Building a successful team in the NBA is not simply about the short-term view. That’s more the job of the coaching staff, to look at the players in front of them and prepare them for the challenges just around the corner.
For the front office, the job requires a longer view, looking ahead for months and years to plan out how to build the best roster. There are certainly moments of reaction and moving quickly, but it would be a failure not to be looking down the road at what’s coming.
We’ll try to do the same thing in evaluating the roster. We know the players who are both under contract and crucial to what the Cavaliers are building, but who are the players on the roster least likely to be around a year from now? Let’s look at three candidates and explain why Cleveland could move on from them in the next 12 months.
The Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Damian Jones this summer, often an indication of a front office’s love for a player, but they did so for (essentially) free, taking his minimum contract onto their books to free up a roster spot for the Utah Jazz. Their commitment to Jones is minimal, and that’s probably for the best.
Jones was brought in to be the backup center, a low-leverage role on most days as Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley fill most of a game’s minutes at center between the two of them. Jones has seen an increased role in the preseason with Allen out with an ankle injury, and things have not gone well. He was truly awful against the Orlando Magic, and he is in very real danger of losing his backup center spot to Tristan Thompson.
There’s probably no urgency to cut Jones before the season, especially with Allen injured and no clear-cut replacement waiting to be signed. Even so, Jones will need to prove himself in a major way to be in the Cavs’ plans for any longer than this year, and he could even be matching salary tossed into a deal at the Trade Deadline. Don’t expect to see Jones around a year from now.