The Cleveland Cavaliers have (finally) made a move in free agency. To give Wine and Gold fans something else to celebrate on Independence Day, former Los Angeles Lakers small forward Earl Clark and the Cavs have agreed to terms on a two-year, $9 million deal according to a source that reached out to Sporting News. This move will be made official on July 10, and Clark’s contract will have a team option for the second season. Clark met with the Cavaliers on Monday and Wednesday, so the move was inevitable at this point.
With this move, it solidifies that the Cavaliers will most likely end their search for a small forward through free agency this season and will look to have Clark, Alonzo Gee and wings C.J. Miles and Sergey Karasev compete for the starting three job (Miles is more of a two, however). Anthony Bennett, as stated by general manager Chris Grant and head coach Mike Brown after the No. 1 overall selection, will come off the bench at the four it seems, so he won’t be competing for the starting three job right off the bench.
Not spending a lot on a small forward in free agency this season is a smart move, as it saves money for what looks to be a star-packed offseason in 2014 that is already being talked about before this free agency period gets heated up.
Last season in Los Angeles, Clark appeared in 59 games and started 36 for the Lakers under head coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense. During that time, Clark averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 23.1 minutes, while shooting 44.0 percent from the field, 33.7 percent from three and 69.7 percent from the free throw line. My early guess is that Clark will earn a starting job for the Cavaliers, as his play progressed for the Purple and Gold as the season went on. Clark’s size (6-10, 225 pounds) allows him to match up well against other threes in the league and even allows him to cover the four position when needed. Clark started for the injured Pau Gasol last season as well. Therefore, this selection fills both a positional and defensive need for the Cavs, something that fans should be very happy about even though Clark isn’t a huge name.
The team option in the contract means that Cleveland could be gearing up to go after a big SF prospect in the 2014 free agency period if Clark doesn’t pan out the way the team imagines. Clark received more money than I initially thought he would, but I like how this deal will put Cleveland in a position to compete for a lower playoff seed this season. Because quite frankly, Alonzo Gee is better suited off the bench and wasn’t getting the job done averaging 31.0 minutes (averaged 10.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 11-12).
What do you think of the Cavaliers’ first offseason move? Leave your comments in the section below.