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Cleveland Cavaliers Free Agency: Top 5 Targets After the Return of LeBron James
On Friday afternoon, LeBron James provided the city of Cleveland with the biggest gift anyone has given the city since they won the rights to draft him No. 1 overall back in 2003. That gift was an essay released on Sports Illustrated in which he declared “I’m Coming Home.”
With those sweet words, James altered the landscape of the NBA and the Friday night party plans of Clevelanders all at the same time. Joining a young cast featuring recent lottery picks Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, the future is certainly bright in Cleveland for both James and the Cavaliers.
Despite the return of their “King,” the Cavaliers still have work to do to their roster. In the last few days the team has moved Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller, Sergey Karasev and Alonzo Gee to clear cap space to sign James to a max contract. The void left by those players equates to a loss of 66 minutes and 20.9 points per game. While we are all not concerned about the points, the loss of 66 rotational minutes—especially in regard to Jack and Zeller at backup point guard and center—is something the Cavaliers must fill.
For this reason, while the rest of the city is partying and celebrating James’ return, I have compiled a list of five players the Cavaliers should target to fill out their roster. As things stand right now, there have been a number of players rumored to be targeted, so let’s take a look at five guys who could suit up with LeBron in the wine and gold next season.
Ray Allen, SG, Miami Heat
As written last month, Allen will likely go wherever James goes. Thus with one announcement, Cavaliers fans may see something they never fathomed in their wildest dream—the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history in the wine and gold.
According to reports, the Cavaliers have already targeted adding the 38-year old to their roster. Allen made $3.2 million last season with the Heat, and could likely find something in that range available for him in Cleveland. Coming off the bench for 26.5 minutes per night, Allen averaged 9.6 points per game and shot 44 percent from the floor.
While many do not see those as worthy stats, Allen brings veteran leadership, familiarity with James and the ability to space the floor—things that would greatly speed up the learning curve for this young team.
Mike Miller, SF, Memphis Grizzlies
Another former teammate of James’ in Miami, Miller’s desire to come to Cleveland is being reported around the league. At 34-years old, his better days are certainly behind him but like Allen he can space the floor and provide veteran leadership.
In his return to the Grizzlies last season, Miller averaged 20.8 minutes per night, shot 48.1 percent from the floor and averaged 7.1 points per game. While he wouldn’t be a splashy signing, Miller can certainly still provide an efficient shooter off the bench for this roster.
Mo Williams, PG, Portland Trailblazers
Maybe it is the “get the band back together” in me, but the Cavaliers need a backup point guard and Williams just happens to be available. Already familiar with James from their days in Cleveland, not only does Williams have playoff experience but he has the ability to score off the bench. With a need for someone to fill in for Jack, Williams would be an excellent addition to the roster for a cheap price.
Andray Blatche, PF/C, Brooklyn Nets
A player who has not been rumored to the Cavs as of yet, Blatche could be a nice addition at the center position. Standing 6’11” and 260 pounds, he is coming off a season in which he averaged 11.2 points in 22.2 minutes per game.
With just Anderson Varejao left on the roster at the center position, signing a center should be priority number one. At 27-years of age Blatche has shown flashes of being a very good rotational player over the last couple of years. If he is interested in signing for less for a chance at a championship with James, the Cavaliers should give him a call.
Jason Smith, PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans
Smith is a guy who is flying under the radar, but should be firmly on the radar of the Cavaliers. Averaging 9.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, the 7’0” and 240-pound big man gave the Pelicans 26.8 minutes per night behind Anthony Davis last season.
Not only can he rebound and provide a shot-blocking presence, Smith has an excellent mid-range jumper and can space the floor when called upon. He shot 46.5 percent from the field last season, and is a 47.2 percent shooter for his career. If he is willing to take between $2-3 million per season, he could be an excellent addition and easily replace Zeller in the rotation.
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