Cleveland Cavaliers Roster Outlook: Guards

Cleveland Cavaliers Roster Outlook: Guards

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Danny Cunningham covers the Cleveland Cavaliers for 850 ESPN Cleveland and You can follow him on Twitter at @RealDCunningham.


The transaction window of the summer has unofficially opened in the NBA. The NBA Draft has come and gone, trades have been consummated, and free agency is set to arrive on Friday evening.


The Cavaliers have holes on the roster to fill, whether through trades or free agency signings. This week, we’ll dive into what could be available on a position by position basis, beginning with the backcourt.


What’s in Place


As things are constructed now, the Cavaliers have two guards on max contracts in Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell. This season is set to be their second together after Mitchell was acquired via trade with the Utah Jazz last September before being named to his first career All-NBA team this spring.


Aside from those two, the Cavs have Isaac Okoro on the final year of his rookie contract. Whether or not the team and Okoro come to terms on an extension, and what that new contract looks like if they do, will be a very interesting thing to follow this summer after much of the moving and shaking takes place.


Ricky Rubio is entering the second year of a three-year contract he signed with the team last summer. Rubio was a revelation for the Cavs during 2021 before tearing the ACL in his left knee that December. Last season Rubio played in 33 games for the Cavs during the regular season and wasn’t the same player he was prior to that knee injury. It’s not unfathomable to think that Rubio’s $6.1MM could be included in a trade this summer. It’s also not crazy to think that the version of Rubio that will be on the floor this year should be better as he becomes further removed from knee surgery.


Sam Merrill is the lone guard remaining on the roster as things stand right now. He was signed by the Cavs to a three-year deal in March, with this season and next season non-guaranteed.


Potentially Departing Free Agents


Caris LeVert officially becomes a free agent on Friday for the first time in his career. How the Cavs handle it will be one of the most important parts of their offseason. They cannot allow LeVert to walk away for nothing, but also need to be careful about how much they pay him, partially due to the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement that’s set to take effect this summer. LeVert is a valuable part of the Cavs, even if he isn’t the perfect fit.


Raul Neto saw his role fluctuate more than anyone on the Cavs – with the exception of LeVert – last season. He played in 48 games for the team in a reserve role, but found a way to be impactful when he was on the floor. Bringing him back on a veteran minimum contract wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Cavs.


What Else is Out There: Free Agency


The Cavs don’t need to be major players in the market for guards. Running this entire group back wouldn’t be the worst thing that they could do from a roster building standpoint. One player that could make some sense, depending on the money, is one-time Cavs guard Seth Curry. He’s an unrestricted free agent after spending the last year-and-a-half in Brooklyn with the Nets. Curry is a career 43.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc, and this Cavs roster could greatly use an injection of shooting, even if it would preferably come from someone on the wing.


If the Cavs opt to not bring back Neto, finding a contributor on a minimum contract would be a big boost to this roster.


What Else is Out There: Trades


With how the roster is shaped, it’s difficult to envision the Cavs bringing in a guard via a trade that’s anything more than a throw-in as part of a larger deal. The focus in that area should be more so on the wing than in the back court.