Max Strus reportedly is being considered for a starting role with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the new acquisition may be asked to provide a scoring boost as a reserve, according to one insider.
“The Cavs believe the 6-foot-5 Strus can either start at small forward, or play a lot coming off the bench,” wrote Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. “That’s up to coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
“Either way, Strus is viewed as a possible starter. He started all of Miami’s 41 playoff games in the last two seasons. The Cavs value his playoff experience and coming from the gritty defensive culture of the Miami Heat.”
Strus’ arrival via a sign-and-trade with the Heat goes a long way toward the Cavaliers fulfilling some of their biggest needs this offseason. They are also adding Georges Niang, giving them two of the players they reportedly targeted heading into the start of free agency, and have been busy elsewhere, too.
Strus has increased his scoring averages in each of his four NBA seasons. He posted a career-high 11.5 points per game in the 2022-23 season. The 27-year-old helped the Heat reach the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals and 2023 NBA Finals before seeing his time in Miami come to an end.
Strus received a four-year, $63 million contract as part of the sign-and-trade transaction, which sent Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens from Cleveland to the San Antonio Spurs.
The Cavs were fortunate in having a very consistent lineup last season, with Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen each starting at least 68 regular season games plus all five of their playoff games. Isaac Okoro was next with 46 regular season starts, but he averaged less than seven points per game, which could make Strus an upgrade if Cleveland decides to go that route.
Cleveland followed a 51-win regular season with just one win in the 2023 playoffs, where the team was eliminated by the New York Knicks in five games. The Cavaliers shot 44.9 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from 3-point range in the first-round series, each a significant drop from the regular season.
Still, the Cavs look to be a team on the upswing and will be counting on Strus to use his recent playoff experience to help them avoid a similarly disappointing outcome in the 2023-24 season.