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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Cleveland Cavaliers
Trey Lyles, Sacramento Kings. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images /

Free Agent Swap No. 3: Trey Lyles for Georges Niang

The Cavaliers knew they wanted to improve their shooting this summer, and once they became confident of adding Max Strus via sign-and-trade, they targeted Georges Niang with their Mid-Level Exception. Niang has hit over 40 percent of his 3-pointers in each of the last four seasons and was one of the very best shooters available in free agency; he also doesn’t bring much else in the way of defense or rebounding.

Niang signed for just over $8 million per season, and another power forward also signed for similar money this summer. The Sacramento Kings brought back Trey Lyles on a two-year, $16 million deal; could the Cavs have stepped in and offered a third year and a little extra cheddar to sign Lyles away from the Kings?

Lyles isn’t the knockdown shooter that Niang is, but he is a solid one, hitting 36.3 percent of his 3-pointers last season. What he also brings is a well-balanced game, with the size to play the 4 or the 5 and the strength to battle inside for rebounds. He can score inside, with good touch in the paint, and would offer the Cavs a lot more versatility than Niang.

The Cavs are leaning into a theory that they can sacrifice defense and add shooting to become a better team; that’s not a crazy theory. If they were after more balance overall, a player like Lyles would be a solid choice to bring defense, rebounding and offense to their frontcourt.