Andrew Bogut and the Philadelphia 76ers agreed to a buyout following a trade-deadline deal with the Dallas Mavericks, and that move opened the door for the 32-year-old center to latch on with a title contender.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported the Cavaliers will waive Jordan McRae to make room for Bogut.
David Aldridge of Turner Sports asked Bogut via text why he chose Cleveland, with the center responding, “I heard it’s beautiful this time of year."
Bogut arrived in Dallas with one year and a shade more than $11 million remaining on his contract, and his status as an impending unrestricted free agent made the veteran center an attractive trade chip at the deadline.
In fact, Bogut acknowledged his time with the Mavs would likely be brief following a volatile start to the 2016-17 season when he spoke to Sky Sports Radio on Jan. 5.
"Thankfully I’m a free agent here so I only have a couple of months more here and then will most likely move on," Bogut said, per News Corp Australia's Jai Bednall. "I don’t see myself hanging around with everything that’s gone on. It will be an interesting six months ahead."
That prediction came true when he was moved at the deadline, although his time with the Sixers ended before it began.
Bogut hasn't been a consistent factor on offense since his days with the Milwaukee Bucks, but a per-game average of 3.0 points on 46.9 percent shooting this season shouldn't overshadow how much of a game-changer he can be on defense.
A member of the 2014-15 All-Defensive Second Team, Bogut has remained effective thanks to the way he dictates outcomes in the paint and defends the rim despite a lack of vertical explosiveness.
To wit: In 26 appearances this season, the Mavericks posted a defensive rating of 97.4 with Bogut on the floor. Conversely, that mark inflated to 108.5 when he was on the bench. To put that gulf in perspective, the Mavs' defensive rating with Bogut on the floor would rank as the league's best.
Speaking of Golden State, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard pointed to Bogut's absence in the Bay Area as a big reason teams aren't as afraid to attack the teeth of the Warriors defense anymore.
"It’s not the same," Lillard said of the Warriors defense, per CSN Northwest's Jason Quick. "They are a great offensive team and I think they will still be a good defensive team, but it’s different than when (Andrew) Bogut is not back there. It’s just not the same."
The Cavaliers already rank among the league's best in terms of protecting the rim, which means landing Bogut would be an added boon for the defending champions.
Long in need of a sturdy backup behind Tristan Thompson, Bogut would fill that void and give the Cavaliers somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes a game when Cleveland chooses to roll out more traditional five-man units.
So even though playing time may not come in heavy doses now that Bogut is reportedly latched on with a top title contender, his presence alone could offer stability and sturdiness along the front line as Cleveland seeks to snag a second straight Larry O'Brien Trophy.