April 17, 2014

Elyria
Mostly clear
39°F
test

Cavs center Speights opts out of final year of contract

CLEVELAND — Cavaliers center Marreese Speights has opted out of the final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle-Telegram on Saturday.

The 6-foot-10, 255-pounder was scheduled to make $4.515 million in 2013-2014, but became the odd man out in the frontcourt when Cleveland drafted UNLV power forward Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

Speights averaged 10.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 39 games with the Cavaliers, who acquired him in a four-player trade with Memphis on Jan. 22.

Cleveland also picked up shooting guard Wayne Ellington, point guard Josh Selby, and a future first-round draft pick from the Grizzlies in exchange for seldom-used power forward Jon Leuer. Only Ellington remains with the Cavaliers.

Speights, who came off the bench in 38 of his 39 games, shot 45.7 percent from the field and 80.6 percent from the foul line. After getting off to a quick start in Cleveland, the fifth-year pro lacked energy defensively and disappeared for long stretches on the other end of the floor.

The University of Florida product also failed to win the starting center spot from rookie Tyler Zeller and only averaged 18.5 minutes with the Cavaliers, who were in desperate need of quality post play after Anderson Varejao suffered a season-ending right knee injury.

Varejao, Zeller, Bennett and third-year power forward Tristan Thompson are the four big men on Cleveland’s current roster.

With Speights now out of the picture, the Cavaliers have until 11:59 p.m. today to make a decision on their three other potential free agents.

Cleveland can retain Ellington ($3.1 million) and small forward Omri Casspi ($3.31 million) for an additional season, provided it makes them a qualifying offer for the aforementioned amounts. It also holds an option year on small forward C.J. Miles ($2.23 million), who was one of the few Cavaliers to accept responsibility for their dismal 24-58 season.

Cleveland general manager Chris Grant is almost certain to keep Ellington and likely will extend Miles’ contract, but is expected to allow Casspi to hit the open market.

NBA teams can begin negotiating with free agents Monday at 12:01 a.m., but cannot officially sign them until July 10.

The Cavaliers can invite undrafted rookies to join their Summer League team at any point.

On Saturday, Cleveland added Miami (Fla.) power forward Kenny Kadji to the squad that will compete in Las Vegas from July 12-22. He averaged 12.4 points and 6.1 boards in 68 college games.

“Kenny will impress a lot of scouts with his (6-10, 242-pound) size, shooting ability and overall athleticism,” said Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga, who announced the move. “I am confident he will be in the NBA this season.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.