Free agency is still a long ways to go but the market is already teeming with solid players that could potentially don Wine and Gold thread next season. The Cavaliers are already loaded with stars so another All Star add is no longer necessary so we identified 11 realistic possibilities involving quality role players that could fortify the team’s second unit. We took into account their probable asking price, the Cavaliers’ cap situation, and other basketball factors that could prompt each one to stay with their team or bolt for Cleveland. The list is also based on the assumption that LeBron James, Kevin Love, and J.R. Smith all pick up their player options, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert, both restricted free agents, are retained, and Timofey Mozgov’s team option is picked up by the Cavs. Note that the team still has a lot of dispensable pieces, Brendan Haywood’s contract being the most significant, which they will likely move to accommodate incoming player salaries.
12 – Wayne Ellington (Unrestricted)
When Wayne Ellington briefly played for the Cavaliers a few years ago, he showed good attitude and was always ready, and fighting, whenever his name gets called as he averaged 10.4 points per game for Cleveland. He is a specialist which every contender needs and his length makes him a decent defender at the shooting guard position. Ellington could be a viable replacement to either Mike Miller or James Jones but it wouldn’t hurt if he ends up being an addition to the Cavaliers’ already deep rotation of snipers. The Cavaliers do have young Joe “Joey Hoops” Harris but Ellington covers more on defense while being an equally capable shooter.
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11 – Gerald Green (Unrestricted)
Gerald Green has bounced around the league for many years until finally finding his niche as a member of the Phoenix Suns. The high flying forward averaged 15.8 points and 2.5 threes per game in the 2013-2015 season and despite seeing his scoring drop to 11.9 per game this year, Green has already established himself as a dynamic scorer off the bench when given the minutes. The Cavs’ bench is in dire need of scoring and this is where he could come in, as an instant scoring option who can bring thunder every once in a while with his elite leaping ability.
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10 – C.J. Watson (Unrestricted)
The 8-year veteran offers scoring punch as a possible reliever to Kyrie Irving due to his superb shooting and ability to create for himself. Watson averaged 10.0 points on 40% shooting from beyond the arc while having a steal per game this season for the Indiana Pacers. He would be an upgrade over Matthew Dellavedova as he’s able to demand more respect from opposing teams’ defense which also benefits his knack for playmaking. Ultimately, he helps the Cavalier bench bereft of production.
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9 – Thomas Robinson (Unrestricted)
This is a tough pick as the Cavs already have Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love. But Thomas Robinson is one player that has plenty of untapped potential inside of him. T-Rob still has mad athleticism especially for his size that goes along with a great motor. In 22 games as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, his per 36-minute numbers were 17.1 points, 15.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.4 steals. He will not be a starter for Cleveland but he should see steady minutes off the bench alongside Tristan Thompson for a highly amped up duo off the glass. He could also be a great protection for Anderson Varejao allowing the Wild Thing to preserve his body for the playoff grind while continuing to his relentless style of play on a nightly basis.
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8 – K.J. McDaniels (Restricted)
This kid is oozing with potential to become a very good two-way player in the league. Despite being buried deep within the Rockets’ bench, he is gifted with the physical make up and has shown flashes of what he can do when he was still seeing the court as a member of the Sixers averaging 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 blocks. He should come at a reasonable price as Houston did not provide him with enough daylight that could have given him leverage over contract negotiations. As a Cavalier, he should thrive while learning the ropes under LeBron James while providing additional teeth to the second unit.
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7 – Dorell Wright (Unrestricted)
Dorell Wright is a safe bet as a reliever to LeBron James. He has the length and athleticism to stay in front of defenders while also being a good shooter from long range. He’s already a 10-year veteran so there’s very little waiting time for the Cavs until Wright gets primed to provide quality minutes. There’s not much excitement to a Dorell Wright signing but he’ll be a conservative yet effective contributor for the Cavaliers. Wright failed to get consistent minutes in Portland due to the Blazers’ wing depth but in Cleveland, he will get his fair share of opportunities as part of the second unit or even alongside James so he better be ready to hoist it from deep.
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6 – Norris Cole (Unrestricted)
Norris Cole was a member of the back-to-back champion Miami Heat squad and he played the role of the team’s bulldog in the backcourt. Cole is similar to what Matthew Dellavedova is but he’s a much quicker and more athletic defender than the pitbull from down under. Cole also brings with him invaluable postseason experience and familiarity with LeBron James. He should not have too much trouble endearing himself to fans since he used to start for Cleveland State University.
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5 – Mirza Teletovic (Restricted)
Think Donyell Marshall with a mean streak. The Cavaliers’ offense has been well-designed and it allowed for great spacing. However, when Kevin Love went down, a huge cog of that well-oiled machine was taken out of the equation. The Cavaliers were a different team. With Teletovic, the Cavs would add another floor spacing power forward who can provide the team some of the goodies that they get with Love on the floor. He would compliment LeBron James so well with his outside shooting.
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4 – Larry Sanders (Unrestricted)
Once upon a time, Larry Sanders was among the more promising big men in the league until he hit a wall. Fortunately, that wasn’t long ago so he should still be in competitive physical form. Unfortunately, that wasn’t long ago so whatever issues he’s had that cost him his season could still be lingering within him. However, players like Sanders, provided that he’s decided to start turning things around, come along cheap with the upside still up there towards the ceiling. In Cleveland, Sanders would get a reliable support group led by LeBron James and David Blatt. He will be immersed into a culture that is focused on winning basketball games. In return, the Cavaliers would be getting an elite interior defender that would only help the team in significant ways.
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3 – Mike Dunleavy (Unrestricted)
With the almost unavoidable departure of Coach Tom Thibodeau, the Cavaliers could make this a rallying point to make a play on Mike Dunleavy. The sweet shooting swingman is a capable scorer and decent playmaker who could be very useful to the Cavs’ second unit that has been crying for points all season long. He shot 40% from long distance. He is also a league veteran who already knows his place and value to teams that he’ll only do what is asked of him. This could be a low risk-moderate level reward move for the Wine and Gold that could pay dividends in postseason play.
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2 – Wesley Matthews (Unrestricted)
The 28-year Wesley Matthews is coming off of an amazing season with the Blazers. Unfortunately, it ended with a torn Achilles before the playoffs, and the Blazers clearly missed his shooting and presence as they lost to the Grizzlies in five games (with Damian Lillard willing the Blazers to a Game 4 win). Matthews is in line to get a nice contract, and if the Cavs lose Love or Thompson, Matthews would be an excellent perimeter pickup.
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1 – Dwyane Wade (Unrestricted)
Dwyane Wade is highly unlikely to end up with the Cavs. But Wade is reportedly very unhappy with the low-ball offer made by the Heat, and if he can make that money or a little more elsewhere, rumors are that he definitely will. His preference is to stay with the Heat, but he’s leaving all options on the table.