The Cleveland Cavaliers’ plan for saving their season, mounting a proper title defense and defeating the Warriors involves picking up a pair of cast-offs from the 23-35 Dallas Mavericks.
Fuming over the Golden State Warriors’ signing of Kevin Durant, LeBron James has spent much of the season bellyaching about the Cavs’ roster, pleading with the front office to land a “playmaker.” They’ve been without JR Smith since December, then Kevin Love went down two weeks ago with arthroscopic surgery on his knee, and both men are expected to be sidelined until late March. Cleveland brought in professional shooter Kyle Korver in January to help fill in for Smith, but then the trade deadline came and went while the Cavs did nothing more. They have enough talent to hold onto the #1 seed in the East, but they need help, because the Wizards might be for real, the Celtics won’t go away, the Warriors are ridiculous and LeBron’s been playing too many minutes (38.3 mpg since Christmas).
So now comes word that the Cavs are about to sign Deron Williams, who was recently waived by the Mavs. Once an elite point guard, Williams has injured and aged his way to being little more than a serviceable veteran, averaging 13-3-7 while playing OK defense. Williams coming off the bench gives the Cavs tremendous depth at the point.
Bogut, for his part, ended a brief and injury-riddled tenure in Dallas by getting traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Nerlens Noel trade, and is now trying to negotiate his way out of town with an eye toward joining a playoff team. Bogut’s only played 26 games this year, averaging just 3 points and 8 rebounds, so you gotta wonder what the Cavs see in him. The Cavs only have one big man, Tristan Thompson, who can do the dirty work on the glass and in the lane, thanks to the hole left by the departure of Timofey Mozgov this past summer. Current backup center Channing Frye shoots the 3 as well as any big man in the game, but he’s not much of a rebounder and can’t really clog the lane the way Bogut can. Also, Bogut knows the Warriors as well as anyone not currently employed by the team, which could pay big dividends come June.
If the Cavs get both veterans, Cleveland will have ultimately answered the Durant signing by acquiring Kyle Korver, Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut, which doesn’t seem like nearly enough. But the truth is, it makes the Cavs better at three roster spots than the 2016 title team. And who honestly thought that squad had enough to win it all.
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