally a 10-day signing last season by the Cavaliers who was eventually given a standard contract.

He would appear in five regular season games for Cleveland, in which he averaged 5.0 points per outing. In those appearances, he played an average of 11.8 minutes, with his two noteworthy performances coming in the Cavs’ last two regular season games after they had the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference locked up.

Merrill has not had much of a shot in his time in the NBA yet, in which he’s played with the Memphis Grizzlies in his second season, too, and in his rookie year, was with the eventual NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks. Going into his fourth NBA season, he is currently on the Cavaliers roster, but his deal from here is non-guaranteed, so he might not be around following training camp.

Now, Merrill is a player who has shown he can potentially be a knockdown shooter in his minutes, albeit on a low volume. He’s demonstrated some of that in opportunities in Las Vegas Summer League to this point, and in some time with the Bucks as a rookie, that was on display from him.

In theory, Merrill could prove to be a viable catch-and-shoot player for the Cavaliers next season in rotational minutes. He knocked in 44.1 percent of his three-point shot attempts in the G League last season with the Cavaliers affiliate, the Cleveland Charge, and that was on 8.9 attempts per contest.

The problem is there’s a litony of others that will factor in on the perimeter within the Cavaliers rotation, and defensively, it’s difficult to project the types of players Merrill can guard. With those things in mind, Merrill not being much of a playmaking presence, him being 6-foot-4, and not being able to play meaningful minutes at the 3, realistically, he would still appear to be a long shot for Cavs minutes.