The Cleveland Cavaliers are putting the finishing touches on their roster for the 2023-24 NBA season and reportedly may be considering big man Christian Wood for one of the last spots.
“After signing five players in free agency — Caris LeVert, Max Strus, Georges Niang, Ty Jerome and Damian Jones — the Cavs have 13 players under contract,” wrote Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “All three of their two-way contracts are occupied as well — Emoni Bates, Isaiah Mobley and Craig Porter Jr. That brings the total to 16, two away from the roster maximum. Cleveland is also about $3 million from the luxury tax, with no desire to cross that threshold.
“While there’s a bit of financial wiggle room with Sam Merrill being on a non-guaranteed contract that won’t become fully guaranteed until Jan. 10, 2024, the Cavs can’t be big spenders.
“Given that, sources tell Cleveland.com the Cavs are interested in adding another free agent at some point over the next few months. The final roster spot will likely stay open to maintain flexibility. Cleveland continues to weigh all options and with much of the NBA’s salary cap space taken and rosters nearly full, there’s a prime opportunity for the front office to find a cheaper-than-expected rotation player on a one-year minimum prove-it deal, similar to the one that forward Dario Saric inked with the Golden State Warriors.
“The Cavs aren’t targeting a specific position. They feel good about the current roster. They’re just looking for playable depth.
“Swingmen Kelly Oubre Jr., Terrence Ross, T.J. Warren and Derrick Jones Jr., guards Kendrick Nunn, Hamidou Diallo and Terence Davis, and polarizing center Christian Wood are among the best available free agents. Sources say the Cavs have shown interest in Oubre and Wood. Oubre, sources say, was the team’s Plan B if a Strus deal never materialized.”
The 27-year-old has been productive in recent years, averaging at least 16 points per game for three of his last four clubs (the New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets and Mavericks, as he fell under that number with the Detroit Pistons). He averaged 16.6 points per game for Dallas in the 2022-23 campaign.
He would provide Cleveland with frontcourt depth behind Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. His offensive skills would surely be welcomed by the Cavs, who entered the offseason looking for offensive help following a disappointing series loss to the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.
After Charlotte’s 2022-23 season ended, Oubre expressed interest in re-signing with the Hornets, but he remains on the market. The 27-year-old averaged a career-high 20.3 points per game last season.
Wood has also been described as “polarizing” by ESPN insider Brian Windhorst, as one example, because his statistics don’t always translate into results, which could be the reason he doesn’t seem to last in one place for very long. He reportedly could be considered by the Los Angeles Lakers, who are aiming to boost their roster with another big man.
Cleveland’s success in fulfilling primary needs earlier this offseason has allowed it to work on filling out the remainder of the roster at this point. That’s a good position for an up-and-coming team like the Cavs to be in heading toward August.