Report: Max Strus and Georges Niang were No. 1 and No. 2 players on Cavs’ wish list in free agency

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Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly accomplished exactly what they set out to do when NBA free agency started, signing their top two targets in Max Strus and Georges Niang.

“Given everything, Strus was the best wing option — and the front office had his name atop its wish list, with his shooting stroke, toughness and playoff experience all playing part in that ranking,” wrote Chris Fedor of

The Cavs agreed to acquire Strus from the Miami Heat in a sign-and-trade after the 27-year-old played a key role in helping Miami reach the 2023 NBA Finals.

As for Niang, the Cavs were able to snag him on a three-year deal, ending his time with the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Continuing the shooting theme, Cleveland grabbed Niang — a 30-year-old stretch forward who has played in more postseason games than anyone on the roster,” wrote Fedor. “Like Strus, who has a career 37.1% hit rate from deep and high mark of 41%, Niang was one of the top snipers available. The Cavs have had their sights on Niang for a while. Sources say they even tried to trade for him at the February deadline.

“According to sources, he was the second name on the team’s free agency target list — behind Strus — and one of the first calls made on Friday night.”

Strus received a four-year, $63 million contract with the Cavs, who agreed to send Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens to the San Antonio Spurs as part of the three-team transaction. Niang, who has played 46 NBA playoff games, received a three-year, $26 million deal.

Things don’t always go as planned in free agency, but the Cavs reportedly identified Strus and Niang as two of their top priorities early in the process.

After a five-game series loss to the New York Knicks in the 2023 playoffs, it became clear that the Cavaliers were going to need to improve their offense this offseason to have more playoff success.

With a backcourt featuring stars Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland and a frontcourt capably manned by Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, getting some wing players was the best path for Cleveland to take.

Strus posted a career-high 11.5 points per game in the 2022-23 season and has increased his scoring in each of his four NBA seasons. The Cavs reportedly are weighing their lineup options for him, trying to decide between using him as a starter or having him provide a boost off the bench.

Cleveland got inconsistent production from its fifth starter, whether it was Isaac Okoro, Caris LeVert or someone else, for much of last season.

LeVert did re-sign with the Cavs, who have also made some smaller additions around the edges of their roster this offseason in hopes of getting closer to NBA title contention.

With most of their offseason priorities already accomplished, the Cavaliers will now start putting the pieces together to try to reach even more of their goals in the 2023-24 campaign.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.