There has been a good amount of activity and rumors involving the Cleveland Cavaliers since free agency started on July 1. Within a matter of four days, two of their three unrestricted free agents agreed to deals with other teams (they cannot officially sign until July 10). On July 2, C.J. Miles agreed to a four-year, $18 million deal with the division rival Indiana Pacers. Two days later – fittingly on July 4 – big man Spencer Hawes agreed to a four-year, $23 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. Both of these players were guys I would’ve liked to have back, especially Hawes who I talked about briefly last week. There have also been rumors swirling about the third and final unrestricted free agent for the Cavs, Luol Deng. Like Hawes, Deng caught the eye of the Clippers and very early on in the process.
Clippers have called on Luol Deng tonight, source tells Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2014
Even before Hawes signed with Los Angeles, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnorowski said the Clippers were interested in the two Cavs (plus Deng) in a possible sign-and-trade deal with Cleveland. This is a point he repeated shortly after Hawes agreed to his new deal.
Doc Rivers trying to work sign-and-trade w/ Cavs for Hawes, preserving Clippers exception to still target Paul Pierce, sources tell Y.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 5, 2014
Deng leaving wouldn’t really bother me, especially with what he reportedly has wanted since the Bulls decided to trade him. He scoffed at Chicago’s three-year, $30 million offer before they felt they had to deal him. It’s been consistently noted that he’s looking to make $12 million annually and even though he may eventually get in the $8-$10 range, I don’t think he’d be worth it. Deng’s struggles with the Cavs may have been a blessing in disguise. Had the Cavs not been able to trade for Deng, they most likely would have been interested in signing him this offseason. Had they signed him to a four-year, $40 million deal (just as an example) and he struggled like he did at the end of last year, it would’ve put the Cavs in a financial bind. The two Cavaliers that did sign new deals are the ones that I will miss the most.
C.J. Miles (aka @masfresco)
C.J. Miles was arguably Chris Grant’s best free agent signing while GM of the Cavs. Miles came over after he spent seven years with the Utah Jazz. He was drafted right out of Skyline High School in Dallas, Texas as an 18-year old in the second round, 34th overall. For the Cavs, Miles spent time playing on the wing and became their most reliable shooter over the two seasons he was here, shooting 39% from three and a 53% eFG%. These numbers made him a much-needed scoring option off the bench, making 47 starts in 116 games for the Cavs. He wasn’t the best defensive weapon on the team, but he always had good effort and attitude, something that has been echoed by members of the media.
Farewell to @masfresco, one of the most down to Earth, real dudes in an NBA locker room. Good luck in Indy.
— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydNBA) July 2, 2014
@masfresco Congrats on your new deal & new home & thanx for being a stand up guy & one I enjoyed covering.
— Kenny Roda (@TheKennyRoda) July 3, 2014
— Bob Finnan (@BobCavsinsider) July 3, 2014
gonna miss C.J. Miles. underrated player, quality guy!
— Rick Noland MG/CT (@RickNoland) July 3, 2014
The appreciation of a player who served this team for only two years is outstanding. I saw a lot of Cavs fans on twitter expressing gratitude and best wishes to Miles after he agreed, which speaks volumes since he’s signing with a division rival. I personally had a great time watching Miles play and his three-pointers were some of the highlights of the last two years – especially the 10 he made against the 76ers on January 7th this year. And from a fan’s perspective, he was great to interact with on twitter, if you like that sort of thing (I do).
I have nothing but love for Cleveland and the entire Cavs organization I would not be in the position I am now without them and their belief
— C.J. Miles (@masfresco) July 2, 2014
Going forward, the Cavs drafted Joe Harris to hopefully help their three-point shooting. Now it looks like he’ll have to fill the hole Miles left as an off-the-bench shooter and defensive try-hard. With David Blatt most likely looking to get efficient shots from deep, Miles leaving is a bit devastating but something the Cavs in all likelihood saw coming and were prepared to handle.
Spencer Hawes (aka Steve)
This was the last game Spencer Hawes played in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform before being traded to the Cavaliers right before the deadline. (Both guys getting dunked on in this video, which includes LaVoy Allen, were traded the next day. Best dunk ever.)
Hawes was traded for Earl Clark, Henry Sims, and two 2014 second round picks (Jeremi Grant and Vasilije Micic for Memphis). At this time, a lot of people were focused on a possible deal with Lakers big man Pau Gasol. The Hawes trade came out of nowhere and was a surprise to many, with mixed reactions. (The guys at Fear The Sword had some good input on the Hawes trade the day after it happened.) Some were glad the Cavs added much-needed floor-spacing. On the other hand, he was in a contract year and the Cavs might have just given up picks for a guy that might only play 28 games – which basically turned out to be the case (played 27 games with the Cavs).
Hawes came in and shot the lights out. He was already known to be a great shooter, but shooting 45% from deep (led the team) was probably more than anyone could have hoped for. This dimension from Hawes, as well as his superb passing ability was something that the Cavs needed to keep and he would have fit so well with what David Blatt would want to do. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t in the cards. Hawes took what many thought was a generous deal for the Clippers so that he could play with a contender in the West.
Before I wrote this, I planned to talk about Josh McRoberts or Channing Frye as a backup plan to Hawes. Both of these big men have somewhat of the same skill set Hawes does – great shooting and passing. Unfortunately, both of them were picked up by other teams – McRoberts by Miami (four years, $23 million) and Frye by Orlando – for a surprisingly big four-year, $32 million deal, averaging $2.25 million more annually than Hawes.
There are two gaps left with the loss of Miles and Hawes: shooting and the frontcourt altogether. These were areas that were going to need attention even if these guys stayed in Cleveland. Now the Cavs will have to dig more other free agents and rely on current Cavaliers to step up – namely Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. Miles and Hawes were fun to watch as Cavaliers. Now it’s time to find their replacements.