Team could sights set on international players to fill gaps via free agency.
By SAM AMICOFS Ohio
You don’t have to be American to play the zany game of NBA free agency.
In fact, the Cavaliers seem to be banking on the idea that you’re not. At least, that’s the early buzz, as the Cavs seem to be turning their focus on names you don’t often hear (and might not be able to spell), following the opening of the market July 1.
While everyone else is going gaga over free-agent prizes such as Deron Williams, Steve Nash and Eric Gordon, the Cavs apparently are content to take a more prudent approach.
Teletovic is a 6-foot-9 power forward from Bosnia who spent last season playing in Spain.
Shved is a 6-5 guard from Russia who spent last season playing in his homeland.
Both are on their way to the NBA, having emerged as real options for general manager Chris Grant and the Cavs.
Actually, no less than Teletovic’s agent recently said the Cavs were among Teletovic’s two finalists -- with the Nets being the other.
The spectrum is only slightly wider for Shved, who is reportedly considering the Cavs, Timberwolves and Grizzlies.
The Cavs aren’t saying if the interest is mutual -- but according to their opponents in the chase for Teletovic and Shved, it is.
The pursuit would make sense. Both players would likely take shorter contracts for less money than what is typically given to players with NBA experience. After all, when you’ve spent your entire career overseas, just finding a home in the world’s greatest basketball league is often viewed as reward enough.
Let’s start with Teletovic.
He’s 26-years old and spent last season playing for something called Saski Baskonia. In 10 games, he led the Euroleague in scoring at 21.7 points, most coming off shots from the perimeter. He also averaged 6.0 rebounds.
Teletovic has drawn comparisons to Hawks forward Vladimir Radmanovic -- meaning Teletovic is considered a “stretch” forward, a big man who prefers jump shots over life in the lane. That goes for offense and, especially, defense.
Now on to Shved.
He’s 23 and makes his name by playing both backcourt positions admirably. He has good size, can handle the ball, create his own shot and is regarded as an expert in pick-and-roll situations. He has been compared to Rockets guard Goran Dragic (yet another free agent) -- but Shved is considered an even better passer.
None of this is to say the Cavs will land both players. They stand a chance not to sign either one.
But they appear to be willing to give it a whirl. And in these strange days of NBA free agency, the Cavs couldn’t really be blamed.
* Veteran guard Michael Redd may also be on the Cavs’ radar after proving he had a little something left this past season with the Suns. Redd is a Columbus native and played at Ohio State. He is also an unrestricted free agent who earned $1.3 million, a pittance by NBA standards.
* If not Redd, expect the Cavs to add at least one vet this offseason, either via free agency or trade. And it will probably be someone in their mid-to-late 30s. The Cavs are losing forward Antawn Jamison (free agent) and guard Anthony Parker (retirement). So they’ll likely look for an experienced player who can not only contribute fundamentals, but also offer guidance to an otherwise young roster.
* Jamison is said to be leaning toward signing with the Bobcats, his hometown team. However, he is expected to first see how the market shapes up, and see if any contenders are interested.
* Former All-Star small forward Grant Hill (Suns) is another unrestricted type who is believed to be considering the Bobcats. Hill turns 40 in October. He played his college ball at Duke, and like Jamison, might be open to concluding his career in North Carolina.
* Other unrestricted free agents who could potentially draw interest from the Cavs: Shooting guards Willie Green (Hawks) and Shannon Brown (Suns), and small forwards Matt Barnes (Lakers) and Chris Wright (Warriors). Brown played for the Cavs during the coach Mike Brown era, and Wright is entering his second year out of Dayton. Meanwhile, the Cavs made an offer to Barnes prior to the 2010-11 season, but he took a smaller deal to play in Los Angeles.