Edy Tavares is 7-foot-3 and can walk and talk at the same time. His presence is hard to ignore. Those things alone make him a viable NBA prospect.
He also possesses the wingspan of someone who stands 7-9, and it is that size that makes Tavares attractive to the Cavaliers.
It is also why the Cavs are signing Tavares to a three-year deal Wednesday, the final day of the regular season.
To make room for Tavares, the Cavs released Larry Sanders, signed to replace Andrew Bogut, who lasted all of 58 seconds. Sanders was signed last month — but after a few practices and runs in the D-League, it became clear Sanders was not in the type of condition the Cavaliers seek in a rim-protector.
Sanders and the Cavs politely parted ways Tuesday.
Now comes Tavares, a second-year pro who spent 12 games with the Atlanta Hawks last season. This year, he averaged 10.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots for Toronto’s entry in the D-League.
The Cavs have been seeking a physical inside presence off the bench since about the time they traded Anderson Varejao in the middle of last season. At the very least, Tavares should be able to occasionally stand in the opponent’s way and stretch his arms to the heavens.
Tavares, 25, is a native of Cape Verde, an island off the northwest coast of Africa. He played professionally in Spain from 2009-11.
Scouts consider Tavares extremely raw offensively, as he never even touched a basketball until the age of 17. But he became a quality shot-blocker the very minute he set foot on the court.
The Cavs especially like his reputation as someone who has fallen in love with the game, someone who works to improve. Some 7-footers play basketball simply because they’re tall and it brings them a paycheck. Tavares is said to be the opposite of that. He is said to be passionate.
Also, what Tavares has called his biggest strength is something the defending champion Cavaliers seek heading into the playoffs.
“Anything in the paint,” he said in a recent interview with HoopsHype. “Face-up game, hook shots, dunks, anything that happens in the paint.”
With Tristan Thompson recovering from a minor thumb injury, and Channing Frye being more of a “stretch four” than center, the Cavs are desperate for someone with Tavares’ length.
They tried Bogut and Sanders, and will just now try Tavares himself.
He is still a project, for sure, but also someone the Cavs think may be able to help in the paint right away, and maybe someone who could be around for quite some time.