Ranking Best NBA Buyout Candidates the Cleveland Cavaliers Should PursueFebruary 24, 2016
Following a snooze of an NBA trade deadline, the potential buyout market is sizzling hot.
Teams now have less than a week (March 1) to release a player who can be signed and added to a playoff roster, meaning we could see some big names switching jerseys soon.
Following a trade that sent Anderson Varejao and Jared Cunningham out in favor of Channing Frye, the Cleveland Cavaliers can now sign two free agents to reach the maximum roster size of 15.
While some notable players could hit the market, Cleveland should be more interested in fit rather than overall talent. With a deep rotation, the Cavs only have one or two true areas of need, and they should target veterans who can pass on knowledge of their own experiences to the younger guys.
These are the top five players the Cavaliers should pursue, if they become available.
No. 5: Joe Johnson, SF, Brooklyn Nets
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 33.9 MIN, 11.8 PTS, 3.9 REB, 4.1 AST, 11.0 PER
Joe Johnson is the biggest potential name to hit the free-agent market, but that doesn't make him the best fit with the Cavaliers.
Despite a report from Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com that stated, "Johnson is still very much in play," the 34-year-old doesn't really help in any major area of need.
Long dubbed Iso-Joe for his preference to slow the offense down and create off the dribble, this kind of style is in direct contrast to what head coach Tyronn Lue wants to play. This season, 41.7 percent of Johnson's shots have come following three or more dribbles, per NBA.com, showcasing his need to handle the ball. On a team with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, this simply won't fly.
While the Cavs could use another defender on the perimeter, Johnson's opponents have seen an increase in overall shooting when matched up with the veteran forward.
His name and history would be an attractive piece to add, but the Cavaliers could find a better fit for their roster.
No. 4: Vince Carter, SG, Memphis Grizzlies
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 14.2 MIN, 4.8 PTS, 1.9 REB, 0.5 STL, 10.2 PER
Could Vince Carter in Cleveland actually happen? Tas Melas of The Starters on NBA TV would enjoy it:
As of now, there's been no report that the Grizz are willing to let their grizzly veteran go, even if their hopes of making any noise in the playoffs appear shot.
Within a week, Memphis traded Jeff Green and officially lost starting center Marc Gasol for the year with a foot injury. The Grizzlies are clinging on to the fifth spot in the West, but they trail the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers by 4.5 games and actually own a negative differential rating (-1.0).
It would be unlikely they'd release Carter, even if it would make for a beautiful potential ending to an illustrious 18-year career.
Even if he didn't get a lot of court time with the Cavaliers, Carter would bring a highly respected locker room voice thanks to his nine career playoff trips.
Will the Grizz throw in the towel and let Vinsanity make its way to Northeast Ohio? We can only hope.
No. 3: Tayshaun Prince, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 21.0 MIN, 3.2 PTS, 2.0 REB, 1.0 AST, 6.4 PER
Tayshaun Prince remains an important piece to a young Timberwolves team, despite being 35 and bringing next to nothing to the table offensively.
Why? Because the 14-year vet can still defend and brings an incredibly high basketball IQ with him to the court.
Minnesota's defense improves by 5.2 points per 100 possessions with Prince in the game, the second-best mark on the team next to Kevin Garnett.
As the Timberwolves fall even further out of the playoff picture, one has to assume Minnesota will at least discuss a buyout for Prince. As Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune wrote:
Tayshaun Prince and Andre Miller have veteran-minimum contracts that expire this summer. (General manager Milt) Newton said he likes having those veterans lead his team’s young players, but left open the possibility of a buyout with each, too.
“If something presents itself, we’d have to look at it,” Newton said. "Right now, this is the team that we have to finish out the season."
Prince would give Cleveland the perimeter defender it needs and provide the Cavs with another veteran who has a championship ring to his name.
No. 2: Dorell Wright, SF, Free Agent
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 23.7 PTS, 7.4 REB, 2.0 STL (China)
While not technically a buyout candidate, Dorell Wright is officially a free agent with his recent season in China coming to an end.
Wright spent the past year playing for the Chongqing Soaring Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association after spending the previous 11 seasons in the NBA. The 30-year-old forward is now stateside and ready to offer his services:
A classic three-and-D guy, Wright can can play either forward position. He averaged 4.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.3 minutes for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2014-15.
In Cleveland, the Cavs would view Wright as extra insurance for James at the 3 and allow him more rest as the regular season drags on. Wright has been a corner three-point specialist (39.8 percent for his career) and would help space the floor for the Cavs offense.
The Miami Heat have already been linked to Wright, who stands as one of the best free agents currently on the market.
No. 1: Kevin Martin, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 21.8 MIN, 10.9 PTS, 2.1 REB, 1.2 AST, 12.2 PER
Originally brought to Minnesota to become Love's wingmate, Martin's time with the Timberpups appears all but over. Martin himself wouldn't mind a move, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
A starter earlier in the year, Minnesota's young core has gobbled up Martin's minutes—most notably Andrew Wiggins. Like Prince, it may be best for both to engage in buyout talks and join a contender like Cleveland. Per Zgoda:
The Wolves sought to trade Martin before he can exercise a player option this summer that will guarantee him $7.4 million next season. They could still buy out his contract to eliminate that chance.
Martin declined a question asking whether he will pursue a contract buyout.
There's still a lot to like about Martin, now 33 years old. A Zanesville, Ohio, native, he's been a soft-spoken star in the NBA for years, and he can still knock down the three-ball with regularity.
Martin fits the Cavs as a shooter who doesn't need the ball in his hands, unlike Johnson and others. He's shooting 39.4 percent on catch-and-shoot threes this season, and 69.1 percent of Martin's shots come after just 0-1 total dribbles, per NBA.com.
Cleveland should be paying close attention to the Land of 10,000 Lakes in the coming week, with Martin locked in as its No. 1 target.
Greg Swartz is the Cleveland Cavaliers lead writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @CavsGregBR.
Stats via Basketball-Reference.com and are accurate as of Feb. 23 unless otherwise noted.