3 Cavs players who won’t be on the team by next season

Damian Jones, Cleveland Cavaliers and Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Damian Jones, Cleveland Cavaliers and Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Sam Merrill, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images /

No. 2: Sam Merrill

The Cleveland Cavaliers recognized that they needed to add shooting to the roster, and they took a step in that direction late in the year last season, signing Danny Green and elevating Sam Merrill to a full roster contract. Since that happened Merrill has done nothing but fill his role, hit shots and stretch defenses. He was one of the best players in all of Las Vegas Summer League and continues to bomb away in the preseason.

The problem for Merrill is that the Cavaliers continued working on their need for shooting all summer. They drafted Emoni Bates and signed Max Strus, Georges Niang and Ty Jerome. That doesn’t make Merrill’s shooting entirely duplicitous, as stacking shooting on shooting is only a good thing, but if players like Strus and Jerome are in the rotation there isn’t a need for Merrill to be.

On top of that, Bates is surely being groomed to be the next Cleveland sniper. While there are real concerns about his athleticism and defense, Bates’ shot has been sublime in both Summer League and the preseason and his height makes it easier for him to get his shot off than Merrill. It wouldn’t be a surprise for Bates to overtake Merrill in the pecking order as early as the start of the season.

With Merrill on a non-guaranteed contract it would not be a surprise for the Cavaliers to cut him loose in the next couple of weeks if a better player becomes available to sign. More likely they keep him for part of the season and either waive or trade him later in the year to clear roster spots for a trade or to elevate a player like Bates off of a two-way contract.

Merrill can really shoot and help a team, but the Cavs have the better version in Max Strus and an intriguing replacement in Emoni Bates. Tough luck for Merrill.