One of the many topics in the Cavaliers’ front-office meetings at season’s end will be what to do with the players on the bench or those with expiring contracts.
The futures of David Nwaba, Marquese Chriss and Nik Stauskas are extremely cloudy. Several others will be the subject of trade talks.
Here is a quick breakdown:
Nwaba: A free agent, it is doubtful the Cavs give Nwaba another contract. They do like his tenacity on defense and everyone needs a hustling, scrappy-type in reserve. But the Cavs will look for an upgrade with a little more firepower offensively. He is averaging 6.8 points and shooting 35 percent on 3-pointers. Nwaba has spent some time on the injured list and appeared in just 35 games, something that won’t help his case to return.
Chriss: Also a free agent, he started strong after a trade with the Houston Rockets but has started to fade. Chriss offered some energy and athleticism early, but seems to have fallen in love with the 3-pointer. He is just 14-of-40 on threes with the Cavs and is only shooting 41 percent overall.
Stauskas: Another free agent, there’s a reason the former No. 8 overall draft pick is on his fifth team in five years. His strength is supposed to be perimeter shooting, but he’s barely at 31 percent on threes through the weekend. Expect Stauskas to be a goner next season.
Brandon Knight: It’s hard to tell if the Cavs will attempt to give Knight another look. He is due more than $15.6 million in 2019-20, but a buyout is always a possibility. Knight is a good guy and the Cavs like having him around the locker room. But a severe knee injury last year seems to have robbed him of his explosiveness. He’s averaging 7.4 points and shooting 43 percent in 11 appearances with the Cavs.
John Henson: Came over in the George Hill trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. An intriguing big man, Henson tore a ligament in his left wrist while still with the Bucks in November. He has appeared in just 14 games this season, none with the Cavs. Henson has an expiring contract ($9.7 million) at the end of next season. He averaged 8.8 points and 6.8 rebounds last year in 76 appearances. The Cavs like the idea of another athletic power forward/center near the rim. Henson will likely get a real shot to stick.
Matthew Dellavedova: A fan favorite who also arrived via the Hill trade, Delly’s contract is similar to Henson’s. It is for $9.6 million and expires at the end of next year. The Cavs aren’t likely to get the same type of all-out hustle and unselfishness in return, at least not at the same cost. They most likely will hang on to him.
Ante Zizic: He’s looked OK in his first real NBA minutes. He’s big (6-foot-11) and still developing. The Cavs like him. He is also owed just $2.3 million next season, the final year of his contract (the Cavs have a $3.9 million team option in 2020-21). He could always be a “throw-in” in an offseason trade, but all signs otherwise point to Zizic returning.
J.R. Smith: Yes, he’s still on the roster. And no, the Cavs do not intend to buy out his contract worth $15.7 million next year. Rather, they will look to trade him first. It won’t be impossible, as Smith’s deal expires in 2020. His huge deal alone could make him an asset for opposing teams looking to move money this summer — especially since less than $4 million is guaranteed. No matter how it goes down, Smith won’t be taking up a roster spot at the start of next season.
Tristan Thompson: A mysterious foot injury has caused him to miss the previous 22 games, and he won’t play Tuesday against the Philadelphia 76ers, either. When healthy, Thompson has served as valuable veteran leader who has played with great determination. But his recent injury leaves the Cavs’ plans for him very much in doubt. Lots of contending teams would love to add a player like Thompson, whose huge sum of $18.5 million comes off the books at the end of next season.