Although the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t officially signed former Utah Jazz small forward C.J. Miles to a suspected two-year deal, Miles confirmed via his Twitter that he would be joining the Cavaliers this season as a member of the team. This move will put pressure on small forward Alonzo Gee, who received a $2.7 million qualifying offer from the Cavaliers that would make him an unrestricted free agent next season, to sign with Cleveland.
Gee’s agent, Andre Buck, has made it clear that his small forward client would like to negotiate a longer contract with Cleveland, but would be fine with signing the one-year tender that has already been offered to him. Gee has spent his last 103 games with the Cavaliers organization and wants to be apart of the rebuilding process that this young team is currently undergoing.
At the Cleveland Cavaliers Summer Basketball Day Camp that ran from July 23-27 in Middleburg Heights, the unsigned Gee still showed up to fulfill prior obligations and to show that he really enjoys being apart of the Cavaliers community.
It’s not certain if Gee will take the qualifying offer and rejoin the Cavaliers in 2012-13, but the former Alabama forward has not garnered a lot of outside interest from other teams and has held Cleveland at the top of his list since the season ended.
But even with the signing of Miles to a two-year contract, the Cavaliers would still be better off with Gee starting at the three rather than the former Jazz forward or Omri Casspi, who showed little signs of improvement throughout the 2011-12 season. Casspi played in 65 games last season, while recording career lows in field goal percentage (40.3 percent), three-point percentage (31.5 percent), points (7.1 points) and rebounds (3.5 rebounds).
Casspi started off as the starter for Cleveland, but excellent bench performances from Gee soon led head coach Byron Scott to incorporate the high-flying Gee into the starting lineup. He started 31 games last season after starting 29 in the 2010-11 season.
Although he saw his shooting percentage dip to 41.2 percent last season, Gee’s jump shot saw progressive improvement near the end of the season. He also logged career bests in points (10.6 points), rebounds (5.1 rebounds), assists (1.8 assists) and steals (1.3 steals). The athleticism and speed that Gee showed off the bench last season will prove to be pivotal in his fourth NBA season.
It would be great to have such an energetic force in Gee coming off the bench this coming season, but if he chooses to accept the qualifying offer, he will be the favorite to be named the Cavaliers starting three going into training camp. That’s not to say that Miles will come in and take over as the opening day starter.
Miles, who has career averages of 9.1 points, 1.2 assists and 2.1 rebounds, has averaged 9.1 points or more in his last four seasons. In the 2008-09 season Miles started in 72 games, but the next three seasons he only had a combined 61 starts. He still managed to see plenty of playing time in those three seasons, averaged 23.4 minutes.
If Gee does in fact sign with the Cavaliers, I think the team would benefit most from him being in the starting lineup. Even though Miles and Gee are both 25 years old, I see a lot more upside in Gee than Miles. Miles isn’t as great of a shooter than Gee, and it seems that Gee’s shooting percentage will be on the rise this season.
He finished the last three months of the NBA season shooting the ball around 10 times per game. Even though he didn’t shoot very well at the very end of the season, he showed a lot of confidence in his outside shooting. If he comes into training camp throwing down the same dunks and showing improvements in his perimeter game, he will be the favorite to come away with the starter role.
We don’t know if Gee will be on the roster come late September, but it’s almost certain he will. If so, I believe he will be the starter over Miles to begin the season. The two could trade off during the season, but they will both play big roles in the Cavaliers’ success this upcoming season.