With the start of free agency less than two weeks away, NBA teams are positioning themselves to make a run at the market’s top prizes.
Cavaliers forward Alonzo Gee is considered among that group following his best season as a pro. But Gee is a restricted free agent, giving the Cavs an opportunity to match any offer he might receive from another team.
And that is exactly what they plan to do, according to several league sources familiar with the Cavs’ thinking.
Gee, 25, averaged career-highs in points (10.6) and rebounds (5.1), playing in 63 of a possible 66 games of the lockout-shortened season. He began the year coming off the bench, offering energy and scoring for a second unit that began on a strong note.
Eventually, Gee gained the full-time starting role in place of Omri Casspi at small forward. For the season, Gee garnered 31 starts. He also became a somewhat of a regular on the sports highlight shows, his impressive drives and dunks in traffic warranting national attention.
Coupled with his ability to defend some of the game’s most athletic players, Gee caught the eye of teams looking for a free-agent fix this summer. Phoenix, Atlanta and possibly Boston are said to be among those interested in making a run at Gee on or around July 1, when the signing period begins.
Initially, insiders felt Gee’s future as a Cav hinged on whom they selected in the June 28 draft. The Cavs own the No. 4 overall pick, and are said to be leaning toward selecting a wing player such as North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes.
However, with an abundance of salary-cap space and appreciation for Gee’s performance this past season, chances now appear slim that he’ll be playing anywhere but Cleveland in 2012-13 and beyond.
Under the new collective-bargaining agreement, the Cavs have three days to match an offer from another team. The CBA prior to 2011 allowed seven days.
Gee went undrafted out of Alabama in 2009, but signed with Washington as a rookie free agent. He had two 11-game stints with the Wizards, and a five-game run with San Antonio, prior to signing with the Cavs in 2010-11.