One NBA insider believes that the Cleveland Cavaliers will likely pick up the $1.9 million team option on the contract of power forward Lamar Stevens for next season.
Sam Amico of Hoops Wire indicated that bringing back Stevens isn’t guaranteed, as other offseason possibilities could potentially change the mind of Cleveland’s front office.
“Given that Stevens’ deal is cost-effective, sources have told Hoops Wire that the Cavs are likely to pick up the option and give him one more run,” wrote Amico. “They do appreciate him. But it may also come down to what the other roster moves they make, sources added.”
Stevens’ NBA career began in humble fashion after he went undrafted out of Pennsylvania State University. He signed a two-way contract with the Cavaliers in November 2020 and ended up seeing action in 40 games off the bench as a rookie.
His deal was later upgraded to a multiyear contract. During the past two campaigns, his numbers have largely stayed the same.
Yet, one NBA executive believes that some of the intangibles that Stevens brings to the court are very valuable.
The executive told Hoops Wire that while Stevens is limited, he is an “underrated and sometimes valuable part of winning.”
Stevens didn’t feature much in the Cavaliers’ brief five-game playoff series against the New York Knicks. During the 2022-23 regular season, Stevens averaged 18.1 minutes of playing time. However, against the Knicks, he played in just two contests for a combined total of nine minutes.
One of the reasons for that quick departure from the postseason was the Cavaliers’ inability to deal with the physical presence of the Knicks. It’s uncertain whether inserting Stevens more often into the team’s lineup would have made a huge difference, but it probably would have at least negated some of the Knicks’ aggressive approach.
One potential scenario that Amico noted is the possibility of Stevens being involved in a trade involving the Cavaliers’ lone pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
That selection is the 49th overall pick. At that point in the selection process, trying to find someone who can make a big impact becomes a crapshoot.
Stevens’ small contract is one that would work well with any franchise, though whether the Cavaliers actively pursue such a path remains a question mark.