Ah…the off-season. A magical time where NBA fans, players and even GM’s can dream the biggest of dreams and hope beyond hope for the promised land. For some franchises, free agents signings are a common occurrence. Teams like the Lakers, Knicks, Celtics and Warriors have all seen big name free agents walk through their doors. But it can’t always be like this, and for some less glamorous NBA cities and franchise they have to dream a little bit smaller.
One such franchise is my very own Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs have entered into the dreaded post Lebron era, marked by their embrace of the youth movement led by Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman and the upcoming fifth pick in the NBA draft. Though despite their youth and lack of success last year, Cleveland is in a purgatory of sorts with the bloated contracts of veterans like Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, Matthew Delavedova and to a lesser extent Kevin Love. As such their spending power is limited. The name of the game for Cleveland is acquiring veteran assets to then flip down the road, or low risk high reward young players searching for a home in the NBA.
The priority for the Cavs at this point is retaining their young talent. Deng Adel and Jaron Blossomgame both showed increasingly consistent flashes throughout this season and should be high priorities for Koby Altman. Nik Stauskas and Marquese Chriss are both players who the Cavs would like to retain, although their asking price may not be equal to their production. Asset accumulation is the name of the game.
The biggest weaknesses for the Cavs are undoubtedly the Centre and Shooting Guard positions. It’s here that I’d love to see the organization rally around their youth movement and build this team around Collin Sexton. Ideally the Cavs should look to target young athletes and shooters to get out and run with their soon to be 2nd year PG. This could mean dipping into the RFA market or taking a flier on some out of favour rotation pieces.
As such here are the top 3 players the Cleveland Cavaliers should target this off-season:
Bell is coming off an underwhelming season with the Golden State Warriors where he fell out of favour with head coach Steve Kerr and failed to find consistent minutes. As a RFA the Warriors have the right to match any offer sheet for Bell, but considering the emergence of Kevon Looney these playoffs if the price is too steep its likely they wont retain his services.
The Cavs could not only offer a potential starting role (please god trade Tristan Thompson already), but can also place Bell in a run and gun system that he would thrive in as not only a transition threat but also an option out of the pick and roll.
Bell is a word class athlete who has shown the ability to contribute on a championship team, his defensive lapses are well noted and will likely be an issue throughout his career. But why not take a leap of faith on a low cost, low risk option that can grow with the Cavs young core.
This years Free Agent class doesn’t boast any particularly promising talent at the Shooting Guard position (outside of Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler). As such the Cavs will likely find themselves trying to find a stop-gap option at the 2. Hunter isn’t exactly what you would call a sure thing, but after failing to produce in Boston he would be a cheap upside option at the 2.
Hunter “averaged” 17 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists shooting 40% from 3 in…one game for the Celtics last year. He’s flashed the ability to shoot the NBA 3-Pointer and given the right situation and confidence could be a quality contributor at the NBA level. This is really a no risk option for the Cavs, given their need for any player that can shoot the ball, Hunter seems an obvious option. He’ll come cheap and they can offer him more minutes and an increased workload than almost any other team.
That being said, Hunter is by no means the Cavs’ saving grace. It’s very likely that he’ll struggle to stay on the floor because of his lack of defense and poor decision making. But there is a chance that Hunter can find his confidence and achieve some of the volume shooting that we saw from him in college.
This last one is a little outside the box, and likely wont happen. But as pipedreams go this is probably as likely an option as any for the Cavs. It’s well known that the Cavs will not be big players in free agency this summer, and that makes sense, they’re one of the worst teams in the league without an apparent superstar in the making (sorry Collin) to lure in big name guys. Outside of somehow convincing Kyrie Irving to return to The Land, Bogdanovic could be the biggest name they get.
The reason this is unlikely to happen is based on not only the strength of his season (both with and without Victor Oladipo), but also because of how his game translates to any title contender. Any team in this years playoffs could use a guy like Bogdanovic; 6 foot 8, gritty on the defensive end and shooting 42.5% from beyond the arc on the other end.
The reason this could happen is Bogdanovic’s asking price. Given his success this season he’s due for a payday and the reality is, most contenders can’t offer him that. In all likelihood in that scenario the Pacer’s will retain his services and make another run at Eastern Conference supremacy. Seeing the Raptors take hold of this series against the Warriors will mean most Eastern Conference hopefuls will be looking to retain their current team and load up for another run at it, in the scenario that doesn’t happen with Indiana, I would expect him to look to move to greener pastures. That may not necessarily be Cleveland, but the allure of money, minutes and opportunity could just lure him there.