For The Land, Tuesday was expected to be for the Cleveland Indians, not the Cleveland Cavaliers. But, in a very strange and unexpected sequence of events, the wine and gold cut ties with center Larry Sanders and signed big man Edy Tavares on the second to last day of the regular season, according to The Vertical’s Shams Charania.
Just days after they surprisingly waived DeAndre Liggins and replaced him with guard Dahntay Jones, the Cavs thought that another roster shakeup was necessary. Make of this what you will, but the deadline to sign anyone that can be eligible to play in the postseason is Wednesday, so Cleveland making these two last minute moves definitely raises some eyebrows.
Since the day the Cavaliers signed Sanders in mid-March, the big man hasn’t contributed much—if at all—in the NBA. In fact, the majority of his playing time has come with the team’s D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge. Although he played well in Canton, the transition didn’t go as smoothly as the Cavs must have been preparing for. With starting center Tristan Thompson missing the last four games due to a sprained right thumb, Sanders has played in just two significant (non garbage time) minutes, which has led to the wine and gold releasing the 28-year-old and experimenting with 7-foot-3 center, Tavares.
Originally a second-round pick by the Atlanta Hawks in 2014, the 25-year-old has spent the majority of his time in the D-League, playing for Raptors 905. This season, Tavares averaged 10.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2.7 blocks per game while shooting 59 percent from the floor in 23.6 minutes per game (48 games, 41 starts) while helping his team reach the D-League’s championship series.
Although Jones and Tavares are the 14th- and 15th-best players on the roster, this roster shakeup has to be a bit concerning. Jones was most likely brought on to be a leader and positive voice in the locker room, but on a team that is trying to win back-to-back championships, do they really need another leader, rather than some young, energetic player like Liggins. Then there’s Tavares. Having played just 12 games in the NBA (11 in 2015-16 and one in 2016-17, all with the Hawks), the 7-foot-3 rim protector seems like a pure project. With the Cavs in win-now mode, signing a project like Tavares less than 24 hours before their final regular season game seems odd, right? Then again, who can say no to signing one of the biggest players in the NBA, one that has an 8-foot wingspan.
Here’s a highlight reel of some of Tavares’ best plays from this season:
One play and that is not on the highlight reel was when 5-foot-9 guard Nate Robinson literally went through Tavares’ legs, which proves just how tall the big man is (and how short Robinson is):
Either way, although Jones and Tavares will most likely rarely get playing time during the postseason, the Cavs, who are on a quest to win their second championship in as many years, made two very surprising rosters moves during the 11th hour. Luckily (and finally), following Wednesday night’s regular season finale, it’s playoff time, Cleveland!