By Wade Foley
Now that the chaos of the NBA Draft is finally starting to die down, it’s time to take a look at some possible free agent targets for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Today marks the first official day teams can make pitches to free agents and sign them.
After adding power forward Anthony Bennett, small forward Sergey Karasev and shooting guard, Carrick Felix through the draft; the Cavs will attempt to continue to strengthen their roster through free agency.
There are several positions on the roster that the Cavs need to bolster or add depth to, but we’ll start by taking a look at some of the options for backup point guard.
Eric Maynor, PG, Portland Trailblazers
Maynor appears to be a perfect candidate to backup up Kyrie Irving. He is already accustomed to playing a reserve roll and has spent his short career backing up the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook and the Trailblazers’ Damian Lillard. He finally got a chance to play some extended minutes during the second half of this season in Portland and averaged 6.9 points and 4.0 assists per game in 21.2 minutes. He has some injury problems throughout his first four seasons, but appears to be healthy now and ready to prove himself.
Maynor is extremely quick, a good pick-and-roll player and has a sweet crossover. He made just over $2.3 million this season. If Chris Grant can convince him to accept a little less to backup Kyrie, he would be a perfect fit.
Darren Collison, PG, Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks decided to not extend a qualifying offer to Collison yesterday in order to increase their chances at acquiring Dwight Howard through free agency. If Collison is willing to accept a reserve role, then he could add some much needed depth to the bench. He averaged 12.0 points and 5.1 assists per game in 29.3 minutes last season for the Mavericks, which is just under his career average. He also made just over $2.3 million this season as well.
Collison is a good athlete who can put points on the board, as well as distribute. At this point of his career, he might have to accept a reserve role. So if he decides to backup Kyrie and lead the Cavs’ second unit, as well as take less than $3 million, he could be a great candidate for the Cavs backup point guard position.
CJ Watson, PG, Brooklyn Nets
Watson is a solid backup point guard who seems to always play hard and give everything he has on each possession. He made just under $1 million this season and declined his player option with the Nets in order to become an unrestricted free agent.
Watson averaged 6.8 points and 2.0 assists per game in 19 minutes this season for Brooklyn while backing up Deron Williams. He also shot 42 percent from the field and 41 percent from three. It’s safe to say that the six-year veteran is a solid backup point guard in this league and could really contribute to the right team. Like Maynor, Watson is accustomed to backing up an All-Star caliber point guard, so the transition to Cleveland shouldn’t be difficult for him. Watson is sure to have other suitors, but if Grant can convince him to come to the Cavs for under $2 million, then he’d be a valuable acquisition.
Aaron Brooks, PG, Houston Rockets
It seems like just yesterday that Brooks was an up-and-coming guard for the Rockets that everyone was raving about. He averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per game in 35.6 minutes during the 2009-2010 season. He then dealt with some injuries and wound up playing the entirety of last season in China. He’s now trying to find his place in the league again after playing the first half of this season in Sacramento before being traded and finding himself back in Houston. He averaged 7.1 points and 2.2 assists per game in 20 minutes between the two teams before being waived by Houston yesterday.
Brooks has had a rough couple of seasons since his glory days in Houston, but he’s still capable of being that explosive guard off the bench. He has outstanding quickness and seems to always find his way to the basket. He’s not the best playmaker out there, but he would bring instant energy and offense off the bench. He made $2.5 million this season and since he was waived, there’s a possibility Grant could talk him into joining the Cavs for less than that. For the right price, Brooks could be a nice fit behind Kyrie.
Nate Robinson, PG, Chicago Bulls
Everyone saw what Robinson could do at his best during the NBA playoffs this year. He may be one of the smallest players in the NBA, but he’s also one of the most explosive. With Derrick Rose finally returning to the lineup, it’s a safe bet that Robinson signs elsewhere this offseason. He made just over $1.1 million in Chicago this season and it’s assumed that several teams will offer him a larger contract.
Robinson averaged 13.1 points and 4.4 assists in 25.4 minutes for the Bulls this season. He can be a bit of a wild card at times, but he always plays with a lot of heart. One thing’s for sure, with Robinson coming off the bench, you can count on instant offense. If the Cavs can get him for around $2 million, then he has to be a consideration.
The Cavs also shouldn’t rule out bringing Shaun Livingston back next season either. He played well in spurts for them this season and could be another quality backup with his size and skills, should he remain healthy.
As you can see, there are several options for the Cavs to consider, and Grant will undoubtedly be reviewing them all in order to get the most value for the best price.
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