This potential Cavs target could be sneaky good defensive signing

Javonte Green, Chicago Bulls. (Photo by Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports)
Javonte Green, Chicago Bulls. (Photo by Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports) /

By the looks of it, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ roster is nearly set it appears. Cleveland has two roster spots left, and will likely enter next regular season with 14 rostered players.

Cleveland made their share of offseason moves already, in bringing back Caris LeVert, signing Georges Niang, and then acquiring Max Strus by way of sign-and-trade. Following those moves, the Cavaliers would bring in Damian Jones via trade and then sign Ty Jerome. Shortly thereafter, Cleveland signed the likes of Isaiah Mobley, 2023 second-round pick Emoni Bates and undrafted prospect Craig Porter Jr. to two-way deals.

So realistically, things look to be set, for the most part, for the Cavaliers, in relation to the roster going into next season. Some stuff could feasibly change along the margins, but it likely won’t be too splashy if that were to play out.

As we touched on previously, though, the Cavs will have at least one move to come prior to the start of the 2023-24 campaign.

Maybe Cleveland could make a deal at some point to bring in more forward depth, or swing a trade to acquire meaningful forward depth, but in this case, a team-friendly signing would seem to play out eventually.

Along those lines, Chris Fedor of (subscription required) recently suggested some options to keep an eye on that the Cavaliers could target, likely via one-year, prove-it deals. Several of those options such as Kelly Oubre Jr., Christian Wood and if healthy, T.J. Warren, could far outplay what they’d be signed for in that situation. Having said that, Cleveland wouldn’t be in the wrong to target those sort of players at this stage, or perhaps the Cavaliers could convert Isaiah Mobley’s two-way contract to a standard one.

That being said, while he’d not have the cachet of those types of targets, one name to watch in Fedor’s report did jump out, for his defense, in Javonte Green.

Green could be a sneaky good defensive signing by the Cavs.

Green’s splits offensively are not going to be notable ones, especially compared to some others, such as Oubre, Wood and Warren (when healthy). In the past two seasons, Green had 5.2 and 7.2 points in averages of 15.0 and 23.4 minutes per outing with the Chicago Bulls.

He has made strides as a perimeter shooter, but the volume is definitely not going to be high from deep, with a volume of 1.1 and 1.6 three-point attempts the past two seasons. He canned 37.1 and 35.6 percent of those, which was decent, though, and Green is a great finisher at the rim as a cutter and transition player. His vertical athleticism and quickness really shows there.

Granted, last season, Green was unfortunately hampered by a knee injury that limited his chances to only 32 games with the Bulls, which could have factored into why he’s not been signed yet.

But, as we were hinting at earlier, Green’s defense could lead to him being an underrated signing for Cleveland via the veteran’s minimum at this stage.

Provided Green is healthy, he’d be an impact defensive piece for the Cavaliers to utilize for stretches, and he could feasibly take on Lamar Stevens’ former defensive/energy role from recent prior seasons.

The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Green does not have the size of the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Stevens, however, Green moves better laterally, he shuts off driving lanes so well with his positioning, and his hands make a huge difference as a defensive playmaker.

Green’s ball pressure and ability to sit and slide without conceding angles can be hellish for opponents to handle, and paired with that, he again wreaks havoc for set offenses with his impact plays.

It was in only 32 games last season, but Green had 1.8 steals per-36 minutes last season, which was identical to his career rate, and for his career, he’s had a steal rate of 2.4 percent.

Even with Green’s opportunities with the Boston Celtics being spotty in his first few seasons, when he’s had consistent rotational chances, Green’s proven to be a heck of a defender. And despite not being a huge defensive wing, his quick hands make up for that, and he plays with a strong base when needed against bigger wings and forwards. Plus, him having a 6-foot-10 wingspan and outstanding team feel would enable him to play in multiple lineups with Cleveland.

While he’s not a shooting presence from the perimeter that’s going to command tons of attention from opponents, Green has shown improvement on that end in recent years, and with his defensive abilities, he could end up being a steal. Also, despite him not being a high usage player, Green’s impressive off-ball play, hustle and athleticism on putbacks has resulted in him placing in the 98th and 97th percentiles the past two seasons with Chicago in total points scored per 100 shot attempts, per Cleaning The Glass.

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For a potential team-friendly addition to round out Cleveland’s rotation, Green could be quite a solid add, and the 30-year-old wing is the type of hustle and high IQ contributor that should mesh well with the Cavs’ stars.