This Cavaliers players’ chances are slim to none after offseason moves

Sam Merrill, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images
Sam Merrill, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images /

In the offseason, the Cleveland Cavaliers made improving their shooting a top priority, and that was evident from the outset in free agency.

Cleveland brought Georges Niang and Max Strus (via sign-and-trade) on board, along with Ty Jerome. Caris LeVert being re-signed could be a positive for Cleveland in that aspect of their play, too, with his feel for generating quality looks for shooters, and if LeVert can have more off-ball success this next season, that’d help as well.

For the most part, Cleveland’s perimeter players would seem to be set, for the most part, as it pertains to going into the 2023-24 campaign.

There’s still some things to be ironed out with lineups, but aside from the star-studded starting backcourt, Strus, LeVert, Isaac Okoro, Jerome, Dean Wade, to some degree, and Niang, somewhat, all should receive opportunities. Two-way wing Emoni Bates could possibly have some early-season time, though that’d probably not be in meaningful minutes.

There could still be some minor tweaks via trade of course, and training camp and preseason action will be aiding the team in their decision-making.

That said, before camp and preseason it seems, a player that’s likely a long shot for opportunities leading into next season is Sam Merrill.

Following their offseason moves, Merrill’s chances seem to be slim to none.

Merrill did not receive many chances last season with the Cavaliers, as he was a late-season 10-day signing, and would appear in five regular season games with Cleveland, most of which were in garbage time. Merrill was signed to a multi-year deal eventually, albeit one that is non-guaranteed from here, following last season. His off-ball shooting is what Cleveland was looking at with that move, clearly.

The majority of Merrill’s minutes with the Cavs came in Cleveland’s last two regular season games, when the Wine and Gold had clinched their playoff positioning. Then, he had six and then 17 points versus the Orlando Magic and then Charlotte Hornets; in both games, he had four rebounds, and shot a combined five-of-15 from three (33.3 percent).

Merrill didn’t necessarily show it in those instances from range, but he demonstrated his shooting capabilities when given the chances last season with the Cleveland Charge, the Cavaliers’ G League affiliate team.

In 22 games with the Charge last year, he had 18.4 points per contest, and shot 44.1 percent from three on 8.9 attempts per game. Merrill was the top pick in the 2022 G League Draft, for reference, and at least theoretically, he could be a shooter the Cavaliers could go to in spurts this coming season. His strong Las Vegas Summer League showing in July on the 2023 Vegas Summer League Champion Cavs was a positive for him, too, it appeared; he was named First-Team All Summer League in Vegas.

However, with Cleveland bringing in Strus, Niang, Jerome and re-signing LeVert, with the others involved in addition to those players, Merrill getting looks would be unrealistic, barring multiple injuries.

Merrill could be a knockdown catch-and-shoot player with some movement shooting abilities for the Cavaliers to have in spurts for their rotation, but the 27-year-old is limited regarding on-ball scoring. Plus, he’s not much of a playmaking presence at the NBA level in that sense, and defensively, has limitations.

All things considered, Merrill seems to have a very low likelihood of getting meaningful minutes with the Cavaliers come early on in the regular season.

A quality training camp and preseason could help him, but Merrill being waived eventually, based on Cleveland’s roster outlook, is something one could foresee occurring. This isn’t to say Merrill can’t play again with the Charge next year in some facet, or could find a role elsewhere in the NBA, however, after their offseason moves, Merrill getting chances with the Cavs might not happen in the regular season.

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Merrill seemed to be a candidate to get some rotational burn prior to free agency, in fairness. Now, though, it’s difficult to anticipate that happening.