December 22, 2014

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Cavs place former Michigan star Manny Harris on waivers

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers gave Manny Harris a golden opportunity to prove he belonged in the NBA.

Unfortunately for the former Michigan standout, he failed to take advantage of it.

Cleveland placed Harris on waivers Monday, ending his career with the team after 80 games. He averaged 6.2 points and 1.5 assists over two seasons — including 20 starts at shooting guard — with the Cavaliers.

Harris, originally signed by Cleveland as an undrafted rookie on Sept. 25, 2010, had two stints with the Cavaliers last season after opening the year in the NBA D-League with the Canton Charge.

“We parted ways like Ben (Affleck) and JLo (Jennifer Lopez),” Harris said on his Twitter account. “(I’ve got) houses for rent. Get at me.”

The 6-foot-5, 185-pounder appeared in 26 games last season, shooting just .400 from the floor while averaging 6.7 points and 1.2 assists. He was somewhat effective when he attacked the hoop, but tended to rely on taking jump shots, which was not his strength.

Harris, who had a non-guaranteed contract for the 2012-2013 NBA season, became expendable when Cleveland used its top draft pick on Syracuse shooting guard Dion Waiters and acquired veteran Kelenna Azubuike from the Mavericks.

On the free agency front, the Cavaliers remain quiet while much of the league is focusing on adding high-profile players.

Cleveland is approximately $19 million under the NBA salary cap, but owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Chris Grant have vowed not to overpay for free agents this summer.

The Cavaliers have reportedly expressed interest in Portland’s Jonny Flynn and Atlanta’s Kirk Hinrich, along with Russia native Alexey Shved, in their search for a backup point guard.

Other players who could pique Cleveland’s interest as a backup to reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving are Boston’s Keyon Dooling and Golden State’s Nate Robinson.

The Cavaliers’ biggest need, however, remains at small forward — regardless of whether restricted free agent Alonzo Gee returns. Atlanta’s Willie Green, New Orleans’ Marco Belinelli and Indiana’s Leandro Barbosa figure to be available for the right price.

Four other names to keep in mind — should the free-agent marketplace be affected by major trades — are Milwaukee power forward Ersan Ilyasova, New Orleans power forward Carl Landry, Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Nick Young and Milwaukee small forward Carlos Delfino.

Cleveland has long coveted Ilyasova, a 6-foot-10 sharpshooter from Turkey, who is a classic “stretch four” and legitimate double-double threat.

However, the 25-year-old would not fit into its lineup unless Grant opts to deal fan favorite Anderson Varejao.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.