Swapping Cavaliers signings for better free agents at same money

Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic. Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images
Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic. Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images /
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have been busy in free agency, aggressively attacking a weakness in their roster by adding shooting at all positions. They got both younger and more offensively dynamic in replacing players such as Robin Lopez and Raul Neto with players on the other side of the aging curve.

Does that mean they nailed every signing? Probably not, as each player added brought both shooting and weaknesses. Looking around at the free agent market, there were other moves available to them that would have improved their shooting and potentially provided a more balanced roster overall.

Let’s go through each of the Cavaliers’ four additions this summer and ask the question: who could they have added instead at that salary slot? Let’s swap out each player for a different one and see what we come out with at the end.

Free Agent Swap No. 1: Mo Bamba for Damian Jones

The most surprising move of the summer for the Cavaliers was trading for Utah Jazz reserve center Damian Jones. The idea was to get younger at backup center with a player who can both defend and potentially space the floor. The issue with Jones is that he doesn’t do either at a particularly high level, and it’s unlikely the Cavs will ever trust Jones for meaningful minutes.

Mo Bamba was waived by the Los Angeles Lakers as they elected to shift their money elsewhere,  ultimately signing with the Philadelphia 76ers. Bamba has struggled to deliver on the potential he showed when he was drafted No. 6 overall by the Orlando Magic in 2018, but he is a player that brings more to the table than Jones.

Bamba is seven feet tall with an extremely long wingspan, and he brings a tantalizing combination of shooting and shot-blocking. For his career, Bamba has averaged 5.1 3-point attempts and 2.7 blocks per 36 minutes. He signed a minimum contract to fight at backup center in Philly, so it’s very likely he would have taken the minimum to be the clear backup in Cleveland.