The Cleveland Cavaliers largely added to their roster this summer. They didn’t see key players walk in free agency, or have to break up their core in order to pursue an upgrade on the trade market. They retained each of their top-7 scorers from last year’s team, then added multiple rotation players to that group.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t any losses, however. The Cavaliers did say goodbye to their longest-tenured player this summer. In pulling off the sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat that brought starting wing Max Strus to The Land, they had to send out two players, including Cedi Osman.
Osman had been with Cleveland for his entire career, debuting as a rookie on the last LeBron James team in 2017-18 and becoming a starter by the very next season. He played 404 regular season games and 19 postseason games for the franchise; those 404 games rank 19th all-time in franchise history.
The Turkish forward was never a star and only briefly even a starter, but he was around for the entire rebuild, one of the only steady pieces who was. With Osman gone, it’s fifth-year, 23-year-old point guard Darius Garland who is the longest-tenured player on the team.
This understated but real connection to the franchise was why it was hard for many fans to see him go, and why his ultimate fate was of real concern. Would he be traded, waived and forced to take his career overseas? Would he be kept around as a walking salary ballast?
The Cavaliers bid goodbye to a few other players this summer, too, all of whom found their way to Eastern Conference contenders. Robin Lopez is back in Milwaukee backing up his twin brother, Brook. Danny Green is on the Philadelphia 76ers. Lamar Stevens signed with the Boston Celtics. Each of them has a chance to play minutes in the postseason this year, but each is also not vital to their team’s play this season.
For Osman, he landed on a team in San Antonio that won’t be competing for titles anytime soon. He’s hundreds of miles away from Cleveland, the only NBA home he has ever known. Yet what Osman has found is a team that not only wants him around but wants him playing a key role.
Robin Lopez has played six minutes total this season. Stevens is yet to make it onto the court. Green totaled 18 minutes in two games.
Osman has been a key rotation player for the Spurs, often entering games as the first player off of the bench. And those haven’t been token minutes, either; he has played well! Osman is 14-for-24 from the field, including 8-for-16 from deep (50 percent), excellent percentages. He is averaging 20.7 minutes per game, a hair north of what he averaged last season for the Cavs, but his 12.7 points per game would be nearly a career-high, and his 76.4 percent true-shooting would be by far the highest of his career.
It’s probably not surprising that he is thriving in San Antonio, a team that has maximized its international talent for decades. He is also playing for a team with less shot creation than with the Cavs, giving him more space to push the ball himself in transition or to attack closeouts and drive into the paint. So far it’s working for him.
It doesn’t hurt that he gets to enjoy an off-day in Los Angeles, either:
It would have been fine if Osman was cooling his jets on the bench of another contender, or even if he had decided to go back to Europe where he began his career. Yet there is something joyful about seeing a former Cavalier player thrive in a new setting. Cleveland wasn’t wrong to move him in the Strus deal, but Osman is certainly showing he still has something left to offer.
Good for you, Cedi.