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Cleveland Cavaliers Should Prioritize Keeping Spencer Hawes this Offseason
As the NBA Trade Deadline approached a couple of weeks ago, the consensus among Cleveland Cavaliers fans was that the team was going to bolster their lack of scoring on the wing. Instead, interim general manager David Griffin went out and snagged 7’1” and 245-pound center Spencer Hawes from the Philadelphia 76ers—a move that has paid dividends since the first time Hawes stepped on the court.
Starting point guard Kyrie Irving and Hawes have developed a chemistry despite never stepping foot on the court with each other before this season. In six games, Hawes is averaging 13.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 blocks per game with the Cavaliers. But more importantly, his ability to move with the ball and facilitate has rubbed off on his teammates.
While the Cavaliers have a number of big men already on the roster—Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett, Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller—keeping Hawes should become a priority for the Cavaliers this offseason. It is apparent Irving and the Cavaliers work much better with an athletic big man who can not only pass, but has the range to step out and hit three-point shots with ease (shooting 50 percent from deep since joining the team).
Having a guy who is a threat both down low and on the perimeter spreads the floor for guys like Irving and Dion Waiters—ball dominant guards who work well in space. At just 25-years old, Hawes is really just entering his prime, and could be an integral part of the Cavaliers organization for many years.
Hawes is currently making $6.5 million for the 2013-2014 season, but should likely command a raise on the open market if he keeps this play up. His season averages of 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds are a big improvement over his career numbers of 9.5 points and 6.4 rebounds a night. Add in the fact that he is a big man who spaces the floor with a 35.2 percent career three-point percentage, and you could be looking at something in the $8-10 million range a year.
Luckily for the Cavaliers, they have plenty of cap space to work with. The team is currently slated with $32 million owed seven players next season, with team option decisions on Varejao ($9.8 million) and Alonzo Gee ($3.2 million). Gee will likely be gone, and if Varejao stays injured the “Wild Thing” could be on his way out of Cleveland despite being a fan favorite.
With a projected 2014-2015 salary cap north of $62 million, that will give the Cavaliers nearly $30 million to play with in free agency. The team will have to make a decision on Luol Deng, who is rumored to not want to re-sign in Cleveland. If he leaves via free agency, it will once again open a major hole at the small forward position.
No matter what happens at small forward with Deng, the Cavaliers should make keeping Hawes a priority even if it costs them $10 million per season this offseason. Add in the fact that he is dependable when it comes to injuries, and the Cavaliers could have their first reliable center since Big Z was donning the No. 11 and manning the middle.
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