Best move the Cavaliers made: Signing Max Strus
Armed with only the Full Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception heading into the summer, which started at $12.4 million, it was assumed the Cavaliers had one major swing to make. Instead, they made multiple moves, because they structured their biggest signing into a sign-and-trade that took advantage of the new salary-matching rules in the CBA.
They sent out Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens and a second-round pick to bring back Max Strus, signing him to a four-year, $63 million contract in the process. The contract is far from a no-brainer slam dunk, as Strus is undersized (6’5″) to play small forward, has been a streaky shooter, and isn’t a particularly good defender. Why, therefore, was this their best move?
It goes down to the opportunities before the Cavs. True 3-and-D wings were not available on the open market, even less so once Harrison Barnes re-signed with the Sacramento Kings ahead of free agency. Miles Bridges took the qualifying offer when he couldn’t get a deal at $20 million or above, and obviously came with concerns of his own. Bruce Brown is even shorter than Strus (although with a 6’9″ wingspan) and signed for $22.5 million per year. The player who was a “better fit” than Strus wasn’t necessarily out there.
Given that reality, beating the rest of the market to add Strus looks much better. His movement shooting has a level of gravity no player outside of the stars had on the Cavs last season, and he has proven himself not to be afraid of the bright lights of the playoffs. He’ll be a great teammate, an adult in the room, and even if the shot doesn’t go in at 40 percent he will help the spacing an incredible amount.