There’s no need to panic over the Cavaliers’ lack of moves in free agency. I write that for a couple of reasons:
1. Owner Dan Gilbert said a long time ago he believes the draft and trades are the two most important aspects of building a team — implying that signing free agents is a distant third. General manager Chris Grant agrees.
2. The Cavs aren’t alone when it comes to being frugal. Oklahoma City and San Antonio are the top two small-market franchises out there, and they too are refusing to overpay just so they can say they signed somebody.
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That’s not to say I’m against bringing in a complementary player or two via free agency. And my guess is, eventually, the Cavs will do exactly that. But they’re more likely to do it once some of the dust settles in late July or early August. It would make more sense than handcuffing themselves with a big contract, especially when a lot of available players are viewed as gambles.
Basically, the Cavs know they won’t contend for a title next season. Their starting backcourt is likely to consist of second-year point guard, Kyrie Irving, and rookie shooting guard, Dion Waiters. Second-year man Tristan Thompson could be their starting power forward.
That’s awful young, and you could bring in Thunder star Kevin Durant and still not qualify for the playoffs. So why overpay for the likes of Brandon Roy, Ersan Ilyasova or O.J. Mayo?
Instead, the Cavs are much more likely to bring in a veteran at a discount rate. Names such as Derek Fisher, Michael Redd or Royal Ivey would make more sense at this point. Fisher and Redd are at the end of their careers but could likely be had for cheap. Each could contribute minutes while playing the important role of helping groom Irving and Waiters.
None of this, of course, makes it easier to be a sports fan in Cleveland. But when a talent like LeBron James splits town, as he did for Miami two summers ago, you have no choice but to rebuild, be patient and avoid making the wrong move.
So far, the Cavs have followed that plan of attack. They’re staying the course and accepting the fact they have no choice but to ride this out and keep the future in mind. Signing some random free agent won’t change that.
* So much for the reports that the Suns would offer Cavs small forward Alonzo Gee a hefty contract. Gee is a restricted free agent and has been a non-factor in the market. He has a qualifying offer of $2.7 million from the Cavs, and with the way things are going, he’ll likely end up taking it.
* In the event someone else does sign Gee to a larger deal, it would be a shocker if the Cavs didn’t match. They have tons of space under the salary cap and consider Gee a valuable piece. He’ll be back.
* Former Cavs point guard Ramon Sessions is likely to end up with Dallas. As of right now, the Mavericks have no starting point guard. Sessions’ agent, Jared Karnes, told me earlier this week that a long-term deal is his client’s “main priority.” A starting role is up there, too.
* Houston is also said to be in play for Sessions. Don’t be surprised if Milwaukee makes a run at him as well. The Bucks would love to have a third guard playing meaningful minutes behind starters Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings.
* Roy refused to come to Cleveland for a workout after missing last season because of retirement. Roy has had six knee surgeries, so it’s doubtful the Cavs would have offered him anything more than a one-year deal. He signed with Minnesota for two years and $10 million. Bottom line: The Cavs did the right thing.
* Fisher might not be as much of a long shot to sign with the Cavs as you might think. His daughter suffers from a rare illness, and with the Cleveland Clinic nearby, he might consider the Cavs as valuable. Plus, contenders aren’t exactly lining up for his services.
* Also, Russian guard Alexey Shved remains a possibility. He has yet to make a decision, and the Cavs are said to be among two finalists. The Grizzlies are the other. Shved is 23 years old and has drawn comparisons to Goran Dragic (Rockets), who will sign an offer sheet with the Suns on July 11.
* I expect the Cavs to play the lottery again next spring. But it’ll be a lot better if they draft in the 10-14 range and eliminate the 30-point losses. Fans aren’t as concerned with contending for a championship right now as they are with seeing progress. At some point, the Cavs need to put all that cap space and all those assets to use. And it needs to be soon, or jobs will be lost.
* The Cavs return to the Las Vegas Summer League with a roster that will consist of mostly young players (Waiters, Tyler Zeller, etc.) and undrafted rookie free agents. All games will be televised by NBA TV. And no, they have not yet released their roster. Here is their complete schedule.