When the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick on June 27, a certain crowd began to raise questions about the recent decisions of Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant. For the doubters to be silenced, the club would have to be active in the free agency period. And they have been.
On July 10, when all teams were able to make their signings official, the Wine and Gold added a third free agent to go along with new additions point guard Jarrett Jack and forward Earl Clark. That third addition was center Andrew Bynum. Let’s grade each one:
Earl Clark - 6’10” Forward
Although I praise all of the moves made by Grant and the front office, the signing of Earl Clark is my least favorite of the three additions. Clark’s deal is for two years, $9 million. He is still young, at 25, but to me, we didn’t need another “position-less” forward. We already have Bennett, which as we know, is a bit of a tweener. Clark is too. He has the height of a power forward, but his style of play does not correspond with the typical power forward. He spends a lot of time away from the basket, and frankly, he does not even shoot that well while he is out on the perimeter. Last year for the Los Angeles Lakers, he shot 34 percent from three-point territory. As for playing small forward, Mike Brown most likely will experiment with playing him there because of the hole the Cavaliers have at that spot on the roster. I think his role will be greater in the Wine and Gold’s offense this upcoming season compared to last year for the Lakers, where he averaged about 23 minutes per game. By spending a little more time on the floor, I believe Clark can grow as a player and can improve on his areas of weakness. And by doing so, Clark could be able to contribute for the 2013-14 Cavaliers.
Jarrett Jack - 6”3” Guard
I love the Cavaliers bringing in Jack. They will have him for the next four seasons, with his deal being worth a reported $25 million. He will most likely be the first guy off the bench for the Wine and Gold next season. He is 29 years old with seven years of experience in the league. He will bring a much needed scoring punch to the bench. In the 2012-13 Postseason, Jack was able to average 17.2 points for the Golden State Warriors. The best part about inking Jack this offseason is that he will be a major upgrade over Shaun Livingston, who backed up Kyrie Irving last year. I do not want to mention it, but *knock-on-wood* if Kyrie Irving does get injured again next season and has to miss a considerable amount of time, Jack will be a serviceable fill-in until Irving is able to get back on the hardwood. If Jack can maintain his level of production from last year, I believe that Chris Grant will have spent money very wisely by investing it in the veteran pont guard.
Andrew Bynum - 7’0” Center
This signing solidified the offseason for me. When the Cavaliers did not use any of their four draft picks on a big man, I anticipated them trying to sign one in free agency. Andrew Bynum turned out to be that guy. His reported deal is an incentive-rich two-year deal. The second year is a club option, which is a huge victory for the front office. Fortunately, if Bynum is banged up with injuries next season, the team has the ability to drop him while only taking a salary hit of $6 million, which is all the guaranteed money in the deal. If the Bynum from 2011-12 reappears in Wine and Gold next season, they could bring him back for a second season and ultimately pay him up to $24.5 million if all the built-in incentives are reached. Now, which scenario will happen is tough to predict. If a healthy Bynum, like the one who averaged nearly 19 points and 12 rebounds two seasons ago, shows up, then this ultimately will be considered a fantastic signing. And even if that caliber player does not show up next season, Grant and the rest of the Cavaliers’ front office should be praised for their willingness to go out and roll the dice on a possible All-Star caliber player.