The last time the Cavaliers suited up for action was on April 26 for Game 5 of their frustrating First Round matchup against New York.
When they next gather – officially – on Media Day at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on October 2, the team’s core returns intact. But some familiar faces won’t be around for the annual unveiling, and some new introductions will be in order. When the curtain goes up on that day, seven guys from last year’s roster – Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens, Robin Lopez, Danny Green and Dylan Windler, plus UFA’s Raul Neto and Mamadi Diakite – will not be there.
The Cavaliers brass didn’t swing for the fences like they did one year ago in the Donovan Mitchell deal. But the Wine & Gold stayed active all Summer through the Draft, free agency and the trade market. In between, Cleveland won the Summer League Championship in Las Vegas.
For the past couple weeks, Cavs.com has covered the offseason movement of the competition from both Conferences. But as Training Camp looms in less than two weeks, it’s time to focus on the good guys.
So, here’s a quick recap of how the Cavaliers spent their summer with the first day of school scheduled for one week from Monday.
FREE AND EASY
The Cavaliers got busy addressing their needs right from the jump in free agency – filling a pair of voids in the first week of July with the signings of forward Georges Niang and guard Ty Jerome.
After playing on three teams through his first four years in the league after winning the 2019 NCAA title with Virginia, Jerome provides some leadership and toughness in the backcourt. He spent last season with Golden State, torching the Cavaliers in a Warriors win in Cleveland in January – netting a season-high 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep.
Niang brings many of the same qualities. He’s a true-floor spacer with big-game experience. With Ricky Rubio stepping away from the game to focus on his mental health, Niang – who spent four seasons as Donovan Mitchell’s teammate in Utah – is the second-oldest player on the roster and, besides Tristan Thompson, the only 30-year-old – becoming a tricenarian this past June 17. Niang has shot at least 40 percent from deep in each of the past three seasons, had the 13th-best long-range percentage in the NBA last season and once went 31 straight games canning at least one three-pointer.
Before the Cavs inked Thompson, Niang was the most Playoff-experienced player on the roster, with 46 postseason games played.
Tristan signed with Cleveland – where he spent his first nine seasons – on September 12. One of just four players in franchise history with at least 5,000 points and 5,000 boards, everyone knows what Thompson brings. He’ll add some veteran toughness to a young frontcourt that got pushed around in the postseason.
WHEELING AND DEALING
The Wine & Gold weren’t done addressing their spacing needs in that first week of July – completing a three-team deal between the Heat and Spurs – sending the squad’s most tenured player, Cedi Osman, to San Antonio along with Lamar Stevens and a future Second Rounder in exchange for forward Max Strus, coming off an outstanding run to the NBA Finals with Miami.
During the Heat’s postseason surge, the 27-year-old Strus notched double-figures in eight straight games, drilled multiple three-pointers in 14 of them and started all 23. In the regular season, Strus posted 55 games with multiple three-pointers.
In a smaller, but still significant move to beef up the frontcourt, the Cavs sent cash to Utah in exchange for veteran big man, Damian Jones, whose shooting percentage from the floor and from three-point range were exactly the same over his last 19 games with the Jazz – .714.
FEELING THE DRAFT
It’s hard to imagine even the Cavaliers brass themselves could not have expected the sudden success of Emoni Bates in his revelatory Summer League debut. The competition is about to get much tougher for the 19-year-old, but he’s already shown the tools that made him one of the highest-rated recruits in prep hoops history.
Helping lead Cleveland to the Summer League title in Vegas, the 6-9 swingman – tabbed with the 49th overall pick out of Eastern Michigan – averaged 17.2 points per as the Cavs went undefeated through six games. He grabbed at least six boards in four of those games, shooting 48 percent from long-range and connecting on all 13 free throw attempts.
He’s enjoying some time out of the spotlight as a young pro. But eyes will be back on the young gun when he makes his pro debut as preseason tips off in mid-October.