Cavaliers roster breakdown: Who may stay, who may go

Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton showed noticeable improvement in the season's second half.

It wasn’t entirely a lost season for the Cavaliers, but they failed to make the playoffs, they struggled to create interest and now they need a coach.

So there is plenty of work to be done. Some of that help could come in the NBA draft lottery, where the Cavs have a shot to luck into the No. 1 overall pick.

But one of the many topics in the Cavs’ staff meetings last week was what to do with some of the players on the bench, and overall, where the franchise should go from here.

Here is a player-by-player look at the entire season-ending roster — with who might stay, who might go and who is somewhere in between:

Kevin Love, PF, 30 years old

Stats: 17.0 points, 10. 9 rebounds, 22 games.

Contract status: Four-year extension for $120 million about to kick in.

Comment: Love was excellent in terms of production and leadership when on the floor — but keeping him on the court is another matter entirely. The Cavs almost need a full-time team of paramedics just to watch over Love. The Cavs will listen to some trade offers, likely accept none, and Love will return. Then the front office will keep its fingers crossed.

Jordan Clarkson, SG, 26

Stats: 16.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 81 games.

Contract status: Owed $13.4 million next season in final year of deal.

Comment: Have ball, will shoot. Instant offense off the bench and seems to enjoy his role in reserve. Coachable, likeable and the type of player every team could use. His expiring deal will have contending teams calling. Likely to return unless someone gives up a first-round pick.

Collin Sexton, PG, 20

Stats: 16.7 points, 3.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 82 games.

Contract status: Rookie scale deal that gives Cavs option to keep him until at least 2023.

Comment: Came on strong just before the All-Star break, when he was a Rookie Stars Challenge game snub. That’s no coincidence. Set a Cavs franchise record with seven straight games scoring at least 23 points. A better scorer than even the Cavs thought he’d become. Has to work on distributing the ball and defense. Year No. 2 will go a long way in showing if he’s more Kemba Walker or Monta Ellis.

Cedi Osman, F/G, 24

Stats: 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 76 games.

Contract status: Owed $2.9 million next season, when deal expires.

Comment: This season truly was like a rookie season for the second-year wing, who received his first dose of extensive playing time. While the Cavs like his promise, the jury is still out on if he’s a starting player on a winning team. But unless someone blows their socks off with a trade offer, Osman will get at least one more to prove he’s someone you’re determined to keep for a long time.

Tristan Thompson, C, 28

Stats: 10.9 points, 10.2 rebounds in 43 games.

Contract status: Due $18.5 million next season on expiring contract.

Comment: Started as the type of exceptional leader the Cavs were seeking … then disappeared with a mysterious foot injury. Not sure if that was Thompson’s doing or the Cavs. Either way, it made his future with the franchise a fairly murky. Thompson likes the city and doesn’t mind rebuilding. The plan for now is for him to return. But that could change quickly with the right offer.

Larry Nance Jr., PF, 26

Stats: 9.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists

Contract status: Three-year extension about to kick in, starting with a massive (and well-deserved) raise of $12.7 million.

Comment: Went from being an amazing leaper to a complete player and perhaps the team’s best passer. Has extended the range on his jump shot and is as regular of a guy as you will find in an NBA locker room. He loves the Cavs, they love him. This particular Akron native is going nowhere.

Brandon Knight, PG, 27

Stats: 8.5 points, 2.3 assists in 27 games with Cavs.

Contract: Expiring deal is worth $15.6 million.

Comment: Brutal knee injury a couple seasons back has robbed him of his explosiveness. Plays hard and often smart, a solid veteran that every team could use. But he can’t defend and Cavs more than open to moving him. If he’s back, they would prefer to be good enough that he comes off the bench.

Ante Zizic, C, 22

Stats: 7.8 points, 5.4 rebounds in 59 games.

Contract: Under contract through 2022, before which the Cavs can decide on a $5.6 million qualifying offer.

Comment: Another player who truly was a rookie in terms of opportunity. Everyone needs a fundamentally sound big man off the bench, and Zizic has already proven he can be at least that. The Cavs are willing to find out if he’ll ever become more.

Matthew Dellavedova, PG, 28

Stats: 7.3 points, 4.2 assists in 36 games with Cavs.

Contract: Entering final year of deal that will pay $9.6 million.

Comment: Once a young hustler, has become a veteran leader who shows the younger guys how to scrap and knock heads. Because of the latter, missed the end of the season with a serious concussion. Will play any role and typically play it well when called upon. Likely to return but will most definitely draw below-the-radar interest from contender before trade deadline in February.

Marquese Chriss, F, 21

Stats: 5.7 points, 3.2 rebounds in 27 games with Cavs.

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent.

Comment: Fantastic athlete who showed flashes, but not nearly enough to warrant a new contract. That’s not to say he’s undoubtedly a goner, but let’s just say bringing him back isn’t exactly a priority. Basically, Cavs are open to re-signing him, though an upgrade is preferred.

John Henson, F/C, 28

Stats: Did not appear in game with Cavs (5.6 points, 5.1 rebounds in 14 games with Bucks)

Contract status: In final year of contract that will play him $9.7 million.

Comment: Henson was already out for the season with a wrist injury when the Cavs acquired him in the George Hill trade. A team-first guy who can leap and protect the rim. He is likely to get every opportunity in training camp. His expiring deal is also an asset.

David Nwaba, G/F, 26

Stats: 6.5 points, 3.2 rebounds in 51 games.

Contract status: Restricted free agent at $1.8 million next season.

Comment: Showed a lot of grit and was the team’s best wing defender when healthy. But limitations offensively means the Cavs are very likely to move on. He’ll find a home somewhere, though.

J.R. Smith, SG, 33

Stats: Not worth mentioning.

Contract status: A $15.6 million hassle (though only about $4 million is guaranteed).

Comment: J.R. was a valuable piece of the championship run of 2016. He hit some big shots and played with pride. But he and the Cavs have moved on from each other, and with good reason. Smith has not been good since the title run. The Cavs will make the cutting of ties official this summer, either by trading him or just officially waiving him.

Finally, the following players are not really under consideration to return: Nik Stauskas, SG, 25; Deng Adel, SF, 22; Jaron Blossomgame, F, 25.

5 Comments on "Cavaliers roster breakdown: Who may stay, who may go"

  1. I am often critical of writers for not knowing details but this is a very nice article Sam. Y Thanks for your interaction with the fans. Be careful…JR Smith fans are lurking. lol. I am more interested to see at the deadline what we do with the expiring deals. Wild guess right now: do you think they let them expire and chase a 2020 free agent or recycle them for longer deals and draft picks? they are all good enough players to be valuable to playoff teams. I know there are a lot of variables such as who we draft and our record, but which way do you think the CAVS prefer at this time?

  2. Would you trade JR and Clarkson for Andrew Wiggins?

  3. Interesting that since JR contract is the only one like it that the trade machine cant handle it properly.

  4. Philip Rusch | April 18, 2019 at 10:09 am |

    Overall, a pretty good assessment. I don’t find Larry Nance Jr. to be a complete player. There’s a reason he was behind Julius Randle in LA and it still shows. He’s a nice rotational big and nothing else. Also, he’s had his share of missed games that like the original Kevin Love, people don’t like to talk about. Characterizing Nance as a complete player was a suck up to the front office.

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