To get straight to the point, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a few key needs as they head into the 2023 NBA offseason: a starting small forward with a reliable jumper; a productive and healthy backup point guard; an efficient stretch-four; and a physical backup center.
Armed with $12.8 million in cap space, the $12.2 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception, $4.5 million bi-annual exception, the Cavs have multiple avenues to add rotation-level talent during the free agency period.
However, Cleveland’s front office — like many others — doesn’t have a sparkling record when it comes to free agent signings, as even last season will show. Veterans Ricky Rubio (who is considering returning to Europe) and Robin Lopez didn’t play up to expectations, and signings like that of Sam Merrill towards the end of the season when there were better players available don’t inspire confidence either.
That said, there a couple of impending free agents that the Cavs need to avoid signing in the 2023 offseason as they look to elevate their team to championship contention. Players that only need to be singled out because though they fit certain team needs on the surface, everything that glitters isn’t gold.
2 free agents Cavs must avoid signing in 2023 NBA free agency
Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks is a player that the Cleveland Cavaliers could have interest in due to his abilities as a perimeter defender. Although both Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell played respectable defense last season, having the archetypal defensive specialist allows them to enter any matchup with confidence that they can slow down the opponent’s best player. Especially with a special defender in Evan Mobley beside him.
Brooks — who played a 3-and-D role with the Grizzlies — shot just 32.6 percent from 3-point range last season. However, he shot 35.6 percent on catch-and-shoot attempts, per NBA.com. He also knocked down 36.1 percent of his corner threes as career 40.7 percent from that area of the floor, enhancing his value as a floor-spacer.
Consequently, when looking solely at his on-court value, Brooks has plenty to offer the Cavs.
Nonetheless, there’s reason to question whether or not Brooks will be mature enough not to be a hindrance to a team whose focus is on battles in between the lines rather than in the media. The Cavs pride themselves on their team culture, and though Brooks is a proven player who could become an affordable option if other teams are hesitant to sign him this offseason, Cleveland would be best served by steering clear of the former Oregon product.
For a similar reason, impending free agent Kendrick Nunn is a player that the Cleveland Cavaliers should avoid signing this offseason.
A player who has specific incidents in his checkered past that bring questions about his character, it’s worth noting that Nunn has been nothing but professional since joining the NBA. Nonetheless, when considering his past and his present — a streaky guard that missed all of the 2021-22 season with a knee injury — it probably isn’t worth signing the 27-year-old.
A Chicago native that played for Illinois in college, Nunn has intimate connections with the midwest. He also is a career 36.2 percent 3-point shooter that can make positive impact on the defensive end. Those two things make him an interesting option for Cleveland due to the value of continuity and community; Nunn is the type of player who might be willing to sign a long-term deal with the Cavs.
Nonetheless, there are better options on the table for Cleveland, both on the court and in the locker room.