When LeBron James announced he was returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers last week, it was a forgone conclusion a couple of his former Miami teammates would be coming with him. That foregone conclusion became a reality this week, as the Cavaliers agreed to terms with both Mike Miller and James Jones.
Though many are awaiting the decision of Ray Allen and whether or not he will retire, the additions of Miller and Jones add much needed depth, experience, leadership and sharp-shooting to a Cavaliers roster in desperate need of all of the above. On top of all of that, both are players James is comfortable with and who understand the proper spacing of the floor when he has the ball.
Miller, according to reports, signed a two-year deal worth $5.5 million with a player option after year one. At 34-years old, Miller is coming off a season in which he played all 82 games for the Memphis Grizzlies. In 20.8 minutes per night, Miller shot 48.1 percent from the floor, 45.9 percent from three-point land and averaged 7.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.
Settling in nicely to a role coming off the bench (only started four games), Miller finished third in the league in three-point percentage and is seemingly knocking down threes with ease despite being older. For his career, Miller is a 40.9 percent shooter from three-point land—but has been much better since falling into a reserve role back in 2010 with the Miami Heat. He has made the most of playing with star players like James, so you can expect much of the same this coming season in Cleveland.
As for Jones, he has been primarily a bench/role player since being drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft. He spent the first two years of his career with the Pacers, the next two with the Suns and the fifth season with Portland until finally finding a home in Miami for the last six seasons.
For those expecting Jones to come in and set the world on fire coming off the bench, you should probably curb your expectations right now. A very good shooter in his own right, Jones has averaged 17.2 minutes per game for his career, 40.1 percent from the floor and 40.3 percent from three-point land. His career averages of 5.7 points and 2.0 rebounds per game do not scream “impact player” off the bench, so don’t be shocked if he is an after-thought on the Cavaliers depth chart as the season goes on.
Neither player is going dominate coming off the bench for the Cavaliers, but they will provide the ability to coach up young players and provide veteran leadership and mentorship—things that cannot be quantified by a price tag. With a head coach that is new to the NBA, having guys like this able to spread their knowledge to youngsters like Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and the rest of the youngsters on this roster is absolutely invaluable.
So how much time on the court could we expect to see from Miller and Jones?
Miller’s 20 minutes per night last season in Memphis seems like a good starting point for him, while Jones can expect something in the 15 minutes per night range. With their ability to be split between shooting guard and small forward, these two players will find their minutes being divided between the leftovers from James (averages 39.5 minutes for his career) and whatever Waiters and Wiggins do not play at shooting guard.
The unknown factor here is how much time Waiters will play as a shooting guard, or if with the trade of Jarrett Jack he will see more time in the reserve point guard role when Irving goes to the bench. If that happens, it will open up different lineup combinations and possibly a few more minutes for the likes of Miller and Jones coming off the bench.
Overall it looks like the Cavaliers roster is really coming together at this point, especially with pretty much no money left to spend on free agents except for the vet minimum.
Barring a major trade of sorts—the hottest topic dominating the Cavaliers airwaves—the 33-win Cavaliers from a season ago have added the best player on the planet, the top rookie in the draft, two second-round rookies and three veterans (don’t forget about Brendan Haywood). I’d say that is a coup beyond the wildest dreams of any Cleveland fan just a few short months ago.