The Cleveland Cavaliers by many accounts have had a successful NBA offseason so far, and one executive reportedly said they’ve “really helped themselves” with the acquisitions they’ve made.
The Cavs made some noise once free agency opened and secured Max Strus and Georges Niang, who were reportedly two of their top targets. They also re-signed Caris LeVert, signed Ty Jerome and acquired Damian Jones.
Strus came over as part of a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat and received a four-year, $63 million contract.
“He’s smart and tough,” the executive told Cleveland.com while speaking of Strus. “Strus is more athletic than you think. He a really good fit for them. The more you watch him, he grows on you. It’s why Miami played him a lot (started 41 games in the last two years) in the playoffs.”
The 27-year-old has improved his scoring average in each of his four NBA seasons and posted a career-high 11.5 points per game last season.
“His shooting is kind of streaky,” the executive said. “He makes enough shots so that other teams have to defend him, even if he’s missing. That’s huge for the Cavs.”
Niang is another player who should provide a boost, and he comes with the added benefit of playoff experience. The 30-year-old left the Philadelphia 76ers to sign a three-year, $26 million deal with the Cavs.
“He can really shoot, and that fills another need,” the executive said. “It’s just like Strus — these are the kind of guys the Cavs needed to sign.”
LeVert re-signed despite reportedly having other suitors, like Strus and Niang also did. LeVert will look to regain his scoring touch after averaging 12.1 points per game in the 2022-23 season, a relatively low mark by his standards.
The Cavs sent Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens to the San Antonio Spurs in the Strus transaction, so they also needed to replenish their depth, which is where Jerome and Jones come in.
Jerome played last season with the Golden State Warriors, and the 26-year-old received a two-year, $5 million contract from the Cavs.
“Like Strus, he’s a tough, smart player,” the executive said of Jerome. “He’s not extremely athletic, and that can be a problem in the playoffs. I really like him as a third point guard who can help in the regular season. He’s a pretty good shooter.”
Jones was acquired in exchange for cash considerations. The 28-year-old won two NBA championships playing for the Warriors earlier in his career, so he has seen up close what it takes to win a title.
That knowledge should prove beneficial to Cleveland as it moves forward following a disappointing playoff performance last season. The Cavs won 51 regular season games but were then eliminated by the New York Knicks in five games in the first round.
It was the first playoff appearance together for the Cavaliers’ core of Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, and there obviously was a learning curve.
“The executive said the Cavs ‘really helped themselves’ with their offseason moves, including bringing back Caris LeVert,” wrote Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. “But the season will ride on the improvement of their young core players. Mitchell, Allen, Garland and Mobley are all 26 or younger.”
That improving core, combined with the new players in town, should help the Cavs continue to grow.