With the NBA Summer League concluding last week, the offseason is now in full effect. Without LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers now have some wiggle room under the luxury-tax apron, something that the team hasn’t had in recent years. With that, it’s time for the Cavs to figure out different ways to not only improve their team this year but to get younger and continue to try and increase their cap room going forward as well.
Getting a big-name free agent this summer will be close to impossible, but it doesn’t mean the wine and gold can’t improve their roster, especially with some much-needed depth. With that said, the Cavs seem to be eyeing three players right now, according to cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon. The three are David Nwaba, Luke Babbitt, and Trevor Booker. Nwaba and the Cavs have mutual interest, while Cleveland just had “basic” talks with the latter two.
Nwaba was a restricted free agent until the Chicago Bulls rescinded his qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. The 25-year-old averaged 7.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from beyond the arc while taking just 52 three-pointers. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard averaged 23.5 minutes a night while playing in 70 games (21 starts) during his second season in the NBA.
While providing depth at small forward and power forward, Babbitt would also give the Cavs another three-point shooter. In 50 games with the Atlanta Hawks (37 games, nine starts) and Miami Heat (13, five), the 6-foot-9 sharpshooter averaged 5.2 points and 1.9 rebounds while shooting 42.3 percent from the floor and 38.5 percent from long distance in 14.3 minutes per game. Although he was on pace for one of the best seasons of his eight-year career, Babbitt struggled mightily during the second half of the season with the Heat. He shot just 23.4 percent from the field and 24.4 percent from three-point range while averaging just 2.5 points a night, his worst since his rookie season in 2010-11.
Unlike the other two, Booker would add some muscle at power forward and is nowhere close to a knockdown shooter from deep. Cavs fans might remember him from the opening round of the East Playoffs this past April when his Indiana Pacers took the Cavs to seven games. In 68 games last season, the 30-year-old averaged 6.3 points and 1.2 rebounds a game. While splitting team between the Brooklyn Nets (18 games), Philadelphia 76ers (33), and Pacers (17), Booker shot 51.6 percent from the field and 24.2 percent from three-point range.
Although the Cavs have talked to these three free agents, with mutual interest coming from Nwaba, the team is “exploring all options” when it comes to how they will use their salary-cap exceptions.
The wine and gold have two exceptions they can use to add players: The $8.6 full mid-level exception (which can also be $37 million over four years) and the $3.3 bi-annual exception (which can be $7 million over two years).
While Cleveland has their eyes on these three, keep in mind that they also want to bring back restricted free agent Rodney Hood as well.