Cleveland Cavaliers: 6 Free Agents the Cavs Should Pursue This Offseason
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The Cleveland Cavaliers are hoping to take a giant leap forward in their rebuilding project in the draft on June 28. This, however, will not solve all of the team's issues, so they will need to look at free agents to improve more.
This class is headlined by Nets' stud point guard Deron Williams. Williams is rumored to have a strong interest in joining Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in their pursuit of another championship. Not that it matters, though, because I couldn't imagine him having any desire to live in Cleveland for an extended period of time anyway.
Cross him off the list.
There are also a number of aging superstars who will hit the market—namely Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. But don't get your hopes up because it's not happening. The Cavs will be looking for players who fit into their long-term plans and these three just don't fit the bill. Not to mention that they probably wouldn't want to spend their last stint in the league playing for a team that's in rebuild mode.
The list is shortened even further.
In addition to the aforementioned veteran studs, several of the leagues budding stars in Eric Gordon, Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez could be available. Sounds perfect, right?
All three of them are restricted free agents and thus would likely require max contract offers to potentially steal them away from their respective teams. But they simply are not worth that kind of money—especially considering the injury history of both Gordon and Lopez—and just one bad signing like that could leave the team handicapped for years.
Now that we know who the Cavs shouldn't be going after, let's take a look at the top six realistic options for them this summer.
Ersan Ilyasova will likely attract a lot of interest after a stellar 2012 season.
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The Cavs are going to need someone to replace Antawn Jamison's scoring somewhere and perhaps there is no better fit for them than stretch power forward Ersan Ilyasova.
The Turkish sensation broke out last season for the Milwaukee Bucks and was among the most improved players in the entire NBA. He averaged 13 points to go with nearly nine rebounds per game on 49.2 percent shooting, including a superb 45.5 percent from three-point distance.
Ilyasova is at his best when used as a spot-up shooter, which is exactly the role he would play for the Cavs. Kyrie Irving would have the much-needed perimeter scorer next to him that he lacked last year, who would be able to feed off his penetration and knock down treys.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, however, they will be one of many teams interested in signing him after his stellar season last year. They have the cap space to give him a good offer, but I can't help but feel that one team will severely overpay him.
Ilyasova is a great, young player, but only for the right price.
The Cavs are in desperate need of a center and Spencer Hawes could be their guy.
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The Cavs lack a true starting-quality center on their roster if Anderson Varejão is classified as a power forward. The next guys in line are Semih Erden and Samardo Samuels. Yuck!
The draft will have very little to offer in terms of immediate help, as the top centers who could be on the board for one of their four picks—Andre Drummond, Meyers Leonard and Fab Melo—are all major projects.
That's where Philadelphia's Spencer Hawes could come into the mix. Hawes is a 24-year-old center with a nice touch on his jump shot and has some very nice skills for his seven-foot frame. The knock against him is that he is a poor defender and not as good of a rebounder as he should be for his size.
He flashed some signs of potential early in the season before coming back down to earth, finishing the year with averages of 9.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 blocks per game.
By no means is Hawes a great player, but he is far superior to the Cavs' other options and could likely be had for a small price.
Brandon Rush (Restricted)
Brandon Rush has turned himself into a solid role-player on the wing.
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After his third season in the league with the Indiana Pacers, it looked like Brandon Rush could be on a downward spiral out of the league. Thankfully, he bounced back strong last year after being traded to Golden State for Louis Amundson.
At first glance, his numbers did not improve too much with the Warriors. He still averaged a hair under 10 points per game, along with similar rebounding and assist numbers from the previous year.
But the biggest difference was his efficiency. Rush made himself into an excellent three-point threat, increasing his percentage beyond the arc from 41.7 percent in his last year with Indiana to 45.2 percent in his sole season with Golden State. Likewise, his shooting from the floor went up from 42.1 percent to 50.1 percent.
He now looks like he can be the three-point option that the Cavs so desperately need and should be able to be had for a relatively cheap price, though the Warriors will be able to match any offer.
Andre Miller would be a great veteran presence to take Kyrie Irving under his wing.
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Andre Miller started his career in Cleveland as the eighth overall in the 1999 NBA draft and could have the opportunity to finish it there as well.
With the retirement of Anthony Parker and expected loss of Jamison—who wants to head home and sign with the Charlotte Bobcats next season—the Cavs will be in need of a veteran leader.
And what better option is there than Miller, who has had a very successful 12-year career? He would be able to act as a mentor to Irving and teach him the ropes around the league.
The 36-year-old has not run out of gas in the tank just yet, as he averaged a respectable 9.7 points and 6.7 assists per game last year with Denver. On the Cavs, he would be able to get a solid 20-25 minutes per game coming off the bench backing up Irving and even playing some spot minutes at the 2-guard.
Omer Asik is the physical presence that the Cavs could use in the paint.
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As mentioned in the Hawes slide, the Cavs don't have a starting-quality center on their roster—yet! Free agency will be the perfect opportunity to change that.
The Bulls' substitute center Omer Asik's averages of 3.1 points and 5.3 boards in 14.7 minutes per game were far from mind-blowing. Still, he displayed grit and toughness throughout the season and was a force defensively.
And now, after two full seasons of backing up Joakim Noah, the goofy redhead seems ready to take on a bigger role.
The only worry I have with this potential signing would be regarding a lack of offensive production from the bigs. Varejão, Tristan Thompson and Asik are all very limited scorers and this fact could allow opposing teams to lay off them and clog the lane.
Regardless, Asik may just be too good of a value to pass up on if the Cavs can get a good deal.
O.J. Mayo (Restricted)
O.J. Mayo is a pure scorer who needs a fresh start.
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Flashback to 2008-09 and O.J. Mayo was considered to be a future superstar after posting averages of 18.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in his rookie season with Memphis.
Unfortunately, fate had other plans.
Mayo's numbers went down significantly in the ensuing seasons, and he even lost his starting position. He averaged just 12.6 points and 3.2 boards this season on 40.8 percent from the floor.
It became even worse in the playoffs as he played some very unenthusiastic basketball in the Grizzlies' first-round matchup against the Clippers. He averaged a meager 8.9 points on a horrid 27.4 percent shooting.
And for all of these reasons, the Cavs should go after him.
See, his value is at an all-time low, so he should be a relatively cheap signing. Mayo clearly showed off that he has the ability to thrive in the NBA, he just hasn't the past few years. Maybe all he needs is a new setting and a fresh start to get him going again.
And if not, then oh well, because his contract won't tie down the Cavs for years to come and will allow them to keep their flexibility.
Classic case of a low-risk, high-reward type move.