In a summer full of questionable decisions, with parting ways with general manager David Griffin and not hiring another general manager (or president) ahead of free agency at the top of the list, the Cleveland Cavaliers have had quite the offseason. With owner Dan Gilbert receiving much of the heat, all these questionable decisions have come in what could be LeBron James’ final offseason in Cleveland. Going into the final year on his current deal, No. 23 could decide to leave the Cavaliers next summer if he so chooses.
At a time where the Cavs must improve their roster in order to beat the juggernaut Golden State Warriors, the latest decision that has drawn plenty of questions is the Cavaliers choosing to go after Cedi Osman, who has no NBA experience, rather than sign Jamal Crawford. According to cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon, Crawford would have joined the wine and gold if they offered him the full MLE ($5.2 million). Instead, he signed a two-year, $8.9 million deal with the Timberwolves. If Cleveland had used the full MLE to sign Crawford, it would have meant that the Cavs would not have been able to sign Osman, but also that they would have had nothing else to sign free agents other than the veteran’s minimum.
Osman, who has yet to play a single second in the NBA, is likely to sign with the Cavs for part of the MLE. The forward has played in the Euroleague and Turkish League since 2011. This past season he averaged 7.1 and nine points in the two leagues.
At 6-foot-8, he has the size to play in the NBA, but with no experience, there are plenty of questions. Will he be able to play meaningful minutes in the postseason? Will he help the team this season, in what could be James’ last in Cleveland, as much as Crawford could have? Although Crawford struggles on the defensive end, he has plenty of talent offensively and could have even played in the backup point guard role off the bench as well.
In his career, the most games Osman has played in a single season is 70, which was this past one. Before that, the most he has played was 66 (and then 61, 41, and 34). If he’s on the Cavs next season, there’s a good chance that Osman will be playing at least 95-100 games in one season. That, on top of being a rookie and adjusting to the NBA game, could be quite a difficult transition to make.
While Crawford struggles defensively, Osman appears to be a solid pick-and-roll defender, which the NBA loves to use in order to find mismatches. With his height and athletic ability, he also seems to be a good three-and-D player, a type of player that could made an immediate impact for the Cavs. But, the biggest question is how Osman’s game will transition from Europe to the NBA, where the two are remarkably different.
For years, the Cavs have needed to get much younger, especially off the bench. Osman will allow this to happen to an extent, but with no experience in the NBA, is it the right move? Only time will tell, but passing on a veteran for a rookie could prove costly down the road.