After the Cavs shocked NBA fans by selecting Anthony Bennett first overall, general manager Chris Grant moves onto free agency looking to fill the team’s biggest need: small forward.
There are only a handful of small forwards in the NBA free agency pool, including Earl Clark, Corey Brewer, Andre Iguodala and Chris Copeland. None of these players averaged more than 13 points per game.
As these players wait for payday, the Cavs only have one small forward on their roster — Alonzo Gee. They drafted two players: Anthony Bennett – who Grant said will play power forward – and Sergey Karasev – who is better suited at shooting guard – and are still in need of another small forward.
Of the small forward free-agent targets, Iguodala seems to be an unrealistic possibility after he opted out of a $15-million contract with the Denver Nuggets and the Cavs won’t offer anything close to that amount. The remaining names, Clark, Brewer and Copeland, were all role players for their respected teams. The three combined for 50 starts last season, with Clark leading the way with 36 starts in Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced Lakers offense. He was drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft by the Phoenix Suns. He was drafted as a power forward. Over time, he has developed his game into a small forward’s game. He developed into a scoring threat for the Lakers off the bench and worked his way into the starting lineup.
Everyone knows this team can’t succeed with Alonzo Gee in their starting lineup; he’s better suited as a bench player. Below are the stats of the free-agent targets the Cavs will be looking at, including Gee’s:
|Games Started||Minutes||FG %||3P%||RPG||APG||PPG|
The stats are less than spectacular, however, Copeland stands out. He played in 56 games last season, and until the second half of the season, no one knew who he was. When Mike Woodson started giving him more minutes, he performed well and started making a name for himself. Although Indiana is reported to be the frontrunner to land Copeland, the Cavs will still reach out to the 29-year-old.
The Cavs have $19.5 million in cap space and would like to keep the good majority of that open entering 2014 free agency. However, the NBA requires teams to spend at least 90 percent of their salary cap – which is set at approximately $58.5 million. This means that the Cavs are still required to spend $13.65 million.
Cleveland is expected to sign a small forward, but the signing isn’t expected to fill their need. A signing will only bring depth to the position. And when you look at the stats, it looks like the Cavs will only bring in another Gee to bring mediocre play to the position.
If the Cavs want to improve at that position, it won’t be able to be done via free agency, and they will need to look at trade possibilities.
Teams are gearing up for the 2014 offseason, where it is expected to be the best draft since 2003, and with LeBron James capable of opting out of his contract with the Miami Heat, free agency is expected to be another roller coaster ride.
The likeliness of the Cavs signing a small forward is really high. However, the likeliness of them filling their small forward need is not as high. Owner Dan Gilbert made it clear at the NBA Lottery that he doesn’t want to come back, meaning he wants his team in the playoffs. After not selecting a small forward in the draft, the team still faces their biggest need.
If you’re looking for a major improvement at this position, this year’s free agency won’t bring it. Cleveland will have to wait until 2014 to fill their biggest need.