Over the offseason, the Cleveland Cavaliers made shooting their top priority, and depth was brought in along the way.
For the Cavaliers, the most noteworthy move of the offseason pertained to that shooting element, as Cleveland signed Georges Niang by way of a three-year, $25.5 million contract and Max Strus via sign-and-trade from the Miami Heat for four years, and $62.3 million.
It was not a shock that Cleveland brought in those players over the summer, considering they had long been linked to both players. Niang made his presence felt as a shooter in bench minutes in recent prior seasons, and Strus was a movement shooter that could add another dimension to Cleveland's offense. Plus, he had two deep playoff runs with Miami in the two prior seasons before 2023-24.
When it comes to both contributors, it is fair to say Niang has not gotten off to the greatest of starts with Cleveland. He has connected on 33.3 percent of his three-point attempts, and over the last 13 games, has shot 30.8 percent from three. That said, he has been adjusting to a new situation, has helped Cleveland's ball and man movement, has brought toughness and gets going more from deep
as Cleveland has more playmakers healthier.
Strus, though, has aided in Cleveland's efforts, for the most part, continually on both ends of the floor.
With an increased role, Strus has started with career-bests in points (14.1), rebounds (5.1) and assists per contest (3.9), and his constant movement, underrated playmaking and winning plays have often made things easier for his teammates.
To some, though, it appears the Strus move could be one the Cavaliers could come to regret. Matt Sidney of Sir Charles In Charge seems to feel that way, as in a recent piece predicated on one offseason move each NBA team is already beginning to regret. He mentioned Strus' deal based on the wing's three-point clip as of this past weekend.
"Strus was coming off a good 2023 playoffs and the Cavs bit. If you are going to get paid to be a 3-point shooter, you better make your 3s. Currently, Strus is hitting just over 34 percent from 3, on over eight attempts per game. While this might be a bit nit-picky, this could easily fall into the regrettable category pretty quickly."- Matt Sidney, Sir Charles In Charge
To state that the Strus contract is one the Cavaliers could be starting to "regret" is a stretch based on Strus' impact on multiple fronts for them.
Strus has had some ups and downs as a perimeter shooter, and leading into Cleveland's blowout win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, Strus' three-point shooting clip dipped below 34 percent on the season. Granted, Strus would then have a get-right six-of-eight game from three versus one of the league's worst teams in the Wiz, which helped his outlook in that area.
Despite there being some fluctuations from three, Strus' off-ball activity, shooting reputation and contributions in other areas have made his acquisition prove to be a great one by Cleveland, though.
In a season where the Cavs have had their inconsistencies and a plethora of injuries to various players, Strus has been one of the constants for Cleveland.
As previously expressed, Strus' shooting and off-ball gravity have helped open up driving and slashing looks for guys such as Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert. Strus has exceeded expectations as a passer/secondary playmaker and transition player.
In addition, what he has given Cleveland defensively as a wing defensive option can't be understated, and his rebounding capabilities, vertical pop and cutting impact all have led to the Cavaliers as a whole benefiting when he's been in games. That should lead to optimism about what's to come down the road, and hopefully in a potential deep playoff run.
In terms of the overall effect he's had on the Cavs, it has been pretty impressive. The Cavaliers have been outscoring opponents by 15.3 points per 100 possessions in Strus' minutes, which has placed in the 97th percentile among players in that swing metric, per Cleaning The Glass (subscription required).
Sure, ideally, one would want to see Strus be more automatic from deep this season. That aside, and independent of the injury bug for Cleveland, to suggest that the Cavaliers could end up quickly regretting that Strus deal is a stretch.
The Niang signing, by comparison, could be a regrettable one in time, and it's been unfortunate that fellow offseason signing Ty Jerome has barely played due to an ankle injury.