By Thursday, the Cleveland Cavaliers will have a new player on the roster, even if they’re not ready to add one.
They have no choice.
That’s because the Cavs are only carrying 13 players following a flurry of trade-deadline deals Feb. 8. They shipped out six and added four.
They don’t need to add two, but according to league rules, they do have to add at least one to bring the roster to 14, and time is of the essence.
The NBA offers a grace period in which teams can have a roster of just 13 players — but that grace period is limited to two weeks. For the Cavs, two weeks is up on Feb. 22, or the day of their first game after the All-Star break (vs. the Washington Wizards at The Q).
Of course, the Cavs can make this happen rather easily, simply by adding a free agent or calling up a player from the G League. They can sign either to a 10-day contract, or a deal for the rest of the season.
They undoubtedly have their eyes on people who fit all those descriptions, and they are certainly monitoring the buyout market.
The Cavs are not alone. The Wizards also must add a player by Thursday, and the Atlanta Hawks by Friday. (The Portland Trail Blazers faced a similar predicament before agreeing to a 10-day contract with Brandon Rush early Tuesday.)
So Cleveland general manager Koby Altman will have some competition on the open market.
So, who might the Cavs be considering?
The honest answer is there is no honest answer. If the Cavs are sure who they’re adding, they’ve done a bang-up job of keeping it a secret.
Defensive-minded shooting guard Tony Allen (Chicago Bulls) and breaking-down big man Josh McRoberts (Dallas Mavericks) each recently had their contracts bought out and are available.
But Allen is 36-years old and the Cavs just a had a bunch of older players that they couldn’t wait to ship off at the deadline. And McRoberts has appeared in just two games this season, partially because he was rehabbing an ankle injury.
As for buyout candidates, swingman Tyreke Evans (Memphis Grizzlies), center Joakim Noah (New York Knicks), guard Arron Afflalo (Orlando Magic) and wing Shabazz Muhammad (Minnesota Timberwolves) could all become available soon.
Evans was held out just before the deadline, as the Grizzlies hoped to trade him. But no deal was found, making a buyout the next logical step. If a one is coming, the Cavs would unquestionably have some interest.
The same goes for Afflalo and Muhammad, who has made it clear he wants out of Minnesota.
As for Noah, well, the Knicks would have to write an awfully big check to remove him from the roster. And even if they did, it’s doubtful the Cavs would have much of an interest — especially since he hasn’t been very productive in about four years.
Basically, if the Cavs don’t find someone they love, expect this to be a week where they add a lesser name to a 10-day contract, allowing them to keep their options open for yet another week.
So this week isn’t so much about the who as it is about making sure the roster complies with league rules. But no matter how you spin it, a new member of the team is on the way, and soon.