The Cleveland Cavaliers’ options may be limited when they try to find solid additions in the offseason.
10 players can return to the Cavaliers in the 2023-24 season, according to Spotrac. Forward Lamar Stevens is listed with a club option. Every one of Cleveland’s big four will be under contract for the Cavs next season. Guards Caris LeVert and Danny Green highlight the team’s four unrestricted free agents. Forwards Dylan Windler, Mamadi Diakite and Isaiah Mobley are listed as restricted free agents.
The team will have to look at free agency and beyond to find a reliable backup center before the start of next season. It could try to use either one of the key exceptions it has at its disposal to find a free agent on a budget, turn to its No. 49 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft or try for a potential trade before the start of next season.
Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid and Los Angeles Clippers big Mason Plumlee, who are both listed as unrestricted free agents for the 2023 offseason, are two options Cleveland could look out for if they bring them aboard for a deal that fits with the team’s Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception.
“The Cavs will look at veteran Mason Plumlee and 23-year-old Naz Reid,” Cleveland.com Cavs reporter Chris Fedor wrote in a May edition of “Hey, Chris!” “But the cost could be prohibitive.
“Dwight Powell, Thomas Bryant, Drew Eubanks, Bismack Biyombo are other possibilities.”
From the pool of possible players the Cavs could try to bring aboard, what would the qualities of a potential dream center addition for the Cavs look like based on who could be available via free agency or through a possible trade?
The shooting of: Thomas Bryant
No modern team can ever have enough shooting help.
Bryant has become a reliable shooter at the center spot since he was first taken with the 42nd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He saw massive strides of improvement from the 10% he shot during his rookie year with the Los Angeles Lakers to 44.1% from beyond the arc this past year. He has kept up a reliable 36.6% from the 3-point line 3-point line throughout his six-year career, shooting at a rate of 40% or more in three of his last four seasons.
The 6-foot-10-inch center has yet to be a volume shooter over his time in the NBA. He only averaged one 3-point shot per game during the regular season last year.
The versatility of: Naz Reid
Reid can provide valuable minutes for a team in desperate need of extra help off the bench if the Cavs can sign him at a reasonable price.
Reid ended last season with averages of 11.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game in 68 games played and 11 starts. Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch had high praise for the former LSU standout in May.
“He was playing at a high, high level. He just proved he can play in all these different roles, which is valuable,” Finch said. “Then obviously just a perfect system fit. He’s a guy we see as a key part of being back here next year.”
Like Bryant, Reid can add a decent 3-point shot to a Cavaliers roster that shot at a 32.7% rate during the NBA Playoffs. He hit 34.6% of his 3.2 attempts from long-range per game. At 23 years old, Reid can also be a long-term option for the Cavs if Cleveland can sign him on a long-term contract.
The rebounding of: Mason Plumlee
Cleveland needs to add extra rebounding options off the bench to keep up with some of the more formidable teams in the playoffs.
The Cavaliers placed second-to-last among postseason teams in rebounds per game with 37.2 and fourth-to-last in contested rebounds, or rebounds where an opponent is within 3.5 feet of the rebounder, according to NBA.com. The Cavs placed only above the Brooklyn Nets in rebounds per contest and took spots behind the Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers
Plumlee, a 6-foot-11-inch center and 10-year NBA veteran, can be a reliable rebounding option for the Cavs if they can find a way to pry him away from the Los Angeles Clippers. He earned averages of 8.9 rebounds and 2.9 boards on offense per game last season. His four contested rebounds per game put him on pace with Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic during the regular season.
The experience of: Dwight Powell
The Cavs will need more reliable, experienced options with plenty of playoff experience heading into next season.
Nine of the players who were on the Cavaliers’ roster last season had three years of experience or less, according to Basketball Reference. Guard Darius Garland and forward Evan Mobley, who were taken with the fifth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and the third pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, had yet to play in a playoff series before the Cavs faced off against the New York Knicks.
Powell, a former second-round pick out of Stanford, has played in 587 games and started in 243 since he was first taken with the 45th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. His experience in the playoffs goes back to 2015, when he played in two games of a series that saw Powell’s Dallas Mavericks fall in five games to the Houston Rockets.