Cavaliers

Do the Cavaliers have any keepers beyond their two rookies?

Alonzo Gee, Shelden Williams

I’ve seen this go through the Twitterverse and it has come up among conversations with other Cavalier fans in person. There is a strong belief among many that the Cavaliers will, in as little as two years time, have 13 new players on the roster, with only Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson remaining.

While the Cavs certainly don’t have another dynamic core player emerging from the makeup of this team anytime soon, I do think that they currently have a few young players (or guys young enough to play a role in two years) that can help fill out a 9-10 man rotation. While I believe the core of this team other than Kyrie and Tristan is going to come from their large amount of cap room and subsequent drafts, the idea that only those two will remain is not something with which I agree.

I’m going to start by talking about the current players that I feel could play a role on a contending team in two years. I’m talking about Daniel Gibson, Alonzo Gee, Samardo Samuels, and Omri Casspi.

Gibson has already been a key piece to contending teams, and at 25, he’s still young enough to make an impact for several years. With a reasonable contract that runs through the end of next season (where he is slated to make $4.8 million), I think there’s a chance that the Cavaliers would re-sign Gibson. He has gone from a defensive liability that lacked strength to a key bench player that has found his shot again and now can defend a decent chunk of NBA shooting guards. He’s battled through some injuries, but overall, I wouldn’t mind having Gibson around as a backup shooting guard. Contenders need shot-makers off the bench, and when he’s healthy, there aren’t many better than Boobie.

Gee, 24 and a free agent at season’s end, has had his moments this season where he has battled defensively against some of the best in the NBA, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony to name a few. His explosiveness in the open floor is undeniable, and if Alonzo can continue to build on his defensive prowess throughout this season, I would think the Cavaliers would like to bring him back at a reasonable rate. Gee’s offense is limited in the sense that he’s a below average foul shooter and hasn’t yet figured out his internal 24-second shot clock, but I really do think that can improve with more NBA time. Remember, he’s played just 85 career NBA games.

It might be comical to you that I feel Samuels, who cannot even stay in the rotation now, will be any sort of player when the roster is upgraded. While that’s true, he’s currently not in the rotation now primarily because of their desire to see what they have with Semih Erden. Right now, there’s no doubt in my mind that Samuels is way more effective than either Semih or Ryan Hollins. Samardo takes charges, has developed a decent mid-range jumper, is a tough body in the paint that won’t be moved off his spot, and he can rebound. What’s not to like as your 9th-10th guy in your rotation as your fourth big? Samardo just turned 23, and he would be coming out of Louisville this season had he stayed all four seasons.

As for Omri Casspi, I mainly put him on here because of his age (23) and his previous starting role in Sacramento (10.3 ppg in just 25 minutes per game in ’09-’10 at 21 years old). So far, he’s been a little underwhelming in Cleveland, but he can be under team control for at least two more years after this one, and I think either Casspi or Gee establishes themselves as the backup small forward for the next few years.

Next, let’s touch base with players on the roster that are talented, but I think may eventually be traded for younger talent or draft picks. The two most easily identifiable in this category are Anderson Varejao and Ramon Sessions. If they’re here, they’ll play a role and be in the rotation. If they’re not, I would like to think that they could return a first-round pick (at least in the case of Varejao). Sessions has his limitations too, but there’s a handful of teams that would take him right now as their starting point and many others who would value him as a key reserve. Ramon has a player option for next season at around $4.5 million. If Varejao is here, he’ll play a huge role, but as we’ve discussed here in the past, there’s the dilemma that Andy is currently 29, and in a couple of years, it’s likely that his production will begin to decline. The team controls Andy for three years after this one.

There’s also been the concern that maybe we really only have one longterm player. There is the possibility that should the Cavaliers make it to the top of the lottery once again this season, they could go best player available and wind up selecting a power forward. Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson, and Jared Sullinger all could be selected around where the Cavaliers pick in that scenario.  What do you do with Tristan Thompson then? Well, for starters, I think he immediately becomes valuable trade bait, though I wouldn’t pull the trigger in year one. In the NBA’s constantly evolving center position, perhaps both Davis or Sullinger would be able to steal some minutes at the center position. Outside of Howard and Bynum, how many dominant scoring centers are there left? The five spot is becoming more athletic everyday, and some of those young players may be able to fill the slot coupled with Varejao or another legitimate center.

If what I have summarized isn’t true, there is the school of thought that it’s not the worst thing in the world. There’s a process that teams go through for transition, and the team can’t just gut everything immediately. Building cap space, gathering draft picks, and avoiding hefty contracts for older players will allow those players to come fast and furious. So, the Cavaliers may be still be waiting for three future starters for their core to come via cap room or the draft, but if you ask me, some of their future bench is here right now.

(Photo: Tony Dejak/AP)

  • porkchopxpress

    Kirk I think you’re as close to right as possible with that list.  Personally I’d like to see Samardo and Semih stay, I just don’t think you can have enough bulky bigs sitting on your bench.
    I think I’m in the minority but I don’t see Andy’s skills falling off in the next 3-5 years.  Bigs age better than littles and its not like he’s going to lose his “athletic burst”, and I see a real value in having him long term.
    Just my personal take on it but I’d start by saying if either Thomas Robinson or Perry Jones fall to our position I’d grab them.  Occassionally running a big lineup of Andy, T2, Perry Jones, shooter to be named below and Iriving would create a lot of problems.  That is a long rangy group kind of like the Lakers running Pau, Bynum, and Odom.
    I’d keep Gee over Omri just because I think he has more upside.  I believe in the axiom its easier to teach an athlete to shoot than a shooter to be an athlete. 
    Lastly if you look at the list of Small Forwards and Shooting guards hitting the FA market next summer (2013) there is room for the Cavs to sign one or even two guys that have a lot of potential. 
    http://www.hoopsworld.com/2013-nba-free-agents

     Between James Harden, Monta Ellis, Kevin Martin, Andre Iggy, Demarr Deroazan, an on and on.  The small forward list has some potential too   There is certainly going to be one or two quality players for Cleveland to take a shot at. 
    Anyway thats a long winded way of saying  I agree there are about 3-4 guys that could be contributors on this team outside of Irving and Thompson

  • Anonymous

    Gee has shown he’s willing to put in work in the offseason.  If this remains true, he might develop into a good ball player.  As it is, he’s a decent defender, and a slasher.  His shot has gotten better, but he doesn’t trust it enough, leading him to make bad decisions and turn the ball over.

    I like Gibson’s D now, but if he isn’t hitting 3s he’s worthless on Offense.  If we can find a better replacement SG I’d let him walk.

    Not a fan of Samardo and think he’ll be out of the league in a few years.  Unless he can figure out that if a player is standing still in front of the hoop he can’t run him over every time.  And that you have to be in shape to play in the league as an Undrafted FA.

  • Ike

    Generally agree with this article.  I know the Cavs are still an improving team, but they already have one of the best second units/benches in the NBA.  The Cavs are currently 5th in the NBA in bench scoring and players like Gee, Sessions, and Samuels are largely behind that.  Sessions probably won’t be around long term but the Cavs would be wise to keep Gee and/or Samuels around.

  • Yeah

    Good analysis though I keep Eyenga as well. And as far as PF in the draft I take Henson from UNC over anyone not named Davis on this draft. With his wingspan, u could most def play him and TT at the same time. I think Henson is Rasheed Redux…

  • Floydrubino

    I like the article. I think that alonzo gee(only because of defense) and Samardo Samuels will stick around but not the other players. I am hoping that gibson can go somewhere out west who has a great team but needs a guard so he can be in the playoffs. Gibson is not part of the rebuilding process and he is one of those players you hook up since he stayed in cleveland going to like the spurs or mavericks if they need somebody. If we still have Omri Casspi then we are the worst team in the league. He is soft defensively and he does not score enough. There is no way he will amount to anything then maybe the 12th best player on a good team. Not that this is on the subject but i hope we make a play for brandon paul from illinois. He would be awesome with kyrie for years to come and if we can somehow trade our #1 for next year and grab 2 1st rounders this year then we could let these guys gel together. I know we could be giving up a really high draft pick but this guy is ranked like 15th so if we could get him and another stud our roster is starting to look good. We have to get an off guard or small forward that has the ability to get around 18-20 a game for kyrie to be his most effective.

  • Floydrubino

    I like the article. I think that alonzo gee(only because of defense) and Samardo Samuels will stick around but not the other players. I am hoping that gibson can go somewhere out west who has a great team but needs a guard so he can be in the playoffs. Gibson is not part of the rebuilding process and he is one of those players you hook up since he stayed in cleveland going to like the spurs or mavericks if they need somebody. If we still have Omri Casspi then we are the worst team in the league. He is soft defensively and he does not score enough. There is no way he will amount to anything then maybe the 12th best player on a good team. Not that this is on the subject but i hope we make a play for brandon paul from illinois. He would be awesome with kyrie for years to come and if we can somehow trade our #1 for next year and grab 2 1st rounders this year then we could let these guys gel together. I know we could be giving up a really high draft pick but this guy is ranked like 15th so if we could get him and another stud our roster is starting to look good. We have to get an off guard or small forward that has the ability to get around 18-20 a game for kyrie to be his most effective.

  • Floydrubino

    I agree with keeping gee because omri is not going to score enough to be worth his horrible defense. The small forward/shooting guard is an absolute must for the cavs. We need someone that can score. It is going to be tough to get anyone free agent wise so we have to build through the draft. James harden i hear wants crazy money monta ellis is injury prone. Iggy will never sign with us and kevin martin is alright but nothing to get to excited about. The guy if we went after anyone would be Demarr Deroazan if we can get him reasonable. I think he has the most upside out of anyone the cavs could actually get. Most likely though someone will even throw a lot of money at him too because of his upside.

  • Alonzo Gee should be kept unless some team blows him away with a huge offer sheet. He has shown capable defense, ability to get to the rim, improved shooting, and has been able to get to the line. Doesn’t look like a starter, but a solid sixth man still has value. 

  • Thomas Pestak

    I agree with PorkChop.  Varejao will be Varejao for a long time.  He also is a fairly young 29 when you look at minutes played.  He started playing when he was 22, not 18, and he’s always been a bench player, not a 40 minute guy.  And yeah, he’s might lose those “slashing” abilities he’s never had, but who cares.  I think last year was really him entering his prime and it was cut short with injury.  So this is why we’re seeing him at his best.  I expect this kind of production for the next 2 years, and then a gradual taper off, especially offensively.  As for your list, I’d like to see the Cavs keep Boobie, but he can definitely help a contender.  I also like Samuels – he actually has a post game. 

  • Anonymous

    I would like to see us keep whichever of the bigs that develops. Like porkchop said, you can never have enough, especially if they stay healthy.

    I don’t see the team cutting ties with Gibson b/c I think he’ll stay here for cheap.

    I also think that they’ll keep Andy until he is past his prime. But I also think he has 4 or more solid years in him.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with most of what is above.

    I think Gibson would like to play for his hometown Rockets while he still has something left in his tank.   I think that will be our primary competition for his services and they (like the Cavs) are pretty crafty in their metrics and will know his value.

    And, I would be calling the Magic right now about Sessions.  Jameer is either hurt or teams have really figured out how to play him because he hasn’t been able to handle pressure at all and noone they have tried their has either.  They need to ‘save their season’ right now with Dwight in his last year and Sessions is “good enough” (could bite them like the Jiri Welsch deal for us, but it’s still possible they do it)

    I think it’ll work for the Brandon Bass trade exception the Magic have (and their 1st obviously). I don’t want Duhon and his contract here.

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