As expected, Sam Dekker is now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the team made a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers official Tuesday.
Dekker has been a disappointment as a pro so far. He is 6-foot-9 and sort of caught in that world of “what type of forward is this guy anyway?” After showing some promise in his second season with the Houston Rockets, Dekker seemed to take a step back last year with the Clippers.
He averaged 4.2 points and 2.4 rebounds in 73 appearances. Mostly, he has a reputation for not being entirely focused on the game.
Perhaps it came too easily to him at an early age.
Decker was all-everything at Sheboygan (Wis.) Lutheran High — then became just one of four freshmen ever to start under longtime Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. Dekker, Ryan and the Badgers made it all the way to the 2015 NCAA national championship game, where they lost to Duke.
He left Wisconsin after his junior season to enter he draft. The Rockets took him with the No. 18 overall pick. Just this past summer, Dekker got married, to the daughter of NBA play-by-play man Kevin Harlan.
The Cavs are the perfect spot for Dekker to try to capture the magic he rode during his days as an amateur. There is no telling if it will work — as there is no predicting how a young man will respond to getting millions of dollars for playing a game.
Some NBA players turn into “lifestyle” guys. That means they start to like the things money can buy, the lifestyle, more than they care about putting the ball through the hoop.
That’s not to say Dekker is one of those athletes. But he has a few around the league wondering.
But that’s OK for the Cavs, as they enter the second edition of the post-LeBron James era. General manager Koby Altman already indicated the Cavs are in the development stage. They can afford to take small risks and hope for a nice reward.
Dekker, 24, fits the mold.
First of all, Altman only needed to send the draft rights to Vladimir Veremeenko to the Clippers for Dekker. Never heard of Veremeenko? Good. Forget about him. He was never going to play in Cleveland and it will be a surprise if he every plays in any NBA city of any sort.
So the Cavs officially got Dekker (and the draft rights to Renaldas Seibutis) for Veremeenko. They unofficially got Dekker for nothing.
So zero risk there. It’s almost as if the Cavs drafted Dekker and stashed him in Houston and LA. If he doesn’t work out, no biggie.
But if he does somehow become a regular contributor alongside a younger unit that features rookie Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic, Larry Nance Jr. and others, then the Cavs got a steal.
Dekker is a good natural athlete with decent strength. He can still shoot the ball, connecting on 49 percent from the field last season. And it’s actually OK that he’s sort of a hybrid forward. The NBA, after all, has become a position-less league.
If you have perimeter skills and some athleticism, you can make something of yourself. Those are the type players Altman and coach Tyronn Lue are looking to acquire, for cheap, and get the most out of.
Bottom line: Dekker fits the profile. Now the Cavs just need him to put in the work.