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The Rodney Hood sweepstakes seem to be down to the Cavs, Kings, and Bulls

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He’s a restricted free agent, but the Cleveland Cavaliers have made it known all offseason — especially over the last week or so since LeBron James left for the Los Angeles Lakers — that they want to re-sign Rodney Hood. General manager Koby Altman has continuously stated the shooting guard is “part of our plans” and head coach Tyronn Lue has continued to praise him as well.

Although he’s still technically on the open market, it seems as though it’s down to a three-team race for who will sign Hood this offseason. According to Yahoo! Sports Insider Jordan Schultz, the sweepstakes are down to three teams: The Cavs, Sacramento Kings, and Chicago Bulls.

Prior to being traded to the Cavaliers at last February’s trade deadline, Hood was on pace for a career year with the Utah Jazz. He was efficient along with averaging a career-high 16.8 points per game. But, whether it was the fact that he was in a new city, trying to adjust to new teammates, dealing with injuries, or something else, the shooting guard went on to struggle mightily with the Cavs, his worst since his rookie season in 2014-15.

The 6-foot-8, 206-pound wing was supposed to provide length defensively while being someone the wine and gold could count on to create for himself and make open three-pointers on the offensive end. Instead, Hood averaged just 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 25.3 minutes per game while shooting 44.2 percent from the floor and 35.2 percent from beyond the arc in 21 regular season games (11 starts).

If you thought he couldn’t get any worse for Hood’s first season in Cleveland, you thought wrong. The postseason was much, much worse. He averaged just 5.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists while shooting 42.4 percent from the floor and a dismal 16.7 percent from three-point range in 15.3 minutes a night. Whether it was his inconsistency or the fact that his postseason included six DNP-CDs, it was obvious that the Cavs didn’t trust him when it mattered most.

While he may have struggled, what gave the Cave hope was the way Hood played in Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals. After a less-than-stellar first three-and-a-half rounds of the playoffs, Hood had 24 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals while making 11-of-25 shots from the field in 53 minutes during the final two games of the series. Whether it was his ability to create his own shot or just the fact that he seemed to gain some confidence, it was clear that Lue trusted him is a key part off the bench. Hood provided a much-needed spark for the Cavs, even if it didn’t really mean anything in the end.

Other than the fact that Hood still seems to have plenty of potentials, especially now that he has gained some chemistry with his teammates, those last two games of the postseason seem to be one of the key reasons why the Cavs want Hood back. Then again, without LeBron James next season (and beyond), the wine and gold will need as much scoring as possible and Hood may be someone that can lean on night in and night out.

The Kings missed out on Zach LaVine, who they signed to a four-year, $80 million offer sheet that was matched by the Bulls, so it’s obvious that they’re still in search of an athletic wing player that can provide scoring and length.

Due to the Cavs extending a $3.4 million qualifying offer to Hood, he is a restricted free agent. This means that even if another team offers the shooting guard a deal, Cleveland has 48 hours to match it, no matter the length or amount of the deal.

If one of those teams—or any other team in the league—decides to overpay Hood, the Cavs may lose him for nothing. But if no one offers him a deal or low-balls the shooting guard, Cleveland can match the offer or create their own offer, bringing Hood back next season. His recent injuries and inconsistencies may be worrisome, but it’s well worth bringing back a young player like Hood, especially at the right price.