NBA Training Camps have kicked off, and every team has played at least one preseason game (the Los Angeles Lakers have logged four already!). The Cleveland Cavaliers are no exception, working to install a new offensive scheme and integrate offseason additions.
Some NBA teams, like the Cavs, are holding an open audition in camp for their final roster spot. The Cavaliers could actually have as many as three spots easily opened up, as they have just 12 players on guaranteed contracts along with Sam Merrill and Tristan Thompson. Assuming they keep Merrill and Thompson, however, that leaves one last spot to fill.
The Cavs could elect to keep that spot open heading into the season for salary reasons, or they could sign one of the players in camp fighting for that spot; Sharife Cooper could provide point guard depth, or Zhaire Smith could continue his comeback attempt. They could also elect to promote one of their two-way contracts and then backfill into the two-way spot.
The more mysterious option, however, is to watch which players are cut around the league and look to claim or sign one of them. Many teams are in the opposite position of the Cavs, heading into camp with 16 or more guaranteed deals and needing to trim down to 15 by the start of the season.
It’s not immediately clear which players will be cut loose, but analyzing each team’s roster for candidates yields at least three role players the Cavs could sign to bolster their depth. Let’s look at three candidates that the Cavaliers should have on their radar over the next two weeks.
The San Antonio Spurs have already been hard at work trimming down their roster, cutting Lamar Stevens, Cameron Payne and Reggie Bullock over the course of the offseason. They still have a little bit of work to do with 16 contracts on the books at the moment. It’s not immediately obvious who will be the odd man out.
Sandro Mamukelashvili is the least accomplished of the options, but the Spurs seem to like his stretch-5 game and it wouldn’t be a surprise for them to keep him around. If that’s the case then Khem Birch looks like a prime candidate to be waived. The 6’9″ center is entering his seventh season in the NBA and is not far removed from being a solid backup 5 for the Toronto Raptors.
With Damian Jones looking shaky thus far in the preseason and Jarrett Allen nursing a bone bruise in his ankle, adding another veteran center is not out of the question for the Cavaliers. Birch is 31 years old and should have another couple of years in the tank, and he could be a solid get for the minimum.