When he was dealt as part of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ sign-and-trade for Max Strus, Lamar Stevens was probably not considered a substantial loss to many. Stevens was not a player that was going to be putting up gaudy numbers offensively in his minutes, and he was not a notable playmaking option.
Stevens had stretches in recent seasons where he was in and out of the Cleveland rotation, and as we hinted at, offensively, there were concerns with him. He’s not what one deem a horizontal floor spacer, and has a ways to go to be a player defenses will guard tightly from three-point range.
As a result, he was not involved in some games, and whether or not he should’ve been in more, the Cavaliers didn’t play him much in last years’ playoffs versus the New York Knicks.
Now, regarding Stevens, he is a player that is a free agent, and could seemingly be on a new team soon. Stevens was waived shortly after he was acquired by the San Antonio Spurs as part of that three-team deal involving Strus, who was previously on the Miami Heat.
In Stevens’ case, though, there are multiple clubs who are reportedly interested in bringing him in, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Those teams are said to include contenders such as the Boston Celtics and arguably Miami Heat, to go with the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Stevens had 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest last season in 62 games, so not ground-breaking traditional splits. He did demonstrate some growth on catch-and-shoots, but shot 31.6 percent from three.
He’s again not going to be counted on to produce in bunches offensively, however, Stevens did give the Cavaliers energy in his minutes, and defensively and as a hustle player, he can clearly make a difference.
Stevens held up defensively and produced for stretches against a number of opposing wings and forwards, and realistically, he was one of Cleveland’s top big wing defensive options for the past two seasons. Even with the offensive question marks, and there being some lineup limitations in certain matchups involving him, Stevens’ play on that end of the floor led to him finding his way on the floor.
Stevens’ sturdy 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame led to him often being a viable player to utilize for stretches against top forward options, which is something the Cavs will have to iron out, to some degree. For those aforementioned clubs that are rumored to have interest in him, he could feasibly fit with them in that role still, and Stevens’ rebounding efforts, improved cutting and transition play can aid those teams.
Over his time with the Cavs, Stevens had 6.4 rebounds per-36 minutes, which was more than respectable, with some minutes inconsistency. His proficiency on the glass, and impressive timing and willingness to do the dirty work would fit well on teams like the Heat and Celtics.
Stevens was not a player who was necessarily a huge contributor for Cleveland, but with him as an originally undrafted, two-way signing, he was a success story for the Cavaliers. The 26-year-old eventually carved out a role with the Cavs thanks to his toughness and willingness to make non-glamorous plays to impact ball games, and his finishing was good on the interior. Some of that involved the short pull-up game, too.
In addition, within the team dynamic, Stevens established himself as one of the Cavaliers’ locker room leaders in recent seasons, and he was a crucial culture piece. Furthermore, as KJG’s Ismail Sy emphasized, Stevens was the driving force behind the Cavs’ Junkyard Dog Chain, given to players following wins.
Wherever he ends up, Stevens will find a way to make his presence felt when the opportunities present themselves.
Lamar will be missed, and for good reason. The guy is so easy to root for.