It appears the Cavaliers’ roster is set for the start of training camp Dec. 1. That’s right, camp is almost here and the start of the regular season is less than a month away.
The Cavs haven’t played an actual NBA game in eight months. At times, it feels like it’s been five years since the season was halted because of the coronavirus. At other times, it feels like two weeks.
General manager Koby Altman sure has been busy the last couple of days, making several moves and doing some housecleaning after a quiet start to free agency.
Today, the Cavs have 14 guaranteed contracts on the roster. That means they have an open spot. Word is, they have yet to decide what to do with it.
They could fill it before camp — or keep it open well into the season, giving themselves flexibility for trades or the ability to sign end-of-bench guys to nonguaranteed deals.
We can dive deeply into the roster once the actual season tips off (Dec. 22). For now, here’s a quick look at who is on the team at this moment:
Andre Drummond, 6-foot-10, 27: He picked up his massive option of $28.7 million. He can be a free agent at the end of the season. He and the Cavs haven’t gotten anywhere on an extension. He could be traded now … or never. The bottom line is its way too soon to know his future with the Cavs.
JaVale McGee, 7-0, 32: Acquired in last week’s trade with the Lakers, McGee will offer defense, shot-blocking and relief for Drummond. He is basically here to help ease the loss of Tristan Thompson, who bolted for Boston. McGee has a smaller expiring deal, making him an easy trade asset.
Kevin Love, 6-9, 32: I don’t know that the Cavs tried to trade him this offseason. But I am confident in saying that he was made available. The Cavs will deny it — but they’d move him in a heartbeat if they could get the right package in return. I doubt they can. So it’s best just to keep him, get what you can out of him (which is often a lot), and pray that he stays healthy.
Larry Nance Jr., 6-7, 27: The fact he turns 28 in January makes me feel old. I covered him during his sophomore season at Revere. But Nance is entering his prime. His perimeter game improved immensely last season. Few players work harder. Plenty of teams are interested. The Cavs will shoe them away if they call.
Dean Wade, 6-9, 24: He had his two-way contract converted to a multiyear deal last season. I went to see him play with the Canton Charge before they did. He looked like a cross between Kevin Garnett and Larry Bird. The Cavs will undoubtedly give him a longer look.
Isaac Okoro, 6-6, 19: If he comes as advertised, he’ll be the perimeter defender this team so desperately needs. The Cavs say he “checks the boxes.” But he doesn’t check them all, because he can’t shoot. Nonetheless, it will be exciting to see how he fits. If he can fill the lanes next to the young guards, as the Cavs expect, there could be some fantastic finishes at the rim.
Cedi Osman, 6-7, 25: Anyone else feel as if Osman has hit his ceiling? Last year, I started to believe that he is best suited for a role as a seventh or eight man. If Okoro is any good, that may be Osman’s role this year.
Dylan Windler, 6-6, 24: Hopefully, he can stay healthy this season. I also saw Windler play in Canton last year. He will be the best shooter on the team. He just needs some time to learn the NBA game, because his upside is pretty promising.
Lamar Stevens, 6-8, 23: He was signed last week to one of the Cavs’ two-way contracts. It will be interesting to see if he’s used, given their may not be a G League season. I wrote much more about him here.
Collin Sexton, 6-1, 21: It’s hard to tell what Sexton’s role would be on a winning team — or if he’ll even still be here when the Cavs start winning again. But man, it will be fun watching him score until everyone figures out how to best use him. Right now, Sexton is the only reason to even watch the Cavs. He’s not a “dynamic” scorer, in that there’s not a whole lot of pizzazz to anything he does. He just puts the ball through that steel orange circle with the net dangling from it. And that’s the name of the game.
Kevin Porter Jr., 6-4, 20: He’s run into a few legal issues and that’s a concern. There were some question about Porter’s character entering the 2019 draft, which is why he dropped to 30th. Talent-wise, he would’ve been a top-10 pick. I spoke to Porter a few times in the locker room last season. There may not have been a friendlier guy on the team. The Cavs know they will need to keep a closer eye on him moving forward. He has star potential, but won’t reach it if he can’t stay on the court.
Damyean Dotson, 6-5, 26: Signed a two-year deal with the Cavs after three seasons with the Knicks. It feels like an underrated move, because those around the Knicks said his best years may still be to come. So far, he’s done nothing great, but everything (include defend) pretty well. I wrote more about him here.
Darius Garland, 6-1, 20: We definitely saw flashes of why the Cavs made him a lottery pick. He can be smooth in every facet. He has a decent stroke and good vision. But there’s no getting around that, analytically, he was the NBA’s worst starter last season. You hate to be overly critical of a player this young, and that’s not what I’m doing here. I will say he needs to take a pretty decent-sized step or I’ll be wondering if he’s anything more than the next, say, Cory Joseph.
Dante Exum, 6-5, 25: He is who the Cavs received in the Jordan Clarkson trade, and I’m not so sure the Cavs will keep him. But I also don’t think finding a deal will be easy. At worst, Exum is a solid backup who can play both guard spots.
Matthew Dellavedova, 6-3, 30: A fan favorite who is back for another run. But Dellavedova’s days of tiring himself out and sacrificing his body on defense are over. The man just took too much of a beating earlier in his career. Still, he offers plenty of value in running the offense and assisting Sexton and Garland.
J.B. Bickerstaff, 6-6, 41: In 11 games, I started to think he was the best Cavs coach since Lenny Wilkens (1986-93). Time will tell if I’m right. He just seems to have the perfect personality and smarts for a situation that is bound to get rocky, given the strange mix of youth and older veterans. Either way, if I’m right about Bickerstaff, brace yourselves. The Cavs will be in the playoffs.