The Cavaliers’ bench would be the deciding factor in a lot of games this season. If the bench played well – which would be rare – they would win. If the bench performed poorly, they would lose. When the team acquired Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights, they brought life to the team’s bench. This team may undergo a massive overhaul in the offseason. The Cavs will have nearly their entire bench test the free agent market. Luke Walton, Daniel Gibson, Omri Casspi, C.J. Miles, Shaun Livingston, Ellington and Speights are all a free agent in one-way or another. The Cavs will not be able to bring all seven of these players back, so they will have to use free agency and the draft to rebuild their bench for the 2013-14 season – all while keeping cap space to sign a big-time free agent in 2014.
Wayne Ellington – He played in only 38 games for the Cavs, started 17 of them, but he left a positive impression on this franchise. It is believed that of all the free agents, Ellington is the most likely to come back because of his price tag and leadership he can bring to this team along with his production. But that all changed when the team fired Byron Scott and hired Mike Brown. Scott was a big fan of Ellington and it is unknown if Brown thinks the same of Ellington. However, he played in a similar system in Memphis that Brown will run here in Cleveland.
Omri Casspi – Casspi played two years for the Wine and Gold. He was acquired from Sacramento in 2011 for J.J, Hickson – who was a lone bright spot on the team after LeBron took his talents to South Beach. Hickson played half of a season for the Kings and later went on to sign with the Portland Trail Blazers. So I guess you can say that both teams got shafted on the deal, however, the Cavs still own a protected first-round pick from the Kings. Casspi played in only 43 games this season and is likely to not return to the team or to the NBA for that matter.
Marreese Speights – Speights has a player option, so it is up to him if he wants to resign with the Cavs. Speights averaged 10.2 points and 5.1 rebounds as a Cavalier. He, along with Ellington, brought a spark off the bench when they were acquired from the Grizzlies for Jon Leuer. Prior to their acquisition the Cavs’ bench averaged 26 points, and when the duo arrived, the bench averaged 36 points. Speights will be a highly touted free agent this offseason and will have more than the Cavaliers bidding on him. It is likely that Speights will sign with the team offering the most playing time, and money.
Daniel Gibson – Whatever happens this offseason for Gibson, you have to applaud his early career as a Cavalier. He was a perfect complimentary player to LeBron, but when he left, injuries derailed his career, and he has not been able to get back on track. He shot a career-low 34 percent from the field this season. With Mike Brown back as head coach, he may make a case for Gibson to resign with the team. If he doesn’t come back to the Cavs, I think he would be a great fit for the Houston Rockets. Wherever he may go it will likely be for the league’s veteran minimum.
Shaun Livingston – He was signed on Christmas Day after his release by the Washington Wizards. He played in 49 games with the Cavs and after injuries to starting point guard Kyrie Irving, he started 12 games. He averaged 11 points and four assists when he was the starting point guard. He doesn’t have a perimeter game, but he does have a nice mid-range game. He backs down smaller defenders on the block and is able to get his shot off with ease. He is 6’7” point guard, which Mike Brown likes. Irving has shown he isn’t a strong defender, so if the Cavs were able to resign Livingston, he can be the defensive guard the team needs to match up against the opponents best scorer.
Luke Walton – He had some bright moments for the Cavs this season. This team endured a lot of injuries this season, and he stepped in with confidence – like a crafty veteran should. He was a lone, veteran presence for this young team, and with his high basketball IQ, players looked up to him for advice. If he doesn’t resign with us, then he is likely to retire. His contract would be $6 million off the books.
C.J. Miles – His career in Cleveland got off to a rough start, but he finished strong and averaged 11.2 points – his second-best average of his career. Miles set a team record in December against the Brooklyn Nets when he drained eight 3-pointers. Miles has great size for a shooting guard at 6’6” and is a willing defender. His willingness to defend will earn him a spot on this roster. It would be in the Cavaliers’ best interest to resign Miles. He comes cheap; earning $2.25 million dollars next season.
The Cavs have four picks in the top 33, including two in the top 19. Whoever they take with the No. 1 pick will likely be a starter, whether it be Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter, Ben McLemore or Alex Len. Depending on the position, the Cavs’ No. 19 will fight for a starting position or become a key bench player. Players that could be available at No. 19 for the Cavs are: Tony Snell, Tony Mitchell, Tim Hardaway Jr., Allen Crabbe, Reggie Bullock, Glen Rice Jr., amongst others.
Chris Grant has been going over hundreds of different scenarios that he can do with the team’s four draft picks. They can do what he did last year, which was package picks to move up in the draft, or he can use all four picks to build his bench. With this team already being one of the league’s youngest, it is unlikely he brings in four new rookies. But this draft is very deep and teams can get value in the late first round to mid second round. Players like Jeff Withey, DeShaun Thomas, CJ Leslie and Mike Muscala will be available early in the second round for the Cavs.
With a new/old coaching regime, this team may make some surprising or unexpected moves. The team we have was built to get up and down the court quickly. Now, with Brown’s defensive philosophy, all of the players on the roster will have to defend first before they get playing time. With that philosophy in mind, you would think Noel would be an obvious selection at No. 1. But Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is sick of losing and wants to win now. With Noel out until December, he can’t help a team win now. A trade possibility is likely, but that may require the Cavs to give up some of their young assets, which would dig into their bench. Whatever they do in this draft, they will have to keep in mind their bench because they have seven of their bench players in the free agent market.