The Cleveland Cavaliers got less than a minute of action out of Andrew Bogut before the oft-injured center suffered a fractured leg in his Cavs debut Monday night. The Cavs haven’t announced a timetable for his return, but it’s likely he won’t provide much help this season. Cleveland has a few options in the free-agent market to replace Bogut, but will the Cavs look for the defensive presence the former No. 1 pick would have provided, or more offensive punch from a backup big man?
Sanders hasn’t played in the NBA since 2015, when he retired due to anxiety and depression. But the 28-year-old appears ready to resume his basketball career, and the Cavs did show interest in the defensive-minded big man a few weeks ago. Sanders would give Cleveland an athletic rim protector who would benefit from all the lob opportunities playing with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving presents. But is he still in good enough basketball shape to make a meaningful contribution?
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Far from the defensive presence Sanders could provide, Kaman is much more capable offensively while adding a big body (7-0, 265 pounds) to clog the middle. Kaman played sparingly last season with the Blazers but went unsigned in the offseason. The 34-year-old averaged double figures in scoring in nine consecutive seasons during his prime, but that string ended after the 2013-14 season.
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If the Cavs want to go a little smaller, Smith could give Cleveland a bit of a boost on both sides of the ball. The former two-way star stuffed the stat sheet like few others early in his career, but fell in love with his erratic jump shot a bit too much as he got older. If properly motivated, Smith, who played last season in Houston, could give the Cavs an answer to the Warriors’ ultra-small lineup in a potential Finals rematch.
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Perkins was a key member of the Celtics’ Big 3 era, anchoring a defense that helped Boston win the 2008 title. Not much of an athletic option, Perkins is a good help defender and a physical presence. The Cavs are familiar with the 32-year-old, who played 17 games with the club in 2014-15. Perkins appeared in only 37 games last season with the Pelicans.
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Varejao spent his first 12-plus seasons with the Cavs before they dealt him to the Blazers and he eventually signed with the Warriors. Varejao might not provide the skills that the Cavs are looking for, but after spending all those years in Cleveland only to see the franchise win a title without him last year, it would be fitting that he got a chance to win a championship with his original club.