October 2, 2014

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Shooter at top of wish list

Guards will get most of attention in free agency

The Cavaliers will take their best shot at finding a shooter or two when the NBA free-agent bidding period begins July 1.
If that person can also play some point guard, general manager Danny Ferry will be even quicker to open the checkbook of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.
The top talents expected to be available, Chauncey Billups and Vince Carter, are way out of the Cavaliers’ price range. The most Cleveland will be able to offer is a five-year contract starting at the mid-level exception, which is expected to be somewhere between $5.5 million and $5.8 million.
Using $5.5 million as the base and factoring in the maximum 8 percent raise allowed each year, the Cavaliers could offer someone a five-year deal worth almost $32.3 million.
Of course, Cleveland could end up paying that much — or more, if a team under the salary cap comes in with a big offer — to retain its own restricted free agents, Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic.
Unrestricted free agents that might suit the Cavaliers’ outside shooting and/or point guard needs include Mo Williams, Jason Kapono, Matt Carroll, Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Morris Peterson and Chucky Atkins.
Williams, a 6-foot-1,
185-pounder, averaged 17.3 points for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2006-07. He isn’t the prototype point guard, but the Cavaliers don’t really need one because they already have LeBron James and Larry Hughes. What Williams can do is score, shoot, handle the ball and play defense, all qualities that suit the Cavaliers’ needs.
Kapono played for the Cavaliers as a rookie in 2003-04 before they let him go in the expansion draft. The 6-8, 215-pounder isn’t a great defender, but he’s an intelligent player and an unbelievable shooter, the latter proved by his league-best .514 shooting on 3-pointers in 2006-07.
The 6-4 Carroll, who helped Charlotte beat the Cavaliers on two occasions this season, is a smaller version of Kapono, but handles the ball a bit better and is a more solid defender. He won’t create a lot of things, but he would be a great catch-and-shoot guy to play alongside James.
The Cavaliers have expressed some interest in Blake before, and they may do so again. He’s a legitimate point guard, but he’s also capable of playing without the ball and hitting spot-up jumpers, a must on a team where James dominates the basketball.
Barnes, Peterson and Atkins aren’t worth anywhere near the full mid-level exception, but they’re the kind of players the Cavaliers might pursue with their bi-annual exception, which allows them to sign a player to a two-year deal starting at approximately $1.83 million.
In other news, there have been reports out of Washington that the Cavaliers are prepared to offer a deal to Wizards restricted free agent Andray Blatche, a 6-11, 248-pound forward, that starts at $4 million. That seems high, especially because it would use the bulk of Cleveland’s mid-level exception if the Wizards decided not to match the offer.
Teams are allowed to talk contract with free agents beginning July 1. They can reach agreement, but no deals can be signed until July 11.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rickn@ohio.net.