Would it kill the Cavaliers to sign another big man?
With two available roster spots and lots of pain down low, the answer is the Cavs should have done so already.
Granted, the pickings are slim. And yes, another contract means paying even more luxury tax — and the huge financial penalties that will come for a team that’s already exceeded the salary cap.
But the Cavs can’t continue to play so small.
They were hammered on the boards in Friday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers by a 52-40 count. They could do nothing to slow down Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan — who scored 20 points and collected a whopping 23 of those rebounds.
It’s true that Cavs starting center Larry Nance Jr. is doing an admirable job of trying to pester the likes of Jordan and Detroit’s Andre Drummond. But Cavs center Tristan Thompson and All-Star power forward Kevin Love are out with injuries, and Nance can’t be expected to do the job alone.
It’s also true coach Tyronn Lue has started to use 6-foot-11 big man Ante Zizic — but Zizic very clearly isn’t ready for prime time.
So other than Nance, the Cavs’ best options to defend the paint are forwards Jeff Green and, you guessed it, LeBron James.
While James can truly do it all, and even had a nasty block of a Jordan shot, he has too many other things on his plate already. For starters, James has to carry the offense. He also usually finds himself defending the opponent’s best wing scorer, at least for a little while, for portions of most games. And battling opposing bigs has never been Green’s forte.
Translation: No one on the current roster is a rim-protector. There are some who are available. It’s time for the Cavs to give at least one of them a shot.
Keep in mind that whoever the Cavs might sign isn’t going to be a 40-minute guy, or anything even close. We’re talking about someone to come in, use his length, strength and know-how to keep opponents from going nuts inside.
We’re talking about someone who is playing around 10 minutes a night. We’re talking about an end-of-the-bench big man, someone who could be had for cheap, or maybe on a 10-day deal.
Most of the options are player who are near the end of the basketball road. Most are names you know, and wouldn’t really want — names such as Andrew Bogut (remember him?) or Roy Hibbert (many try to forget).
But most still want to play and compete for a championship. Most could at least come in and stick their large bodies between opposing centers and the basket, alter some shots and deliver some hard fouls.
Oh, and not mess things up too much otherwise.
Along with Bogut and Hibbert, the list of basketball towers sitting at home includes Festus Ezeli, Justin Hamilton and Jeff Withey.
And in the event the Cavs want to go for strength or energy in the paint (or both), veteran journeyman such as Josh Smith, Kevin Seraphin and Jordan Hill are also waiting for a team to call.
The possibilities of available large bodies go on: Donatas Motiejunas, Willie Reed, Ryan Kelly, Johnny O’Bryant, Adriean Payne.
Would any of these men completely heal what ails the Cavs underneath? No, of course not. Could any of them be serviceable when it comes to making opposing centers think twice before dunking in the Cavs’ mugs?
You never know until you try, and with about a month left in the regular season, try and try again is precisely what the Cavs should do.