The Cavs’ Guard Dilemma: Who Stays?

The Cavs will have some decisions to make with their guards this offseason.

Photo courtesy of Chris Szagola

As the NBA free agency period approaches, the Cleveland Cavaliers will have a roster plentiful of guards. The Cavs focused on shooting and perimeter play in last week’s draft, selecting Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland, USC shooting guard Kevin Porter Jr., and Belmont wing Dylan Windler. While a new mix of guards is much needed for this rebuilding Cavs squad, there is now a growing number of players in the backcourt that may lead to overcrowding next season.

The Cavs already have six players under contract for next season that share playing time in the backcourt. One of the six, J.R. Smith, is unlikely to remain with the team much longer after last year’s absence. That leaves five players to fill the rest of the backcourt: Collin Sexton, Matthew Dellavedova, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Knight, and Cedi Osman.

Collin Sexton finished last season strong and his spot on the roster should be secured, albeit his status as a starter or sixth man is yet to be known. Sexton’s game is similar to Garland’s, leading to questions as to whether they will mesh well together on the floor at the same time. Nevertheless, they will both be given plenty of opportunities on a team that isn’t fighting for the playoffs and will need to learn to coexist in the meantime.

Fan favorite Matthew Dellavedova is on a contract worth just short of $10 million for the upcoming season. Dellavedova was unable to solidify his place on the team last season after experiencing several injuries and watching the experimentation of Brandon Knight and Cameron Payne as interim backup guards. Unfortunately for Dellavedova, the Cavs drafted a point guard who could either start or come off the bench, cutting Dellavedova’s minutes even more.  While Dellavedova’s contract is more favorable than Knight’s, he’s a year older than Knight and also is a more attractive trading piece, making Dellavedova an expendable option.

The explosive scorer off the bench, Jordan Clarkson, is not only talented enough to get minutes on any team, but he also doesn’t have a lofty salary. While the Cavs certainly will hear his name in trade talks, Clarkson is a player the Cavs should be interested in retaining. Clarkson was a sixth man of the year candidate after averaging 16.8 points per game on 45% field goal shooting last season and will be paired with either Garland, Sexton or Porter Jr. for almost the entirety of his time on the floor. At 27 years of age, Clarkson also fits the theme of youth for the Cavs and will take pride in modeling a confident shooter for the new rookies.

As mentioned before, Brandon Knight is getting paid wonderfully compared to his production last year. With $15.6 million expected to be in his pockets next season, teams will not be willing to take on his contract without a decent haul in return, and the Cavs have little to offer. Knight is a strong buyout candidate, and with the new class expected to all receive minutes, Knight’s value to the roster will be slim to none.

Finally, Cedi Osman will look to retain his spot as the starting small forward for the Cavs. Osman is only 24 and will be making less than $3 million, making him a highly valuable player for his minutes. Despite playing at the three, Osman has improved his playmaking tremendously since his rookie year and fits much better in a backcourt rather than frontcourt rotation. Although many fans believe the Cavs can find a better player to replace Osman, there is little reason to move a young, improving player on a cheap contract.

Despite Koby Altman’s desire to play small ball and shoot the lights out, the Cavs simply will have too many guards if they choose to keep their current roster. In an ideal world, the Cavs will be able to find a team willing to pay Dellavedova and/or Knight, or maybe even send a young shooter in return. Following these transactions, the Cavs can start either Sexton, Garland or Porter Jr. at the guards with Osman at the three, while still boasting a solid bench of Clarkson, Windler and Garland/Porter Jr./Sexton. To further their depth for cheap, the Cavs may consider resigning Nik Stauskas as another formidable shooter off the bench.

There’s plenty of time before the season starts to assemble a full 15-man roster, but are the current eight backcourt options the best for the future?

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