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NBA Free Agency Rumors: Cavs linked to Earl Clark, Darren Collison

The Cleveland Cavliers have reportedly expressed early interest in free agents Earl Clark, CJ Watson and Darren Collison.

FOX Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico reports that Chris Grant is one of the many NBA general managers who hit the ground running at the onset of the league’s free agency period which began at midnight on July 1. The Cavaliers are reportedly focusing on post defense as well as a reserve point guard to provide depth behind All-Star Kyrie Irving.

Clark, 25, is a former lottery pick ofthe Phoenix Suns. The 6-foot-10-inch big man has spent time in Phoenix, Orlando and (most recently) with the Los Angeles Lakers, largely in a reserve role. Clark averaged 7.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.6 steals and 0.7 blocks per game and earned some time in the Lakers starting lineup after his three-point prowess was seen as an advantage over the lane-clogging Pau Gasol. A “stretch” four, Clark is reportedly visiting with the Cavaliers on Tuesday.

Watson has had a successful career as a reserve point guard, recently providing relief for All-Star guards Derrick Rose and Deron Williams. His per-36 minute numbers have been solid throughout his career, averaging 13.5 points, 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals. Watson shared an agent with former Cavaliers guard Ramon Sessions. Amico reports that he and the Cavaliers still maintain a solid relationship, and that the agent is “impressed” with the Cavaliers’ organization.

Collison would likely represent the most upside of the three players mentioned as the 25-year-old point guard has averaged 12.1 points and 5.2 assists throughout his four-year career, playing as a starter as well as a reserve. What he lacks in size (just 6-feet tall), Collison makes up in quickness and efficiency—he shot 47.1 percent from the floor in 2012-13. Collison also adds playoff experience, having made the postseason twice with the Indiana Pacers.

The Cavaliers entered the free agency period with roughly $19 million in salary cap space for the coming season, having not extended qualifying offers to guard Wayne Ellington and forward Omri Casspi. The team is also expected to look into adding center Andrew Bynum, being one of several teams interested in the 7-footer.

[Related: The NBA Draft may be complete, but Chris Grant’s job is just getting started]

  • dwhit110

    I know Watson is said to be pretty solid defensively, how does Collison do on the defensive end?

  • boomhauertjs

    I’d be ok with Watson as long as they don’t overpay. He’d be a capable replacement during the inevitable Kyrie injuries. If Andy’s healthy and Clark is signed, I guess Zeller is relegated to 5th big.

  • JHop

    Isn’t Earl Clark’s playing style an awful lot like Bennett’s? Clark may be better at outside shooting, but the fundamental player type is the same.

  • Andy P

    Cavs definitely have more than 19 mil. Speights opted out. Depending on Livingston, K Jones and C Quinn, they could have almost $22 mil.

  • Alex Ralston

    I like Watson from a D standpoint, but would prefer Collison to run that 2nd unit. If we came out of this with either Id feel good about our backup PG. Id still like to see another SF and I hope they make a poison pill offer to Pekovic as well.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Said it this weekend I’d be talking to the Nets CJ Watson as a backup guard and I’d be in heavy talks with the Rockets about trading for Asik. I wasn’t a fan of him as a free agent from Chicago but the guy quietly put together a very nice season last year. He’d be a great, real, defensive big man to have for the Cavaliers.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Rather have Watson I mean Collison lost his starting spot to Mike James for God’s sake in Dallas.

  • JHop

    That’s unfair. We all know that Collison couldn’t compete with LeBron’s non-evil twin brother.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Brother? More like uncle!

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • Ben Frambaugh

    I really don’t like Pekovic…he doesn’t do much to help us defensively…not as much as Asik does. If we’re going after a cener, I’d prefer him.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Which kind of might be the point. Get a guy in to show Bennett the ropes. While Bennett and TT are both Canadians, their play styles are so different that TT might not be the best guy to help Bennett reach his fullest potential. Clark might be a guy to really help him tap into that.

  • dwhit110

    Much agreed. I’m rooting hard for Houston to win the D12 sweepstakes so we might be able to cherry-pick Asik from them. Gotta wonder if Zeller plus a couple of future picks would do it. Add Watson and a competent SF (Martell Webster? Dorrel Wright?) and I love that offseason.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I believe Pekovic is a restricted free agent as well.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I was trying to imagine who/what the Cavaliers would do to get Asik since Houston obviously wants to save as much $ as possible to sign Howard. I was thinking maybe Miles but Zeller could be a possibility as well.

  • Harv 21

    I like all of these guys. But wonder if this means Shaun Livingston thinks his knee is sound enough to seek starter’s money. Really like his game, and could see him building Bennett’s confidence with easy feeds on the bench unit.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I read somewhere that he’s basically looking to make the most money he can. It may not necessarily be a starters role/pay check, but if we offer him 9M over 2 years and Charlotte offers him 9.5M over 2 years, I’m fairly certain he is going to Charlotte.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I’d be more than willing to part with Zeller, Miles and some future picks to get Asik.
    The guys I’d want to keep are Irving, Waiters, TT and Karasev (I’m not a Bennett fan at all, LOL). I could accept almost anyone else leaving the team. I’d hate to see Andy go, but I’d move him for Asik.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I think that we have around 19M because of the cap holds from our two 1st rounders…and I think that we automatically factor in vet minimum for fleshing out the rest of the roster (minimum of 12 positions.)

  • Harv 21

    And I wouldn’t blame him one bit, not with what he’s gone through and all the millions that injury made him leave on the table.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Yup – I’d like for the Cavs to keep him (for a reasonable price) and hope that our reasonable price is just good enough to get him to come back. I really liked watching him play with the 2nd team guys.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Varejao could be a distinct possibility given his expiring contract. Probably even more then Zeller. Varejao/Miles/pick for Asik or Asik and swap of picks perhaps.

    The Cavaliers could replace Miles that’s why I’d throw him in. Figure Houston would want shooters around Howard.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I dont’ know that Varejao could be a part of it. If they’re looking to cut money to get Dwight, then they’ll need cheaper contracts (because Asik is making like 8.4M this year.) The only way Varejao is going anywhere is in a separate deal (or we take back more money…potentially getting T-Rob and Asik for Varejao/Miles.)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Looks like Watson might go to Indiana. Golden State supposedly offering one of my favorite players David Lee. Houston traded Thomas Robinson. Denver traded Koufos.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yea I forgot what Varejao was making but Houston traded Robinson to Portland.

  • Andy P

    I’m including the cap holds. Cap Room = $21,209,363

    Anderson Varejao$9,036,364
    Kyrie Irving $5,607,240
    Anthony Bennett $4,436,900
    Tristan Thompson$4,062,000
    Dion Waiters $3,894,240
    Alonzo Gee $3,250,000
    CJ Miles $2,225,000(U)
    Tyler Zeller $1,633,440
    Sergei Karasev $1,280,800
    Shaun Livingston$884,293(H)
    Carrick Felix $490,180
    Minimum Roster $490,180(H)

    Total
    $37,290,637

  • Ben Frambaugh

    If I remember right, the cap hold for a rookie is less than their actual salary once they are signed. Most rookies have been getting the 120% over the cap hold (the maximum allowable for a rookie)…which may account for some of the difference too.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I see what it is now…the article was written on 8 June…and Speights hadn’t opted out yet.